Archive for the 'Innovation - Creativity' Category

Embrace change to improve your small business

The life of a small business owner is hectic, to say the least.  Multi-tasking is the norm.  So much of our day is spent reacting to the crisis of the moment, conducting the business of the day, and initiating our plans for the future. And once we acquire a level of competence in this life we’ve chosen, it’s natural to want to relax, settle in, and seek the ease that can come with familiarity and repetition.

But the marketplace isn’t a comfortable, lumbering vessel anymore, rolling along like a single screw trawler. It’s become more like a vibrant starship capable of warp speed. Indeed, it takes a much more knowledgeable person to successfully operate a business in today’s marketplace than it did even 10 years ago.

The great American revolutionary and legendary wordsmith, Thomas Paine, said, “I have seldom passed five minutes of my life, however circumstanced, in which I did not acquire some knowledge.”  This from a corset maker who dropped out of school at 13.

You can’t anticipate everything, so react when you must.  The business of the day, obviously, must be attended to.  And what will you have tomorrow if you don’t plan for it?

But however circumstanced, before you succumb to the human tendency to rest on your laurels, make it part of your daily tasks to acquire some knowledge.

Make it your daily intention to learn something new that might help you react more effectively, operate more profitably, and plan more intelligently.

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

RESULTS: Who should own the Internet?

The Question:

The Net Neutrality debate is about who controls the Internet: businesses through competition and contracts, or government by turning it into a utility. What do you think?

2% - The government should be in control of the Internet.
74% - The government should leave the Internet alone.
19% - There should be a way to balance control between these two.
5% - Undecided.
Jim’s Comments:

Seeking due diligence in business

As we conduct the due diligence on what’s next for our business, we seek the information that will help us acquire knowledge and create conditions that minimize the risks and maximize the opportunity.  After all, we want to be as certain as possible that our next step is the right one, don’t we?
That’s an interesting word, certain.  Webster says it means fixed, settled, determined, not to be doubted. But it’s a word that isn’t often found in business plans.
The 19th century president of Harvard University, Charles W. Eliot, said, “All business proceeds on beliefs, or judgment of probabilities, and not on certainties.”
What do you think the marketplace — indeed, the world — would look like if business had been built more on certainties than beliefs? I think we would probably be closer to wearing a stone ax on our belt than a smartphone.
It’s important to understand that on the entrepreneurial scale, each of us resides somewhere between the foolhardy and seekers of certainty. The challenge for entrepreneurs is to know when to seek certainty and when to move forward with our beliefs.
No position on this scale is better than another — the world needs all kinds of entrepreneurs. But understanding where we reside on the entrepreneurial scale helps us make better business plans.

Train yourself every day for the future

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, “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 way-point 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!

Believe in yourself first, success will follow

Photo by Melody Campbell via Flickr.com

Photo by Melody Campbell via Flickr.com

As we continue the holiday season and move into the New Year, I encourage you to contemplate your capacity to have faith, and how faith manifests in your life.  Not just religious faith, which is important to many of us, but faith in yourself and faith in others.

August Wilhelm Von Schlegel said, “In actual life, every great enterprise begins with and takes its first forward step in faith.”  How many things have you accomplished in your life where, regardless of your research and experience, the first forward step was taken in faith?

Awareness of faith can be very exciting. William Newton Clark wrote, “Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see.”

Exercising faith can be very powerful. Sherwood Eddy once observed, “Faith is reason grown courageous.”

Faith can transcend mere facts, and can actually be a lever for reason. Blaise Pascal believed that, “Faith is a sounder guide than reason.  Reason can go only so far, but faith has no limits.”

Have faith and take that first step. Have faith and dare to go farther.  Have faith and be courageous.  Have faith and leverage reason.

Have faith in yourself, and when you do, anything is possible.  Because, after all, you’re a small business owner.


Inspiring words for the coming year

As you know, I often weave my thoughts in this space around a statement someone else has made, or idea they have proposed.  Occasionally, like today, I find something where I have nothing to add, and just want to pass it along.  Below is such a piece.

Photo via Wikipedia Commons

ANYWAY

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.  Be honest anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may try to destroy overnight. Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Do it anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.

It was never between you and them, anyway.

Indeed.




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