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Do You Really Want to Change?

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changeDo you have strong opinions about your business?

It’s likely those strong opinions and ability to stay focused are what have made you successful.

On the other hand, those opinions can put you out of business. Do you keep weak employees around you because you think you owe them something because they’ve been with you since the beginning?

If this sounds like you, don’t worry. You’re not the only one who keeps employees around because they feel indebted to them.

We’ve all heard, “The only constant is a change”” if you want things to get better you must be open to new ideas. The more successful you are, the more likely you’re “change resistant.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?

“We have no competition; we’re the only game in town.”

“There’s no sense in training, my team is pretty good and our numbers are very good.”

“We made it through 2008, there’s nothing to worry about.”

How does a very successful company, one who starts out with an entrepreneur and a dream,  fifteen years later have thousands of employees?

It’s likely they’re focused on building their team and they have the ability to change.” Do they bring in enough business or are they a drain?”

  1. The most important thing is to focus on your profitability. Are you making money or is it all cash flow? Are your employees working “for you” or “against you?”
  2. Who is making you money and who barely covers their salary? Are you still “carrying” people?
  3. Have you spent enough time on training your employees? When times are good businesses can’t take people off the sales floor. When business is terrible they complain about money.
  4. Do you give rewards to all your employees? Employees who bring in more money deserve more perks. If you treat everyone the same, your better employees will leave and go work for your competitors.
  5. Plan ahead for the slow times. Provide ongoing training for your team period. You will thank yourself and them when times are slow.

Remember, it’s not what you make that keeps you in business, it’s what you keep.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build sales and marketing strategies for over 20 years. Reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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By | 2017-03-03T12:06:52+00:00 October 1st, 2015|Blog, Change, Entrepreneurs|0 Comments

Want to Get Noticed? Get a Job in Target

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Whether you’re in the market to sell yourself or your business you will have to build your brand. Your brand is what makes you unique—it’s what makes you.

Mark Zuckerberg in his "hoodie."

Mark Zuckerberg in his “hoodie.”

When I mention “hoodie” who do you think of? Could it be Mark Zuckerberg? He took hoodie to another level.

Don't forget clean underwear.

Don’t forget clean underwear.

My mom used to say, “Your reputation is all you have.” In those days it means a “good” reputation. These days I’m not sure if it has to be good. You just need a reputation!

Alex from Target,  no longer unknown.

Alex from Target, no longer unknown.

Building your brand isn’t easy. There’s lots of competition and everyday there’s a new unknown who’s become famous.  Last week, Alex was a 16 year old cashier at Target, overnight he became a celebrity with 300,000 followers on Twitter. Someone snapped a photo of him, and it went viral. He says he still doesn’t ’ know what has happened but there’s the buzz that it was a PR stunt from Target. It doesn’t matter, 30 days ago he was an unknown, know he is being represented by Shahidi, who is guiding him on next steps. We now have a brand called “Alex.” Alex was wearing a red Target shirt; I don’t think it was the shirt that made him famous. It was probably his innocent good looks. Here’re some ideas for building your own brand.

No matter what you do, you need your own personal brand to be remembered. If you’re in the sales business, you need customers to remember who you are. I remember I had a salesperson that was known as “the really tall, good looking salesperson.” He was 6 feet tall and definitely good looking. It got him lots of repeat business.

Here are some ideas for building your brand.

"A ship is safe in the harbor but that's not where it belongs."

“A ship is safe in the harbor but that’s not where it belongs.”

Be bold. Take a shot, don’t be afraid to be you and stand out. Your boldness may be your clothes, your hobby or your blog. It might be your haircut. Blogs have made many people famous.

Look like yourself.

Look like yourself.

Look good. Just because you’re running to the post office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress up. My mom used to say, “Put on your lipstick, you never know who you’re going to meet.” This was the upgrade from my grandmother who said, “Don’t forget to wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.”

Practice random acts of kindness.

Practice random acts of kindness.

Practice “random acts of kindness.” We always remember people who are nice to others. It never hurts to be kind.

Recognize opportunities.

Recognize opportunities.

Get known for working hard and doing an excellent job. This will also make you feel good about yourself.

