After dealing with health issues since the beginning of the year I am back and focused on business growth more than ever. This is now The Great Decisions Blog. Each blog post will focus on one key decisions owners have to make to grow.
The key decision for this post is:
* Making the decision to grow your business
Many owners want to grow their business, but a clear decision keeps getting put off because of daily pressures, fear of taking the risk to grow or unsure about what business growth really means and the best route for the business to take. If you have questions about growing your business attend our events in April and May.
Panel: How to Grow Your Business and Make a Better Economy FREE
Darlene Crane Moderator successful patterns for business growth in consumer, professional and B2B services Attorney Roseanne Torres, Esq. and Debbie Pfisterer, CEO Blue Heron Inc.
Date: Friday, April 28, 2017, Time: 8:30am No registration required
Location: Sherman Balch Pavilion, St. Rose Hospital, Hayward
By the Latino Business Roundtable of the Hayward Chamber Commerce.
Workshops: LEVEL UP!! Business Growth Practices for Real People
May 2 and May 7 tinyurl.com/l6ac3sv
To help you get started thinking about growing your business now read more...
Here are some of the most frequent reasons to grow a business in the next year or two.
Circle up to three reasons why you would decide to grow your business now.
If you have difficulty making a decision about the number one reason to grow your business, you can
If you are asking questions about growing your business get answers at the panel and workshops on April 28 in Hayward and Oakland .
For more insights into the real purpose of a business check out the article below from McKinsey & Company the leading consulting firm to CEOs click on the link:
Get the Great Decisions Framework at December 6 Workshop: Achieve Your Business Growth Goals in 2017
I am very excited that our workshop Achieve Your Business Growth Goals in 2017 with the Great Decisions Framework will be video streamed on Facebook starting at 6 p.m. 12/6, on the Townsquared Facebook page.
For those or you who want to network and attend the live experience, please join us at Oakstop in Oakland on Broadway.
Click here to Register
Enter Promo Code GDF2017 for the lowest price
In this workshop you'll learn to uuse The Great Decisions Framework (GDF) to get focused and energized by creating your 2017 Vision of Success. Then turn the vision into business strategy. Next, set strategic objectives and take away your number one action item to complete in the next 30 days. Take home the brand new Great Decisions Workbook.
Location: OakStop, 1721 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
Mandela Meeting Room in the lower level
Near BART 14th Street Exit, Parking on the street or nearby lots.
5:00–6:00pm Networking and Holiday Reception
6:00–8:00 Workshop (join live stream on Townsquared Facebook page)
8:00–8:30 Networking and wrap-up
The purpose of the Great Decisions Framework is to help business owners and leaders avoid pitfalls and make effective decisions on a daily basis and be ready challenging decisions effecting the business and their lives. The framework helps business owners manage the increasing intersection of business, people and technology.
Recently, I got a call from a former client who needed help with a critical decision. I spent the next couple of hours with this person. All the data was there but the final decision was still not clear. So I suggested we go for drink to relax and let the decision surface. The person did take some time off the next day and the decision was clear. Business negotiations moved forward.
The pitfall in this situation was pressing for a decision. Releasing the tension allowed the individual to evaluate the options better. Relaxing the mind helped the individual open up their thinking and honor their values and personal goals related to the decision. Learn more next week.
Sixty Million People Make Up Gig Workforce, Larger and Potentially More Valuable than Assumed per McKinsey
Research from McKinsey & Company, one of the leading consulting firms, provides deeper understanding of the Gig Workforce. The Gig Workforce is the growing number of freelance workers,contractors and independent businesses since the Great Recession. In October, McKinsey reported that the gig workforce is much bigger than previously thought. “Up to 30% of working-age people in the United States and Western Europe are engaging in independent work, either as their primary source or supplemental source of income,” said Susan Lund, partner at the McKinsey Think Tank. About 60 million people in the U.S. are in the domestic gig workforce. Furthermore, 70 per cent of these people choose to be independent to have more creativity and more opportunity to learn and grow.
It was great to see that the study shattered the common perceptions that the gig economy was composed of primarily Uber and Lyft drivers. The report did not mention that many Uber and Lyft drivers may be between jobs while they look for professional or career satisfying positions. The report noted that these independents do grow into businesses and hire other contractors or employees.
What is important to me was the last line of the report which noted that gig workers represent all ages, genders, incomes and education levels. They acknowledge that “independent work is growing and we (in America) need to redesign what it means to have a career or a job.”
I am pleased to see that the talent and business moxie of 60 million people is finally recognized as an important sector of the economy.
