Saturday, December 10, 2011

Myth Buster: No Such Thing As A Dream Job

I recently read a Facebook post encouraging people to pursue their dreams. "What's holding you back?" enthusiastically wrote the pal on Facebook.
What a crock of crap!
Let me be the first to say: there is no such thing as a "dream" job, "dream" occupation, "dream" mate, etc. The concept doesn't exist. Why do you think it's called a dream? It's not reality. Stop trying to chase dreams, slap some cold water on your face and join the rest of us in reality.
Now, I'm not saying you can't live a great life, create or find a great job. I believe you can, and it's not as hard as you think.
I'm saying the idea of chasing a dream is ridiculous. Great jobs usually develop out of hard work and dedication, not dreams. Do you think Ray Gallardo was chasing a dream as a dishwasher in the 1970s? Hell no. He was trying to make a living. He ended up moving up to a cook, then manager and then starting his own restaurant chain, Casa Gallardo.
Now, many people have dreams of starting a successful restaurant. The problem isn't following the dream. The problem is finding people who are willing to persevere through washing dishes, taking orders, scraping old food off of plates at 2am on a Sunday morning. That's no dream. That's reality. To find a great job or great career or great mate, what holds many people back isn't dreams, but reality.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Friday, August 5, 2011

Do You Have A Vision For Your Business?

In 2004, the Coca-Cola Company was struggling, to say the least. During a seven-year period (1998-2004), the company's total return to shareholders stood at minus 26%, while rival PepsiCo delivered a 46% return. At one point, the company's third quarter earnings fell 24%, one of the worst quarterly drops in its history.
Shareholder return and poor numbers weren't the only issues for the company. Employee morale was down, capabilities were lacking, good employees were jumping ship and the company's vision was unclear.
New CEO and leader Neville Isdell was given the challenge of transforming the once-mighty business back into a powerhouse.
Isdell's solution for turning the company around: "His Vision."
The new CEO wrote his vision for the company, which he referred to as Coke's "Manifesto for Growth." This vision outlined a path for the future, not only where Coke was headed, but how it was going to get there and how people would work together along the way.
He got rank-and-file employees involved in helping him create this "manifesto," which immediately improved employee morale. He created teams to tackle the issues and make sure time lines were met.
Shareholder value jumped from a negative return to a 20% positive return in just two years. By 2007, Coke had 13 billion-dollar brands, 30% more than Pepsi. Staff turnover fell by almost 25%.
How about your company? Do you have a vision? Have you shared it with your employees? Have you asked for their input?
It is amazing where the bus can go when everyone on board knows which direction it is headed.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, April 4, 2011

Need to Diversify: Don't Sell The Fried Chicken

Years ago Hardee's Restaurants came up with a great idea, or so the company thought. The idea was to sell Fried Chicken. After all, customers loved their burgers and fries, why not create fried chicken that was just as delicious. The company was searching for a way to pull in even more customers, diversify the company offerings and provide a need in the marketplace.
And did they ever. I'm not sure if you ever sampled it, but the fried chicken was awesome. There was only one small problem. In order to make the chicken so good, it took some time. In fact, Hardee's often ran out of chicken, making customers wait more than 20 minutes for the next batch. Customers, while they liked the chicken, weren't used to spending 20 minutes at a fast-food restaurant. Do you know what happened? Customers stopped coming.
In its efforts to diversify and meet a need in the marketplace, the company actually drove its customers away.
I see this happening all the time in business. Companies want to diversify their businesses, but they completely forget about their own strengths. Many entrepreneurs ask the questions, "What is not being offered today? How can we make money the quickest?" They should be asking: "What is our strength? What are we really good at?"
You don't want to end up selling fried chicken.
Hardee's learned from its mistake. It stopped selling fried chicken and began focusing on its strength: big burgers.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Everyone Is A Salesperson

Tony Rubleski, an author and national speaker on sales, recently noticed a trend forming with his audiences. He noticed more ministers, accountants and attorneys were coming to his sales seminars.
Said Rubleski in his book, "Mind Capture": "Many ministers believe that if you build it, and the message is great, people should show up. That's fine to think and believe this, but at the end of the day, whether they believe it or not, their selling their followers on the message and vision they have."
The lesson here is simple: Everyone is involved in sales. The sooner you recognize this in your organization, the more success your business will enjoy.
Everyone in your organization should be trained on sales strategies and how to help improve sales within their own jobs. Accountants, ministers, attorneys, receptionists, service techs...they all have a role in the sales process.
Start providing your employees with some sales training and tools to help them better interact with customers. You may get some pushback (No one wants to be the telemarketer who calls at dinner). However, we're all sales people. More experience in sales will ultimately help all employees. Who do 99% of CEOs say are the most valuable employees: the top sales producers.
-Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, March 21, 2011