Have fun.

Have fun.

Be fun, don’t take everything so seriously. I was lucky enough to work with Madeline Kahn in the 50’s. We were both college students working in a hotel in the Catskills; she was a singer and I was a waitress. In the afternoons, she used to dress up as Greta Garbo; a famous vamp from the 20’s and lounged around the pool.

Madeline Kahn, "Blazing Saddles."

Madeline Kahn, “Blazing Saddles.”

One day, the owner came out and yelled at her, “His line, Madeline; you have to get serious if you’re going to be a star!”

If you’ve ever seen “Blazing Saddles” you know she was silly and became a star.

Listen up.

Listen up.

Listen to others. A good listen that isn’t critical is always remembered. You don’t have to be a social worker; you just need a kind ear.

Albert Einstein said he wasn't smart, he was curious.

Albert Einstein said he wasn’t smart, he was curious.

See yourself as entrepreneurial. Being entrepreneurial with interesting ideas will always help your brand.

Take a chance.

Take a chance.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Be who you are and way what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Lisbeth Calandrino has been a business consultant for over 20 years. To speak with her about your business or have her train your employees, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. She lives in Historic Hudson Park with her cat, Rainyday.

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4 Ways to Transition Your Salespeople from Employees to Business Partners

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EmployeesIt appears that the country is trying to instill an entrepreneurial attitude into all of us. With many of the traditional high-paying jobs disappearing, we find ourselves in a quandary.

There are many people who were fortunate enough, often without much education, to move into jobs that paid well and provided a good retirement. It would appear that many of these jobs have disappeared. In addition, consumers have transferred much of their trust from the salesperson to the Internet. The role of the salesperson has been altered.

Salespeople have long been in a position to provide important product and service information to inquiring customers. Now, customers ask their friends or get information from many social media outlets. Let’s face it: A good salesperson has to think differently now. Salespeople are still part of the equation but must see themselves as more than salespeople. Having an entrepreneurial spirt will help.

As entrepreneurs, we are always looking for ways to find new business and come up with new ideas, and we realize that we can make or break a business. A successful entrepreneur is always looking for ways to understand his or her customers and find ways to become a trusted confidant.

I believe that anyone who receives compensation for a job is a partner. Many people often say, “I just work here,” implying that they have no say or effect on the business. These days, everyone needs to realize they have an effect on the business, and the customer certainly does care what they have to say.

Whether it is online or in the store, customers are seeking them out for advice, information and as a connection. Changing the salesperson’s role will have a tremendous effect on your business.

Here are some thoughts on how to take the employee-employer relationship you currently have and forge it into a new partnership:

  1. Ask your salespeople daily about their customers. What did they find out, what do they know and what changes do they think you should make in your business? Learning how to be inquisitive is one of the skills that should be taught. More than ever, it’s important to know how the customers got into your store and how the Internet has affected their decision to purchase.
  2. Encourage salespeople to seek new ways of engaging customers—new ones as well as existing ones. It’s likely that the satisfied customer will be your link to your next customer, since 90 percent of your business is from referrals.
  3. Engage and teach your salespeople skills that will help them connect with their customers. These days, whoever gets to the customer first will probably win. Getting there first means getting to them before they get into your store. Once they’ve connected to the customer, the salesperson must be building a marketing plan to stay in touch and link to the next customer.
  4. Determine what tools your salespeople will need in order to continue to become the customer’s partner. Will it be contests, holding events in your store or writing a blog to engage the customer?

All of our roles have changed; it’s no more business as usual. A partnership implies helping each other achieve goals and bringing more talent and expertise to the table. How will this work in your business?

Lisbeth Calandrino has been providing consulting and training for businesses for over 20 years. If you would like to book a consultation or have her speak with your team, reach her at 518-495-5380.

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What’s Going on With Retail?

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People seem to be out shopping and the retail news seems to be positive. Could it really be true? I decided to call , Rebecca Marion Flach, Vice President of Membership and Communication for the Retail Council of New York State.

As Vice President of Membership and Communication for the Retail Council, exactly what do you do?

