Ahh, the beauty of the intern. Youthful energy, a fresh perspective, a desire to learn – what’s not to love? Apparently there are objections, because this vast, ever present resource is largely untapped from year to year. Businesses are ignoring one of the greatest hiring opportunities there is, and consequently, putting far too much of their own time into projects and tasks that interns can do. Let’s debunk one of the most common intern myths. Myth : I can’t afford to pay an intern, and who would want to work for free? The first reaction to this thought may be to post internships that are unpaid but provide class credit. Companies frequently find that they can legally avoid paying interns a minimum wage by offering credit, and although that has historically been an option, it’s quickly becoming a very popular one. There is a growing movement to prove that unpaid internships are illegal when the employer receives any “benefit” from the interns work. Therefore, it is highly recommended to include an hourly wage with the credit offerings. Not only does this prevent any future legal repercussions, it also encourages interns to be fully invested in their work. If the credit offered through their academic program is graded on a pass/fail basis, interns may feel their attendance will get them by. Treating them like the adult that they are and compensating them for their efforts will promote desired behaviors on the job. Read more
Last week, I attended an international conference with over 600 registrants. Before I left my home office, I packed 1,000 business cards and about 500 key chains that have my book cover embedded between the plastic protective cover. Yes, I left ready for new business! I was both surprised and appalled at the number of consultants in attendance that did not bring their business cards. What message does this send? The subliminal message that I heard was, “I have enough business; I don’t need any new business so I didn’t bring any business cards!”
How many times have you attended meetings, conferences, social or professional events and left your business cards at the office? How many times has a complete stranger come up to you and introduced his/her self with a handshake and a business card? If you don’t carry your cards in your car, purse, wallet, or pocket, how do you expect a potential customer/buyer to find you after the meeting? While I’ll admit that I’m a bit psychic (smiling to myself over this comment), I can’t remember anyone’s name or follow-up with a telephone call if I don’t have a business card to remind me of everyone that I met at a specific event.
When I am given someone’s business card, I take an ink pen (from my pocket or purse) and write the name of the networking event on the back of the card. I also make a note about the person to help me remember what they looked like. For example, here is a short list of some of my notes on cards:
- Bald, friendly, met at chocolate dipping table.
- Glasses like mine, eager to meet me, wants to have lunch.
- Came with his wife and asked if I’d keep her company while he attended some other group’s gathering. Found out he is the president of a local university that is looking for a grant writer (all of this from Emma, his wife!).
These little bits of trivia really help me recall who I’m calling or emailing a week or two after the actual event where the cards were collected.
So, here’s my prediction for your businesses’ future: NO BUSINESS CARDS = NO FUTURE BUSINESS.
What is brand? I’m reminded of scenes from one of my favorite American movies, Red River; namely, the branding of cattle in preparation for a historic cattle drive along the old Chisholm Trail. Brands were visual symbols of ownership. They depicted in graphic geometric shapes and/or letters the names of the various ranches: The Circle R, The Flying P, and The Two Rivers are examples. The brand message to all who saw it said, “This is mine, and it is separate from the rest of the herd.”
The most successful and durable brands like Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, Ford, and Budweiser create a special relationship between the company providing the product and the customer—indeed, the brand becomes the product in the mind of the customer.
“Brand Bonding” results in the customer experiencing a feeling of ownership. Recent television and print commercial scripts have the actors saying, “that’s my CVS,” “my Sprint,” my Tide.” After multiple repetitions and images of people just like us embracing a product, an almost subliminal message becomes imprinted and oftentimes drives the sales decision.
Brand awareness is not just for big businesses. It is of growing significance to the confidence and credibility of small businesses, as well. When people are asked why they buy a certain product they respond by saying, “I’ve heard about it.” Every small business should incorporate a branding strategy into its marketing plan.
Consider creating a “theme line” to accompany and expand your brand awareness to the buying public. A theme line should be a few easy-to- remember words that underscore the mission of your business. Indeed, the theme line should be an offshoot of that mission statement. When designing one, think of it as a permanent statement to be included in all advertising and promotion—whether it is oral, online, or printed.
