Published by Startupcoach on 22 Feb 2011

You “create” your opportunities!

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Reading Tanveer Nasseer excellent post “do you have a healthy relationship with opportunity” got me thinking about this relation in an entrepreneurial context. Oddly enough, yesterday Schumpeter in The Economist wrote about ‘inside the mind of the entrepreneur” that talked about a reasearch on how entrepreneur “react” to the environment.

As I commented on the article, I truly believe that we “create” our opportunity. It’s you, that add the “special” ingredient in the “right solution, right place, right time” recipe. But for many entrepreneurs, it can be quite a challenge, specially for the struggling ones. Focus is such an issue. Many entrepreneurs have an ADD personality and those with multiple business even more so. In such a situation you are always looking to hit “one out of the ball park” but as in baseball, that attitude often leads to a strike out. Their ability to “create” can be, in those cases, detrimental to their success!

In his book “you already know how to be great” Alan Fine speaks about the right combination of Fire (energy)  focus (no interference) and faith (do you believe) wrapped in and well-balanced with Knowledge as the “right way” to GROW (Goals->Reality->Options->Way forward). I think that entrepreneurs have no lack of energy and faith in what they do, but interference in the form of “new opportunities” might be what prevents many of them from having the success they deserve.

Besides, if you finish one project FIRST, you might get some feedback (comments from customers, money) that will come in handy to build the second one.

So FOCUS on FINISHING what you started and if you really have to, have a “bottle cap file;-)

Published by Startupcoach on 21 Feb 2011

Team building

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Building the right team

With 5 generations at work, with a multicultural workforce becoming the norm and the shift in how people work (part-time, from home, freelancers, e-sourcing ), having team building skills has to be part of your business survival tool box!

But before you start with a group of random individuals and you transform them into one solid unit of efficiency, there are lots of steps you have to go through.

First, make sure to pick people on their best strength. Make sure it answers needs in the company. Why so much emphasis on strength? Because when you work using your strength most of the time, it’s not « work », it’s fun, it’s play, it’s success, it’s not counting hours until Friday at 5. You get better results, so in turn you get praised, then you develop pride in your work, which turns into excellence on the job and better job retention.

Second, you’ve got to make sure that each individual feels his importance, knows how their personal goals are linked to the company’s goals.

Third, give them enough power so they really can take some decisions on their own and than stay clear but make sure to keep them motivated by providing frequent feedback on how well they are doing. Make sure as leader that you provide answers to the need they have to do the job properly. Celebrate successes publicly but keep the constructive criticism private.

Fourth, make sure the group as a purpose, an inspiring mission and a compelling vision to keep in mind. Have clear SMART goals about how to get there and that it can only be achieved by overall success.  Make sure you have a “buy-in” from every member of the team before moving forward.

Five, foster interdependence.  If everyone knows someone’s got their back, if everyone knows each other strengths, chance are the team results will be higher than the sums of it’s parts. Sport team metaphors are always a winner to put emphasis on the importance of having the right people at the right place.

Six, keep communication channels open. Don’t let any rumors fly by and become out of hand. Jump on every chance of putting forward one of team member’s idea. As Captain Michael Abrashoff, author of the great book “It’s you ship’” puts it; “Listen aggressively!”

Seven, remember a team can be efficient for a certain amount of time but by adding fun into the mix, you’ll have a “team” for much longer

Finally, back to the top. Be committed from the start to building a better team. Commitment to anything can only be instilled by example. Live it, get it and reap the rewards that come from it.

Published by Startupcoach on 12 Aug 2010

Getting the information from outside the box

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Remember “The tipping point” the  best seller from Malcom Gladwell from a few years back ?
How the combination of  Connectors, Maven and salesmen in the right context and with a good “sticky” story ( For that “Made to Stick” is a must read.) can help you create a powerful “epidemic”, a tidal wave of interest for you product or service ?

A new book, “The Power of Pull” adds an interesting layer to that whole concept. Covered by Schumpeter in “The Economist” , the theory behind the book is that the answer you are looking for lies on serendipity.

By getting Access to the right people, then Attracting them and achievement with, thru wide array of contacts (think Social Media “friends” here…)  you multiply your chances to gain the knowledge you need faster, because, precisely,  things change so fast ! You have to cast a wider net

The author recommends to attend a mix of specialized and more eclectic conferences to maximize the effect. Hang out with people who thrive in change, in changing environments.

If Schumpeter concludes on the importance of letting some of your employee use social networks, a given for me, It brought to mind the link with the Tipping point. In your “gathering up” the information phase, start looking at/asking for the connectors, the mavens and the salesmen that will make the best use of that new information. Make sure to add-up a few I.O.U’.s along the way.  YOUR tipping pointt might be closer than you think.

