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