In 1896, founder H. J. Heinz seized upon the slogan “57 Varieties,” although he had more than 60 varieties. Today, his company has over 3,000 varieties, but the theme line is still “57 Varieties.” Not only has his company endured but also has his brilliant choice of a slogan which is now over a century old. Others include:
● “You’re in good hands with Allstate.”
● “Breakfast of champions.”
● “The pause that refreshes.”
● “History made every day.”
● “Building America.”
● “Just do it!”
Part VI of “Banishing Writer’s Block” provided a cautionary reminder about information on the Internet.
Part VII offers a brief reminder on deciding what information to include in a message and what information to leave out.
The questions you need to ask yourself go back to “Who is my audience?”
What do they already know?
What do they need to know?
What do they want to know?
Needlessly repeating information the recipient already knows is a waste of everyone’s time and energy. Focus on what the audiences needs and/or wants to know.
What details must be included?
Not every detail related to the topic needs to be included. Include only the relevant information, but be sure to include all relevant information. For instance, in a presentation on how to use word processing software given to computer novices, you would not include detailed information about the software design or the computer codes used in creating that software. The audience just wants to know how to use the software. Again, what is included goes back to those three questions: What do they know? What do they need to know? What do they want to know?
What you need to know is that all necessary information for a communication needs to be gathered before you start organizing or writing it. How can you organize the information if it’s not all there? Simple as that. Be sure to write down ALL the pieces of information. For this step, jotting them all down in an organized manner is often unnecessary. Just make sure you have all the pieces written down. Also, using complete sentence for jotting down the information is not necessary. In fact, it may be a hindrance. Phrases and sentence fragments are easier to read and reorganize than are complete sentences and paragraphs. Save the complete sentences for the rough draft.
Part VIII will address organization of the information.
Cost: $599.00 (Take 15% offthrough Dec 31, 2013. Use Code: ROT12)
Access Time: 150 days
This online certificate program introduces key issues in entrepreneurship for those looking to start a business on their own. What does it take to build and grow a business from scratch? What personal characteristics are shared by successful entrepreneurs? What types of resources are available to budding entrepreneurs, and where can you find them? Learners who complete this program will have the answers to those questions and others that are essential to the success of their businesses.
Each 3 to 5 hour, self-paced course offers an assortment of interactive exercises, videos, selected readings, case studies, and self-assessments that engage entrepreneurs and structure their learning about their field.
Our Ask the Expert feature connects you to a network of experts ready to answer any content-related questions you have. You can expect to receive a response within 24 to 48 hours, though some questions are answered the same day they are sent.
Upon successful completion, you can download a printable certificate of completion for this online course suite. The course has no textbooks or prerequisites. Courses include:
- Accounting and Finance for Entrepreneurs
- Business Law for Entrepreneurs
- Introduction to Entrepreneurship
- Leadership and Management for Entrepreneurs
- Strategic Marketing for Entrepreneurs
One of the ways to be a good business owner is to be able to understand what your customers want. Over the past year we have conducted several surveys to find out what small business are looking for and want to share the results with you.
The survey was sent out to over 11,000 small business owners from the Rule of Thumb for Business (ROTB) database. Those surveyed represent 35 states. The survey queried our network about issues that are important to them and the growth of their business. It was no surprise that 69% of respondents were looking for help in the areas of marketing, sales and organizational leadership. Many small business commented that they also looking for assistance in planning strategically.
Another relevant finding was that there is a high interest in understanding and utilizing digital marketing. Table 1 represents the top ten areas where small businesses need assistance:
- LinkedIn Company Page 46.1%
- Facebook Business Page 44.6%
- WordPress 41.5%
- Email Marketing 41.5%
- Business Twitter Profile 35.3%
- Internet Ad Words (Google, Facebook etc.) 32.3%
- Marketing Plans 32.3%
- Business Networking 32.3%
- Pinterest Business Account Setup 24.6%
- Business Plans 24.6%
Significant to the findings were that 56.2% of small business owner do not want to spend more than three hours in a class room training and 49% prefer to learn online. The biggest factor for not getting assistance was the price (58.1%) and distance (44.8%); these two barriers were the top two reasons among all respondents.
