Tag Archive for 'IBM'

What’s love got to do with your small business?

People start businesses because of love.

We love to make and/or sell things: shoe laces, tires, socks, cars, soap, computers, bread, air conditioners, etc. You love your business; I love my business. Starting and running a business is a love story.

Yes, I know. Our businesses are not always lovable. Indeed, a business is like a teenager: You may not always like it, but you always love it. Which is a good thing because if you didn’t love your business you wouldn’t come back the day after it gave you the worst day of your life.

As Tina Turner asked in her song, what’s love got to do with it? Love is an important component of being in business, but it can also be a problem. Is it possible to love your business too much? As business owners, we know how to fall in love with our businesses, but we usually don’t know how and when to fall out of love with it. Here’s a great American love story that went wrong:

In the early 20th century, the railroad industry thought they were in the railroad business instead of the transportation business. When freight trucks and better roads came along, many railroad companies failed because they loved what they did more than how they did it.

Here are two happy love stories:

In 1993, the octogenarian IBM business model was in trouble. Top leadership saved the company by realizing they weren’t in the computer business, but rather the information management. So they shifted from being hardware/software centric to adding services. IBM understood that they should only be in love with delivering digital information solutions.

Founded in 1916 in Seattle, Boeing had deep roots. But in 2001, the leadership realized their future was in aerospace, not just airlines, and moved the headquarters to Chicago. They loved what they did, not where they did it.

Both IBM and Boeing saved themselves by following:

Blasingame’s Law of Business Love: “It’s okay to fall in love with what you do, but it’s not okay to fall in love with how you do it.”

What do you love about your business? I’m serious; make a list. Then go back over the list and identify anything might be holding you back. You probably can’t do this by yourself, so engage your team.

As you go through this process, listen for and beware of responses that sound like: “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.” Statements like that make a great epitaph on the tombstone of a dead business.

Love your business, but don’t love how you do business.

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Check out some segments from The Small Business Advocate Show® about changing the way you do things within the small business you love.

Fall in love with what you do, not with how you do it with Ryan Kugler.

You can fall in love with what you do, but not how you do it with Stephen Baum.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Small business conversion to a server environment made easier

One of the great moments in the life of a small business is the purchase of your first computer when you’re a start-up. Through this device, which will deliver all of the application power you’ll employ, you will find your way to the marketplace and, hopefully, success.

Over time, you add more computers and other peripherals, creating what has become known as a “peer-to-peer” configuration, meaning everybody in your organization has their own desktop computer, each complete with all of the software programs and the files that have been created by them.

This configuration works out well for many growing small businesses. With not-too-sophisticated configuring, the sharing of files, peripherals and Internet connection can take place over the local network. And while this system expands naturally as a business grows, it does come with limitations and creates problems, such as: multiple software licensing gets expensive, collaboration is clunky at best, and perhaps the most significant and, frankly, dangerous shortcoming of this kind of configuration is frequent, reliable and consistent backing up of the work at every workstation.

Of course, for a long time, there has been an effective way to minimize these shortcomings, by converting from peer-to-peer to a server environment. And even though a server configuration makes more sense for many more small businesses than actually take advantage of it, the conversion is often simply not made because it’s actually not all that simple. In truth, if you’re going to convert from peer-to-peer to a server system, you had better know a local computer/network support organization because installation isn’t for amateurs and maintenance is required.

But there is good news on the server conversion process in the form of something generically called an “appliance.” This is a “black box” that houses a server but also other key network elements that, together with on-line automatic diagnostic and updating capability, seriously reduces the time, expense and brain damage of making the jump to a server configuration. More and more, hardware providers are doing exciting things with appliances to help small businesses make the server conversion a lot easier.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with server appliance expert, Caleb Barlow, who is with the Lotus division of IBM (LotusFoundations.com). Caleb first explained in a generic way how a server appliance works, and then how his offering works, the Lotus Foundations appliance.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to what Caleb has to say. This could be the missing productivity and efficiency piece to your business’ growth puzzle that you’ve been looking for. And be sure to leave your thoughts.

The future of your small business - in the clouds

The world is definitely changing, isn’t it? The recession of 2009 has business managers thinking that flat is the new up in terms of growth, and as for accounts receivables, 90 days is the new net 30.

So if I were to suggest that you should “have your head in the clouds,” in the past you would have asked why I would encourage you to disconnect from reality. But today, that suggestion would be quite to the contrary because having your head in the clouds in 2009 is actually a very real way for your small business to gain a competitive advantage. Let me explain.

If you haven’t already heard it, let me introduce you to a new term: cloud computing. Get used to it because cloud computing is going to become as ubiquitous as terms like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and social media.

In truth, cloud computing isn’t all that new. The early term was ASP, which stands for Application Service Provider (also ISP, for Internet Service provider). These were the first developers of processing power that a customer could access over the Internet without having to own it and install it on his or her desktop or server. The next generation of this highly efficient way to leverage technology was – and still is - called software-as-a-service, or SaaS for short. But more and more, as acquiring processing power offsite (think mobility) becomes the norm rather than the exception, we’ll think of this kind of leverage as cloud computing.

If you’ve ever sent an instant message, you’ve worked in the clouds. If you’ve ever made a transaction in that virtual marketplace called eBay, you’ve conducted cloud computing. and if you’ve managed a community on any of the social media sites, you’re a cloud-head.

Cloud computing is a pretty intuitive way to think about managing your work and life in cyberspace, isn’t it? But it’s more than intuitive; for small businesses, cloud computing is the next generation of thinking about gaining a competitive advantage. The more you can acquire processing power on-line, the less you have to capitalize that power because, virtually by definition, cloud computing comes with incremental delivery, on-demand availability and pay-as-you-go pricing. No muss, no fuss and turn around on a dime – just what small businesses need.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate show, I talked about this topic with a real, live cloud computing expert, Maia Sisk, Director, Product Management, IBM Lotus Online Collaboration Services (lotuslive.com), and a member of my Brain Trust. Take a few minutes to listen to what Maia has to say about what is to become such an important way of thinking about how you leverage your business model and your precious capital. And be sure to leave a comment.




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