I’m in charge of all internal and external communication that supports the Council’s government relations, sales and marketing and membership functions. I’m also in charge of new membership benefit programs and services for the association.

Exactly what is happening in the retail sector, is business looking up?

We had a brisk holiday season and it appears sales grew in the 2-3% range over 2010. Our members gave the season an “A-” letter grade as part of the Council’s Holiday Sales Watch. This is all good news given the state of the economy.

What does this mean for 2012? It’s tough to say although economists are pointing to slow growth next year. Unemployment is down. The stock market is rallying. Gas prices have dropped. All of these factors and many others play a role in retail sales. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for steady improvement next year. 

How do you get your information?

My colleagues and I constantly talk with members to get the pulse of retail. How is business? What trends are members seeing? What new ideas are they implementing in their stores?

The Council also surveys its members during the holiday season. We just wrapped up the 2011 Holiday Sales Watch, which consists of one mail survey and three telephone surveys we conduct between mid-September and the week after Christmas. The mail survey measures our members predictions for the upcoming holiday season, The telephone surveys begin after Black Friday Weekend to gauge what actually happened in member stores at critical points in the season.

Rebecca. I remember when I was in the retail business we always had excuses for why customers did or did not show up. It was either too cold for them to come out,  or  so nice they decided to play golf or work in the garden.

Is there such a thing as  “good” and  “marginal ones retailers?”

The Council only reports what our members tell us is happening in retail and I wouldn’t be so bold as to try to discern the difference between a good and marginal merchant. Our members are the true experts and I’m here to support them. That being said, I’ve learned over the years from members that knowing your customer and treating them like family go a long way toward success in retail.

Successful retailers constantly survey their customers to find out what products and services interest them and what they’re willing to pay for it.  I don’t mean they send mail surveys or call their customers to collect this information (although they could). It’s asking simple questions while customers are in the store or just making observations. You have to know what your customer is thinking and what is influencing their thought process.

I’ve also learned that service makes or breaks the independent merchant. Service is what distinguishes small businesses from their larger competitors and can attract or deter shoppers from coming back. As one of our Hudson Valley member always says, “Treat your customers like family.”

How is technology affecting retailers?                                                                                               

For the last two or three years we have been talking about the use of social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Google Places. Many of our members have started to build Facebook pages and are encouraging their customers to post opinions as well as talk about their products.

Those members that use social media regularly are starting to see a difference in their referrals and customers. It takes time to stay connected but this is the new platform where the consumer is communicating with businesses and other customers. In addition, customers get information about products and reviews from each other so it’s increasingly important to monitor what’s being said about your business online.

In addition to social media, mobile technology is revolutionizing retail. QR Codes are becoming very popular ways to direct customers with smart phones to more information on a product or service. Foursquare and other check-in applications give retailers some fantastic opportunities to communicate with customers. Couponing sites might make a good awareness building tool for some merchants. The options are endless, but the struggle for the small business owner is finding the time to learn about and implement these tools.

 

Are there other events that are influencing retail?

Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express the Saturday after Thanksgiving had a major impact this year. This was just the second year for this event, but some of our members reported customer interest and increased foot traffic as a result.

Our independent merchants tell us Black Friday is a Big Box Store event and I think it was ingenious to create a holiday designed to promote small business. It brought attention to the contributions made by small businesses to our communities and encouraged a “buy local and small” mentality that lasted far beyond November 26.

We had members who capitalized on the free publicity Small Business Saturday generated by offering special in-store promotions, featuring “Made in America” products or talking about their business’ role in the community (job creation, history, etc.)

Rebecca I can only think that Small Business Saturday can only get better as we have a few years under our belt. Retailers who took advantage of it these past years will probably have some great ideas how to make it have more impact on their business.

What about the Wall Street protests? Good Morning America noted that this is starting to have an effect on consumers.

The Wall Street Protests also seem to have encouraged many consumers to reexamine how they spend their money and where. The protests against “big banks” and “big corporations” has brought new energy to independent retail much like Small Business Saturday did. Some of our members told us they had the best holiday season they can remember from a resurgence of interest in supporting local businesses.

 

You mentioned community teamwork; how would you define this?

