QuickBizBreak by david weaver

Take a quick break from your biz to ponder new ideas and strategies that will turbocharge your business.

Repost: Frightened, clueless or uninformed?

Posted by QuickBizBreak on February 8, 2010

I don’t re-post from other blogs very often but this one from Seth Godin caught my eye today. Granted, most anything from Godin is good, but this hits at the heart of understanding how open someone may be to improving themselves and their business through learning and coaching. Do you know someone who fits one of these descriptions?

Frightened, clueless or uninformed?

In the face of significant change and opportunity, people are often one of the three. If you’re going to be of assistance, it helps to know which one.

Uninformed people need information and insight in order to figure out what to do next. They are approaching the problem with optimism and calm, but they need to be taught. Uninformed is not a pejorative term, it’s a temporary state.

Clueless people don’t know what to do and they don’t know that they don’t know what to do. They don’t know the right questions to ask. Giving them instructions is insufficient. First, they need to be sold on what the platform even looks like.

And frightened people will resist any help you can give them, and they will blame you for the stress the change is causing. Scared people like to shoot the messenger. Duck.

The worst kind of frightened person is one with power. Someone in a mob of other frightened people, someone with a gun, someone who is the CEO. When confronted with a scared CEO, time to run. Before someone can change, they have to learn, and before they learn, they have to cease being scared.

One reason so many big ideas come from small organizations is that there is far less fear of change at the top. One mistake board members and shareholders make is that they reward the scared but hyper-confident CEO, instead of calling him on the carpet as he rages at change.

When I first encountered surfing, I was scared of it. It looks cool, but an old guy like me can get hurt. A patient instructor allayed my fears until I was willing to get started. When you first start out, the things you think are important are actually irrelevant, and it’s the stuff you don’t know is important that gets you thrown into the ocean. Finally, and only then, was I smart enough to actually learn.

I’m bad at surfing now, but at least I know why.

Comfort the frightened, coach the clueless and teach the uninformed.

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Commit to Connect

Posted by QuickBizBreak on February 1, 2010

I posted on LinkedIn recently about my commitment to reconnect this year with contacts, friends, and past associates whom I may not have stayed in touch with throughout the year, whether here in Atlanta or across the nation.

My commitment was based on the realization that if I didn’t continue to communicate in a personal manner (primarily by telephone and written notes) with people I know, then those people tended to fade from my everyday consciousness. And if I wasn’t thinking about them and communicating from time to time, I certainly wouldn’t tend to recommend them to my newer, current contacts whom I hadn’t quite had time to neglect.

Neglect is such a strong word. But think about it. How many people do you meet during the course of a year? Think about the organizations you belong to, the events you attend, the networking that you work so hard for, the individual meetings you have with ‘potential referral sources’. And what do you do with all those wonderful people that you meet? Stick their business card in a drawer? Add them to your Cardscan file before sticking the card in a drawer? If you are ambitious, perhaps you add them to your contact management system with a notation about where you met them. Maybe.

If you are a certified Type A success-oriented personality mixed with a good dose of methodical, tracking, ‘follow a system’ type of person (do those exist?), you enter the contact information and tag them for some great electronic campaign of emails, newsletters, blog feeds, Twitter, LinkedIn and Plaxo invites. Congratulations! You just accumulated more baggage, both for you and for them.

I admit to getting caught up in the social media blitz and in fact, am about to walk further towards the deep end. However, the more I see and can’t absorb, the more I’m blitzed and try to block, the more I zig while others zag, I find that I still do business with people. A friendly voice on the phone, not a name amidst millions on a computer screen. A personal note, not an unsolicited catalog or special offer. I do business with people who recognize that I am special, not just one of many they are trying to reach out and touch in some electronic, hazy manner.

So while I continue to test other waters, I’m trying to remember that there is nothing like a personal phone call. There is nothing like a personal note. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, like a personal relationship with someone you trust and can count on to take care of business, to take care of a friend, to take care of a past associate, to take care of a new contact or client. Those are the people I will refer.

