Before anyone buys anything, they have to complete their own buying continuum™ process. This is true whether they are from the government, a non-profit, a consumer, or another business. From your point of view, you want them to accomplish this process and in a specific order. If they do, your sales cycle will shorten. It will result in a win-win for you both or you will be able to cull them as a prospect with a clear conscience that this was NOT the sale for you. [Read more…]
Stakeholders: can’t live without them and sometimes can’t live with them.
They are customers, providers, allies, employees, colleagues, the government, the media, competitors, influencers and many, many others. After reviewing a stakeholder map example that had 105 entries, I came up with at least 50 more. [Read more…]
Get a partner or set up a strategic alliance — which is better for your business growth? Many business owners want a “partner” to share the load. Partners exert a lot of control no matter how little of the business they own. Use a strategic alliance instead to grow your business and keep more control.
What is a Strategic Alliance?
“If we are together, nothing is impossible. If we are divided all will fail.” Winston Churchill
In 2005, companies reported that 18% of their revenue was generated through strategic alliances. The economy has changed but there are still thousands of alliances formed each year and are critical as we re-think business post COVID-19.
According to Ard-Pieter de Man and Dave Luvison, authors of Collaborative Business Models: Aligning and Operationalizing Alliances (from Business Horizons Volume 62, Issue 4, July–August 2019, Pages 473-482), “the big challenge is to align company interests with alliance interests”. This peer-reviewed article is definitely worth reading and thinking about especially for larger organizations.
It pays to know more and think more before deciding that a strategic alliance is right for you.
Anthony Palomba didn’t know about the “Business Permission to Operate If Clauses” when he started but he does now. He started Thakgnosis, which means “to know peace” but he hasn’t found time for that as a new business owner. The business is located in Austin, Texas, but it would have been the same no matter where he was. The Business “If Clause” is everywhere and affects all businesses of every size.
What is this nemesis? Who is this desperado, this spoiler, who steals the joy of business ownership? It’s all the other “stuff” that is required in order to do business besides providing products and services to customers. The biggest culprit: compliance.
The Business Permission to Operate If Clause is translated and understood to mean “you have our permission to do business here if you….” (fill in the blank). It can be costly — as much as $83, 019 in the first year and it doesn’t get better. Older businesses spend 40 hours on average dealing with federal regulations and another 40 on state and local regulations. Non-compliance is expensive averaging $30, 651 in fines. These figures come from the January 2017 Small Business Regulations Study conducted online by the National Small Business Association. This doesn’t even mention the other certifications, requirements, orders from industry and professional groups who also control permission. It may be correct to be a little skeptical about the figures (only 1000 survey respondents) but whatever they are, they certainly impact the attitude and behavior of business owners like Palomba.
The Business Permission If Clause has been around forever — since commerce began. It is what gives every business owner the permission or right to have a business in a community and serve its people. It goes by over twenty-eight different names and 160 times more when you translate those into the major languages of the world. The two most common names “rules” and “regulations”. (See list below.)
Business Permission If Clause 28+ Terms
• International Terms for all of the above
Over twenty-two different groups plus international groups by country, decide external governance — not just the local, state or federal government control that permission. (See list below.)
Governing Bodies Who Control or Influence the Business Permission to Operate If Clause
• Federal Legislature
• Licensing Agency
• Trade Association
• Professional Association
• Home Owners Associations
• Grant Providers
• Location owner/developer
• Council of Gov (COGs)
• Insurance Providers
• Financial Institutions
• International Agencies
• EU and other groups of countries who have agreements
• Individual Countries (not including the US)
Big Problem: Keeping Up with Business Permissions
The biggest problem for new owners as well as more experienced owners is keeping up with all those names and all those external governance permissions. It is a moving target but something to add to the MUST DO Task list.
There are some general realities about them that are worth repeating to all businesses:
- Laws remain on the books after no one follows them or believes them.
- Conflict in governance exists because there are conflicting rules.
- Probably two-thirds of proposed rules won’t apply to you — one third will — so you need to read them all to find that one third.
- Government rules originate from those who gain enough power to make the rule (citizens, Unions, countries, those with a lot to gain) not from those we elect; professional rules originate from leaders of the organization and their goals.
- You will have to make choices to obey or not based on your own ethics and moral perspective.
- You will be in violation at some point.
- You will have to pay the price of your decision to comply or not to comply.
- External governance is one of the hardest parts of being in business.
It’s easy in an election season to focus on the candidates and forget about what also matters to business — those neglected Propositions. Each one has the potential to become the next Business Permission to Operate If Clause because they affect your business, your workforce, your customers, and your community. Don’t do that. Do your homework. Pay attention to them and encourage others to really think about them before they vote.
There are 7 potential customer types you could have — Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Lead, Concrete, and RAW (Radio Active Waste). But you should have only the best, the Platinum Customer. They give you money and a lot more.
