Monthly Archive for July, 2013

Focus on your waypoint

In the world of runners there are two kinds: sprinters and distance runners. To be sure, sprinters must train long and hard to be successful. But when it comes to the actual event, in 10 to 40 seconds it’s over. Raw, explosive muscle power, pushing the body to the extreme, but not much mental taxation.

Like sprinters, distance runners have to train plenty; but their event often seems as much a test of mind, spirit and will, as it is a demonstration of conditioning, strength and endurance.

Small business owners are more like distance runners than sprinters. Even if we have the fundamentals (strength) and the experience (conditioning), all of the stuff that we have to deal with, sometimes all alone, sorely tests our spiritual mettle (endurance). Like a distance runner, a small business owner often moves forward more on sheer will than anything else.

In his inspirational book, What’s The Rush, my friend, Jim Ballard says this, “When you feel overwhelmed and want to quit, pick out a landmark just ahead — a light pole, a house, a tree — and agree to run only that far.”

Jim is a runner, but his words are meant for every test of our strength and will. I use this mental drill when it looks like I am more likely to be prey than predator. I make an “agreement” with myself to just take things one day at a time — sometimes one hour at a time — and it helps me stay focused on the present stretch of the race.

However far ahead you place your “light pole”, focusing on that waypoint instead of the finish line will help your mettle withstand the stress. You can’t cross the finish line halfway through the race. So if you can’t solve next week’s problems today, don’t let them trip you up today.

I have a little prayer that helps me get to my next “light pole”: You and me, Lord, one day at a time.

On your mark - get set - go!

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Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Blasingame’s new law of customer relevance

When you take a photograph, the resulting product is two-dimensional: tall, wide, and flat. But in most cases, you want the photo to actually show depth, where images in the foreground and background are all in focus.

In photographic terms, the range of focus front to back is called depth of field. The way to expand depth of field so more of the subjects in the photo are in focus is to add light. Light creates depth of field.

If you were given a photo of people who were the most critical to your success, you’d easily recognize your customers in the foreground in perfect focus. But as you look deeper into the photo you’d notice the images behind that first row increasingly drop out of focus with each receding row. The reason is because for most of the history of the marketplace, businesses have gotten away with having a very narrow customer depth of field.

When the coin of the realm was to be competitive, that meant you spent all your time thinking about how to serve the person in the foreground, the first row of your business world: your customers. But as I’ve revealed in the past, being competitive has been trumped by being relevant. And in The Age of the Customer, perhaps the most important component of being relevant to business customers is helping them serve the most important person in their photo: their customers.

Let me say that again with Blasingame’s New Law of Customer Relevance:

If you want to have customers for life, help your customers help their customers.

The way to accomplish this is to increase the depth of field of your customer photo. Light up the view beyond the first row of customers so that the second row is completely in focus. This three-step process works every time:

  1. Identify the customer of your customer.
  2. Find out what your customer needs to do to become relevant to their customer.
  3. Whatever the answer to #2 is, help your customer do that.

Executing this approach is how you acquire customers you almost can’t run off. Because when you help your customers help their customers, they know you’re doing more than just delivering stuff; you’ve become part of their team – integrated and committed, like a true stakeholder.

And if you want to pull off the customer relevance hat trick, light up the third row of your businesses photo: Help your customers help their customers help their customers.

I’ve done it – it’s a beautiful thing.

Achieve maximum relevance with customers by helping them serve their customers.

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For more customer care options listen to my latest segments from The Small Business Advocate Show below with Brad Huisken.

Customer care rule #1: Give them whatever they want

Why saying “no problem” is a non-negotiable no-no

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Video- Give businesses a high-five, not high energy bills

In this week’s video I talk about what small business owners think about climate change.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

SBA Poll: Do you have a smartphone?

The Question:
How will the news that it now costs the same to make a smartphone as a plain cell phone impact you?

85% - No impact - I already have a smartphone.

10% - I don’t have a smartphone but my next one will be.

5% - I don’t have a smartphone and don’t want one.