The even clearer revelation for me was that if I’m not thinking about them, then they sure as heck aren’t thinking about me. And that’s not their fault…it’s mine.

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Do You Know the 2nd Verse?

Posted by QuickBizBreak on December 22, 2009

I receive a daily devotional that I read to start my day. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s serious. It’s usually practical.

Today, I saw a practicality both from a business and personal perspective and I’m republishing it here in part. It doesn’t matter what faith you are as the message should shine through, regardless:

The 2nd Verse
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We were singing Christmas songs in a staff meeting at our family business.  The current song was “Joy to the World.”

Everyone chimed in heartily as we sang the first verse. Then the second verse began.

Bright energetic voices changed into muffled and muted hums and babbling. My mother was standing beside me. Only her voice punched through the disharmonious ramblings of the crowd. She knew every word and sang it strong and clear. It is amazing how one person who truly knows punches through the confusion.

I didn’t know the second verse along with the rest of the crowd, but mother has always been different.

Most of us know the first verse. Few of us know beyond the surface and the general knowledge of the crowd. It is true with Joy to the World. It is true with true joy.

That which separates you from the crowd is always deeper than the surface.

From MountainWings.com

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What separates you from the crowd…in your business, in your life, in everything you do?

Don’t seek to be different for the sake of being different. Seek to be authentic, looking ‘deeper than the surface’.  What do you see? Hopefully, you see something different about yourself, about others, about your business, about what you want to contribute to others. When you find it, it will truly separate you from the rest of the crowd.

David Weaver                                                                                                                                                                                                             Business Advisory Services                                                                                                                                                                                             678-620-3990

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Are You Operating Differently On-Line vs. Off-Line?

Posted by QuickBizBreak on December 4, 2009

Does your online customer service and behavior reflect the service one would expect if they walked into your store or place of business?  Are you sure?

I’m not talking about how easy it may be to navigate pages or menus, whether on-line or on-phone (how’s that for  a new word?).  No, I’m talking simple policies and procedures.  Do you require something different of your customers and prospects online than you do in person?

My wife recently faced the task of replacing a missing button on a pair of our son’s favorite shorts.  Yes, he wears shorts well into winter.  He is, after all, a teenager.  As these shorts are of a particular popular brand with their logo on the button, she couldn’t replace it with any old generic style button.

First, she called the corporate office.  After explaining the situation, she was not offered a new button.  Oh no.  She was offered a new pair of shorts!  Wow, what great service, you may think!  And it is, except that my wife had not purchased the shorts online, she had purchased them from one of the corporate stores.  Oops!  “Sorry, we can’t replace items purchased in our stores, only those purchased online”, came the reply.

What?  Does that make sense?  Not to worry.  My wife drove to the store where she purchased the shorts, with the receipt, just for kicks.  “Sorry, we don’t replace clothing items.  You’ll have to call our corporate customer service”.  Oops again.

“But we don’t want another pair of shorts” my wife pleaded, “just a button!”  “Sorry, we don’t stock buttons.”  OK, you get the picture.

Why do large companies, or even some small ones, want to make it so difficult to get resolution to a problem?  Small businesses have the opportunity to offer personalized service.  That’s one of the hallmarks of dealing with a closely-held business.  Just don’t make the mistake of changing that great service attitude when you open your on-line store!

David Weaver
Small Business Advisory Services
678-620-3990

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Upcoming Seminar: Business Planning for the New Year and the New Economy

Posted by QuickBizBreak on November 6, 2009

What are you doing to plan for the New Economy for 2010?Weaver wide

Is your business on target for stellar growth?