If you aren’t satisfied with the value of your current customers, make better choices by setting up a Platinum Customer Profile™ identification system. This is more than just “target” or “niche” marketing. The four parts of a Platinum Customer Profile™ are demographics, psychographics, behaviors, and geography. [Read more…]
Your customer’s attitude is your guide to how you sell and how you market. It also helps you make decisions about adding to or changing the services and products you offer. Attitude is not all about a customer’s wants, desires or needs. It is about their point of view (POV)— at least as it relates to what you have to offer them. The good news is you can choose what is the best customer attitude and POV for your business success from three options. Then you can focus on attracting customers who have the right attitude match. This will make your business a lot better for everyone.
The most current LMCI numbers from Texas Workforce Commission for small business ownership in the Austin – Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA (which actually goes from Georgetown to San Marcos) are encouraging. As of the latest data (December 2017), there were over 47,800 firms. Of these these micro businesses, businesses under 20 employees, represent more than 41,000 firms (about a 1/3 more than the 2009 number of 29,500 firms discussed in this original post) and the number continues to grow. (BTW, there are currently only 232 firms with over 500 employees in this same area.)
This is not unusual. When people get laid off sometimes their only option is to create a job for themselves by starting a business. And the Austin area has been extremely supportive of this. As a matter of fact, it has been used as a major way we have been able to work ourselves out of recessions – nine that I know of since we started in 1982. [Read more…]
You can be entertained and inspired at the same time this holiday season or any time of the year with these business-related films. What a combination.
Even your family and friends will enjoy them.
So will your employees. You might want to have a movie party or film festival instead of what you usually do to celebrate the season.
Some of these holiday films are old and some are new but they have one thing in common: they will leave you with ideas, a smile and maybe a happy tear or two. Best of all none of these are snarky. The people really care about each other, instead of trying to rip each other apart or outdo each other. These are all 5-star!
1. Holiday (1938) is all about vision and sticking to your guns. Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn show that money doesn’t mean everything and that being true to your vision — even if it’s unorthodox. We know, and the characters know, that making your vision come true can be painful but rmore rewarding than following the herd and what is expected.
2. Miracle on 34th Street (1947 Maureen O’Hara & John Payne) is what good customer service should be all about — giving people the opportunity to buy if it’s the right choice for them. It’s about believing in yourself when others don’t. Yes, I believe in Santa Claus (or at least what he stands for.)
3. Desk Set (1957 Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn) is a tale of trade secrets and technology that can backfire good intentions. It demonstrates the need to recognize the employee grapevine we all have — even if we only have one employee. Every well-meaning owner should watch it if they are planning major changes to their business. And, remember what they learned!
4. We’re No Angels (1955) Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, and Peter Ustinov become temporary employees and use unusual methods to help out a well-meaning business man. Think about what your employees do for you and be thankful.
5. Other People’s Money (1991) Danny De Vito and Gregory Peck point out the good and bad of corporate takeovers. Darker than the rest of the films listed and not holiday-driven, it is highly relevant today as current businesses struggle with the issue of what is good for employees and what is good for shareholders who are also employees. It’s a thinking movie that lends itself to discussions between employees and management and even other stakeholders.
6. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017 Dan Stevens & Christopher Plummer) is not just about creatives like Charles Dickens. Most owners go through business blockages from time to time and live with businesses that always don’t cooperate. They can be messy and inefficient. Downright unprofitable and scary. When you go back to your roots and use the resources that you are exposed to, great things can happen.
We hope you will add to the list and watch some of these treasures. Be sure to share them with others.
Contract negotiations and re-negotiations can be risky business. Both parties go into it with the assumption of the potential for conflict. If you are the provider, you do have a secret weapon: your existing customers and their contracts.
These existing contracts give you precedent that you can use in the negotiations. This is especially true if you do business with a government entity. As my colleague Sandra Stenzel, founder of the Bid Resource Centers in Texas that became the model throughout the US has often said to clients, “the government wants the lowest responsive, responsible bid”. That translates in contract negotation to “we want the best deal” — unspoken is “than you give anyone else”.
In our case, our client was faced with a customer who wanted the same terms as the government got and not an increase in price from the last contract. Reasonable, but not in line with the contracts of their other clients. Our client’s goal was to provide parity with his other non-government contracts for the same work. Also reasonable and necessary for his growth in order to simplify his pricing structure which was definitely not standardized. [Read more…]
Are you driven to marketing? This is not the same as being market-driven.
Do you hate marketing your products and company? If you feel that you’d rather have all your teeth extracted than do anything with marketing, you could hate being “marketing driven”. You’re not alone. Most of our clients (except the advertising and marketing companies) don’t say “Whoopee, I get to come up with and implement my inbound or outbound marketing”. [Read more…]