MANY READERS MIGHT WELCOME THIS…I HOPE Starting this edition, I will include an article that I think will be useful to businesses large and small. Each edition will have a different article. I will continue to post them on my blog at http://mariotti.blogs.com/my_weblog/ I will also continue to write commentary on what's going on around us, in business, the economy, the world, and in public affairs, and the up coming 2014 elections…and prospects for the 2016 elections. I'd like to promise that these would come out regularly on a specific day, but sometimes, the news, events and my schedule get in the way…so I might be early or late. That's why I encourage everyone who wants a timely personal copy to be added to my distribution list for direct email of THE ENTERPRISE. That includes friends of yours (and maybe even enemies)?
Making a Difference—Helping People Succeed When you live in one of the fastest growing suburban areas in the Midwest and maybe in the country--Powell, OH and surrounding Olentangy River Valley, you don't always realize how dynamic a place it can be. Forget about the traffic on the same few north-south roads that everybody uses--that's the price of progress. Ignore the slow down and occasional congestion at the "four corners" of Liberty and Olentangy Streets, that characterizes Powell and a small village by its ambience. It's such a picturesque little area, slowing down to 25mph just gives drivers a chance to appreciate it.
One of the best parts of this area is the terrific people who live here, and the many businesses that thrive out here. Many of the people are prominent leaders, often of much bigger businesses, and/or other area organizations. They just happen to live here in the Powell-Olentangy area. The many small businesses that dot the streets of the area add a special character to the area. It feels like “home.”
After practicing management and leadership for more years than I want to admit, I am now in the mode of "giving back." I've learned a lot over the years about how to lead people and manage businesses that succeed. Now I want to "make a difference" by sharing that knowledge (and the bumps and bruises along the way)--because nothing teaches you better than tripping over something you didn't even know was there--and then getting up, dusting yourself off, and vowing not to make that mistake again!
Each week I will share some learning that will be useful in avoiding mistakes that others have made--things they tripped over--and some time-tested advice on how to avoid that mistake, and do something that works, instead. Each new column will build on some of the prior weeks content,(so try to read them as they come out), but each one will also stand alone and be useful in its own right. Since this introduction took so much space, let's open with a series of questions to make you think. As you read this, take a little snippet of quiet time to think before you decide to do anything--just a few minutes is usually enough--if you shut out all the distractions and really concentrate. Here is the first article in the series:
What business are you in? That’s such an obvious question, but before you stop reading, do you really know the answer? The most important point is whether the business you are in is the one you think it is in.
WHAT? The answer is “you are in the business you are in”--that's the one where the most people give you the most money for the goods or services you provide. Take a few moments and think about this statement. Then check your records, your invoices, or your cash register and answer it again. You see, “The real business you are in” comes not from what you decide it is. It comes from the people who are willing to trade their money for what you are selling—CUSTOMERS! You’d be surprised how many businesses, large and small, answer that question with the business they thought they were in—until they did some checking—and learned the truth. It’s OK if you didn’t get the answer right the first time. Now that you know the right answer, you can build on that.
WHO? Who are your best customers—biggest, most frequent, most profitable, etc.? They may be companies, but these are all populated with and run by people--so those people are your real customers. Are they male or female, old or young; upper, middle or lower in the organization; wealthy or not so wealthy; married or single; highly educated or not; from nearby or further away; and so on? Think hard about this.
Who really makes the decision to buy what you are trying to sell? If you sell gift type items, the shopper you see may not be the intended gift recipient—grandparents buy for kids, parents buy for adult children, or friends, and vice versa. Do you sell to end users, consumers or "gate keepers?" Are they professional buyers, or casual shoppers; people on a mission, and in a hurry? Do they need your help? Or do they simply have a problem you (and/or your product) can solve, which is often the case for service providers.
WHERE? Look around you, in your town, your area, your state or the entire country (or world!) and see who else needs what it is that you are successfully selling. Where are they located? Chances are there are plenty of prospective new customers (clients, etc.) out there. Now you need to decide how far away to reach out to them.