My research indicates about 15% of independent workers and solopreneurs do form businesses and continue to grow. For those 9 million future independent growth businesses here are my three tips from transforming from a solopreneur to a business:
1.Validate customer demand and the profile of your ideal customer
2.Create a vision of success for your business and hold on to it
3.Learn about business at a pace you can absorb and make improvements in your business
1.Validate Customer Demand and the Profile of Your Ideal Customer
First, think about who your current ideal customers are who recognize your value. Write down the key characteristics of these customers. Also describe customers that do not work out as expected. You want to avoid taking on clients with those characteristics. For consumer products and services, business owners have to be specific about demographic characteristics of customers like age, gender, cultural profile and lifestyle. With public information verify the number of ideal potential customers and find out where they gather.
2.Create a Vision of Success for Your Business
If you and your family are dependent partially or fully on cash flow from your independent business activities, then plan and work to be successful. Start with describing, visualizing and setting goals for the success of your business. Be realistic and aim for a sales level that covers your baseline needs and allows for cash to invest in future growth. Growth may require a credit line or capital from friends, family or crowd funding.
3.Learn About Business at a Pace You Can Absorb and Make Improvements in You and Your Business Work
You are now in business so learn about it. You can start with free workshops on money management, marketing and sales, and staff hiring and management. It is also important to learn about yourself especially your strengths and weaknesses. Of course build on your strengths. If you are a good writer then improving your marketing and communications skills can help initially. But at some point you have to decide if paying for marketing and promotion assistance is better so you can lead your staff toward your vision of success.
As independents, we have to acknowledge our shortcomings and make improvements in our skills and behaviors. We have to be honest about our receptivity to making change or hire a specialist to just close the gap. Beating ourselves up or ignoring our gaps is non-productive. Our job as owners is to fix problems and keep moving forward. We have to manage the whole business to be successful.
After writing the last blog post on Marc Jacobs, Italy's Fashion Week in Milan illustrated the other end of the spectrum with a collective strategic statement on both American politics and the next stage of women’s equality. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi kicked off Fashion Week by saying, “We’re all looking at what will happen, and we will be available to welcome the new President of America—whoever she may be.” The review of the collections revealed how fashion can support the changing role of women and insights as women seek power in politics and business.
A Shift in Fashion from Power through Sex to Self-Confidence with Power
In her New York Times article, journalist Vanessa Friedman offered this very insightful comment on the Milan Fashion Week: “It crystallized a shift in emphasis from clothes that communicate power-through-sex to power-through-self-confidence. It’s a pretty significant change, and probably not coincidental.”
The designers' cooperative approach to selling products sent a compelling and impressive message to their customers, industry and the political stage. Designers including Bottega Veneta, Versace, Jill Sanders and Marni all showed clothing lines that set a tone for the commercial markets of what stylish woman leaders can wear in government, professional careers and as business leaders. Versace was quoted as saying it is “time for a woman to take the lead.” Real dresses without cut outs were showcased along with suits with big shoulders in pin-stripe fabrics and stylish boomer jackets.
Confidence to Lead is Not Quite There
The progression of women seeking self-empowerment to women confidently seeking power in government and industry is a major shift that U.S. women have not fully embraced. A recent study by the New York Times indicated that while women are pleased about a woman running for President, they are still not seeking leadership at the same rate men do. About one in two men want a leadership role in government and business. About 40% of Black women but only 25% of White women want leadership roles in government and business. Statistics for Latina, Asian and other women were not provided.
Confidence, as we all know, comes from more than clothes. Women and people of color will be the majority of small business owners by 2018, per the U.S. Census. In business, women can gain confidence and stature by doing more to manage and develop products that are relevant to the majority of the population. In addition, we can expand distribution to more communities which benefit the larger economy.
To aid in these efforts, I am finally (after years of careful refinement) rolling out my value-creation decision and implementation frameworks. The Great Decisions Framework™ (GDF) and the Seeing Solutions Map™ (SSM) are strategic thinking and action frameworks that have been taught to over a thousand graduate students and used with hundreds of managers and business owners over twenty years. This rollout will include webinars to be released in October, ongoing half-day workshops starting in December, and eight-week implementation programs in 2017.
If you have questions contact me at email@example.com.
I have to comment on the decision making of the Marc Jacobs team for the New York Fashion Week runway show with faux dreadlock hairdos. This internet blow up is an example of business decisions made without knowledge and sensitivity to the social and cultural envirnment that can affect a major product launch. The New York Times article on Sunday pointed out how the big and little players in the Marc Jacob show were uninformed, insensitive and unprepared for the blowback.