Donʼt miss this planning session with David Weaver, Managing Partner, AdviCoach of Atlanta

“Business Planning for the New Year and the New Economy”

Date: November 17th, 2009

Location: Doubletree Roswell 1075 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell, GA

6:30-8:00pm

Sponsored by Business 400

In this informative seminar you will learn:

* How your business can really deliver what you want out of life

* 5 Steps that every business goes through as they grow and mature and what to do at each step to be successful

* Strategic planning for the New Year and the New Economy

* Turn the current “economic crisis” into a massive opportunity for your business

* What steps you can take now to progress your business to the next level and beyond

* To rally your team around a commitment to excel and perform at their best

* To retain your best and most profitable customers while attracting your competitors best customers

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The Ideal Customer

Posted by QuickBizBreak on October 26, 2009

Everyone has one. The customer who places orders large enough to generate a decent profit but not large enough that they consume inordinate amounts of time and resources in proportion to the order. The customer whose needs represent a sweet spot for your product or service so that you deliver knowing you represent the very best of what they want and need. The customer who wants a fair price and negotiates up front, openly and willingly. The customer who understands how your product or service continues to add value to their own operation in a way that they come back with repeat orders. The customer who wants to know how they can forge a long-term relationship that provides even greater value for the both of you. The customer who is so pleased with your service that they can’t wait to tell others about it so they too can become what Ken Blanchard based an entire book on, Raving Fans.

Hard to find customers like this, you say? Perhaps we’re looking in the wrong places. While we certainly want to replicate this experience for ourselves and our company, we need to know where to look. One thing is for sure. They don’t just magically exist nor do they magically show up at our door.

While they do exist, they must be earned. Although we may not control the order size, we can look for prospects that fit our sweet spot. We can look for prospects who appreciate good value. We can ensure that we are the best fit for them before moving forward (a difficult task sometimes when cash flow is slow). We can constantly amaze them by exceeding all expectations. We can help add value for their operation in a way that they want to add value to ours.

So where do we look? We can start by looking in the mirror. Do we model the kind of culture in our company that empowers employees to strive for the best in all they do? Does our team deliver above and beyond on all our promises? Is it a part of their culture?

Let’s hear from you. What makes an ideal customer for you and what part do you play in earning and keeping them?

David Weaver
678-427-8098

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Are You Building A Business, Or Simply Self-Employed?

Posted by QuickBizBreak on September 26, 2009

WeaverAre you building a business, or are you simply self-employed? That question was asked recently in the E-Myth business blog at E-Myth Worldwide.

E-Myth founder Michael Gerber states: “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business-you have a job. And it’s the worst job in the world because you’re working for a lunatic… You can’t close it when you want to, because if it’s closed you don’t get paid. You can’t leave it when you want to, because if you leave there’s nobody there to do the work. You can’t sell it when you want to, because who wants to buy a job?”

Ouch! Does this sound like your business? Certainly if you are a sole proprietor, it should, because there simply is no other person to do the work. In Gerber-speak, you are the Technician, doing all the work yourself.

As my friend and fellow Atlanta business owner Greg Pierce says, “I’m enjoying the benefits of business ownership by making my own decisions. I get to choose which 80 hours of the week I want to work!”

Perhaps you don’t operate as a sole proprietor but instead have 50 employees. Congratulations! You may no longer be the Technician but instead the Manager, managing those who do the work. You’ve earned some flexibility but you still have to manage those who are doing the work so what have you gained except a larger workforce and perhaps more headaches?

“But I thought I was in a good place!”, you might say. “What other way is there to work?” Ah, glad you asked. There is another step and that is to the level of Entrepreneur. A true Entrepreneur builds a stellar management team who fully comprehends the goals of the organization, is empowered to make decisions and is compensated based on the success of the company. They, in turn, manage the staff who are the Technicians, providing the products and services of the company.

As the E-Myth blog states, “The ultimate goal for most entrepreneurs is to have a business that can carry on without them. A business with real value… A business that supports you to live a truly enviable life.”

