We all hate spam. Even spammers hate receiving spam. That's why the Federal Trade Commission established the CAN-SPAM Act. Do you know what's required of you before you hit the send button on your latest newsletter/email blast?
Age, disability, race and sex. Most businesses have become familiar with these forms of discrimination in the workplace. But what about religious discrimination? What constitutes a religious belief or practice?
According to the EEOC, religious discrimination cases have more than doubled. Employees no longer leave their spirituality at home. As a business, what are your responsibilities and rights? What questions can you ask during a job interview? When can you deny an applicant based upon a request to accommodate a spiritual belief or practice? Can you require a man to shave off his beard or cut his hair regardless of his religious beliefs? The answers may surprise you.
I am not a lawyer, and therefore I can not, nor will I offer legal advice. What I am, is a professionally trained interfaith minister, mediator, arbitrator, and worked in employment discrimination law for three years, hearing situations just like these. I offer interactive, thought-provoking training and keynotes regarding spiritual diversity and its benefits, resources and mediation when needed. Contact me today!
Strategic business consultants can and often debate this until the cows come home. When does it make sense to create a business plan, and when does it make sense to create a business map instead? Whether one chooses a business plan or a business map, there is no question that one of them is a necessity for every successful business. It is undeniable that businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail.
I would suggest that a plan and a map are not exclusive. When creating a new company, it's important to take the time to create the foundation that will guide all future decisions. A full-blown business plan acts as the lighthouse that will guide your ship through the calmest and most turbulent of waters, offering light to avoid all the pitfalls along your journey. Yes, its a daunting document requiring a lot of hard work, effort, research, and input, but doing so upfront pays dividends in the long run. It gives the entrepreneur the opportunity to create a paper hologram of the organization before investing precious resources, perhaps in endeavors that do not pan out or become too costly to be affordable.
Folks like Tony Robbins are all a-twitter over the use of a business map now, instead of a business plan. A business map asks a series of shorter questions that lead an entrepreneur to draw a diagram or create a document that looks more like mind-mapping. It doesn't necessarily require the depth of research to answer the questions that a plan requires. For someone who's already running a business that doesn't have a plan in place, I believe this may be a workable alternative.
Why would I suggest the need for both? The plan is definitely necessary if one is going to seek external funding from banks, venture capitalists, angels, etc. They want to see that you've completely planned your success and how you're going to achieve it. This helps them establish trust in the entrepreneur's passion, skills and ability to follow through.
A business map tells others how you plan to achieve that success in a succinct fashion. It doesn't necessarily require in-depth supporting financials, and hard data from focus groups or market studies that might be included in the plan.
If you're an entrepreneur, there are things you need to consider in planning for your success. If you're unsure what they are, contact me. If you don't have a written plan or map, contact me. If you're off-course from your initial plan, contact me. Let's get you on the road to success quickly.
From great tragedy can come great success. My heart and soul goes out to all those who are suffering as a result of Mother Nature rearing her powerful head. Much like the image of a phoenix rising from the ashes, each of us can make the choice to rise out of tragedy in our own lives, whenever it strikes.
When one loses a corporate job, it can seem devastating, and that the world will crash down around us. But nothing feels quite the same as when our homes are destroyed, our families separated, and mementos of our happiest moments are lost forever. That's what happens in a flood - I know it personally.
But open our eyes, and we will see the angels who arrive in our lives to help lift us up; the news headlines may talk about the devastation, but turn the page and you'll see on page 2 and 3 the stories of those whose hearts open; of those that take action and start coming to offer help from all around the globe.
If the loss of a corporate job has occurred as a result of a natural disaster, our government sometimes reaches into its pockets and finds money to help. In this instance, that's to the tune of $15.25 billion in emergency funding, including $450 million for the Small Business Administration. That usually funnels down in the way of low- or no-interest loans for start-ups and those rebuilding. So if you have thought about starting up a business, now may be the time to do that. Please see the Hurricane Harvey tab here on my website.
But one doesn't have to wait until Mother Nature takes everything from you. Smaller changes in one's life can also thrust you forward - perhaps it's retirement. Perhaps it's time to start generating an additional source of income, or replacing one that's diminished in some way. Maybe it's just that gnawing feeling that you want to take control of your own life, generate "mailbox money," have something to do now that the kids are back in school, or whatever driving force has brought you to this moment.
