Archives for 2010

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Forward Thinking

Forward thinking or strategic thinking is the art of considering your decisions in light of what will happen or what you would like to happen in the foreseeable future.  It is not strategic planning, although, having a strategic plan will provide you with a framework, or general direction in all of your decision-making.  It is, rather, based on tactical or immediate decisions that have to be made, such as what to invest in, for example, a website.

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Extraordinary Business Planning: Steeling the Blade

In the restaurant industry, most professional chefs are familiar with the term “steeling the blade.”  Steel the Blade It is method of smoothing the edge of a sharpened blade and removing small pieces of steel and carbon that are beginning to break off the edge of the knife.  It is not meant for sharpening the knife, but rather, extends the capability for the knife to continue to cut.

As business leaders, we are often faced with the idea that going back to school might be helpful, but may take far more out of our lives than we can fully commit to.  I, for one, am a living testament to this, where I worked on several graduate level degrees, but do to family and business commitments, I was unable to finish the programs.  Don’t get me wrong; I did learn a lot about a lot of things in the program; it certainly was not a waste of time or energy.

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Extraordinary Business | Does the Boat Float?

As business leaders, decision-making is our primary responsibility, and what our clients, employees and the marketplace expects us to do.  From purchases as simple as pens for everyday use (or delegation of someone to make those decisions) to developing short and long term plans for the entire organization, business leaders are positioned to “lead the way!”  We must always strive to move the business forward, focus on the vision, think outside of our emotional baggage and build a thriving, growing organization.

The challenge facing business leaders is that there are so many dynamics and echoes around each decision that making gut level decisions often gives us little control over the ripples that result from them.See if the boat floats!

But we do the best we can with what we have.  We throw the boat in the water to see if it will float. The question we have to ask ourselves is: “Is this good enough.”  Well – if you are into mediocrity, perhaps it is. [···]

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The Countdown

Extraordinary Business: The Countdown

2011 Planning ButtonThe end of this year…the beginning of the next; these are “mile markers” in the growth of any business. As business leaders, we often take this time to compare business successes in prior years versus the year that is rapidly coming to a close.  Savvier business leaders will begin evaluating their goals, determining what could be completed by the end of this year, and what might roll over into next year’s planning. 

The act of looking back and planning for the future – learning from one’s activities, is the wisdom that separates ordinary business leaders from those who are extraordinary.

With that in mind, every business leader must realize that waiting until January 1 is going to be too late to begin your planning sessions.  Your competitors will have beaten you out of the gate by the time you gather all of the information that you need in order to make some sound goals for the next year.  While there will be some business leaders that don’t have their busiest season in the fourth quarter, smart business leaders realize that by beginning the planning the exercise now, they’ll have created a foundation with which to begin the next year strong.image

A recent “Stroke of Brilliance,” provides keys effective business planning.  Please take a look at the free article at . The important thing is to evaluate what you’ve done in the past, whether or not it was successful, what you can take from the activities moving forward and what you would like to accomplish moving forward.  If there are deficits in your business operations, you’ll want to make sure that you plan to address them sooner than later.  Business development activates should be ongoing.  Every change you make should have some measure that indicates growth and success.

Businesses in motion do not remain in motion without action from an outside force.

Your business is completely dependent on you and your leadership team to continue it’s ascent.  Without leadership direction, it will stagnate, and eventually die.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses. 

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. 

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Have an Idea and a Plan

Extraordinary Business: Have an Idea and a Plan!

In a 2008 children’s movie, “Monsters versus Aliens,” General W. R. Monger reports to the President, “Mr. President, not only do I have an idea, but I have a plan!”  This is the mentality business leaders who wish to build extraordinary businesses must have.(L-R) Gen. W.R. Monger and the President in "Monsters vs. Aliens."

Building an extraordinary business doesn’t happen by accident.  It requires focus, consistency, extraordinary thinking and an extraordinary vision.  Look at the luxury car manufactures.  Their commercial constantly tout why they are better than the non-luxury models. They have better handling, go faster, smoother lines, more electronics, etc..  None of this happens by accident.

Your extraordinary business won’t be extraordinary by accident, either.  Simply throwing together a webinar series, sending out free white papers, launching a new website or blog or being a host on an internet radio station does not mean that you will automatically launch your business into the echelons of greatness. Planning to do these things, however, could make the difference.

