Showing posts from April, 2009

Spouse AND Business Partner

photo: Erica Marshall

This is going to be a series, I can tell.

Over these many years, I have worked with quite a few couples in business together. It's always been interesting, sometimes it's been great and on a few occasions it's been impossible. First, lets talk about how couples end up in business together:
The have a complimentary skill setOne person starts the business and the other finds themselves "helping out" all the timeThere are two distinct parts to the business and each takes on a pieceAn employee leaves and a spouse ends up taking on that role, unplannedWhat makes it especially interesting to work together is:
You don't get the same amount of "alone" timeYou have to decide how to appear to others: The Madison's vs Dick Madison and Ann MadisonYou need to think about how you communicate in front of othersIf we were to just take these three points they would probably feed into all the other possible issues and concerns…

The Small Things

...That Get in The Way

I write all the time about how you cannot "see the forest for the trees" when you're right in the middle of the FOREST. Are you on a path or are you walking in a rut? There can be a rut, worn into your path by the way you do things. Some of these things you do well and they do well for you. Some of these things, not so much.

Most of the time, when I meet a new client they have some idea that "only if..." something were different, they'd be doing so much better. It could be postage costs, unruly suppliers, or an office space that's costing them too much. I can confidently say that I never agree with their assessment of what's wrong. Sure, what they identify as not working in their favor is probably not helping their situation, but it's not THE thing.

THE thing that's not working for them is something that is much more in their control. That's the good news. The bad news is that sometimes THAT thing is something they re…

But How do I Get There?

photo by Erica Marshall

For business owners who are about to hire me, this is generally where they are. Let me give you a look inside our process...

Step 1 Where are you now?
Take a full inventory of where exactly are you in your process.Pull out your original business plan (hoping you have one)Pull out your financial statementsStep 2 Clearly define where you think you want to go.
Make a list of changes to your current offeringsDefine what elements have not worked for you as well of those that have
What are the new services or products you want to offer.That should keep you busy for a while! Yes, those who do not learn from the past, will be doomed to repeat it. Starting with NOW before moving to TOMORROW may seem like a "no-brainer" but in our excitement to move to the next level it can be quite easy to gloss over some essential points like:
Did I ever reach my target audience?Why not? Was it not the right audience?Was my product not priced correctly?Did the m…

Sentimentality and Business


Does it have a place?

I put this idea of "sentimentality" out there in Twitterland and I asked what people thought I might be blogging about. Most folks thought I would be talking about the value of respecting the past. I'm not going there.

I want to talk about how sometimes we hold onto parts of our business that aren't working for us, just because we really "like" those parts or they hold some personal significance for us. What are those parts of your business that you hold dear, that you would never give up?

Your business name?The color scheme on your website?Your pricing system as it related to what you see your competition charging?What YOU do in the business?What you DON'T do in the business?
I know of a store owner that spent a great deal of money on "the best" merchandise, beautiful remodeling, a killer staff and prime location. It was only 6 month after they opened that they realized the bulk of what they bought, …

View to an Entrepreneur-Volunteer

Lending a hand!

One of the most common questions I get from folks looking to start a career, change careers or add to their skill set is: How do I do it is I haven't done it?

Getting someone to give you the chance to learn something new, or prove yourself in a given field can be quite a challenge. The marketplace is competitive and taking a chance on someone who isn't showing their experience in a given field is more than most employers are willing to extend to a newcomer.

Volunteering is a great way to get your chops in a new field or to develop that new skill set. You may already have a degree in that area, but without "real world" experience possible employers may not give you the time of day.

Perhaps you may want to work for an employment agency or in HR. A possible connection would be any position where you are interviewing people, managing people or being a "group leader". In the business world, managing other people really puts you further up the ladder…

Too Much Noice or in a Vacuum?

Photo by Mondomuse
I personally feel different about this question every day. I can be and feel both ways all the time. I chalk that up to technology for the most part. We spend our days on a computer, with information coming at us from all directions, but there we are in our own space, working alone or in a small group.

Other than the obvious suggestion of "we've gotta get out a bit more", I think the other best suggestion is to not just surround ourselves with people who are doing what we're doing. It's so easy for that to happen, in our desire to have and create community but there comes a point where it does become a vacuum. We validate each other: "Oh yeah! Things are really rough out there and no one appreciates what we're doing!" or "This is the next happening thing. Don't you see everyone on about this right now?"

The people who see trends coming from a distance are the Visionaries for a reason. They put together all the elements …

Who is My Competition?

Erica Marshall/

...And how am I different?

Someone asked me the other day if and how they should engage with their "competition". I'm putting that word in quotes, because when she wrote it, I tried to not make any assumptions about what she intended because what defines someone as our competition?
They sell the same thing we doThey provide the same service that we provideThey advertise something the customer views as similarThat last one is particularly interesting to me as a Business Mentor. In my case, folks may not even know what I do, but lump me together with folks providing a variety of small business services. This means that unless you differentiate yourself in the marketplace, you may not have an even be reaching your audience.

20 years ago, or even 10 years ago it took a lot of work to figure what you were up against in the market. Perhaps you "shopped" someone else's product or service. These days there's so much information av…

Tipping Point

Photo/Erica Marshall
I talk to so many people who are a tipping point in their business:
They are working as hard as they can to fulfill the needs of their customers and they're really happy that things are going well. They just don't know how to get to the next level

What that next level looks like can vary:
Servicing more clientsMaking and selling more productExpanding to new marketsSelling higher price-point items/servicesIt's always an educated risk to try something new, moving to the next level. Of course the key word here is Education. You need to alter your original business plan to incorporate these changes.

Let's say that you're flat-out, doing what you do. You can only make as much money as there are hours in the day. That is, if you're the only one doing the work. But, if you have someone else help, you that means that you're going to take time out to train that person to help you. How can you do that??

If you re-evaluate your work-f…

Cross Pollinating

For the first time since I've started this blog, I'm going to cross-post something from my knitting blog because I think it speaks so well to the entrepreneurial experience. So, instead of posting it here as well, I'm gonna just send you on over to meet
Brenda Dayne: