All of us at some point in time learned a new card game. Maybe it was “Go Fish” or “Crazy 8’s” or even “Poker.” As we were taught, one of the techniques was to play a dummy hand of the game. If you are unfamiliar with this term or approach, basically the cards are dealt to the players and all the cards are left face up on the table in front of each participant. Instructions are provided by the teacher and then play commences by showing how each person may play the cards they were dealt. This process continues until the round is completed. Additional instructions are provided so that the next round the participants hold their cards in their hand. Others are unable to see what they have or how they may play the cards.
During the first few rounds of the game, you most likely were remembering rules and how those rules would affect the playing of the cards dealt to you. Your ability to keep not only the rules in mind but how to leverage those rules to achieve the best outcome was occupying lots of brain cells. The more you played the game the more those rules and decisions on which card to play on any given situations improved.
Business has a lot of the same characteristics as learning and playing games. The problem is that we get so caught up in it being “Business” that we take the fun out of the game. Think about playing a game as a child. You either liked the game or not. If you liked it you continued to play it. If you didn’t then you found something else to do with your time. As business leaders, there are some of you that have lost the enjoyment of running a business. The fun has been taken away. All the daily challenges mount up and distract you from being part of the fun of business.
That is not to say that business is always fun. Even playing cards can be frustrating when you are dealt lousy cards time and time again. That is part of the randomness of the game of cards and the game of business. Some days you get great cards and it all seems to fall into place and you win that hand of cards. The next hand or day the business is dealt nothing that matches up and you are playing from a defensive position to just not lose the hand.
This week, take a look at the cards you are currently working with – Your leadership team, your employees, your customers, your products/services etc. Maybe go back to the start of learning the game and get all the cards (challenges and benefits) all face up on the table. Look at what best suits your strategy for achieving the next best result for your business. Once you have your strategy and tactics then go out and play those cards with your team. The only difference is to make sure you share/communicate your strategies and tactics with your team so everyone is playing the same game.
Need some help to learn how to play the business game again? Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 for an initial conversation. It won’t cost you anything but a little time to maybe learn a thing or two.
Ever feel like you are under a microscope? Everyone is looking at/to you for your input and guidance? As a leader, that is part of the program you signed up for whether consciously or unconsciously. Your every action is looked at and defines what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. The same is true with your words. What you say is listened to by your staff with special attention. What you say defines what they can say and have the same amount of latitude when they are speaking. You can’t expect your people to act any differently or speak any differently than what you do on a daily basis.
The old expression of monkey see, monkey do, comes to mind.
The behaviors and language your desire at your business should emanate from you and your leaders. The foundation of these actions and words should be rooted in a solid culture based on core values. When you stray from outwardly expressing your core values – reflecting them in your language and how the words are actually delivered then you are sending mixed messages. Mixed messages confuse the staff, your customers and the marketplace in general.
In your advertising and marketing you would not send a mixed message to your customer – would you?
Then why is it acceptable to do so within the walls of your business?
This challenge exists in many businesses. There is a poor belief that a person can act one way (fake it) and then act another way (more genuine) and can flip this switch at any time to get to a given result. I will not dispute that people are great actors. They can behaviourally shift their delivery and actions to accommodate a given situation. The challenge is what defines acceptable? This is where your organization’s core values MUST be top of mind – front and center.
If they are top of mind for the leaders then they will act and communicate in such a way that affirms your core values. If they stray from the company’s values and introduce their own or some different set of values then conflicting messages are again sent.
One way to evaluate where things are at in your business is to consciously observe and catch people in the act of either affirming core values or not. This week as you look around your business, visually observe and listen to your people. When they are transacting, is the language and delivery in alignment with your core values? Be very specific in your assessment. When you see a given transaction, link the behaviors or language back to a specific core value you have for your business. For example, you see someone going above and beyond their role or duty for a customer. One of your core values has something about customer experience. Take a moment to personally acknowledge the act to the person and link it back to the company’s values. This is leadership in action.
The same is also true for drifting away from core values. Maybe there is a conflict between a couple of employees over a customer situation. Both are trying to take care of the customer (external) but forget that each employee is an internal customer of each other. Yes, the value of taking care of the external customer is part of their energy, but the means by which they take it up with a fellow employee is out of alignment.
As the leader of the business, you need to be highly aware of these situations. Capture the good ones and reduce the out of alignment ones.
Interested in getting your Core Values aligned? Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 for us to start a meaningful discussion.
Ever find yourself thinking you are always paddling upstream against the current?
Sometimes this feeling is due to some recurring events which keep resurfacing in your business that you thought you previously addressed. They somehow or another present themselves again and again and you keep taking steps to stop the issue. In these situations, you need to really look at the issues and determine if you are fixing the symptoms or the actual underlying problems. Too often the symptoms are addressed but the problem just reoccurs again and again. I relate this to the taking of a pain pill to stop your aching back only to have the pain recur again and again because the pain is just the symptom and not the actual reason the pain exists. The pain pill gives you relief but in no way fixes the root cause of the pain.
