Disrupt the market?

It would be nice to completely revolutionize an industry, but, to say the least, that's a bit challenging. Instead, it may be better to think of ways to simply disrupt the market, to be a leader and push the industry forward. This will be risky (as any endeavor in business is), the first option may not be the one to stick with, but it will be a step in the right direction.

What does this look like?

  • Learn as much as you can about what the industry is doing. Knowing what other businesses are doing and the tools they are using will help to make new connections and combinations for tools and ideas.
  • Be up to date on the latest trends. Knowing the trends will help to shed light on possible opportunities and, much like the first point, will help to foster new connections and ideas.
  • Talk with your team. Two heads are better one and there may be a perspective visible by someone on the team that helps to propel the company forward.

What to remember: Never stop learning, researching, or pushing to get out of your comfort zone.

How much time do you spend on your phone?

Do you know? I was surprised to see how much and once it's been pointed out, then, naturally, you start to notice more and more. Now, I'm not saying that being on your phone is bad. After all, many of us work from our phone or at least do a lot of work on our phone. With that in mind, should there be a limit? I wouldn't even begin to go after that topic because we're all different and therefore there isn't one answer that would work for everyone. However, there are a few things to consider and that's what the list below is about.

Things to consider:

  • Tracking your screen time. Many smart phones will do this and will actually give you a report. Knowing these numbers and whether they are higher or lower can give some insight into our level of productivity.
  • Many smart phones show what you use the most. I thought that I knew, but it was really interesting to see what actually made the top of my most used list.
  • Turn off the notifications. This doesn't have to be indefinitely, it could be for a set period of the day, but, for many of us, notifications can be a time suck (they tend to lead us into checking other things).
  • Installing and app like Freedom which makes it possible for the user to set blocks on certain apps for set times of the day. This is similar to the suggestion on notifications, but is more geared toward blocking say Facebook for a given time period. The hope would be that distractions would be removed and we would in-turn become more productive.

What to remember: Be mindful of the time you spend on your phone, because it may be making you less productive.

Adding to the list:

We wrote recently about the fact that many people want to go into business for themselves, but don't realize exactly what comes with that choice. They may have a better or worse picture than someone else, but many of us don't have the full picture (especially if we're new to this realm). In light of that thought, it seemed appropriate to add some more topics for consideration to the list.

Topics to consider:

  • Customers: Without customers there isn't a business... Things to consider whether starting out or just trying to strengthen the company would be: advertising and promotion, what the philosophy for customer service will be (don't take this for granted), networking, referral program (to jumpstart the business), and branding (how will the company represent itself in the community).
  • Credibility: Credibility takes time. A company must prove itself and, once it does, that credibility can go a long way in the community. Be honest and always deliver the best product and service possible.
  • Cash Flow: It all comes down to money. A company can have a great product, but if there isn't any cash flow, then the business will not survive. This is why it's critical to do the research in the beginning, to watch the numbers, and to learn from the analytics. Don't be afraid to change.

What to remember: Running a business is infinitely complex. Don't try to handle everything at once, just make a list and start checking things off.

Cheap, Fast, or Great?

I ran across that phrase recently and the story goes that someone walked into a marketing company and saw a sign that read Cheap, Fast, or Great. Underneath those words it read Pick Two. This encompasses so much about how a business is run. If you want something cheap and fast, then chances are that it won't be great. If you want something fast and great, then it probably won't be cheap. As a company and a buyer, you have to decide what's most important.

What does this look like:

  • Decide what's most important and build that into the culture of the organization
  • While many things are possible, not all things are sustainable
  • Every company has to adapt, so research, test, and analyze. At the end of the day, if it doesn't work, then move on.

What to remember: The business must know what mentality it plans to operate with in order to be successful. As the saying goes, "if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail".

A Few Business Issues

Running a business is difficult and definitely not for the faint of heart. Many people have said that they wanted to be their own boss, to own their own company only to realize that the freedom they dreamed of isn't exactly reality. Instead of having one job they now have two. That being said, starting and running a business is worth the investment. The following is a list of things to watch out for in that new endeavor.

The list:

  • Insufficient Capital: A recent statistic stated that out of all businesses that fail, nearly half say that it's due to lack of funds. This is why we recommend having a CPA, budget, and an emergency fund before ever starting a company.
  • Management Issues: In the beginning, the management team may just be the CEO. Make sure that the proper team (whether in-house or outsourced) and software are in place to keep the business running. The key here is being efficient with the available time and resources.
  • Marketing Problems: We wrote in a recent article that marketing is everything and everything is marketing. The idea for the company may be great, but if you don't make time or put in the necessary effort to get the word out, then the business is likely to fail.