Take, for example, a new product launch by a national company.  They have a product, they have consistent messaging, they know who their target market is and you see their launch everywhere for a specific amount of time.  They’ll typically build out something that looks like a business plan and ask the who, what, when, where, how and why this product will get on the market.  If they cannot justify the investment, they move on.2011 Planning Button

Extraordinary business leaders need to look at endeavors in the same light.  Every action must be measured –does it support the mission?  Will it help us reach the vision? Can I promote it to the right people?  How will I promote it?  How much will I sell it for?  How much will I make off of it?– to determine whether or not the time and energy that must be expended is worth it.

Planning is not a tool just for academics.  It is not simply a cliché, “failure to plan is planning to fail.”  It is the difference between shooting in the dark and building something extraordinary.  Build extraordinary.  Have a plan.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses. 

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. 

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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*Picture – (L-R) Gen. W.R. Monger and the President in “Monsters vs. Aliens.” – © Dreamworks Animation, LLC

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Outsource! Bring in the Pros!

There were episodes on a number of sitcoms across the networks that infallibly featured a member of the household who was to repair the plumbing or electrical work, somewhere in the house.  All of the episodes inevitably caused all sorts of mayhem in the household, from flooding to electrical fires to switches that operated incorrectly.  Finally, after someone else in the household put their foot down, the professional was called in to do what he or she does best.

There are many times when business leaders miss out on opportunities when they attempt to do things required by the business that the business owners aren’t qualified to do.   As with home repairs, at times, the damage done by not hiring professionals ultimately costs the business a lot more than it would if the work had been done by professionals to begin with.

Take, for example, a website:  A company’s website is often the first thing a prospective client might go to when considering doing business with a company.  (According to ZeroMillion.com, a recent DoubleClick study suggest that more than 50% of people will look at a  company’s website before making a purchase decision.)  They’ll look at site design, content, ease of use and finally, if they are serious about doing business with you, keywords that are appealing to them.

Just in list of what browsers immediately observe, there are a number of items that only a professional would have the expertise, ability and time to tweak.  Testing, promoting, optimizing and submitting the website to different search engines are some of the background tools that many business leaders don’t even check.  However, these are the tools upon which you can begin to gauge a return on your investment.

Even if you don’t pay cash or barter for the services to get your website done and do the website yourself, there is an opportunity cost to it.  Opportunity cost says that if you were not building your website, perhaps you could be doing something else, perhaps even something else related to earning revenue for your company.  The easiest way to evaluate it is to look at the return on the time spent.

If you, for example, compared 10 hours of your time spent learning how to and building a website to 10 hours spent prospecting for new clients, assuming you can sell, the prospecting activities would probably result in better payoff.  Now, if you spent a little bit of money and hired a professional to build the site, you might spend 3 hours working with them, then could spend the remaining hours prospecting and sending people to your website for more in-depth information about the company.  The result could be like having your cake and eating it to.

Intuitively, many business leaders will not wish to spend the money to get the job done the right way, the first time.  Logically, however, the results of a good decision to qualified help to get something done far outweigh the costs.

Be extraordinary.  Know when it is time to bring in the pros.  There are no compromises for greatness.  If you want to be the best, you’ve got to work with the best.

Aepiphanni is a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. We are the trusted advisor to those seeking forward-thinking operational and strategic solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth.

If you are ready to discuss how Aepiphanni can help you with business strategy, overcoming challenges to growth or any number of business solutions for your business, whether a small, growing or established company, contact us directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an Extraordinary company.

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Investing in Greatness

“If you plant apple seeds, you’ll get an apple tree.  If you plant weeds, you’ll get weeds.  Lots of them.”

These are very basic ideas that can apply to nearly any area of your life.  Think about seeds in terms of being things that you begin doing in some aspect of your life.  For example, habits: If you act a certain way, think a certain way, dress a certain way, etc., there will be “fruits” of those habits.  Image consultants such as Cathy Hankinson of 10 Second Impact has built her business around the fact that people will take the seed you’ve planted – their first impression of you – and create a mental map, mental picture or a set of beliefs about you and/or your business.Apple seeds grow Apple Trees

It seems like the need to purchase something for the business never goes away.  Many times, we operate from the belief that we can only purchase the minimum that LOOKS like it will get a particular job done.  We’ll purchase $10 parts from retailers that catch fire or stop working after a couple of week.  We’ll look for free services to use with our clients that work most of the time.  We undercut people to get the best “value,” just because the price is lower, without taking into consideration what the ramifications will be. 

Now this doesn’t mean that we over-purchase, we purchase without planning, or could without reservation.  It means that if we need a Heavy Duty truck, scraping the bottom of the barrel may get us a truck, but it may end of being a truck that may require extensive maintenance and repairs to keep going/  After a while, the thing looks like it costs us as much as it would have to purchase a newer model.  Not to mention, the black cloud of soot we leave at every customers’ homes or businesses is never appealing.

