Vol. 10, No. 11 – August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Six Dimensions Of Successful Small Business Owners

Business owners need many qualities to be successful. But in a recent report on www.smallbizdom.com, based on a survey of more than 1,100 small businesses, the Guardian Life Small Business Research Unit boiled that down to six crucial dimensions of success:

  • Collaborative: Success-oriented small business owners understand how to delegate effectively to others within their business as well as to build strong personal relationships with their management team, employees, consultants, vendors and customers. They are more committed to creating opportunities for others.
  • Self-fulfilled: They place a high value on the personal fulfillment and gratification that their companies provide them, relishing the self-determination and respect that comes from being their own boss and being in control of their personal income and long-term net worth.
  • Future-focused: They are good at planning for the short-term and long term. They have the ability to maintain a positive cash flow for the business, allowing them to pursue opportunities and weather stormy times.
  • Curious: They are open to learning from the experience of others. “They are more intensely interested in knowing how others run their businesses and actively seek best-practice guidelines regarding management, innovation and prospecting, as well as finding, motivating and retaining employees,” the report states.
  • Tech-savvy: They leverage technology to be successful, for example investing money in their web site.
  • Action oriented: They are more proactive than less successful entrepreneurs in taking initiative to build their businesses.

2. Reconsidering Tradition

Tradition is usually celebrated. We want to keep the tradition alive. But consultant Kevin Eikenberry says you need to open your mind to the possibility that you should change traditions that have outlived their usefulness in your organization. He recommends these steps:

  • Identify the “sacred cows”: What are the things you don’t ever look at or never question? What is considered politically untouchable in your organization? “When you make this list you have taken the first step towards finding a greater balance — and possibly finding a tremendous opportunity for improvement,” he writes on blog.kevineikenberry.com.
  • Respect — but inspect: Each of those time-honoured procedures or traditions had value at one time. Don’t be hasty to reject them, even if the value seems scant today. Recognize the emotional connection people may have towards them by showing respect as you inspect these events and processes for possible changes.
  • Do a relevancy check: Study whether these traditional activities support the current goals of your organization. If one doesn’t, why does it remain?
  • Rededicate your efforts: The analysis won’t necessarily produce a black and white answer. Still, your goal should be to act. “Perhaps the tradition needs to stay; perhaps it needs to be adjusted; or perhaps it is time to recreate, re-fashion or more drastically change it. Whatever the decision, rededicate your efforts to making the process or tradition highly valuable and valued,” he counsels.
  • Recognize deeper challenges: Remember if you choose to change a long-held tradition, resistance will be strong. Be patient and respectful, talking early and often about why this is being done.

3. You Don’t Have Time Not To Manage People

Often managers will complain they are so busy that they don’t have time to manage people. Consultant Bruce Tulgan’s response is that if you don’t spend time up front providing guidance, direction, support and coaching, eight things go wrong:

  • Fires get started that never would have gotten started.
  • Fires get out of control that could have been put out easily.
  • Resources get squandered.
  • People do their tasks the wrong way for weeks or months before anybody realizes it.
  • Low performers hide out yet collect a paycheque.
  • Mediocre performers start telling themselves they’re the high performers.
  • High performers get frustrated and think about leaving.
  • Managers take on tasks and responsibilities that would have been better delegated to someone else.

“You don’t have the time not to mange people,” he concludes on www.rainmakerthinking.com.

4. Learn To Ask The Magic Question

To heighten your success in selling, you need to learn to ask the magic question. In his Fast Company blog, marketing consultant Neil Baron says the magic question is any question that will prompt the other party to respond, “Tell me more.”

It should be an attention-grabbing, curiosity-raising question, which usually involves a captivating story. For example, “My company has developed a new product that has helped a leading company in your industry, X Inc., to achieve the following important business benefits… Would you like to learn what it involves?”

The trick is to generate curiosity quickly, getting the respondent to be eager for your sales pitch.