In some cases, this paddling upstream against the current is planned and a strategy to grow a business. In some circles, they like to refer to these businesses or leaders as “Industry Disruptors.” This group of businesses and leaders set out to paddle upstream and do things against the normal flow in order to gain an advantage in the marketplace. This group alters what the general public and consumers define as the way it is done.
Early on in the automotive industry, Henry Ford brought in the assembly line. Changing from teams of people moving to various stations around the factory to work on portions of the building of the vehicle to moving the vehicle past groups of workers to apply their skills to build the vehicles. This major disruption of prior workflow was a significant contribution to the efficiencies by which vehicles could be built. This, in turn, allowed the vehicles to be sold a more cost effective price point allowing more citizens to participate in the transportation disruption – moving to automobiles from carts and buggies pulled by horses. As you can see, sometimes one disruption in the way something is done is in response to another disruption or is fueled by the other disruption.
Paddling upstream in your business is not a casual choice. It is strategic. It requires proper planning and understanding of the pros and cons of the choice. Being a “Disruptor” can bring bad results and threaten your business.
Much like the word “Entrepreneur,” which is used and associated with many small business owners, the word “Disruptor” is reserved for a small select group of people and business where their core values and culture allow for this to be part of their special ingredient to grow their business. In reality, there are very few small business owners that are genuinely Entrepreneurs or Disruptors. Most business owners are great technicians in their craft and simply want the opportunity to run the business their way not an all new way.
This week as you look at your past results and future plans, consider how paddling upstream can be used for a positive outcome. If you keep dealing with recurring issues, dig deeper into the root causes and get them fixed. If you want to be a bit more risk oriented, look at what you and your business might consider to disrupt the norm and make a new way of being successful.
If you plan on either cleaning up the recurring problems or making a new way of conducting business, give us a call – JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945. We have experience in working with serial Entrepreneurs.
The other day while meeting with a colleague we got into a discussion about the ups and downs of building a business. As we spoke, the children’s game of Chutes and Ladders came to mind. If you are unfamiliar with the board game, the basic premise is climbing ladders advances you to higher level toward winning the game and chutes drop you down levels thus having to repeat steps or spaces on the game board to ascend to higher places and win the game. The game board is filled with various sized ladder and chutes. In most cases, the rise or descend is only a space or level but in some cases, it can move you multiple levels from almost winning to almost losing. In this game, the advancement on the game board is random via spinning a number wheel.
So what does this have to do with building or running a business?
Although your actions to run your business are not random, they can take on a similar effect if they are not guided by core values, strategic objectives, plans of action etc. During the course of building and operationalizing your business, you have experienced both chutes and ladders. The ladder may come in the form of finding that special talent that when hired moves your business forward at an accelerated rate. It is not that you skip steps or spaces like in the game, but you enable your business to embrace this resource and allow the energy to flow into the achievement of objectives. Chutes come in the form of setbacks. These can be the loss of a sales opportunity, a change in vendors, cash flow challenges or not enough funding to move the business forward fast enough.
The good news is that just because you slide backward in the game or in building your business, you are not out of the game. You just need to gather yourself together, pick up the pieces and again move forward toward your objectives. In your business, as indicated earlier, your progress is not a random spin of the number wheel. By applying yourself, understanding your market, the trends, the competition, your customer’s needs, staffing etc. you can put in place specific steps to follow which govern your ascent to greater results.
As we wrap up the end of September, we have 3 remaining months of the calendar year 2018. It is time to assess where you are at, what else can you do to affect your bottom line and begin to strategize for 2019. This week take some quiet time to reflect on the ladders you have climbed this year and the chutes you experienced. How can you plan to use more ladders in the coming days, weeks, months and years while avoiding the chutes which drop you back and cause more time and money to be spent only to return you to a place previously achieved?
Maybe it is time to get a little out of your comfort zone and call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945. We will bring our ladders truck and assist you in using them in building your business.
As we head into the final months of the calendar year we reflect on the plans set in motion in late 2017 and begin to plan for 2019. This ongoing action of planning, taking action and then measuring results is key to the success of the business and its’ future.
The question needs to be asked – Are you getting the results you planned and was the action taken the correct steps to get there?
As you start looking to plan for 2019, not only do you need to review the results and determine where and why they were achieved or not, but also were the actions taken the correct ones? Sometimes the plan is only the goals and not the details on how the goals are to be achieved. Leadership sets in motion the targets and allows the details to be part of each managers domain. This can be a good practice if the managers have and demonstrate the ability to translate objectives into action steps.
