Monday, November 30, 2009

Hard Times Survival Guide

Here are some straight forward, hard core suggestions for surviving the hard times in your business. These along with savvy marketing and selling will mean the difference between being around in the good times or not.

● If you can’t survive hard times, sell out early. Once you are in financial distress, you will have no bargaining power at all.

● In hard times, save the core at the expense of the periphery. When times improve, recapture the periphery if it is still worthwhile.

● Any stable source of good profits—any competitive advantage—attracts overhead, clutter, and cross-subsidies in good times. You can survive this kind of waste in such times. In hard times you can’t and must cut it.

● If hard times have a good side, it’s the pressure to cut expenses and find new efficiencies. Cuts and changes that raised interpersonal hackles in good times can be made in hard ones.

● Use hard times to concentrate on and strengthen your competitive advantage. If you are confused about this concept, hard times will clarify it. Competitive advantage has two branches, both growing from the same root. You have a competitive advantage when you can take business away from another company at a profit and when your cash costs of doing business are low enough that you can survive in hard times.

● Take advantage of hard times to buy the assets of distressed competitors at bargain-basement prices. The best assets are competitive advantages unwisely encumbered with debt and clutter.

● In hard times, many suppliers are willing to renegotiate terms. Don’t be shy.

● In hard times, your buyers will want better terms. They might settle for rapid, reliable payments.

● Focus on the employees and communities you will keep through the hard times. Good relations with people you have retained and helped will be repaid many times over when the good times return.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LISTENING PART 1

1. LISTENING TRANSFORMS

I believe nearly every person/client that you and I come in contact with is asking a question:

Do I matter to you? Do I matter to others?
Do I have any worth in your estimation?
Do you in any way honor, esteem, or respect, who I am?
Do you care?

As we begin this time together I would like to ask you some questions for self reflection:

Do people feel better or worse after they’ve been with you?
Do they feel worse, diminished, unappreciated?
Or, do they feel better, inspired, valued, respected?

Are you a good listener?

Would people around you say you are a good listener?

Do people feel like you’re fully present with them whenever they’re with you?

Or is there anybody in your world, who might just be whispering under their breath,
“Would you please stop talking?”
“Would you please stop advising?”
“Stop rambling.”
“Would you just stop and listen.”

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them. — Ralph Nichols

We all have a deep desire to feel heard and to know others care enough to listen.

One of the things I learned early on is that coaching is 80% listening and 20% talking.

To be a good coach one has to be a good listener.

Listening is one of the most powerful skills a coach can bring to the coaching relationship.

And, listening is one of the most powerful forms of acknowledgement.

In short, listening TRANSFORMS.

2. LISTENING AND MEANING (International Listening Association Statistics)
In a spoken conversation,
55% of the meaning is translated non-verbally,
38% is indicated by the tone of voice,
while only 7% is conveyed by the words used (Mehrabian, 1981).
Spoken words only account for 30 -35% of the meaning.

The rest is transmitted through nonverbal communication that only can be detected through visual and auditory listening (Birdwhistell, 1970).

What is it that most of us listen for:

1. For what we already know
2. For what we agree with
3. For what we disagree with
4. To await for our turn to speak
5. To interrupt
6. To look or sound good
7. For the answer
8. For the formula
9. For the flaw in the argument

Problem is…we do not listen authentically.

3. LISTENING BARRIERS

The most frequently reported listening barriers among people are:
1) Personal disinterest in the topic,
2) Personal and internal distractions, such as hunger, headache, or preoccupation with something else.
3) Inattentiveness such as daydreaming.


4. PURPOSE OF AUTHENTIC LISTENING

The purpose of authentic listening is to understand the thoughts, opinions, ideas and feelings of others by focusing on their agenda rather than one’s own.

Authentic listening is a skill that requires practice and concentration.
Authentic listening occurs when you respond to the speaker in ways which indicate to him that you care about what he's saying and give him every opportunity to complete his train of thought.

Authentic and empathic listening is wrapped in the same cloak. The idea is to let the speaker know without a doubt that you are focusing your attention on his words and feelings with the specific intent to understand his point.

We all have a deep desire to feel heard and to know others care enough to listen.

Listening not only helps you understand someone, it also helps that person understand themselves.
• They get a chance to talk “out loud”, work it through.
• But also you can pick up on, and highlight patterns they are repeating that he or she is not hearing themselves.


In short, listening TRANSFORMS.

Wouldn’t you agree with me that listening goes way beyond just hearing the words that another person says?

It’s seeing what’s in their eyes.
It’s feeling what’s in their heart.
It’s reading between the lines.
It’s listening in the moments of silence.

Listening Part II will be in the next installment of Coach Roland’s Blog post.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Designer Business, Designer Life"

I love this quote from Oprah Winfrey; “Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are in essence ignoring the owner’s manual your creator gave you and destroying your design”. So what does this have to do with my Business you ask? Great question! The reality is most Business challenges are personal challenges in disguise. OK, let’s pretend your Business looks and feels something like the following version.

You have this money machine you call your Business that makes significant money whether you show up or not. It is fun and exciting to own and your associates love coming to work everyday. You are the talk of the town, the one to watch and are respected and admired by your peers, even your competition. When your opinion is asked, everyone stops what they are doing and listens intently. You are the E.F. Hutton of your industry. Your advertising speaks directly to your target market, identifying their needs and wants and also that you provide the solution. The response to your ads is always good and the revenues generated are quite significant. Your customers are your friends and love sending you referrals because they know how well you take care of everyone. You are now in such a unique and profitable position you donate a sizeable amount of money every month to several of your favourite charities.

Does this sound like your Business or are you wondering what’s really in my water bottle? With all the design and makeover shows on the tube today perhaps it’s time to implement a strategy for an extreme makeover of your Business. Perhaps the mindset you need for this to be effective would be similar to the one you need when you are going to ruthlessly clean out your closet. You might start tossing or donating anything you haven’t worn in the last year and further pair that down to the last six months. Maybe it’s the garage or basement you must tackle for this to resonate for you. Perhaps it’s a complete renovation of your home right down to the framework. Isn’t it a great feeling when you get rid of the clutter in your life and have a new and stimulating project to tackle? You feel like a burden has been lifted, you can think with more clarity and get on with the more important things in your life.

So let’s apply this process to your Business and see if we can create the same revitalizing sensation. A good place to start a review is with your vision. Is the business you are in what you envisioned it would be when you started? If not, you might want to either change your vision or reevaluate why you haven’t achieved that vision. Along with the vision review what isyour target market. What have you learned about your target market now that you have been selling to them for awhile? Is it time to narrow your market or expand it? Sometimes an effective marketing strategy is to be an expert in a narrow field. Master one domain and you will be able to do just about anything you choose. When people observe your mastery in one area it is often perceived you do everything that way. As T. Harv Eckert likes to say, “How you do anything is how you do everything”. I hope that inspires and motivates you and doesn’t terrify you.

Sometimes stepping back and reviewing each area of your Business from Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Employee Hiring and Retention, Financial Management and Systemization can reveal where complacency has crept in.

Often times it is only minor adjustments in each area that can produce major improvements to your bottom line.