We are hearing from our members that consumers have reawakened to shopping locally, and we’re also learning of retailers’ willingness to work together to promote each other’s businesses in a way I haven’t noticed in the past. Business owners seem more willing to cross promote with neighboring businesses or businesses with a natural tie-in.

I’ve talked to members who are sharing brochures and coupons with neighboring businesses, hosting joint events and co-branding marketing materials. It’s a great way to spread the word about these local businesses, help them develop new customers and foster a sense of community.

It certainly is good to get some other opinions from the world of retail. I hope that this continues and we continue to see growth. Maybe Rebecca will revisit us in a few months with an update.  

 

10 Tips for Revving Up Your Business for the New Year

Based on my conversation with Rebecca, here are some ideas to explore for implementation in your business in 2012.

1.      First, have an open mind. Start thinking, what are others doing that are bringing in customers? Are these good ideas for my business? Should I be joining with other retailers, sharing coupons and inviting them to share in events?

2.      Think community. Who do I know that I could “pair up with” and have an event? Is it a restaurant, caterer, jewelry store or the local candy maker?  What type of event could we hold? Can we swap coupons or give out gift cards advertising each other’s stores? How will “being green” help your community and are you doing your part?

3.      Think about what’s cutting into my customer’s spending. If food purchasing is taking a bite out of their budget how about giving grocery coupons or partnering with a grocery store? I remember when we were in business; food was always a good gift during the holiday season. We used to give out coupons of different values based on how much the customer spent. Giving away turkeys was always a big hit.

4.      Know your customer as well as you know yourself. Many retailers are afraid to ask for email addresses or if the customer is on Facebook, they feel like they’re being intrusive. How will you get know them better if you don’t find a way to keep in touch?

5.      Get involved with local activities and don’t forget Small Business Saturday.  It’s not too early to start thinking about next year, how you can market to your customers and what can you do better? Talk with other business on your block or in your neighborhood, how can you all join forces?

6.      Get moving with social media. If you’re doing social media explore how you can do it better and take advantage of new programs. Don’t forget Four Square and other programs which offer free gifts to customers. I have a friend how used Groupon and had so much success they were overwhelmed. They couldn’t believe the response.

7.      Develop your “small business hat.” Continue to talk about how shopping in small locally owned businesses and how it can help your community.

8.      Review your customer list from past years. Who are your good customers, who is giving you business and how can you keep in touch?

9.      If social media isn’t “your thing,” review the pros and cons. What are your objections, is it helping other businesses, how can you get your salespeople involved in getting your customers to “brag” about you on line. Talk with successful businesses and ask about their on line customers; what are customers talking about?

10.  Look at new ways to communicate with your customers. Are you using video regularly, are you reusing your television and radio commercials by linking them to your social media sites. Don’t forget that YouTube surpassed Yahoo for the first time in total U.S. search queries, making it the 2nd largest search engine in the U.S. next to only its owner, Google.

Have a great New Year; maybe retail is really looking up!

Lisbeth Calandrino is a retail consultant and business coach. She can be reached through her web site or at redhotcustomerservice@nycap.rr.com.

 

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You Never Know Where A “Cat-astropic” Event Can Lead

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Cats don't kill people (or dogs) guns doIt was reported that two kittens, Snowyday and Winter somehow dented the bell on a $5000.00 bass trombone.

Trouble in river city.

How did they do it? They probably used a  a chair. The owner, Anthony Giles, a professional trombone player, felt dented, just like the bell but unexpected events often lead us to new discoveries and new ideas.

Did  Edison really sit on the light bulb to create its unique shape? The best brass repair guy was called in New York City. Everyone knows  The Brasslab, Chuck Alexander, the master of Red Hot Customer Service. The “bone” was packed up for its trip to New York City.

An immediate diagnosis indicated that the bell needed to stay for  repair. This is not good. So, the trombone player, Anthony Giles went searching through through his “spare bells” and came up with a 10 year old  bell which turned out to be a better fit for his playing. I’m told that, as a musician, you’re always looking for ways to improve; By accident he had found one.

I think the kittens are not only off the hook but may be psychic and  were trombone players in one of their other lives.

