Archive for the 'Problem solving' Category

The Out Basket

Harold Alexander, British field marshal during WWII, and 1st Earl of Tunis, had a habit at the end of the day of “tipping” the remaining work left in his In basket into his Out basket.  When asked why he did this he replied, “It saves time and you’d be surprised at how much doesn’t come back.”

For small business owners, the Earl’s management style could be dangerous; many of us don’t have anyone to come by and take the stuff from our Out basket.  If we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. But I wonder about this method for dealing with worry.

What if, at the end of each day, you “tipped” all of your left over problems into your mind’s Out basket — the problem customers, the bank payment, the new competitor — go ahead, put all of those alligators right in there. Don’t worry. Those that need to be will be there in the morning.  But you might be surprised at the ones that just “don’t come back.”  And there you were worrying about them.  Pretty silly, huh?

In his book, Blue Highways, William “Least Heat Moon” Trogdon reported that his grandfather, who was full-blooded American Indian (Osage), once told him, “Some things don’t have to be remembered.  They remember themselves.”

So, there you have it.  If it’s important it, will be there in the morning.  If not, it will go away and wasn’t worth the worry.  And worry is one of the greatest inner demons small business owners have to slay.

Give that “tipping” thing a try. It just might save you some worry. Now where did I put that Out basket?

Three fundamentals of small business capitalization

The first sentence in the job description of every CEO should be, “Get the capital your company needs.”

Webster defines business capital as, “any asset, tangible or intangible, that is held for long-term investment.” Capital blended with operating cash flows becomes the financial fuel your company’s engine uses to operate with and fund growth.

•  Investment Capital — from you or someone else.

•  Borrowed Funds — for most small businesses, from a bank loan.

Additional capital is required just to STAY in business beyond what was necessary to START the business. And the stay-in-business capital is much more than the get-in-business capital. Success begets growth and growth eats capital like Cookie Monster eats chocolate chip cookies. So without a capitalization plan you can grow yourself out of business.

Here are three capital allocation guidelines. Don’t use operating cash to purchase assets. Don’t borrow money for operating expenses. Funding growth with borrowed money is okay, if you have a plan to convert growth funding from debt to retained earnings.

Retained Earnings

As the CEO or your business, it’s your job to acquire, manage, allocate and maximize all sources of capital.

Jim Blasingame is the author of the new book,”The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

Video-Are you prepared for a business interruption?

In this week’s video I list the top three business interruptions that you should focus on for your small business.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

It’s the Age of the Customer - get over it!

Markets were born when humans chose to acquire what they needed by trading with each other rather than producing it themselves or taking from someone else by force. The moment of proto-market conception was when the first seller offered to trade with the first customer, and that offer was accepted.

For millennia, this marketplace dance was as beautifully simple as it was exquisitely effective, having at its nucleus three primary elements:

1. The product, controlled by the seller
2. Information about the product, also controlled by the seller
3. The buying decision, controlled by the customer

From that first transaction, when shells were the reserve currency, to about 1995AD, the marketplace dance was performed zillions of times with little variation. I’ve termed this period “The Age of the Seller,” because the Seller controlled two of the three elements.

Then something happened that had not occurred for 10,000 years: A new age – I call it The Age of the Customer™.

This new Age was born as micro-computers and associated innovations converged with high-speed Internet and associated applications. As this convergence shifts marketplace paradigms, it conveys the balance of power from the seller to the customer.

The millennia-old marketplace dance is still beautifully simple. But when the dancers come together in the Age of the Customer, a new leader emerges, because control of the three major relationship elements has changed:

1. Products and services are still controlled by the Seller.
2. Information – including customer experiences – is now easily and abundantly available to the Customer without being controlled, filtered or distributed by the Seller.
3. The buying decision is still controlled by the Customer.

The Age of the Seller is succumbing to the new Age as customers resist the restrictions of the former Age and embrace the empowerment of the new. During this transition period, Sellers are operating in parallel universes, but not for long.

Your small business is now operating in a new age where customers rule. They like this new-found empowerment, and increasingly expect sellers to connect with them on Age of the Customer terms. Sellers that transition to the new Age with their customers will be successful. Hidebound sellers, nostalgic for when they had control, will become irrelevant and perish.

It’s the Age of the Customer – your world has changed.

Recently on The Small Business Advocate Show I talked more about the Age of the Customer and how you can avoid becoming irrelevant. Take a few minutes to click on the links below and listen. As always, leave your comments on what is working for you in the 21st century marketplace.

It’s the Age of the Customer - get over it!

Avoiding irrelevance in the Age of the Customer

Don’t just adjust to change, lead it and sell it

As I have said many times before, our challenge is not change - the computer is just a fancy wheel.  Indeed, the only thing that’s really different about change in the past 3,000 years is the velocity of change. What’s taking our breath away is the time between generations of change, which is being significantly compressed by technological innovations.

In this high-velocity change environment in which you operate your business, sustained success requires that you do more than merely accept change.  In fact, 21st century success means you embrace change, are able to sell it to your organization and customers and then lead that change - everyday.

I know this sounds hard. It is. If it weren’t, monkeys would be running small businesses.  But here is a piece of advice that will help you embrace, sell and lead change.  I hope you’ll write this down somewhere and remember it. I call it Blasingame’s 21st century Small Business Attitude on Change: “It’s okay to fall in love with what you do, but you can’t fall in love with how you do it.”

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I discussed this new attitude on change with Brett Clay, including tips on how to incorporate this leadership attitude about change to find solutions for your customers. Brett is the founder and CEO of Change Leadership Group, LLC. and the author of Selling Change: 101 Secrets for Growing Sales by Leading Change.

Take a few minutes to listen to what Brett and I have to say and, as always, leave your own thoughts on leading with change. Listen Live! Download, Too!

A picture is STILL worth a thousand words for small business

A picture is STILL worth a thousand words. It’s amazing what we is revealed to us when we take the time to put on paper a word, idea, image, even the numbers associated with financial information. There is just something dramatic about seeing what you’re thinking looking back at you.  And here’s a flash: This works with your small business customers, too.

That’s the message Dan Roam helped me develop as he joined me recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. Dan is founder of Digital Roam, Inc. and the author of two great books, The Back of the Napkin and Unfolding the Napkin as well as a new member of my Brain Trust.

Dan and I talked about solving problems and selling ideas by conveying your message with graphical images, and I think you’ll benefit from hearing this conversation. Take a few minutes to listen and, as always, let us know how you’ve used images to your advantage, both internally and externally. Listen Live! Download, Too!

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