(Faux Locs, A Real Uproar. NYT 09/18/16)
Last Thursday, the Marc Jacobs models had their hairdos structured as faux dreadlocks out of multicolored yarn for his New York Fashion Week show. When the pictures hit the Internet it triggered a social media blow up about cultural appropriation. Comments by Black women highlighted the double standards for high-fashion Caucasian models wearing dreadlocks, versus Black women or anyone with non-traditional hair as not being a good fit to hire into companies.
These are my comments from a business point of view on how social/cultural awareness and sensitivity are now essential elements of marketing research, communications, product development and sales promotion. I am struck by the lack of product marketing, planning and decision making at all levels of the hair debacle by Marc Jacobs, Guido Palau (the hair stylist), and Jena Counts (the hair-piece artisan). Even if you are "just" a team member or a task doer, you want to make sure you as the little guy in a chain of decision making have both local market information and a voice with the decision makers to achieve a desirable market and customer experience.
Marc Jacobs' initial response to the negative social media comments set off another blow back, but he finally apologized Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Jacobs did not anticipate nor test his dramatic hair styles on a diverse audience. He got a lot of publicity but the headlines were not about his clothes and designs.
All business is local
The hair designer Guido Palau said he was inspired by a “mishmash of things” from punk rock to Japanese Harajuku styles. He forgot that all business is local. In a U.S. show, sensitivity and respect for the role of hair in the African American and all ethnic communities is essential. More than anyone on the runway show team, he should know how much time and money diverse women spend straightening, dying and styling hair to appear in public with “good hair.” Alicia Keys' statement to style her own hair and not wear makeup is a powerful role model for me as a women of color to let my hair go where it wants to.
The very last paragraph in the article mentioned the artisan Jena Counts who constructed the hairpieces. She was quoted as saying, “It is so hurtful to me. It was never in my head that it would be brought up as an issue. I don’t understand why they would react that way.”
She may feel hurt now, but hopefully she can turn it into a learning moment for herself, small business owners, contractors or team members who assume there is little risk by being the quiet dutiful task-doer on the team. As a part of a highly visible project, she can take responsibility for understanding trends in her industry, location and asking if the concept had been previewed with a diverse group. She could have even asked for a focus group with diverse women to develop styles they loved and felt were respectful of their social, cultural communities and values.
This runway show could have been a great success, building trust with new customer segments in the lucrative New York and broader U.S. market. Testing for audience response from strangers on the street is one of the best tests before any consumer product launch.
If you are a contractor or business owner of any size, prepare for high visibility opportunities. Define your guidelines for success for these big opportunities. Be sure to ask questions to bring to the surface issues and risks that must be addressed before you go public and hit the Internet. Be the leader who delivers the project or product results that generate trust and confidence with your ideal customers and public.
Feel free to modify these guidelines to use as you build public visibility:
Here are some questions for you:
What do you think about this controversy?
Do you have other ideas for how the Marc Jacobs team could have been successful?
What are you doing to build the voice you want to be known for on the Internet?
How have you dealt with difficult internet conversation you may have experienced?
Webinars and webinars and workshops in October.
Theme for the Evening Became: Shift from Overwhelmed to Focused Action
The highlight of the workshop last week to Step Up to Growing Your Business was seeing business owners really engaged in the breakout discussions to grow their businesses and be ready for the challenges small businesses face continually. Thank you to Marc Siegel of Townsquared for helping out and bringing the great pizza and salad.
Join in the discussion of the top three strategies for generating Good Revenue (which is predictable, profitable, and diversified) and comment on the notes from each breakout group.
Modernize your marketing and promotion efforts with great content and simple consistent social media: Lisa Cain of MarketingU encouraged everyone to keep it simple and doable. We all agreed content is becoming more important to get noticed, social media should get the content to your ideal customers. How are you shaping the content you are sending all over the world when you post? Is your best content getting to your ideal customers or clients?
Review and update your business model: Amy Barr of A2B Strategy led a discussion of the Business Model Canvas to review your current business and find opportunities to increase revenue and manage expenses. What are you doing? Do you know how the Business Model Canvas could help? When did you last update your Business Plan or review your whole business model?
Modernize or develop products to create multiple revenue streams. As I led this group the phrase, focus on your ideal customer came up as the starting point and ending point. The Internet now makes it possible to enhance and develop products at more reasonable costs. But product development has more risks because success is determined by the customers’ very specific decisions to buy. How can you deeply understand your new customer? Are surveys and interviews enough? How can you as a local business owner build a unique and loyal customer base in a more diverse world?
This is when the discussion for the whole group turned to The Great Decision Framework. Our new Podcasts and workshop this fall will help owners use the framework to ask great questions, make decision and take focused action on business growth.