ROTB works hard to make sure small business owner are heard and that their needs are met. If you did not get a chance to weigh in with your opinion, you still have time just click here to get started. Our goal is to bring the right books and workshops to you, so your small business has access to the books and training’s needed to succeed.
This past week, I asked my students in one of my business classes to define what an entrepreneur is. The answers varied between, “Someone who starts something new”, “A person who owns a business”, “A creative person who always thinks of new ideas”, and other expected responses. However, one student opened up a great classroom discussion by saying… “I think an entrepreneur is all of that, but what really sets them apart is that they execute. They can make something happen and they are determined to be successful or at least try to make a difference. They actually do something with it.” I encourage and even base the grading in my class on participation and discussion, so I immediately opened this up to the class to reply. The truth is that I had to mentally process this answer as it was so profound. I wanted to shout, “Exactly” and run to her and give her a high five!
It almost emulates the cliché question – If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it does it make a sound? If someone has an idea or a creative solution to a common problem that will generate a profit and bring value to others, but never takes it to market or makes it a reality…did it make a difference?
I do a presentation to businesses and organizations on the difference generations in the workplace. This presentation explores how we can be productive by focusing on the strengths everyone brings to the table. One of the traits we find in the younger generations is the perception of actually doing things based on the sole activity of talking about it or posting it online as a status update. Saying that you are going to be the next billionaire is great, but is that all there is to it? Chances are you might get a different answer if you ask a self-made billionaire. You can’t just talk the talk. As with anything in life…at some point you actually have to walk the walk.
Just think, what would have come if Thomas Edison would have just thought about the electric light bulb instead of taking action or Fred Smith would have just been satisfied writing a paper in college about an overnight delivery system or Ray Croc would have only visited with people about the idea of making a hamburger in California taste the same as on in Chicago instead of creating a business model for fast-food franchising?
Those of us who work with business owners and teach in this field are asked regularly if entrepreneurs are a product of nature vs. nurture. Can you teach someone to be an entrepreneur? Based on this definition of having to not only have an idea or new invention, but having to take action on it to bring it to market, I have to say yes. We can teach the concepts and traditional methods of doing this. We can also embrace and encourage those clever minds that come up with unique ways of turning their ideas into reality for the benefit of others and to create a profit.
What do you think? Do you agree that an entrepreneur needs to not only innovate and create but be able to share that idea in some way with the world and execute?
Who is a leader? Any person who works with others in the role of coordinator and inspires, for the purpose of reaching specific goals and moving an organization or our society forward in some way. Leaders have earned the right to be decision-makers, and we depend on them to safeguard everything in our lives, from the safety of products to the establishment of laws intended to last generations. If our leaders are going to be successful in transforming our world in the right ways, it is important they are able to say what they mean. They are judged by the words they use, as well as by the actions they take.
The leadership communication principles in this blog are useful for leaders of all kinds: those who inspire thousands of employees in large corporations, as well as those who have taken on the responsibility of organizing local library reading clubs.
It’s a fact that these principles also can be used by leaders in charge of groups many of us would rather not see succeed: inner city gangs, criminal Internet rings, drug cartels, religious radicals or bridge club dictators. However, in the United States, we believe everyone has a right to be heard.
If messages about the state of our world become garbled because leaders of any kind don’t know how to or don’t have time to compose their thoughts, instructions, disputes, and other messages effectively, we can never arrive at truth or hold clear debates on the issues. When messages are not clear, we misunderstand one another. When messages are flat, we feel nothing and do nothing. When messages are technically incorrect, we not only make mistakes in the actions we base on those technical messages, we also lose respect for those who are writing and speaking.
Slipping: Negative Word Power
In the 2000s, one of my children’s favorite pastimes was making fun of President George W. Bush’s language slip-ups. It was particularly funny—and disgusting—to them because both of their parents are writers, and correct language was deeply ingrained in them from the time they were small. They weren’t the only ones who heehawed at the president’s tonguetiedness. There were entire websites dedicated to documenting every tiny language misstep the poor man made. I was secretly disgusted with his verbal indiscretions too, but I tried to minimize the mistakes, because I was trying to teach my children tolerance. I also wanted them to learn how to see past the mistakes of language and judge our president and others by actions, not only words, as any leader should be judged.