In order to achieve this goal, strategic business development is required, including mastering the various components of the business. Of course it helps for the business owner to understand how the business needs to operate to support the goals within their own lives. Ultimately, the business is there to serve the business owner, not the owner to be a slave to the business.

So, are you building a business or simply self-employed? Every business owner needs to understand the difference between self-employment and building a business. My guess is that you don’t want a job, but to become an entrepreneur!

David Weaver
678-427-8098

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4 Strategies to Prepare Your Business Now for the Rebound

Posted by QuickBizBreak on August 21, 2009

333190_japeth_tip-inWe’ve all seen articles about how to grow one’s business during the current recession or how to survive the economic downturn.  We’ve even been teased and tempted at times to believe that the recession may already be turning towards better times, whether here in Atlanta or other parts of the country.

Regardless of what your thoughts are about when the economy really begins to rebound, what are you doing to prepare for that time?  Admittedly, part of the equation is trying to determine what the “new economy” will really look like but regardless of what that is, I believe there are certain steps we should all consider in preparation.  In fact, John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing just posted an article on this very subject.

Borrowing from some of his insights, I agree that now is the time to try out new ideas, research and compare buying patterns, “let go of past assumptions and take a fresh look at what your customers really want”.

So what are you doing to best position your company moving forward?

Here are Jantsch’s suggestions along with my own observations:

1. Take Advantage of Technology –  I recall this vividly in the mortgage industry a few years back.  During the height of the low-interest, lend-to-anybody refi boom, mortgage companies didn’t have time to look at new ideas or technologies, even those that would have saved them considerable time and money.  Employees were working 12 hour days just to get the loans processed.  Any disruption of that flow could have delayed the gravy train.  Handling a huge lending volume is not a problem right now and some mortgage companies are investing in new technologies, planning for the eventual solid up-tick in mortgage applications.  When that happens, the process flow for those who are revamping their processes can be simplified and loans will close more quickly, more efficiently and with better quality.  Happier borrowers, happier closing attorneys, happier real estate agents, more referrals for the lender and more profitable business (bps, spreads and other profitability indicators aside).

2. Steal the Best Talent – While I don’t advocate raiding other companies, there is certainly a plethora of talent available whether currently employed or not.  What is that next position you’re going to need to help you fulfill your company’s goals?  Can you afford to hire right now?  Not if your cash flow won’t support the position but if you wait, you’ll be in the bidding war that ensues when all your competitors are hiring that second tier of talent that’s left.  Jantsch suggests that employees are less enamored with big corporate structures that have been less nimble in the marketplace.  What they are enamored with is “the prospect of working in a small business culture, touching and impacting both the customer experience and the actual products and processes”.

3. Invest in Training – It’s amazing to me how many companies have no training programs at all.  I don’t mean the massive programs that require huge investments of time and money but even the weekly sessions with employees on topics as simple as how to wow the customer at every touchpoint.  The bottom line on this one is to reinvest in your people.  Give them insight into your goals, your aspirations for the company, what’s going right or not so right and help them find the passion that you have – or once had – for your company.  If you can’t find that passion yourself, by the way, don’t expect your employees to have it.

4. Recruit Strategic Partners – Jantsche calls them ‘rebound partners’ – companies who offer products and services that your customers also need to become truly successful, helping them form the same kind of customer-centric companies that you have and position to serve your mutual customers better than anyone else as the economy rebounds.

I’ve been telling companies for some time to find strategic partners who offer complimentary products or services and who, together, you might create an offering more powerful that either of you could produce on your own.  Strategic Partners ultimately become Referral Partners and together, you can help grow each other’s business.

If you are interested in exploring these and other areas for your company, there are tactics and strategies that can pay huge dividends during both the current and future economies.  The question becomes which ones?  For that answer, as well as customized business education specific to your business, your market and your goals, invest in a great business coach.  I know a few of those, by the way….