Having spent some time in the south, I can remember hearing "There is always a good time to make lemonade." Perhaps now is your time. What does that look like?
My oldest son and I used to watch almost all the Star Trek shows together when he was growing up. The "Borg" was a consciousness collective that assimilated all who got in its path, as a way to further its mission to achieve perfection. While I don't condone attaching nanoprobes to all who come in your path, I do believe that we are all made stronger by joining forces with others who have strengths we do not possess individually.
This certainly carries over to starting and/or running a business or organization of any type. One is not expected to be an expert in finance, law, insurance, sales, marketing, branding, and more. What one does need to be is an expert on their own strengths and weaknesses. Only then can you look to enhance those weaknesses, either by gaining the skill set or surrounding yourself with those who have them already.
If you're just starting your business and have limited experience, I highly recommend that you create your "advisory board." Have an attorney, accountant, bookkeeper, strategic business coach, insurance agent, sales/marketing and communications person, and banker or other capitalist who are knowingly on speed dial. These are people who know where you want to go with your business, and can answer questions as you try to get there. Keep in mind that each of them usually sees the issue from their vantage point, and therefore will offer advice from the perspective of their knowledge base. But that's exactly what you need. Your insurance agent, for instance, may tell you that you need to purchase a particular type or amount of insurance, where your attorney and/or bookkeeper may tell you otherwise and why. You get to take in all their advice and make the ultimate decision that drives your business, having the whole bird's eye view of your plan.
For those who are already in business, there comes a time when you run into situations you've not experienced before. Who do you turn to when that happens? Your employees? I think not. Maintaining trust in your leadership ability may be crucial to the strength of your organization. Uncle Joe? Has he run a business before or dealt with the same issue? Your children? Spouse? While you may respect these people's opinions, you need to make sure your information is coming from a place of knowledge and experience without an investment in the ultimate outcome, in order to assure its only bias is in your ultimate success.
Choose your advisors as carefully as you would choose your mate. They often affect your future.
Sometimes we have the best intentions. We start a business because we're motivated to change the world, or at least our own lives. We hit the ground running, but then somewhere along the line, we settle in. We find our stride, and stay there. If we continue to run in the same place at the same pace, doing the same thing, eventually we'll dig ourselves to China in the same spot.
Elephants in circuses are trained to stay in place by chaining them at first. The elephant struggles and struggles, and eventually realizes they can't break themselves free. Once that happens, the chain is removed, and the trainer no longer fears the elephant going anywhere, because it won't. This is the same way invisible fences work with dogs. I'm sorry to say, it also works with people.
If you've been working your business for any length of time and not getting the results you want, maybe it's time to bring in a Change Agent. A Change Agent can quickly evaluate what's working, what's not, and be the spark that ignites growth and change in an organization.
Are you curious as to whether this is what you need to get to that next goal you've set? Set up a free initial consultation with me and let's find out.
There are many instances where having someone who can offer an unbiased, uninvested opinion based upon years of experience is a very valuable asset.
For instance, as an employer, if one starts experiencing a mass exodus of key employees, it can be an asset to have an outsider take a look at the internal environment to determine if there's an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
Customer satisfaction surveys that solicit unfettered, honest feedback through a third party are a great tool for improvement and quality control, but it's rare that a consumer gives the same kind of feedback directly to a corporate executive on the phone or in person.
Another example may be if your business is not doing as well as you'd hoped. Someone can take a look at a business plan and marketing plan, along with current financials, and determine if there are areas of improvement that can be made to strengthen performance. Sometimes this can mean the difference between going under or growing your business.
When trying to define and refine your business concept and model, sometimes a person who know what questions to ask to help you talk through your ideas, hopes and desires is able to save you a lot of time, effort and money by helping you avoid the costly mistakes often made by beginning entrepreneurs.
As a strategic business consultant, I have held a mirror up for many businesses and entrepreneurs, helping them to see the reflection of their organization, product, service, sales style, and more.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a particular budding entrepreneur. She knew she wanted to have her own business, and had a general idea of what kind of business it would be. We talked about her passions, her lifestyle, her education, her dreams for her future and her family's, and within an hour we had identified "that thing" that would be uniquely hers, and how to go about fleshing out the possibility of the concept. She hung up from the phone call, lit on fire, motivated, with direction, purpose and a plan. I walked away from my phone with a smile on my face and a skip in my heart that I'd had a chance to set someone on their path to happiness and success.