The 5-Year Employment Contract

I remember when I bought my first car, a beat-up old Ford Mustang I bought for $700 while a senior in high school.
While it might have been laughable to the neighbors, to me it was a Cadillac. I would wash it every Saturday. When I went on errands, I'd park it way far in the back of the parking lot (didn't want to get the dings).
That lasted for about 6 months. A year later I parked in the closest spot in the mall, and I wondered how I could afford to buy a nicer car.
That, my friends, is human nature.
If you own a business you recognize this behavior. When we hire employees they come to us engaged, enthusiastic and fired up. That attitude changes over time. As the years mount, some employees find themselves going through the motions, even bored. The enthusiasm they once had for the job is a distant memory.
Owners are constantly trying to find ways to keep employees engaged, including things like open-book management, cool office environments, etc. to keep employees motivated.
Here's an idea: Why don't we put the responsibility on the employee.
What would happen if most jobs in America became 3-5 year engagements, only. Now, the average tenure for most employees falls into this timeframe anyway, but what if it became mandatory for all.
-Employees would be in a much better position. They wouldn't get bored with the details of their jobs as quickly, they would learn to become better networkers (will need another job soon), they will be forced to learn new skills and meet new people every 3-5 years (thus building their skill sets and marketability), and they will become more engaged at work.
-Employers would be forced to build systems into their companies (thus building the value) and they will be greeted with fully engaged employees.
I realize this is a far-fetched example. Maybe the real solution is force this policy on the employees that aren't bringing value to your operation.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, February 28, 2011

Your Biggest Competitor? Your Numbers

When I made the decision to stop playing baseball after my sophomore year in college, my biggest worry was that I would miss the competition. You know, me against my opponent to see who comes out on top.
What I quickly realized was that I didn't miss the competition at all. In fact, my joy for the game really wasn't about the competition. It was about the challenge of improving on my own performance. I missed going out and trying to win games for my team (more games than the year before) and I missed trying to improve on my statistics, each and every year. Hit .360 one year, the challenge would be to hit .380 the next year.
As business owners, it's the same. We're all competing against our own numbers (revenue, expense, profit, productivity, etc.) every year. That should be our focus and that should be what gets us charged up each day to work.
Lately, I've been hearing a lot of owners focus (some even obsess in my view) on their competitors. These owners will say: "My competitors are doing.....I heard they are going to start...."
There is no doubt you need to know your competition and what is working for them, but keep in mind that, as business owners, our biggest competitor is our own numbers. If we move those numbers in a positive direction, it doesn't matter what our competition is doing or not doing.
-Ron Ameln, SBM

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Human Capital: Solving A Recurring Business Problem

When it comes to entrepreneurial firms growing in the next few years, Andrew Sherman, author and business growth guru, sees human capital as one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face. “This is a real problem,” he said. “Keeping GOOD people, motivating good people and figuring out how to pay them properly is very important.”
Sherman said the real problem is a lack of “old-fashioned loyalty.” “It is not always the employees fault,” he said. “It is a two-way street. Employers need to show a commitment to people. You get what you give. If you treat employees like a true peer, they will probably stick around for a long time.
“Smaller companies need to understand what it is going to take to hold onto good people as they compete with larger companies with bigger benefits in era of reduced loyalty. Our children are growing up in an era where they are watching their parents switch jobs every three years. Small-business owners need to develop a compensation system, a motivation system and a culture that keeps employees. It’s not just about money. Everyone wants money, but people want other things as well. Small companies are in a great position to deliver big on those other things.”
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, February 21, 2011

Entrepreneurs: Embrace Your Role As Salesperson

Listen, there are just certain tasks that come with certain jobs. Take, major league baseball player. Yes, you play baseball and get lots of money, cute girls and free dinners, etc., but you also have to answer questions from the geeky, very non-athletic sports reporters everyday (I know this because I used to be one). That's just part of the deal.
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, especially a solo-entrepreneur, sales is part of the deal. You don't have a boss, don't have to clock in or ask for PTO days, but you do need to sell.
As a consultant recently told me, "How come none of these solopreneurs want to sell?" Selling is part of the deal if you want to survive. Yes, old fashioned, selling. That means cold calls, presentations, networking, alliances, referrals, the whole nine yards.
Own it. Live it. Do it now.
Your head trash can tell you all types of things: "No one cold calls anymore," "cold calling doesn't work," "People don't like to be sold anymore," "Social media is all I need anymore," --whatever.
Tell yourself whatever you want. But the fact is when you became a solo business owner, your No. 1 job became salesperson.
The sooner you embrace that, the better off you'll be.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Thursday, January 13, 2011

5 Signs Your Business Partnership May Be In Trouble

Are business partnerships for dummies? Well, at least my attorney thinks so. In many ways, business partnerships are more challenging than marriages. These partnerships bring all types of moving parts, like employees, debt, hopes and dreams, etc. Just like a marriage, business partnerships are hard to make work.
Because of financial reasons, some entrepreneurs have no choice if they want to start and build a thriving company. So, if you find yourself in one of these partnerships, look for the following 5 signs of trouble and get help early.
1. Sign No. 1: One partner says he/she is unhappy. When this starts happening, the clock is ticking. Do nothing and the partnership will end in a bad way. Jump on the problems early and start getting them resolved.
2. Sign No. 2: Little effort by one of the partners. If one of the partners starts slacking on his/her duties, that's a sign of disinterest.
3. Sign No. 3: One of the partners feels superior. If one of the partners feels he/she is more valuable than the other, that's not a good sign. The feeling of an unfair situation can often lead to partnership issues.
4. Sign No. 4: Little compromise. Just like a marriage, compromise must be present for a healthy relationship.
5. Sign No. 5: Lies. Trust is the key in any valuable relationship. If your partner isn't trustworthy, get out quickly.
--Ron Ameln, SBM