5. Zingers

  • When setting a goal, it must be stated with a firm “all-or-nothing” frame of mind. “A soft goal isn’t a goal at all — it’s a hope,” says blogger Alex Blackwell. (Source: Dumb Little Man blog)
  • Don’t feel the need to get past the gatekeeper in your first sales approach, says legendary cold caller David Rosen. If you push too aggressively, this protector of the person you want to talk to will shut the door forever. Instead, use the initial connection to collect information that will be valuable later on, getting the name of the assistant, for example, or asking when the best time might be to call to reach the identified prospect. (Source: Inc.com)
  • If you feel overwhelmed by everything you are doing, consultant Jason Womack says the place to start is with an egg timer. Set it at seven minutes don’t cheat — and then write down every single thing you are thinking about, managing, or supposed to be doing. It will probably be a huge list, more than you can handle, but with it on paper you can now start pruning. (Source: Jasonwomack.typepad.com)
  • Should entrepreneurs lie? We are taught as children not to lie, but Daniel Isenberg, a professor of management practice at Babson College, says there are times when entrepreneurs must lie — or, as they might prefer it be put, stretch or embellish the truth — in order to advance their cause. (Source: Harvard Business Review blogs)
  • Twitter limits you to 140 characters per message. Being similarly terse in your e-mails may help you get through them quicker. Try restricting yourself to five sentences or less. (Source: Ian’s Messy Desk blog)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Improving Media Releases

Question: How can I improve media releases promoting my organization?

8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter replies:

Usually you are quite excited when you send a media release, because you are touting something you see as important to your organization and of value to the rest of the world.

So it’s crucial to recognize that the journalist receiving the release is unlikely to be as excited. Journalists can be cynics. Henry Luce’s father, horrified at the youngster’s choice of career, told him that journalism would turn his wine into vinegar, which aptly describes the mind frame for many journalists. Beyond that, the journalist has no stake in your venture, and is overwhelmed with more ideas for potential stories than he or she can handle. So think from that individual’s frame of mind:

  • How can the journalist get a good story from this — a story that will interest or, better yet, excite readers and viewers? How might this story be truly special?
  • Is it a “first?” If it’s not, the fact you are doing something may be important for you but for journalists it’s not news.
  • Is there a human impact? How can you get some emotion — some heart — into the story? Who benefits, besides your organization?
  • Is there an endorser, a prominent person who will be willing to have a story framed around him or her?
  • Can you tie into some trend, or news event that just happened or will soon occur? Are you the first to bring to your community a world-wide phenomenon?

As well, think of how to make it easy for the journalist, not hard. Too often organizations call media conferences, which can actually be a burden on the media, particularly as newsrooms get smaller and smaller.

Write the release with quotes that can be used — put on paper the words you would want to be quoted as saying, to make it easy for the journalist — and consider adding additional quotes in an addendum, or running a mock interview with yourself as background. Give useful contact information for reaching you or others in the organization by phone. Indicate how you can easily bring clients together for a photo or interview, to fit the journalist’s time frame, if that supports the story.

Get out of your own head. Get into the recipient’s head, just as when you are selling anything else.

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
New Questions For Marketers

We love marketing discussions with clients, and their questions have been changing of late:

  • Clients are challenging their old mass-media advertising-oriented methods. What might work better for a local theatre company: investing in a print ad campaign, or making sure that every waiter, cab driver and concierge in town knows about their hot new show?
  • Some are leery of spending hard marketing cash on media where results cannot be measured directly. Several are experimenting with ads on Google and other search engines, and like paying on the basis of clickthroughs — evidence of real prospect interest.
  • Many are curious about using YouTube-style video, especially now that they can upload, share and watch videos themselves. More videographers are available to help produce them too.
  • Others feel overwhelmed by all the electronic options, from Facebook to Twitter to MySpace to LinkedIn: their rule for coping with multiple marketing channels has become “write once; publish many times”.
  • Some leading authors are suggesting the Internet is making us scatterbrained, unable to concentrate on a communication for longer than a few seconds.
  • Others are re-thinking the core product at the heart of their marketing. We like to ask, what could your product or service look like if you doubled the price? (Or your investment in it?)

All of these new questions make for interesting marketing consultations. 8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their marketing communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com.

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play.”

— Warren Beatty