My Comments:
Two years ago in our online poll we asked our audience about their smartphone adoption and learned that just over half, 53%, had one, with the rest still using a dumb phone. As you can see, the smartphone adoption rate for small business owners has accelerated since then, with 95% of our new sample either owning a smartphone or obviously waiting until their next upgrade to get one.

This is good news because it’s important for small business owners to at least adopt technology at the pace of their customers. Remember this: Mobile computing was not part of your business’s past, but it will dominate your business’s future.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Entrepreneurial telekinesis

Have you ever seen someone who moved objects with their mind, or bent a spoon by merely concentrating on it? Telekinesis, as defined by Webster, is the power to move an object by psychic force alone. Mind over matter.

The idea of telekinesis has fascinated humans for millennia, including this human. Like me, you probably have a healthy level of skepticism about such claims. But what would you say if I said you are capable of telekinesis?

If you have ever done any physical training, you know that your body constantly sends messages to your brain that it’s ready to shut down. When that first dissenting word from your leg muscles hit your brain did you obey, or did you send back a message that those muscles would just have to tough it out? Sometimes one side of your brain, the side focused on your goal, has to have a word with the other side, the one that is a close friend with comfort.

At some time in our lives, most of us ran, jumped, cycled, lifted, swam, etc., at performance levels beyond which seemed possible to us in the early stages of training. We learned that building strength and endurance requires our body’s comfort to become subordinate to attaining a goal we had set. What is that if not mind over matter?

As small business owners, we perform a kind of entrepreneurial telekinesis every day. We accomplish things that marketplace pedestrians would say are impossible. And if you think I’m using the term telekinesis too loosely, what else would you call it when a small business owner defies the marketplace, the competition, and conventional thought by not only surviving, but actually thriving? Your entrepreneurial mind has the potential to defy the odds, the gravity of the marketplace, and matter, as we know it.

Will is an intangible force created by another intangible, desire. As you desire to move your business forward, whenever the matter is weak, you compensate with will. Mind over matter.

But don’t try this on spoons.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Acquire and create intangible assets for your IP strategy

In my previous column, I discussed intangible assets as intellectual property (IP) and recommended every small business have an IP strategy.

It’s not my job to tell you what your IP strategy should look like because, by definition, small business intellectual property is as unique as belly buttons. But it is my job is to help you get your head out of the tangible asset sand and start thinking about the increasing role IP is playing in the success of your business operation and customer acquisition.

Remember, your strategy will include IP you acquire from others, as well as the proprietary intangible assets you create. Here are some ways to think about both kinds of IP:

• Don’t think of your new delivery schedule as just a new route for your trucks; it’s your proprietary IP that’s making your business more efficient and more relevant to customers.

• The systems you’ve developed to produce products probably seem routine and common sense to you, right? No big deal. Well, it is a big deal because it’s one of the keys to your success. It’s an intangible asset you created and are maintaining as a trade secret – your proprietary IP. As such it should be recognized, protected and defended just as diligently as you lock the doors of your business at night.

• Don’t think of social media IP you’re borrowing from Facebook, Twitter, etc., as an obligatory task everyone else is doing; this acquired IP is an intangible resource you use to create communities from which come very tangible customers.

• Connect members of communities you build on social media IP with your face-to-face communities (customer list) by developing proprietary IP that integrates the two groups.

• Acquire customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing IP, and integrate the two with your own program to deliver content to and connect with prospects and customers.

• When you buy your next computer, don’t think of it as replacing an old one. This time acquire an IP tool that puts you in a position to maximize time, energy and resources, and is the device from which you can create your own IP and manage your IP strategy.

Having an IP strategy doesn’t mean you abandon tangible assets – we’ll always need those. But it does mean you put them in the proper proportion with intangible assets. Today, the alpha member of the asset classes is IP. In fact, any and all tangible assets we acquire, and how we use them in the future, will be determined by IP innovations.

Grow your business more efficiently and effectively with an IP strategy.

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In case you missed it, check out last week’s blog post and show segment where I talked about the history of business assets, how intellectual property has become the greatest business lever of all the asset classes, and why you need an IP strategy.

Click HERE for last week’s blog post.

Click HERE for my segment from last week’s Small Business Advocate Show®.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!




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