Think long-term with your purchases.

“You’ll always reap what you sow; more than you sow, later than you sow.” – Dr. Charles Stanley

Think about your purchases in terms of being investments in your company.  When you purchase a computer for your company, Investments you are expecting a certain amount of increased productivity out of it.  You aren’t expecting bottom-of-the-barrel productivity, and you certainly aren’t looking for something that is going to break down on you after running steadily for about a year.

Know, factually, that you cannot do it all yourself.  There are things your business needs that will actually cost you less to hire someone to do than to do it yourself.  Websites come to mind.  Not everyone in the world has the ability to create a compelling, dynamic website that will actually generate sales for them.  However, your website is often how people begin to gain perception of your business.  Your website needs to match your business and will be, at times, the difference between your getting the sale versus one of your competitors.

Business leader – yes there will be deals.  There will be once in a lifetime opportunities.  There will be miracles that simply fall into your lap.  Regardless, you still need to do your due diligence in order to make sure you are getting the best price without sacrificing quality, dependability and functionality.  You should feel confident that one day, you will be able to look back at the things that you’ve purchased and say, “this purchase enabled us to…and here are the fruits of the investment.”

If you want an extraordinary business, you’ve got to plant extraordinary seeds.  Grow extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses. 

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. 

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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The Role of the Leader

Extraordinary Business: The Role of the Leader
I was taking a short trip this morning and decided to consult with the GPS in my phone in order to get there.  Well, the first program didn’t work, so I resorted to my backup program which, to my pleasant surprise, worked wonderfully.

During the trip, I decided to go whatever direction the GPS suggested, while noting places where I would typically have turned.  Interestingly, when I first started the journey, I took a quick detour.  In response to this, the GPS rerouted me in order to get to my destination – quickly while avoiding as much traffic as possible.Role of the Leader

What was interesting was that I could have “fought” with the GPS, gone the way that I would normally go, and ended up stuck in Atlanta rush hour in traffic.  I could have second-guessed it, saying that it was probably wrong and turned around when the road looked a bit dubious.  However, following the lead it gave me got me to the location and probably saved me five to ten minutes.
As a business leader, your business needs to be run the same way.  you’ve got to direct your organization, lead it to accomplishing specific goals and get it back on track when it starts to veer off course.  While your team may “get” the vision, and their input is valuable, it is up to you to make the final decisions.  There is no one else to blame.

This does not mean, however, that you should operate in a silo.  Although I allowed the GPS to provide direction, I was still the person in charge who made the decision to use the device in the first place and then to follow it’s direction.  I promise you; I will not use it to run my business.

  • Your employees have expertise in certain areas…let them do their job. 
  • Receive their input. 
  • Question what you don’t understand. 
  • Inspect what you expect. 
  • Know where their expertise and experience ends and where YOU need to step in and do YOUR job.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to provide your company with direction.  It is not up to your employees.  Be clear on this.  Be extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses. 

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. 

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Pursuit of Happy Employees

Extraordinary Business: Pursuit of Happy Employees

So, my friend introduced me to his dog that he had raised and trained to the point where the dog could follow any command that the master gave it.  I mean, we are talking beyond the typical “sit,” “stay,” “heel,” but rather “go get in the car,” “get me the remote” and “go walk yourself.”  I suppose my dogs could duplicate the last one…I think the challenge, for me, would be getting them back.

But I digress.

One afternoon, we were at his home discussing a business opportunity.  He was cooking something on the grill while we played cards and chatted.  The dogs lay by the front door awaiting their next command.Space Ship

Suddenly, he realized that our food was burning.  Without thinking, I yelled out, “crap,” to which his dog immediately responded…

Sometimes, when we hire employees or temporary agents, we think that we want them simply to do exactly what we say, when and how we want it, to the nth degree.  We bemoan the incompetents that take so long to do a particular job and the mountain movers, who tend to do a great deal, but at the expense of the preverbal “china shop.”

Ever stop to think that perhaps if they were in the job that they were internally wired for, doing what they love, that they might be more productive?  Think about it:

  • luxury sports car: on the autobahn or stuck in traffic?
  • diesel locomotive: hauling massive weight through the mountains or on the high-speed rail?
  • space shuttle: flying into space or standard commercial flights?

Your employees are designed to shine.  As business leaders, it is our responsibility to knock the dust off them and find out what makes them tick, so they’ll be most productive and happy!

Run an ExtraOrdinary Business.  Align your employees with their interests and capabilities.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses. 

We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Specialty Consumer Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. 

If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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