With football season at hand, the analogy of a football field without yard markers or goal posts would seem rather strange. The field is laid out for good reason and structure. The goal posts at each end of the field signify the target to score points. The yard markings allow for a team to measure its forward or backward progress as they move from one position on the field to the next. This is true in your business as well. If you play your business game on a field without targets and means to measure progress toward or away from them then you are floundering in a field of daisies.
This week as you look at your business, pay close attention to not just the results (+/-) but also the steps taken or not taken to produce them. Are your managers doing more than just telling people what to do rather than getting them to take ownership in the steps and the results to get to the goals?
As you look at your business, when was the last time you set aside a meaningful strategy day to review and look at the future of your business, your people, your clients, and your products? Now is the time to call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 and put a strategy session on the calendar so your 2019 plans can be flushed out, action taken and results in the form of increased profitability can be measured.
We all have various behavioral styles that express decisions that we make. Some of us show a more demanding/control oriented demeanor. Others are more reserved, methodical in their approach to the outward expression of the decision. Still, others have many others ways to express the decisions they make.
That is just the outward delivery of the decision. What gears are turning on the inside when you are faced with making decisions? Do you use your gut level instincts? Do you rely on the gathering of data points and analyzing them? What is your process or method?
Maybe you never stopped and thought about it. In the day to day interactions with many business owners, I witness a variety of styles and processes for decision making. Some are very good and some get in the way of the end desired results. No one way is right for everyone nor even for the same person.
I would always encourage an owner to have and understand the data points related to the decision at hand. This is the metrics side of the business. Hiring additional staff or making terminations without understanding the financial ramification outlined in numbers, then you are back to guessing. Guessing should never be confused with gut instinct. Gut instinct absolutely plays a role as it can factor in such subconscious items as attitude or past experiences with situations that either proved good or bad.
The level of impact a decision may have on a business, person, client etc. plays into the process as well. Where you are going to eat lunch may have little impact on your business that day unless you are meeting a client and then location can either send an intended statement or conform to a particular objective of the conversation to be had at the meeting. The impact a change in employee benefits can affect how you and your business are looked at in the eyes of not just your employees but the families of those employees.
This week as you make decisions take a few moments to capture in your mind the process you take and the level of intensity you are putting into the decision. You will find that your approach differs based on various factors. Knowing what those factors are can help you when many decisions are at hand and you don’t just move from one to the next using the same process. This can lead to decisions which others think you put no thought process into and simply went by your gut.
The more strategic the decision is the more intense the energy. As decisions get more tactical, you may use fewer data points and more gut instinct. That is not always the best practice. Sometimes skipping steps on tactical decision leads to having to make greater strategic decisions because the end result of weak tactical decisions now forces a strategic decision in its place.
Wondering how you go about decision making? Give JKL Associates a call and we can explore your process. Call us at 313-527-7945.
The other day I was doing a little cleanup of loose change in my vehicle and was surprised how quickly it accumulates in those cup holders. This oddly enough started me to reflect on the events which propagated the change to collect and that it was just set aside for me to deal with at a later time as I was doing just then. This intern began to quickly flow into thoughts about both clients and JKL Associates on how certain transactions cause changes which we set aside to deal with at a later time only to not get back around to closing that loop.
In the business environment today, change is inevitable. Sometimes it is caused by the marketplace, customer demands, industry, government and yes, actual constructive improvement. When these changes are planned, we attempt to do a reasonable job of taking into consideration the downstream effects and how one change can lead to a series of changes that initially were not intended but to be complete are required to be addressed. When the changes are thrust upon us our initial action is to bring that event to a point of stability and then return to what we were involved with prior to that change taking place. Unfortunately, that change which was not well planned out still has downstream reactions that in order to be complete MUST be addressed.
Returning to how this thought chain was started, (loose change in my vehicle) I began to add up the various coins and it added up pretty quickly. The amount was substantial enough to actually pay a toll road excursion I took to a client. It is pretty strange to see how these small and perceived to be insignificant coins actually when combined together amounted to a sum of value which reduced an expense.
Change – both the coins and the shift in the way something is done can have that effect.
At the time when a new way of doing a process or procedure is rolled out to your team, it can sometimes be weakly accepted. Why does this happen? Well, one reason is that typically the change is rolled out but the backstory and purpose for the change is never fully provided. It is too often assumed that everyone knows the why or purpose for the change. This leaves lots of gaps which create questions which end up like the change in your vehicle – something you will get back to in the future.
This week take some time to clean up the change both in your car and in your company. Look at the changes which have recently taken place and ask yourself if the “Purpose” or the “Why” was provided in addition to the actual change. If not, it is time to gather up the loose change and make a buck or more with it by improving your teams’ ability to integrate the changes.
Curious about making change a more fluid and productive part of your business model? Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 and let’s have a conversation.