Yeah. I love what I do.
'til next time,
Congratulations if you've decided to start a business! You're now going to be your own boss! No more deadlines, hard and fast start times every day, and no one telling you what to do. Sounds great! So let's hang a shingle out on the door or create a Facebook page and the money will start to flow in, right? Sorry, but it's not that simple.
Statistically, over half of all small businesses fail in the first four years. The main reason for that failure is labeled "incompetence." I believe it's because many budding entrepreneurs attempt to start their businesses up on their own, foregoing experience from those who have gone before them. Perhaps the budding entrepreneur always knew they had an idea and were sure it would fly, but never did the research to determine concept viability. Perhaps it was because they didn't understand there were different business models and chose the only one they knew. Research also shows that cash flow is a big reason for failures, which oftentimes could have been addressed by planning and appropriate funding upfront.
Making all the decisions about how to fund your business, market your product, who will buy it, how to produce it, deliver it, and more is hard work. While friends and family members are willing to give you free advice on how to do it all, many of them have no experience running a business at all. Others are willing to be supportive, but only for a certain length of time before they become critical of whether you're "successful."
That's where having a start-up business coach comes in. No more making those decisions by yourself! Draw upon a business coach's experiences, connections and ability to be a sounding board. Working with a coach can save you a significant amount of time, money and other resources by not making costly mistakes and helping you to think through both new start-up challenges, but also how to think through everyday issues that come up as you start working your plan. No more being lonely at the bottom! So call or email me today to get started. You won't regret it!
~til next time,
When you started your business, of course you did every aspect of it from conceptualization to actualization. There was no one else! There was also a sense of pride in knowing that you were completely responsible for all the success you achieved. But as time has worn on and your business has taken flight, do you still find yourself doing it all? When is it time to begin to let go, and which functions should you consider delegating? To whom should you give those responsibilities?
Consider what you charge your customers for your time when you offer your services to them. For instance, consider an attorney who bills his/her clients $300 an hour. Is it more cost-efficient for the attorney to spend time with a client charging $300 an hour, or spend time in the office typing letters to request client records? With clients being more cognizant of how they spend their dollars, would it make more sense to contract with a virtual assistant to take over the typing, ordering, tracking and summarizing those records for you? Would your client be happier paying far less than $300 an hour for those services?
What could you delegate in your business? How about:
Consider letting go of some these things to save yourself money, time and become more efficient. You'll find you may actually have more time for your family, friends, hobbies, and enjoying a walk with your family pet. Spring is here! Go enjoy it!
'til next time,
I attended a presentation recently that gave some startling statistics about the number of people using social media around the world. 1.3 billion people are using Facebook these days, and after some additional research, I discovered that number continues to climb at a consistent pace, quarter after quarter, year after year since 2009. 467 million people are on LinkedIn, and 140 million people are tweeting on Twitter. Are you? If you are, do your postings give added value or just create more social noise?
Consider who your client really is, and how best to reach them. Given the fact there are 7.5 billion people on the planet Earth, and at least 1.3 billion of them are Facebooking it, are you actually putting yourself in front of your clients by mailing a brochure or placing an advertisement is a newspaper or magazine? If 467 million people are placing their profiles on LinkedIn and personally linking with hundreds of others in that environment as well, are you working those connections in the best possible way? How do you build your sales pipeline exponentially in a matter of hours using social media? What's the social etiquette for contacting someone in the virtual environment? What are the legal boundaries surrounding how you contact someone virtually?
It can be a never-ending battle to stay on top of technological advancements and social media how-to's, let alone making regular postings on websites, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and Pinterest, to name just a few. How do you decide which platform to use and when? Which one(s) are right for you? The answers lie in what you wish to accomplish, who you want to reach, and your priorities.
I'm taking the time to stay on top of those advancements and how-to's so you don't have to. Do what you do best. I'll do the rest. Call me. Let's chat. Let's get you out there in the virtual world.
'til next time,
Ronnie Roll has started several businesses from the "I Have An Idea" stage to grand openings and beyond. Her passion is helping others achieve their dreams, and her art mediums are business modeling and food.