David Weaver

Phone: 678-427-8098

Read other articles and posts by David Weaver

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Upcoming Lunch ‘n Learn: How to Supercharge Your Sales & Profits Even in An Economic Crisis

Posted by QuickBizBreak on August 11, 2009

Wed, Aug 19 from 11:30 am to 1 pm @ North Point Executive Suites, Alpharetta, GA, US851180_chart

This FREE Lunch & Learn program (lunch provided) with speaker David Weaver  – will focus on such items as: Implement a Key Performance Indicator system to show everyone on your team how their efforts are making or breaking your business; Keep more cash on hand by shedding non-essential tasks, rallying your team around a commitment to excel & returning more time to you, the business owner; Review & restructure pricing policies to ensure you’re maximizing your margins; Translate “crisis” into opportunity for your business and much, much more!

Please RSVP by Monday, August 17 to info@blazejaccounting.com

http://events.linkedin.com/How-Supercharge-Sales-Profits-Even/pub/99347

Photo credit: Dominik Gwarek

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Dealing With Collections Excuses

Posted by QuickBizBreak on July 28, 2009

296223_empty_pocket_1My wife and I replaced the foundation plantings at the front of our house this past April. Some sort of plant disease in the Atlanta area we couldn’t identify was slowing eating away at the shrubs and it seemed easier to replace them all rather than find similar-sized plantings. We paid 50% down with the balance due upon delivery. When the delivery was made, however, the driver indicated the local nursery in Roswell would send us a bill since he didn’t know the final amount due. Fast forward to July when after repeated promises from the nursery that someone would call with the correct billing amount, we simply stopped calling. This week, someone finally found the outstanding balance, called us, and we paid.

While this example is most likely an oddity in these times of reduced sales for most businesses, it got me thinking about billing and collections practices of small businesses. An important rule of on-time collections is to have on-time billing. Otherwise, we may be setting the stage for late payments from our customers by our own actions. Showing clear payment terms at the point of sale is perhaps the number one rule. If customers aren’t sure of your terms, don’t expect timely payment.

I ran across a great article in Entrepreneur magazine with more insight into collections. Steve Wideman with Credit Control LLC recommends alternate payment methods, such as a credit card, if a customer is asking for terms. “If they’ve got an order for $500 or $1,000 and the owner won’t put it on his credit card, you’ve got a problem. You know he doesn’t have the confidence that he’s going to have the money to pay for things.” Lawyer Steve Harms, co-author of Credit & Collections Kit for Dummies, suggests setting up an installment payment plan with the first payment due today. Insisting on “today” is key, he says, because it’s a test of whether the client is lying.

If a customer is facing personal problems that are preventing them from paying, perhaps a family illness, Harms advises that he still needs to get him “to prioritize my bill even though he’s got personal problems. He advises structuring a request for payment in a way that shows concern for the client while cautioning him against causing further problems by creating credit and business problems.

“The check is in the mail” is a common response from late-paying customers. There are only so many times you can hear this and that number is two. After hearing it the second time, Harms is concerned the customer is lying. “Tell the client you’re sending an overnight delivery service to his office that afternoon to pick up the payment…and insist on a cashier’s check.” If a customer isn’t paying you, they cease to be a good customer.

What to do when a customer doesn’t take your calls or respond to voice mails and e-mails? The article suggests confirming if the business still exists, checking the company’s website for any relevant news, ask other suppliers if they are experiencing the same kind of collections problems. Check your files for other contact information such as home phone and address, personal e-mail addresses or even Facebook or Twitter contact information. Send a certified letter demanding payment. The last step is a collection agency or even small claims court.

Alan Hauff, director of the University of Missouri-St. Louis Small Business & Technology Development Center, recommends flipping the conversation. “Bring it back to: ‘We need this business relationship. I need it, we need it.’ “ Don’t be afraid that needing your money now is a show of financial weakness. It’s not. It’s a sign of sound financial management.

David Weaver

678-427-8098

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