So what  does this mean to the rest of us mortals? Can we possible train our mind to move from “victim” to being “proactive?” Stephen Covey in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People  talks about “mindfulness.”

Make lemonade out of lemons, the obvious.

Realize that even a seemingly a  disaster can be a new path for your life.

Be always thinking and wondering.

Life and success is all about attitude; never let circumstances dictate your feelings.

Think out of the box, why do you even need a “box to think out of ?”

Did I  say, don’t leave your trombone on the floor?

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The Challenges of Family-Owned Businesses

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Tree
My friend and associate Caren McCabe, of McCabe Training, sent me an article recently called The Family Run Business: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly of Succession Planning. Here's a snippet:

"Family run companies are in many respects the backbone of American business. They are typically the most stable of small businesses, with a much lower failure rate than other small business models. Some of the largest and most successful companies in America are family owned and operated, yet 70 percent of family run businesses don’t make it to the second generation; a full 90 percent never make it to the third generation.

These statistics are not new, but appalling just the same. So why the high failure rate? Most experts chalk it up to poor succession planning, as if a plan would somehow make it all better. No plan will correct fundamental weaknesses in a business unless its managers recognize and address those weaknesses. These weaknesses prevent many family owned businesses from realizing much of their real potential."

In the flooring industry, one of the most famous family-owned businesses is Koch Industries, valued at the present time at about $100 billion. There are four brothers involved in the business. The biggest acquisition occurred in 2005, when it acquired Georgia Pacific, the giant pulp and paper products producer, for over $20 billion. With the Georgia Pacific and earlier acquisitions, Koch Industries became the owner of such nationally known products as "Stainmaster," "Lycra,", "Quilted Northern," and "Dixie Cups." Of course other famous family businesses are Gucci and the Gallo Brothers. 

According to a 2008 Article in USA Today, there are approximately 25 million family-owned businesses in the U.S. — many of them mom-and-pop operations. There is no group tracking the closure of family businesses, but experts say they are vulnerable in the current economy. 

Over the past 20 years consulting with business I have managed to work with 15 businesses run by and filled with family members. Ranging from great grandparents to great grand children and another group of family members called the in-laws. Situations where the stockholders and owners do not actually work in the business but their spouses do. Emotions run rampant, as do long-standing feuds that occurred when partners were children. The dynamics are even more critical and interwoven. Not only do you get to make decisions with your cousins at work but you get to discuss these decisions over the family dinners. 

Usually, the clearest, best-informed and most rational understanding of what decisions should be made and what actions should be taken comes in the form of how was it done in the past. Why? Because family-owned companies can be tied up by emotional influences on decision making such as "grandpa knew best," hindsight. Fearing family retribution, many of these important issues are literally swept under the rug.
While it is interesting to note that "family" businesses in the Fortune 500 (no longer private family businesses, but still family controlled) outperform their "professionally managed" counterparts, their recognition of the power of a truly good corporate culture is what is most intriguing. 

To Work or Not Work? Both! 

Pride — or as Landes calls it, the “family stewardship" — is a big factor in many family-owned businesses. Not only have you become a business owner but you have inherited something that may go back centuries. Wegmans is still run by a fourth generation of family managers. Another grocery chain, Stew Leonards, has received worldwide acclaim for excellence in customer service and quality and is featured in two of management expert Tom Peter's books: A Passion for Excellence and Thriving on Chaos. In 1992, Stew Leonard's earned an entry into The Guinness Book of World Records for having "the greatest sales per unit area of any single food store in the United States." 

What doesn’t work in family-owned businesses? Unclear expectations and roles for employees, birth order and sibling rivalry all take a big part in the success and failure of these companies. Being the oldest (usually the one who is the most competitive paired up with the youngest who everyone thinks had it the easiest) creates a dynamic that is not so easily channeled into a productive team. Often times birth order makes it difficult for younger siblings to run companies. 

No matter how much education and "smarts," it’s just not easy to grow out of the "younger kid role." These businesses work when roles are defined by expertise rather than seniority. I have seen perfectly viable companies slowly disappear because no one was willing to take on the leader. When the leader is grandpa, it’s a different story.
As much as possible, have a succession plan, stock ownership and clearly delineated roles in place.
Hire a neutral party to help separate the family issues from the the business issues. Although this isn’t always easy, team building groups and interpersonal skill building will make it easier for family members to get themselves heard.
Focus on the strengths of the people involved and their abilities as opposed to birth order and seniority. 