Published by Startupcoach on 11 Aug 2010

Customer satisfaction: When Telus chooses to leave 4K$ on the table

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Those who know me personally,  know that the last few weeks were busy trying to replace my BlackBerry smart phone that had decided to learn to swim ;-(

As many freelancer, this is a mobile office. Friends wanted to help by giving me their “old” BB but there was always some technical reason to justify not being able to use it
So after many attempts to find a suitable solution to my problem, I had to buy my way out of the contract I had going with Telus. Which I did and was freeing me for acquiring any kind of phone. Having switched to MAC more than a year ago, the natural choice was to go with the IPhone.

The night I bought back my contract, I was willing to buy a IP 3GS. But none were available…so it seemed…

So I was in for a 2 weeks wait, to get my hands on the new IP4. So I spent many nights tossing the idea of going for an Android Phone, but the Nexus is mo more available thru Google and some well connected friends we’re not recommending the Motorola Android phones available at the time at TELUS
So like a bunch of groupies, I was there the morning the Jesus Phone was “born”…

After a rather long wait I finally get my hands on the little marvel. Suddenly the guy at the counter is typing feverishly on his keyboard, then he picks up the phone, has an argument with the lady at the other end…Understand here that this guy was beside me 2 weeks before when I bought back my contract, and he was the one I had all my conversations with around the Android Phones…

He looks at me and turns rather pale (for a black guy)…
“I can’t sell you the phone sir…”

I politely ask why…

-”You can have ANY  phone except the IP4″….

-Pardon me!??!?

-You heard me correctly sir…

-And what’s the logic ?

-Keeping the phone for new clients….

-You’re telling me that TELUS will do this to a 6 year, well paying client, to get a new one ?

-One moment I’ll go talk to the manager…

He comes back rather quicly…l

- Can’t do anything sir, those are the rules…You can take another phone and in 15 days, if you are not satisfied you can always come back and see if there are IP4 available then…

- Find me a solution here my friend, The Bell guys are just on the other side of the corridor…

- You could always take….a IP3 GS but you won’t be able to upgrade!!!!!!

Me fuming…

-(I can,t translate the french expression that I used here) Are you kidding me ? Where were they when I was ready to buy one 2 weeks ago…
-My friend I like you, and I know it’s a corporate decision here. but let,s do a quick overview. The records show that I give you an average of 100$/months on phone/data bills, that 3600$ on a 3 year contract, plus 300$ for the phone, that’s 3900 $ plus an easy overflow of at least 100$ in 3 years. SO, that is a MINIMUM of 4000$ that you guys are leaving on the table. I’m throwing you a lifeline here…

- I can’t…..

-Well tell your manager that he loss that…Thanks for your time and effort.

Now the 4000$ plus question here

Anyone at TELUS knows the concept called “Lifetime customer value” ?
Of course TELUS called me a week later to try to “fix” things….

Now I just hope It won’t get there…

Published by Startupcoach on 26 Jul 2010

You have satisfied customers ? Then what…

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All businesses aim for that illusive goal. Customer satisfaction

How do we measure satisfaction? What is satisfaction for one person can be quite different from another one! And then what? Do you adequate satisfaction with loyalty? If so, you are doing one big mistake! Here’s why.

Studies have shown that : 68% of clients go elsewhere because of the poor way they were treated. Loyalty is only obtained at the outstanding levels of satisfaction. And Loyalty is 3X stronger in clients that are “Totally satisfied” from “Somewhat satisfied” : So, go overboard on satisfaction.

But Satisfaction, is only the starting block. Satisfaction is ground level and only a moment in time. As William Neal put it « Satisfaction is an attitude, Loyalty is a behavior »-

It’s that behavior that you want to get, right ?.

Behavior comes from emotion. So, the real target is having products, services and employees that generate “Positive” emotions in our clients. Think about it, we do remember more. the things and events that have emotion attached to them.

One big challenge is that you have to stir up those positive emotions; before, during and after the relationship with your company. Let’s take each of these in turn;

Before: We all know that we do business with people we know, like and trust. So, you should strive to go from Encounter to Relationship. Business Relationships are based on trust and trust issues are paramount. A loss of trust equals very strong emotions. A client could be satisfied with the product but if or for any reasons, you’ve over promised you will lose in loyalty…

Also remember to diagnose the problem/need WITH your clients before starting to sell TO them. It will help build a strong relationship.

During : Imagine an emotional bank account. You have to have money in it to be able to withdraw. So in order to have some leeway with your clients, make sure you pile up those emotional dollars right from the get go.

After: Now think the situations where emotions for your customers are real high….when they complain ! Think of it this way; They are giving you one last chance to keep doing business with you!. Now, if you take care of the individual before taking care of the complaint, offer them exceptional service, a choice of solution and you’ll win a Customer or life.
Develop a culture of seeking feedback in your company, that way you’ll always be one step ahead of the competition on “customer satisfaction”.

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