Tag Archives: Strategy

Out Of The Ashes – Resurrecting a Struggling Business

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There are many factors that can lead to a business struggling to survive. Change in consumer attitude toward your industry or product or change in the overall economy either up or down are a few macro reasons and can spell the death of your business, but the majority of time a business fails is because it’s lost it’s first love.

 

Remember when you first started your business. you didn’t know if you would make it but you wanted your business to stand for something.  You were passionate and felt like your business did it better than anyone else. Then you got big and things changed, new people came in that do not understand your vision or love for what you do and it became more about compensation and health plans than it did about being the best in the business.

 

Before you know it life’s worries have made you forget why you got into business in the first place and that’s when things go downhill. Sometimes it’s drastic and unrecoverable but other times it’s more subtle and slowly degrades your business, product and pride in what you do at your business over time. Your baby has become a millstone around your neck with little to no options of getting out. In short, you have forgotten what got you there in the first place and you’ve lost your first love.

 

Is there hope for you and your business?  There is if you do these 3 things..

 

1. Get back to the philosophy of why you started your business in the first place and train your employees on it as well. If it’s sports uniforms, spend meeting after meeting drilling into the heads of your group  that you are here to deliver the best uniforms and the best service the customers have ever seen. Make sure they know it’s not just about making money but more importantly, it’s about making the customers ordering experience amazing while giving the athletes a uniform that will make them confident every time they hit the hardwood or the field. Your employees should be proud of what they do and sell and have the right reasons for working there. If someone does not get on board with your vision, let them go. No matter how good they are at their job you can’t have a cancer destroying your vision.

 

2. Do the things you did at first. What was your niche, what made your company unique? whatever it was get back to doing it. Maybe you own a bakery and when you started you stressed that anything your customer wanted, you could make it. This made you prosper but as you got bigger you realized the profit margins were better with simple or cookie cutter products that didn’t require as much customization so you went in that direction. That’s great, but you have to remember what made your clients loyal in the first place and make sure you still offer whatever it was that got your business off the ground in the first place. Before you know it your customer retention while be skyrocketing once again.

 

3. Start over with your personnel. I eluded to this in point one, but it’s important enough to mention all on it’s own. Everyone has to be sold out on your vision and where you’re going. Hiring good people is a constant need so you should always have an employment ad out with one or two people in waiting in case a current employee leaves or loses the vision of your company. Get rid of all clock watchers and unmotivated employees. An unmotivated employee is a like a virus in your company that can spread from one person to another and undermine everything you’re trying to accomplish.  When you do have a good employee lift them up, pay them what they are worth and keep them in the loop so they stay a good employee. If you’re struggling with paying people more, just think how much it will cost you to lose one of your best employees and train someone new. I’m sure you will find it’s better to just pay them a little more money to keep them happy.

 

Your business can be great again and will be great again if your remember your first love and do the things that made you great in the first place. Don’t let the thought of quitting enter you mind and have faith in what makes you unique. Before you know it you will be back on your feet and loving what you do all over again.

 

By: Todd Marinshaw. Todd owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non-profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan

If you aim at nothing you will hit it everytime- Zig ZiglarThere is probably nothing that more graphically illustrates the importance of focusing on your goals than being in combat. Yet the same principles apply in any leadership setting. Having been in the US Navy for 19 years, I have had my fair share of military leadership and learned the discipline it takes to stay focused and help others around me do the same. In those years, I have excelled (mostly) and rose pretty fast through the ranks, despite some set backs in the early years, and have landed at the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.

There are many factors to successfully leading in the military that also applies to leading your business, your sports team, even your family to success. But there is one lesson that is most commonly overlooked yet most critical to creating a road map to success- and that is to establish and disseminate your Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles. Before you jump into a series of tasks and tactics and find yourself wondering why you are somehow missing the mark, draw that mark!

1. Mission Statement:
Your mission statement should be clear and concise! This statement describes what your organization or department is about. Start by asking yourself these questions: “What are you aiming for?” “What is your overall objective that will guide the actions of your organization?” “What is it that you desire to achieve and how will you achieve it?” As you work on refining your answers, don’t confuse it with short-term strategies or specific goals. When writing a mission statement think broad scale- 10,000 ft view from here! Think about including these 3 key elements:
1. Key Market. Your WHO. Your target audience, primary stakeholders, or customers.
2. Contribution. Your WHAT. What product or service are you providing to those customers?
3. Distinction Your WHY or your USP. More commonly referred to as your Unique Selling Proposition, it answers the question “What makes you unique?” or “Why would a customer choose you over a competitor?”