Lis Calandrino is a sales trainer and marketing consultant who speaks around the country on the retail industry and online marketing. She can be reached at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com or 518 495-5380.

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By | 2017-03-03T12:07:17+00:00 April 9th, 2009|Entrepreneurs|3 Comments

Want to Do More Business? Consider Generation “G”

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T_geng

I came across a great article recently talking about the rise of Generation "G". They are the under-40s who belong to the video game generation. To quote Trendwatching:

Most people in this demographic grew up with games, and many of them still play now. They are familiar with gaming conventions relating to movement, exploration, cooperation, competition, and communication. Additionally, interaction with video games from an early age has created a foundation of familiarity and interest in computing technologies. 

So what sets this generation apart? The belief — or rather the hope — that this generation will change the era of greed that we've experienced over the last couple decades into that of generosity. To get a better sense of the background of this movement, I encourage you to read the article here.

Another great site that epitomizes the new focus on generosity is kiva.org. This is a site that's been getting more and more attention lately where anyone in the world can become — in a nutshell — a venture capitalist. How is it done? Someone with just $25 can help underwrite a business venture for someone in another country — typically a very poor country where $25 is worth more like $500. Kiva.org allows for regular people to contribute to businesses — usually single entrepreneurs selling flowers, bread, candy, etc. — to help them establish themselves further. You can track how that entrepreneur is doing and according to the site, 95% of the entrepreneurs pay their investors back. Investors have the option of donating the money as a gift as well. 

I think this venture is fantastic and shows what forms generosity — and capitalism — can take. Do you have any ideas as well or experiences about novel ways of giving or helping others? Drop me a line in the comments section!
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By | 2017-03-03T12:07:18+00:00 February 19th, 2009|Entrepreneurs|0 Comments

Got Purpose? Become the Entrepreneur Of Your Life

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Crisis-opportunity-symbol Happy New Year again!

Yesterday I was looking at Craig’s List under “events.” I often go there to look at acting jobs, gigs and voice overs. Occasionally I hit upon other things of interest. Today I answered an ad that went "Someone looking to hire a person to write a business plan." Now, a business plan is pretty straight forward: you go find the outline and fill in the blanks. The tough stuff is what fills up the blanks though and you have to do things like provide a market study.

It was a great conversation with a budding entrepreneur (or maybe he has a good job but wants more). We talked for about an hour and I realized that it was the details that were the problem—I told him the outline for the plan was online, what did he really need? As it goes, he needs to do the work. By the way, I think the idea is a good one, simple, can make money without inventory. But I thought whatever it is it takes work and work isn’t always fun. But he’s willing to do the work, already has a successful thing going on and I think just needed a push.

My experience is most people don’t want to do the work—they look for short cuts. But short cuts make it longer to get where you need to go, and the long cuts take time.

Life is pretty much a series of “long cuts” and work.

Anyway, it started me thinking, can you create a job that is entrepreneurial in nature? Can you have more with what you have or do you have to take huge risks, go out on your own and give it your all? The entrepreneurial stuff isn’t for everyone. 

Can the job require more of you? I would say lots more. You just have to make some decisions. You’ve heard life is short and all that but add this—life not only is short but for most people it’s pretty boring. I think a short exciting life is probably better than a long boring one. You pick! I was talking to my BFF ("best friend forever" for those of you who are not social networkers–or 12 years old) and we decided that excitement was truly important and that we have to try our best.

If you pick the less boring, how do you do it without betting the farm and using all your savings?

You’ve probably heard this before, do you own a business or a job? Michael Gerber wrote a book several years back called the E-Myth: the Myth of the Entrepreneur. In his book he asks whether you own a business or a job. His experience being that people go into business because they love what they do rather than looking at a business for what it’s designed to do–which is make money.  Why are you doing what you’re doing? Do you love it, do you have goals for the job or is your job just filling up space until another one comes along?