This weekend is “Labor Day.” Traditionally this weekend marks the end of summer. Children head back to school. Businesses begin to work out the summer blues, vacations, and other distractions. They get ready for the next 3 plus months of work until the end of the calendar year.
This weekend is also a time to reflect on the “Labor” of love that each and everyday you awake to partake in because it fulfills some part of who you are. Each day you invest time, energy, emotion and other resources into the business.
For some, the business is who and all they are. For others, it is just the expression of their talents. Regardless of which applies to you, this weekend is about reflecting on the contribution through using your talents to build something greater. To take the God-given talents and through your own free will to apply them in such a way that others can, directly and indirectly, benefit from your business.
So take a few minutes this week and reflect on your business as it is today. Reflect on the past so you can learn from both the good and bad which you have navigated. Look to the future so you can plan positive strategies which take you and your organization to the next level of results.
As you begin this reflection, capture your thoughts in a journal so you can use them as you begin your next year of business planning.
Interested in having a stellar 2019? Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 and invite us in to help facilitate your next business planning efforts.
Without sales, there is no business. You can have the best products and services but if no one buys them all you have is inventory.
So as business owners we sell to get the business going and then we hire others to sell into the marketplace to grow the business. As this sales team grows, you as the top salesperson in the company not only take on the continuing effort to sell but also are now required to manage other salespeople. This process continues until one day you decide to hire or promote a person to be a sales manager.
This transition does not always come easy and many times the conflict of doing the sale your way vs. another way can get in the way of progress. There is no question that as the lead owner in the business your passion and your word carry a lot of weight with prospects. Your actions can affect the closing of a sale where your staff using the same approach get shut down or delayed.
For these reasons, you need to have a sales process which can be followed to bring a higher number of qualified opportunities into your organization. As the owner of the business, you may or may not have had some prior sales management experience but with whatever tools you have, they have worked to initially grow your business. That does not necessarily mean it can be repeated consistently going forward.
This week take a look at your sales approach – not the marketing and advertising side of the opportunity creation but from the step of identifying a meaningful qualified lead to the point of making a prospect your longterm customer – closing the sale. The entire sales pipeline can be cultivated more effectively and efficiently by having a defined approach and system for qualifying and investing company resources into an opportunity.
In your business, there is the process of managing a specific sale and there is the process for managing all of the sales and future revenues for the company. Some salespeople are great at managing their own individual sales but fail or flounder when being placed in a management role to manage the sales pipeline for the entire company. In one case the person needs prospect interpersonal skills and in the other, they need both prospect skills and internal company team skills. Motivating a prospect to buy is different from motivating other salespeople to sell.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed too many company owners promoting their best salesperson to be a sales manager only to have them fail in that role. Once this happens, your best salesperson typically can’t stay at the company as a salesperson as they may be looked at as having failed or been demoted. They then go to sell against you at the competition. This can and has been successfully navigated by companies JKL Associates has worked with by having a complete upfront understanding of expectations and the exit plan should it not work out. Both parties are kept whole and both understand the value of each role in the success of the individual and the organization alike.
Looking at your sales team and needing to reflect on potential changes? Call JKL Associates at (313) 527-7945 to navigate to an effective strategy.
As business owners, we should be in touch with the pulse of our organization. We use metrics to let us know how we are doing. We measure such things as Profit & Loss, productive hours, return rates, turnover and many other indicators of how well the business is doing. Based on these indicators, decisions are made for investments, changes, expansion, growth etc. When the metrics are good then positive actions take place. When the metrics are weak or trending in that direction then we view them as potential symptoms of other issues which need attention and plans to correct.
It all just seems to be part of the natural running of a strong business.
The question then must be asked – why then do so many business owners not take the time to get the same metric input regarding their personal health?
Each year starting in August, many businesses start the annual process of business planning for the upcoming calendar year. They look at the first 7 or 8 months and trend a forecast as to how the business will end up on December 31 of this year. The effort to plan out strategies for 2019 begins with re-evaluating products and services. Possible outside influences of the industry and of competition get factored into the plan and so on. Business plans and strategies emerge into a set of both tactical and strategic actions to bring a defined result to the future of the business. This annual analysis of health checkup takes place and is considered a proactive way to build a stronger organization and profit.
As logical and natural as this set of steps are to the running of the business, the owners or lead resources in the company do not take the same effort or energy to protect one of their most valuable assets –
As critical to building a successful business as having a defined “Promise Culture” where purpose, passion, and promises provide a solid framework to growth, so
This week take the time to schedule your annual physical if you have not already had one in the past 12 months. Yes, it takes a short time away from the business and maybe you really don’t want to hear the doctor say this or that about your health, but it is better to know the indicators of
Although we at JKL Associates are not in the medical profession, we are in the business building arena. Why build it if you can’t enjoy it or perpetuate it into value for your future portfolio. Need help with the business planning portion of building your business? Call us at (313) 527-7945.