Shift From Overwhelmed To Focused Action:
Stepping Up To Leading the Growth of Your Business on Tuesday was fun and energizing. The breakout groups were the high point where everyone shared suggestions and thoughts on the challenges small business face. Thank you to Townsquared.com for sponsoring the lunch. You are invited to join this smal lbusiness network. But the one hour workshop was too short to get into deciding on a course of action. We cover decisions that generate value in the two-hour workshop Step Up to Growing Your Business this Tuesday on August 23.
Here are the suggestions and ideas on the three BIG issues from the break out sessions:
Issue One: The complexity and rising cost of marketing without clear results
Issue Two: Hiring quality employees, managing turnover and rising wages
In the two-hour workshop Step Up to Growing Your Business on Tuesday, August 23 from7 - 9 p.m. at NextSpace Berkeley use a framework to decide on the number one strategy to act on.
Our key topic will be how everything the company does supports revenue generation.
When I describe The CraneWorks as a steady-growth company people come back with the question, “You mean slow growth?” What I mean by steady growth is determined by the CEO and leadership team. We believe that owners/entrepreneurs have to own their goals to succeed. When owners focus on stategic goals to iimprove cash flow management or to consistently market and promote products and services revenue growth rates can range from10 - 100% or more. That isn't slow growth. Steady Growth is achieved through strategic thinking and action.
We encourage setting a range of goals and objectives with high and low targets to aim for and learn from. Items to set goals for are pretty standard and include the external context:
Here is my sketch for this week.
You are invited to attend our events and network with other businesses and professionals dedicated to small business growth please register below our August events. Thank NextSpace Berkeley and Townsquared.com for their sponsorship of these events:
Check out the details of each event and join us to network and explore business growth in the Bay Area
Lunch and Learn, 12 – 1 p.m. August 16
Stepping Up To Leading the Growth of Your Business
Network with other businesses and get strategies to sustain growth in theBay Area.
Click here to reserve your place
Evening workshop, August 23, 7:00 -9:00 p.m. Refreshments served.
Step Up to Growing Your Business
Take away a big picture of growth opportunities for increasing revenue and growing long-term value.
Click here to register
Thank you to our sponsors:
NextSpace sponsor the training room and
Townsquared.com sponsor for lunch and evening refreshments
We invite you to checkout and join Townsquared.com, by clicking here
The topic of Email Courage struck a chord in many conversations last week. So this week’s theme is all about having the courage to manage email and not reduce productivity or take over your life! The top three suggestions from myself and others are:
1. Close email and keep the priority on getting work done
Yipes! I can see you screaming at the suggestion to turn off your email. The point of working is to complete essential tasks, make good decisions and provide great products and services—not get stuck in email for hours every day.
Every day set your priorities for work that must be completed before you open up your email. Update your daily and weekly to-do lists with an app you like. Identify the top action items or key conversations that have to be completed today or next week, in priority order. Block out the hours needed to complete the high priority tasks today. Then open your email and respond to the highest priority emails only. If you know you can’t complete a response that day then flag it. You can send a very brief message as to when you think you can respond if you think it is necessary.
2. Take control of email
My sister works in a tech company and recently told me she does not go over 100 emails in her inbox. She deletes anything low priority, unclear or informational. She keeps it under control because she hates feeling guilty about not responding. Feeling guilty distracts all of us from focusing on the task at hand. Other people I know use autoresponders, and a voicemail recording that clearly say, "I am unlikely to respond to email unless XXXX; for urgent matters. the best way to reach me is text or phone call." This kind of message clearly let’s me know how to reach this person.
You can also reduce email time by keeping your email responses short. Do not write novels. Respond to specific and clear requests with brief clear statements. Unclear messages will lead to delays and more back and forth. Cut the number of words in emails by 50% and cut a lot of the time.
3.Pick up the phone more often to resolve issues
If an email raises issues or challenges that are better resolved in a conversation, then have the courage to pick up the phone and call. If you are anxious about an issue potentially escalating, then arrange an in-person meeting before that issue hits email. Prepare for the phone call or meeting in advance by bringing the relevant facts. Stay calm. Clarify and explore ways to resolve the issue so both of you can move ahead.
Above all, avoid responding to or sending emails that leave room for misinterpretation and possible animosity. Quickly and simply focus on constructive end goals for projects, work and relationships.
Use email as a tool you control:
1.Close email as needed and prioritize to complete items on your current To Do list
2.Take control of email
3.Use the phone more often to resolve issues
If you're already in control of your email, you deserve a medal!
Please share this email with others who suffer from email guilt or frustration, and share your comments and suggestions.
Coming up next: What does steady growth mean for small and mid-size businesses?
I'm a Business Growth Consultant who wants to help the vast majority of small and mid-size businesses to grow. This blog shares content, resources and tools for business owners. Look for guest blog posts on related topics.