One example of a good Mission Statement is:“To provide the fast food customer food prepared in the same high-quality manner world-wide that is tasty, reasonably-priced & delivered consistently in a low-key décor and friendly atmosphere.” I stole that one from McDonald’s! Your individual Mission Statement, whether you’re writing it for your overall organization, or just for a smaller department, may or may not include all the elements above. The Mission Statement for the US Navy Chief Petty Officer is: “Provide leadership to the Enlisted Force and advice to Navy leadership to create combat-ready Naval Forces.” You’ll notice no distinction statement, primarily because there’s nobody else that does what we do – no competition!

2. Vision:
Your vision should describe who, or what, you intend to be. Again, use as few words as possible, yet succinct, broad-term, but not too generic. Although the vision statement for the US Navy Chiefs is a little longer than some, it is concise enough and careful consideration was given to use necessary language to drive the point home to its leaders:
“A senior enlisted force that serves first and foremost as Deck-plate Leaders committed to developing Sailors and enforcing standards; remains responsive, aligned and well-connected to both Leadership and Sailors; and conducts itself in a consistently professional, ethical and traditional manner.”

3. Guiding Principles:
Although some organizations may use Values over Guiding Principles, the context is basically the same. There is a little more specific direction here for how you expect those in your organization to act. They are a set of shared beliefs that drive the priorities, behaviors, and perception, thus creating the organizational culture. I’ll share a good example from the Coca-Cola company that helps drive the point:

  • Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
  • Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
  • Integrity: Be real
  • Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
  • Passion: Committed in heart and mind
  • Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
  • Quality: What we do, we do well

Your first challenge of being a BOSS is defining what your Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles are. What are the things that have driven your success and what can you imitate from previous leaders that you have deemed successful? You can start there, but these should be extracted from deep within your soul – and they also have to align with the larger organizational statements. Whether you are a supervisor on a factory floor that makes widgets, a mid-level manager, or CEO, you need to develop these statements and values. If you can arrive to work on your first day with these statements already in place, you’ll be ahead of the power curve. If you’re already in a leadership position, it’s never too late to do a round-turn and get these on paper. Spend some time on them. And most importantly, you need to CLEARLY communicate these to your subordinates in order to provide consistent direction and expectations. It may not be a bad idea to share your MVS to the person you report to. Again, maintaining that alignment up and down the organizational chain is fundamental to your success. It will also show your BOSS that you have a true leadership prowess, and that’s NEVER a bad thing!

By: Brandon Keener is a Senior Chief Petty Officer at the United States Navy, a leadership position where he manages people, programs and policies. Brandon and his wife have also launched a couple of successful home based businesses based in San Diego, CA.

Having friends with benefits can be one of the most rewarding and beneficial things you can do. I’m not talking about having a “friend” who will roll in the sheets with you whenever you are bored; the downside of those kind of arrangements are too many to count (talk about mixed messages)… I’m actually talking about real friends with benefits and why it will make the difference between whether you become successful in business or not.

Friends With Benefits

Friends With Benefits

“You can have everything in life that you want, if you will just help other people get what they want”-Zig Ziglar. This is a great quote that talks about the first benefit of a good friend. Over the years I have learned that when a friend is in need I have to be there for them, it’s not an option. This can cause a lot of inconvenient times, especially when you have a business and a wife and kids and, well, you get the point. The reason I do this is not to get something out of them but to let them know they are important to me. Inevitably though, whether you believe it’s God (which I do) or some other cosmic force, when I’m in need someone is always there to help. Without the help of friends I would have failed long ago and not had the strength to get up. So the next time you have a friend in need, take the time make a difference.

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” I think out of all the quotes and sayings going around these days, nothing can be closer to the truth than this one. Over the years I have gained many friends and believe they all have value in my life but there are always those friends that have the ability to actually make things happen for you when you need it. It’s important to build a network of influential people that can make a difference in your life. I have different circles of friends for different things and by far my most important circle is my advice circle. These are guys I can be honest with and I know that when they give me advice it will be wise and unbiased. I’ve had countless times over the past 10 years where I was stuck at a crossroad and if I didn’t have men like this in my life I would have taken the wrong path, and that’s the difference between running a company or looking for a new job on an endless cycle of failed jobs. It’s hard to find friends like this so when you do, let them know you appreciate them and all they do for you.

“Bad company corrupts good character”the Apostle Paul. This is the hardest of my friends with benefits tips. Nobody wants to tell a buddy to bug off, because, well, they are your buddy. In the end though, every friendship you have should be evaluated and if for some reason every time you are around this particular person, bad things happen then it’s time to break off your BROmance and find friends that will not get you in trouble. If you don’t know how to do this I’ll give you a helpful hint, ask your significant other. My wife can spot a bad influence friend a mile off and after I get done fighting with her about it, I usually come to my senses and see what she had seen long ago. When I don’t come to my senses fast enough though, I know she will repeatedly remind me of my mistake for the next decade or two. So my advice is to act swift or face the consequences.

Friends are a touchy subject for many people but if you want to succeed and become more than you are today, make sure the friends you want to keep in the future are helping you get there.

By: Todd Marinshaw owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.