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2

Jan
2008
Comments Off on Desperation, Decisions and the Chicken Who Wanted to Fly

Desperation, Decisions and the Chicken Who Wanted to Fly


Desperation, Decisions and the Chicken Who Wanted to Fly.

Talk about strange. Chickens can’t fly. However, in a situation where they feel desperate, they might make the decision to try. Heck, they are birds, right? They see other birds flying. But they can’t. They all come crashing to the ground…over and over, possibly thinking that, hey…maybe next time things will be different.

While working with and talking to many business owners, I am seeing that many businesses experience a similar cycle. Repeatedly, they put time and energy into activities that are outside of their abilities…responding to desperate situations that land them, more often then not, with the same dismal results.

A friend of mine has a business. Let’s say it is a photography business. He’s gotten everything he needs to run it and operate every day. He took a lot of his work and put it into some great marketing materials on his website. He decided that he wanted to be the cost leader – have great products at a low price. Sounds great, right?

Well, after operating like this for five years, (while increasing financial obligations for a number of reasons) he suddenly realized that he had reached his goal to be the cost leader and had a bit of a demand for his product. That should be excellent news, right?

Well, not really. He called me up one day to tell me that he needed to grow the business right away, and flew me to his city to help him with it. I said I would be happy to and flew up to meet with him a week later.

It turns out that he was in a desperate situation and needed to do something quickly. His bills were completely consuming him, and despite the volume of work that was coming in, he was basically doing the jobs for free, at an extremely discounted price or barely covering his costs. Basically, he was making less than $5 per hour, before taxes. He was absolutely miserable and on the verge of bankruptcy.

After speaking with him and looking at his financial situation and business history, I could see, clearly, that he went into business too quickly (without much planning) and presumed that everyone wanted to pay the lowest price. Period. Unfortunately, paying customers did not beat a path to his door. Out of this came a desperate decision to get any business he could, no matter what the cost.

We buckled down and created a new brand, adjusted his pricing so that he could still offer a great product at a low price, that could cover the bills, pay him and make money for the company. We developed systems and processes for business operations, sales, marketing, financial management and growth. We created sales, financial and operational goals, and benchmarked them against the industry. We even created new products and packages to entice the market. Then I left.

I expected the chicken to fly. It didn’t. Chickens don’t fly!!

It seemed like it should have been easy…a good, marketable product at a good price in a market that could appreciate the work. The business had 100’s of contacts and dozens of repeat clients. They had all of the tools to do the job, and people around the business who wanted to see the business become successful, and thus, offered their time and resources. Of course, my friend said that he was willing to do what it takes!

While he was willing, at least in HIS mind, he wasn’t equipped to manage the various aspects of growing the business. That is, his personality doesn’t mesh well with the fine nuances of accounting, marketing, sales and business operations. This gentleman was and is an artist and an idealist. While this is not a BAD thing, it is a great asset to have to keep the vision going, his lack of ability was crippling his business. He needed a solution.

What’s his solution?

Simple…focus on his strengths, and surround himself with people and businesses who and that have strengths in the areas where he is weak.

Okay…easier said than done. Doing so requires some commitment to your cause, which you’ve got to have in order to succeed. It starts, however, with knowing yourself and being true to that knowledge. That is, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, in addition to your gifts, talents and traits. Then learn about how all of these align and how they impact the business. Are you missing out on opportunities? Are you letting things go that you should be taking care of? Are you casting a vision to your stakeholders? Do you know where the business is going?

One test I use is called the PEP test, developed by LaurieBethJones, Inc., which you can see and take at www.lauriebethjones.com. The reason I prefer this one is because it is EASY – easy to get – as in ‘wrap your mind around’ and easy to remember. There are four basic personalities – Wind, Earth, Fire and Water, and combinations of them. These help you to identify yourself and those around you, and thus, learn how to interact with them. Consider how you interact with your customers now…could it be different? Could it be more profitable if you knew how to interact with each one of them? What about your team? Your spouse? Your vendors?

The most important thing you might get from this is the idea that no matter how hard you try, no matter how far you reach, no matter how much education you get, you have to consider, “is it worth it for the chicken to fly, or would it be better to focus on what it does best.” As a friend of mine asks, constantly, evaluate each decision with the simple thought, “Is this the BEST use of my time?” If it is, proceed. If it is not, find someone around you or a business that can manage it for you. Believe me, in most cases, you will be far more successful by outsourcing the things that are outside of your core competencies than you will trying to do what you do and what someone else does.

Well, back to my friend…what I’ve been able to do with him, since I know him so well, is to evaluate his personality and work with him to develop solutions that will highlight his abilities, then locate individuals around him that can support the other areas of the business. Unfortunately, I am forced to work remotely, and cannot be the hands-on manager he needs, I am able to keep him legal and help him move his vision forward. Interestingly, I’ve found that this isn’t my core competency, and I am working to find someone to replace me. To my credit, however, he’s made more on the last job he did than he’d made for the two preceding years. He’s still got some room to grow, as we all do. He’s giving himself some more room to grow so he’s not making desperate decision. Most importantly, however, he is no longer looking to fly.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-697-2315, or email me at [email protected].