Are you making money?

How about taking your job and turning it into something special? I don’t care where you work or what you do, decide how you are going to get the most out of your job. Decide to become the entrepreneur of your life.

Yes there’s a difference between being an employee and an entrepreneur…

Employees get paychecks and get to complain about the boss. Entrepreneurs get to take risks, share responsibilities and have no one to blame other than themselves. They also get to make their own glory. How does it sound so far? Hey, you can stay where you are, but life is short and it might be short and boring. What a combo!

Got purpose? Once you decide that you want more from your job, decide what gives you meaning and purpose in your life and how you can work this into your existing job.  Purpose will help transform you into an entrepreneur.

Take action, do something! Take a step forward; doesn’t have to be big just take the step.

Don’t wait to be perfect. If you wait too long, the rules will change. Besides, waiting to be perfect is just an excuse for not doing anything. It’s the “I’m not perfect, I was born with low-self esteem thing.” We were all born with low–self esteem. Self esteem comes from getting out there, trying stuff, having some wins and some losses. You know the rest, dust yourself off and take another swing at life.

You’re in charge. You change it, you make it happen. Get some goals that makes sense. Don’t take short cuts, do the work. Need a business plan do the work? Get the statistics, find out what people think. Get creative with what you need. Read books on your career, advertise on Craig’s list for people with interests like your own.

Trust yourself that you know where you’re going. You don’t need to talk with what I call the “dream stealers" — those who are lazy and judgmental, the ones that know how to do everything but don’t  produce results.

Work at it even if you don’t feel like it. This is the true sign of people who make changes in their lives, they do it because they know they’re on the right path: their path. You never know what this will turn into.

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By | 2017-03-03T12:07:18+00:00 January 5th, 2009|Entrepreneurs|2 Comments

Ramona’s Restaurant on Lark St. Provides Insight for Entrepreneurs

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Ramonas-ext Ramona's restaurant quietly sits on Lark Street in Albany, New York. There isn't much signage and you have to walk down a step to enter the restaurant. If you're a regular, Ramona is sure to greet you with a big smile and a genuine hello. She remembers your name, your boyfriend's name, your dog's name, what you like to eat and anything else you've told her.

What makes Ramona’s special is, well, Ramona. She's entering her 8th year of business, which means she's come far. While undercapitalized and on a shoe-string budget, she's succeeding for no reason other than her entrepreneurial spirit. Her goal is to not only have good, simple food, but to help feed the hungry and those in need. When I'm home, I have breakfast and lunch at Ramona's — not only to get fed but also to find out what's going on in the neighborhood. Ramona pretty much knows everything that goes on in the neighborhood.

Ramona Like other single entrepreneurs, Ramona is tired, but she loves her customers, loves knowing that her customers like her and her food. She also loves being part of the neighborhood. I know that if I needed anything, I could call Ramona. She goes above and beyond running a restaurant.

How has Ramona made it? Here's what I gather from talking to her:

  1. Keep it simple; know what you can do and what you can't do. At one point Ramona tried to extend her hours and take in a partner; it didn't work. Her regular customers didn't like it without Ramona.

  2. Do what you know. Ramona tried to make the menu more sophisticated; instead of hamburgers and omelets, she added soups and shrimp dishes; customers clamored for the hamburgers and omelets and the shrimp went bad.

  3. Love your customers, all of them. They're what keep you in business.

  4. Know what's special about each of your customers; remember their names and what they like to eat. (Remember to save something for their pets.)

  5. Reinvest your money back in your business. Ramona has painted and bought new equipment.

  6. Talk with your customers; ask how they feel about your food and your service. Ask if there's anything they would like you to do to make it a better experience.

  7. Keep in touch with your customers by phone or by email. One of Ramona's long time customers, who lived alone, had not been in for breakfast for several weeks. Ramona called and eventually found out that he had died. Ramona was very close to her customer, he also helped with her computer, and she wished she had kept in better touch. "My customers are my friends," says Ramona, "and I need to keep track of them."

A good motto for anyone in business.

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By | 2017-03-03T12:07:21+00:00 September 26th, 2008|Entrepreneurs|0 Comments