What to remember: Running a business can be rewarding and amazing, just make sure to have plans in place so that the job isn't any more difficult than it needs to be.

Marketing

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing. This is how my marketing professor started off his class every semester. After sitting in his class, I quickly began to realize he was absolutely correct. He went on that first day to talk about how most people hear the term marketing and only think about advertising, but marketing is so much more than advertising.

What does this look like?

  • Marketing is whether or not you choose to advertise as well as where, when and how you advertise.
  • It also has to do with how you price your product(s). Are you going for high volume low margin, low volume high margin, etc.
  • What demographic will you go after? There may only be a very specific group or there may be a wide range of possibilities.
  • Where do you locate the business? Online, brick and mortar, and combination?
  • Will you offer payment plans, require a down payment, ask the customer to pay up front for the product, etc.?
  • Will you be involved in social media?
  • If you have an online store will that be your online presence, will there be a separate website, or a combination?

What to remember: This list could keep on growing, but the basic idea is that marketing is how the company is represented in the world.

In a rut?

Every business starts off with an idea, with some problem to solve with some need that hasn't yet been met or met in a way that the new business thinks is good enough. As time goes on and the business becomes established, owners may find themselves in a rut, struggling, maybe a little complacent, etc. These next thoughts are for those owners, the ones in a rut, but the ones that want to progress and move forward.

  • Diversify: Find the unmet need. There's always problems to solve and needs to be met. When you find the business running smoothly, begin to diversify and discover new needs and problems to solve.
  • Explore new markets: Piggybacking off the last point, start exploring. Look for markets outside of the current "box" that could be opportunities for the business to explore, expand, and diversify. In other words, try to find new markets where the companies skillset is being utilized.
  • Digital presence:Social media is here and being used. While it may or may not be overly applicable to your current demographic, this could be the very tool that helps the company discover that new market.

What to remember: I'm going to be very cliche and say that there's no time like the present to get started. Do your research, take some risk, and get moving.

Challenges in Running a Business

I'm certainly not going to try and tackle all the issues with running a business. However, I will write about a few ideas that can help when a smaller company is trying to grow and progress. Part of being able to handle the issues that inevitably arise, is being prepared for them before they come. This could be as simple as reading articles or as complex as making a dedicated plan for specific instances. Whichever route a company chooses to take, there are a few things that should be considered.

Those things are:

  • Managing the money: Whenever a company is started things may be fairly simple, but as it grows, things like taxing and HR become more complicated. Make sure to have a qualified CPA that can help you plan and work through those issues.
  • Energy: Excitement and adrenaline will take a lot of people pretty far, however, there needs to be a balance between running the business and rest.
  • Dependence: Whether on the owner or the employee, dependence on a particular person is not good for growth. Ask yourself what happens when the person that you're dependent on isn't there? Have a plan and make sure that it's documented.

What to remember: It's impossible to plan for everything but do your best to be prepared.

Goals for the new year?

It's extremely common for people and companies to set goals for the new year. There's nothing unusual or wrong about setting goals and, if done properly can be very beneficial. I use the word properly because there is a right and wrong way to set goals.

What does this look like?

  • Be realistic about where your company is currently positioned. i.e. set goals that are achievable, but that are difficult enough to make you slightly uncomfortable...
  • If one of the goals is to instill specific habits, then make sure that the habits are achievable by a) not setting to many new habits and b) making those habits realistic to the company's current position
  • If new habits are the route that you're heading then maybe set out to try the habits for a set time period (like 30 days). This can be a good testing period and be a little less dauting since most people can persevere if they know that there's an end in sight.
  • Find someone to hold you accountable to any new goals and habits. This could be as simple as stating it to a friend, family member, or putting it on the website.

What to remember: Breaking old habits or starting new ones can be difficult, but beneficial, so find ways to remove the barriers.

Note: This certainly is not a definitive list, merely a place to get started. Want to add to the list? Click here to let us know your thoughts!

Productive or busy?

We must be productive not just busy. A friend recently said to me that they no longer work the crazy hours that they used to and instead have found ways to get more done in less time. Part of this comes from focus, part from being efficient, and part from not wasting time. The comment was timely because I had just read an article about this topic.

A few of the ideas mentioned were:

  • Focus on what you're trying to accomplish and work backwards to create a plan.
  • Delegate when needed and actually let it go of the task...
  • Improve communication (i.e. make sure that you only have to send that email once)

What to remember: Don't waste time.