Your best chance for success if to find more people like the ones who have been your best customers and sell them more of whatever they want to buy. Don't forget, you are most successful when you are selling what your customers want to buy, not necessarily what you want to sell! HOW? How do you market your business? That question really asks, how and where do you tell people what you have for sale with a message that makes them want to come see you and consider buying from you. If your marketing advertising and promotion is local (signs, flyers, drive-by traffic, local papers, local radio, etc.) that defines one piece of geography and the kind of approach you take to it defines a demographic and social segment of the population in that area.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS? The last question for today is to consider what your goals are? You can change these—and you likely will change them as you learn and gain experience. Do you want to be the best local store? Do you want to be the go-to service provider in your chosen area? Or do you have even bigger dreams? The biggest ones we all know are folks like Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple and Jeff Bezos of amazon.com.
Cheryl’s cookies was started by Cheryl Krueger-Horn almost 20 years ago, because she simply wanted a business she could run from home, doing something she knew how to do. But look at it now—a much bigger company.) http://www.whoislog.info/profile/cheryl-krueger.html. Do you wonder what Jeni Britton Bauer was thinking when she started Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams? And what is she thinking now as it grows and grows and grows? http://www.nashvillescene.com/bites/archives/2013/09/13/jeni-britton-bauer-opens-new-jenis-ice-cream-shop-in-12south-reveals-plans-for-new-cookbook
HOW BIG, HOW FAST, AND WHY? Almost all companies start small, and then grow. The question is “grow into what, and how big, how fast, and 'WHY?” What is your true criteria for success? Sit and think about that. Or think about it while working out or walking, or flying somewhere.That’s enough questions for today. By now, you have plenty to think about.
IN FUTURE COLUMNS I WILL TALK MORE ABOUT EXPLOITING OPPORTUNITIES AND AVOIDING PITFALLS…AND MUCH, MUCH MORE…
-------------------------- MEANWHILE, THERE IS A RARE OPPORTUNITY COMING IN JUST 7-1/2 MONTHS. A MID-TERM ELECTION. (There may be one much sooner--a Primary Election, to decide which candidate is that party's choice to run in the general election in Nov.) These are critically important events because the only way to truly change the direction of the country (and it seems that most people are displeased with the direction its heading), is to change who is elected to public office--and then communicate with them once they get into office.
DON'T FORGET THAT LAST PART! Don't just vote and then forget about it. These are YOUR chosen representatives. How can they represent you properly if you don't communicate with them, sharing your views and input. You also need to support the ones you think are best…and that means both vocally and financially. I personally prefer to give financial support to individual candidates, rather than just the "Party," because even though the Party needs funding too, you are not always sure how that money will be spent and whether you will agree with those choices.
MARCH MADNESS IS HERE. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE TEAM? HAVE YOU FILLED OUT YOUR BRACKET YET? I am always amazed at the interest in sporting events in America. If most Americans took one quarter as much time getting involved in how their country is run and who is chosen as elected officials, the country might not be in the mess its in right now. Sporting events are fun. I love them. I also love America, and it needs "love" right now…because unless you haven't looked lately, the greatest country in the world is slipping…in a lot of areas. So, while you are filling in your bracket and cheering on your favorite team, make a resolution to find out who your elected representatives are (state and Federal) and make an appointment to see them.
WHO IS YOUR REPRESENTATIVE--STATE, FEDERAL, HOUSE OR SENATE? DO YOU KNOW? FIND OUT! Go prepared with a short list of topics on which you want to hear their position and compare it to yours. And while you are at it, think about supporting their next campaign with just a small amount—like $25—IF you think they will represent you well. If not, find out who is opposing them and check out that person's position on the issues. Sometimes you will like them even less—or more. At least you won't be "voting blind." If you find someone you really like as a representative, talk that person up to your friends, family and associates, to help get them votes. That is how America must work--for it to really work well.
-------------------------- THAT'S PLENTY FOR NOW. YOU'VE GOT A LOT TO DO! BEST, JOHN
--------------------------- John Mariotti Go see my latest at: http://www.mariotti.net ---------------------------