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17

Dec
2007
Comments Off on Get Grounded!!

Get Grounded!!

What happened? You started your business with a great vision of what you wanted to do and a rough idea of how you would do it. You got a plan or direction for how you would get into business, who your customers would be, the amount of money you would make and how things would be. Six months later, your reality isn’t what you envisioned: you aren’t getting neither the business you wanted nor the customers you hoped for. Somehow the vision you had has gone by the wayside.

What do you do now?

Think about this, for a moment. When you buy a car, what happens when you use it as a bull dozer? If you buy a flower pot, does it make a very effective computer desk? Your cell phone…how often can you use it as a theft deterrent device? Now, look at your business. How long can your business survive without being fully defined and functioning the way that you designed it to?

Just like anything else that you expect to last, your business must have some defined parameters within to operate. How does this help?
1. Your stakeholders fully understand your business – the types of products and services you produce or offer, and the right kinds of customers and vendors for your company.
2. When you make decisions within the business, you can look at the parameters and narrow down or expand your options based on them.
3. You help the business by focusing on doing one thing and serving one purpose really well.
4. When you create systems and strategies for your business, as you review them, you can look to see what parts of the system lay within your expertise, and what items you might consider outsourcing in order to run as efficiently as possible.
5. When you seek talent, you will look at your recruits. along the lines of how their interests, need and experience align with those of the business.
6. When you look at new opportunities, or get special requests, you can look at them in terms of how they align (or don’t) with your business.

So, six reasons to start with. Although there are more, these are the most practical and scenarios things you will have to deal with. No, they won’t be the items that put you in the black overnight, but they are the things that will help you develop your niche.

Helping you get your business grounded is one of the things we do to help your company be there for the long haul. At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we help you create great ideas and show you how to bring those ideas to fruition by helping you to leverage what you do best and exploiting it for everything its worth.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you 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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17

Dec
2007
Comments Off on Take a Vacation!! – From IMC USA

Take a Vacation!! – From IMC USA

Taking a vacation can do wonders for you and your consulting practice.

Consultants often get so caught up in the day to day responsibilities of maintaining and building of a successful practice that they forget to take the much- needed opportunity to relax, recharge and regroup. Taking regularly scheduled vacations can help us to avoid burn-out and reduce stress, get reconnected with our family and friends, and get back in touch with ourselves. The time away gives us a much needed break from the pressures of work so that we are able to return refreshed, re-focused and re-invigorated.

Tip: Schedule your vacation in advance and stick to the dates you have put aside for this extremely important activity. Work hard to “clear the decks” before you leave and plan to limit (or disconnect completely from) work-related communication (i.e., phone calls and e-mails), so that you can spend your vacation focusing exclusively on the “recharging of your batteries”.

P.S. – Don’t forget to provide yourself adequate “re-entry” time when you return from your vacation in order to get caught up. Refrain from scheduling any important commitments for the first few days after return. You’ll need time to catch up on e- mails, call backs, etc.

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Copyright (c) 2007, Institute of Management Consultants USA
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At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you 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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1

Dec
2007
Comments Off on A New Year is Approaching. Do You Know Where Your Business Is?

A New Year is Approaching. Do You Know Where Your Business Is?

What is your business strategy? For that matter, what is a strategy? How often do you go back and look at it? How often do you work on the goals that are going to help you achieve that strategy?

Your strategy is your plan for accomplishing a particular goal vision. If you have a restaurant, for example, a particular strategy you might work on is how to increase revenue. You might try to increase table turns or raise prices or start any number of marketing endeavors.

The question is: “As a small business owner, how do I get time to create or even work on a strategy?” As a small business owner, it is VITAL that you put aside time for this every week. Strategy is the lifeblood of your business that keeps it going every day. While making time is impossible, taking time to work on your strategy is like taking time to eat. 

Here is a tip –

  1. Make yourself a weekly schedule of different activities you will do centered around growing your business – for example, we take two hours of “off-line” time – time when aren’t actively involved in the business, and dedicate it as “strategy time,” and have it set up as an appointment in our calendar software – in this case Microsoft Outlook. What you would do during this time is Review your company vision. Review your strategies. Review your plan. Work your plan.
  2. Give yourself a timeline so that you don’t get stuck in any particular area, especially the planning area (you need to WORK the plan!).
  3. Make goals and make them BOLD!! – Keep yourself engaged and challenged to do what you do every day.
  4. Make your goals MANAGEABLE! – while your goals should be bold, they should be those that you can reasonably accomplish so that you don’t get discouraged
  5. Use your resources! – Friends, business associates, outsourcing, etc.
  6. Give yourself a timeframe – starting and ending dates for each milestone will help keep things in perspective.
  7. Make sure you can look at every milestone and say to yourself, “this is what it looked like before, and this is what it will look like when it is done” and be able to note the difference.
  8. Be accountable to yourself – share your goals/plans with a business associate, mentor, or with your group.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you 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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