Monthly Archive for June, 2014

VIDEO: Differentiating between users and customers

Understanding the difference between users and customers is vital for the success and growth of your small business. In this New Age of the Customer®, it’s more important than ever to prepare for the moment of relevance.

Differentiating between users and customers from Jim Blasingame on Vimeo.

Entrepreneurs: Keep climbing toward success

In a former life, whenever I felt deficient in my ability to meet a particular challenge, one of my mentors would say to me, “This is no hill for a climber,” followed immediately by, “and you’re a climber.”
Today, whenever I’m feeling deficient in my ability to meet the challenges of my small business, I say these words to myself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.”
In an even earlier life, growing up on a farm, we had an old two-ton Studebaker truck. This was a brute of a truck, with a very special feature: one really low gear. My dad called that gear “grandma.”
Whenever we had a heavy load to haul and a steep grade to climb, Dad would say, “Put it in grandma.” In “grandma” that old truck wouldn’t go more than a couple of miles an hour, but it would pull or haul anything, anywhere. Even when the pulling got really tough that truck might jerk and buck, but it never stopped pulling.


Small business owners have a special gear similar to the one on that truck. Our “grandma” gear is made up of the cogs of grit and determination, and the sprockets of courage and passion.

Four reasons you should take a vacation from your business

Could you use a vacation?

Of course you could and most of us know time away gives any leader a better perspective. But polls show less than half of small business owners are likely to take off a whole week for vacation.

Perhaps this is a better question: Could your business use a vacation from you?

Of course it could. Your absence will reveal organizational weaknesses that need attention as well as strengths you may have overlooked.

Regardless of your motivations, here are four ideas to consider to help you take more time off.

1.  Define success.
Webster defines success two ways: 1) a favorable outcome; 2) gaining wealth and fame.
Embracing both definitions as having equal value will help you recognize that living long enough to enjoy the fruits of the second definition—with your loved ones—must be part of your success definition.

2.  Hire quality.
Taking time off requires being able to leave your business with a team that’s trustworthy.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of leaving your baby in the care of others, your instincts are probably good, but your hiring practices may not be. Part of your interview process should determine whether a prospect is the quality of individual you would trust with your company in your absence.  By the way, this is one of the best times in history to acquire high-quality talent.  It’s a buyer’s (hirer’s) market.

3. Delegate.
If you’ve already assembled that trustworthy team, their usefulness is limited by your ability to delegate.  Delegating isn’t easy for entrepreneurs; you’ve done all of the jobs, and you know how you want them done. But there’s an old saying that successful delegators embrace, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  If you cringe at the thought of how things won’t be perfect in your absence—get over it.

4. Leverage technology.
No one has to be completely unplugged anymore. There’s plenty of affordable technology that can serve as your security blankie by helping you “mind the store” without actually being there. And if you practice, no one will notice that you checked email on your smart phone while rolling over to tan the other side.

Finally, if you’re not intentional about living a balanced life—that includes vacations—you may accomplish the “wealth and fame” part of success, but the big celebration may involve others toasting you posthumously.

Write this on a rock …

Give yourself—and your business—a vacation.

VIDEO: Your future business success is tied to mobile

Your small business success is tied to mobile. In this New Age of the Customer®, it’s more important than ever to prepare for the moment of relevance.

Your future success is tied to mobile from Jim Blasingame on Vimeo.

Balancing the ideal and the real in business

As entrepreneurs, you and I are the visionaries of our organizations — the creators of the dream and the energy and spirit behind its fulfillment. As operators of the businesses we’ve created, we are the steady hand, the voice of reason, the challenge master and the bull’s eye where the proverbial buck stops.

"Create. Operate. Have fun."

"Create. Operate. Have fun."

The great French writer, Victor Hugo could have been talking about us when he wrote, “The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than the real. It is by the real that we exist, it is by the ideal that we live.”

In our role as an entrepreneur, we have “greater need of the ideal”, which is our vision, our passion. As the operator of a business, “it is by the real that we exist,” which are the operating fundamentals we must practice.

We must be able to move successfully between these two dimensions as we create, operate and grow our businesses successfully. Too much ideal and we have no critical mass. Too much real and we have nothing new, too little excitement and probably not much fun.

The ideal and the real: Create - operate - have fun.

Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio and the Internet.

In the new Age the Force is with the customer

It’s the Age of the Customer, is your small business ready?

—Earth, Stardate 8507 (The Age of the Seller)
Once upon a time, in a galaxy that today must seem far, far away, sellers controlled all information about their products, services and innovations. Consequently, customers learned what they needed to know from salespeople, who traveled far and wide dispensing information to, and collecting sales from, grateful and beholden customers.

If one had observed such a meeting, the customer would have nodded his head in wonderment as the salesperson revealed the virtual magic that was his product. And in this land, the Force—control and availability of information—was with the seller.

Photo courtesy of Freshbooks.com—Earth, Stardate 10912 (The Age of the Customer)
On present-day planet Earth things haven’t changed. Customers still buy from sellers that still provide product information. But observing a customer and salesperson today you will see the former explaining how much she knows about the business’s products, while the salesperson nods his head in wonderment. In this universe the salesperson is grateful and beholden if the customer will just contacts him before deciding from whom she will buy.

In The Age of the Customer, the Force—access to lots of information—is with the customer. It began with the remote control, video recorders, TiVo, DVR, Internet, on-demand everything, social media, and more recently, mobile computing. All of the platforms that make up what we now call social media have become the Light Saber of consumers and business customers in the new Age.

Armed with an abundance of online content, commenting platforms, and social media communities, customers not only have access to the information they need to make a better decision, but also co-own brand messages in the sub-space chatter about any given seller or product as it is being evaluated in the online dimension. Alas, too many small businesses are still operating a Stardate 8507 strategy in Stardate 10912. The predominant response by one of these sellers is frustration that they have diminishing control over customer relationships, and therefore their future.

Scotty won’t be able to beam you up if you don’t learn that the only way to end this frustration and assume at least co-ownership of the Force is to embrace online community-building and join the conversations that are being conducted about your business, products, service and industry.

The good news is that this “joining” is not only relatively easy, but also can be done with minimal direct cost. If you don’t know how, ask a 25-year-old customer.

Write this on a rock … In Stardate 10912, the Force is with the customer.




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