Many managers forget that they cannot (and should not) manage others unless they can manage themselves first. This bit of wisdom from marketing guru Seth Godin is worth reflection and and sharing. ( Sign up for his daily free email updates……consistently good stuff from this guy).
arrangements are one of the most common forms of business and some
of them work just fine. Many don’t. In the beginning, everyone
involved is excited about the venture, so issues seldom come up and
no one wants to talk about the worst case scenarios. They are like
newlyweds that are blinded by hopes and dreams of how great
everything is going to be. Just like marriage, business
partnerships come with much emotional and legal considerations that
need to be addressed in the beginning, and it’s more than simply
who owns what. No one wants to talk about worst case scenarios in
the beginning (like bringing up the subject of a prenuptial to your
fiance), and it’s hard to anticipate all of the problems that can
occur in a partnership from the beginning. But there are common
problems that exist across business partnerships that you can
account for, such as an imbalance in the amount of work that each
partner is contributing, disagreements about the overall vision and
direction, and what happens if a partner simply loses enthusiasm
and want to go do something else. Partnerships can be hazardous to
a business’s health. In a 50-50 partnership, the partners are
obligated to buy the other one out if things aren’t working, and if
you haven’t worked this out in advance, it can create some serious
challenges and could cost you a boat load in legal fees. The key is
to protect yourself before you get into the situation you’re
- If you can do your business
without a partner (even if it takes longer), I highly recommend you
do. There are always people that you can hire to perform specific
functions as you need them to supplement your
- Do research on the person before
you enter into a partnership agreement, and know the type of person
you are dealing with. It’s specifically important to interview
people that have worked for this person in the past so you gain an
understanding of what they are like in business.
- If at all possible, take the majority interest and don’t
go in 50/50.
- Make sure you put in a buy/sell
arrangement into the initial partnership agreement or corporate
- If you suspect that your
partnership is about to go south, deal with it swiftly and with
good communication. (Refer to the book Crucial Conversations: Tools
for talking when the stakes are high by Kerry Patterson and Joseph
- Get a good lawyer.
- Think about the future, and don’t dwell on the past.
Letting it go is difficult, but shoulda coulda wouldas are harmful
to your future. You can’t change it, so move on.
Much of my current reading suggests that the recession is over. The stock market is over 11,000 and most indicators are improving. Economist Brian Beaulieu, states that the next three years will bring a broad-based recovery in consumer and B2B markets. He says, “It is time to start investing in your businesses again. Have you had a planning meeting focusing on continuing to do what you believe is best for your brand, your culture and your business?
Here’s how my Vistage members and clients are improving profitability greater than their competition by concentrating on the following:
1. Customer Satisfaction – whether or not you’ve tried and failed over the last several years, you need to measure your customer satisfaction. Do you track or know your retention rate? What percentage of your 2010 revenue came from 2009 clients? What initiatives are you implementing in December and January to jump start 2011? If history is a predictor for the future, set up key performance indicators (KPI’s) that go back 1, 2 or 3 years. Kraig Kramer’s web site http://www.ceotools.com/ is a great place to start.
2. Sales Process – My members and clients are reviewing and evaluating their sales process. If you are dissatisfied with your performance results, strip it down and build it back up. Develop a 6 to 8 step process that will encourage the client or prospect toward the desired decision. Does your process have triggers or gates that must be met, opened and closed in order for your sales team to earn the right to ask for the order? What are your internal costs for a proposal, a pilot or a finished RFQ? What is your closing ratio with current clients/customers vs. leads generated from your marketing department? Does that ratio suggest you should spend more time and marketing dollars focusing on current customers? KPI’s are critical and essential to create a predictable pipeline. Bob Davis http://simplesalesstrategy.com/ is a local consultant focusing on sales blocking and tackling. He is a Austin Trusted Advisor founding member http://austintrustedadvisors.com/
3. Communication – Are you sending via email “from the desk of…” newsletter both internal (employees) and external (customers). Consider using the US Postal Service to your customers with a routing box with titles in the upper left hand corner. Is your body language messaging positive, upbeat? Are you as the CEO or owner meeting with your top 10 percent of your customers and clients? Peter Schutz, retired Porsche CEO shares in his workshop”…if you will listen, your customers will explain your business to you.” Each of us need to do a better job in communicating our message, and it starts with your next meeting. Have you really been “present” at the staff meetings? Did you actually help anyone to do his/her job better? Was everybody with whom you came in contact today a little better afterwards? Michael Allosso spoke to one of my CE groups last month and said” …Eyes are your gateway to their soul,” he went on to share that when talkng to a group work the room with your eyes and make contact with everyone over and over again. Hard to do yet with practice a very meaningful talent when trying to connect with your audience.
4. Leadership – Wikipedia defines leadership as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. I like to say it is pushing people outside of their comfort zone. It’s your leverage, your ability to get things done through others is critical to your growth and company success. Starting with you, list the #1 person responsible for key role, key positions or departments such as: Sales & Marketing, Operations, Finance & Accounting, HR, IT. Then list key measurements or duties. Separate essential from preferred tasks. Then take you P/L or Balance Sheet and assign a line item to each of your management team. Hold them responsible for delivering promised results.
5. Create a fun place to come to everyday. Your “fun” culture sets the tone for employee productivity. Think about what you could do in Q1 2011 that would put a smile on each of your employee’s faces. Small rewards for performance go a long way.
What will you do to set yourself apart from your competition in Q1 and throughout 2011?
Ed Stillman is a Vistage Chair in Austin, Tex., working mostly with business owners and CEOs who are growing their profitability greater than their competition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org