No matter how hard I tried to explain, they didn’t really care how well Mr. Bush had done with the economy, education, foreign policy, or any other important measure of his success. They were young and might not have understood the issues deeply at that time, or they just plain disagreed with me about some of the issues—but one thing they knew was they couldn’t get past the language issue. They thought of our nation’s leader as a bumbling idiot when it came to language, and they couldn’t imagine themselves feeling proud of a president who knew less about language than they did. When they voted in their high school mock election, I believe they chose the guy who, in addition to standing for some of the issues they did care about, sounded the most intelligent: Mr. Bob Kerry.
For people in the limelight, it can be a problem that the impact of language is immediate and powerful, even if the ideas are not clear. Actions, on the other hand, whether judged good or bad, sometimes take months or years to evaluate. Especially if the issues are complicated, it’s easier to base a judgment on what you can understand effortlessly and immediately, rather than on issues or actions that must be studied and analyzed to understand them.
Rule of Thumb:
Actions may speak louder than words, but words have an immediate impact—and are immediately scrutinized.
This is not fair from the perspective of the person being judged, but it’s a fact of life—particularly the life of any highly-visible leader, including business and corporate leaders, institution leaders, and government leaders, as well as family, ski trip, inner city gang or Sunday School group leaders. If you lead a group of any kind, your words will be scrutinized.
Performance gaps are those pesky realities that plague our workplaces with inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Gaps between what is and what should be keep us from realizing what is possible. If you own or manage a small- to mid-size organization, you can probably list a few gaps off the top of your head.
The adage, “admitting there’s a problem is the first step toward fixing it” could be stated, “knowing there is a performance gap is the first step toward closing it.” But knowing that a gap exists doesn’t tell us what is causing it and what we should do about it. In order to close a gap, we have to have a process to evaluate the source(s) and develop appropriate solutions.
Once you know a gap exists, the evaluation process will guide us toward a better understanding of what is contributing to it. Because our workplaces are systems, with many moving parts and functions, it is important not to jump to conclusions and solutions too quickly.
There are many performance evaluation tools, but the simplest is the Five Whys approach. Yes, it’s as simple as that, asking “why” at least five times to get to the source of the performance gap.
But first, you have to state the problem.
Think about a performance gap you’re aware of in your business. Missed sales? Delays in processing? Customer service issues? Quality standards unmet?
Let’s look at an example:
Issue: A complaining customer
Why is our customer complaining?
Because we didn’t deliver our services when we said we would.
Why did we miss the deadline?
Because the job took longer than we thought it would.
Why did the job take longer?
Because we underestimated the complexity of the job.
Why did we underestimate the complexity of the job?
Because we did a quick estimate off the top of our heads and missed several time
Why didn’t do a more thorough job with our estimate?
(This is where it can get tricky – there may be several answers to this question. Make sure to list all of them and address them completely.)
- Because we were running behind on other projects.
- Because we need to review our time estimation and specification procedures.
- Because not everyone who gives estimates has been trained on how to do them.
- Because sometimes people are more optimistic than they should be.
It takes a little practice to get the most out of the Five Whys method. It seems pretty simple, but it requires that you look beyond the obvious answer and keep digging deeper until you’ve found the source, or sources, of the performance gap.
You can use the Five Whys at an individual performance level as well, but be sure to keep the questions objective and don’t point fingers. In many cases, a person isn’t performing well because of something awry in the system (insufficient technology, punishing policies, or ineffective management, to name a few), so keep an open mind and involve the individual in the process.
There are many other ways to uncover performance gaps, but try the Five Whys and see what you uncover!
Many people are uncomfortable mingling during a networking event. We are often worried about what people will think of us. The easiest way to get around that is to put our focus on them. How? First of all, look for people who appear somewhat lonely, standing by themselves. They appreciate us coming up to them and initiating a conversation. This helps get relationship-building conversations started while promoting confidence in ourselves and the other person. It is easier to join a group previously engaged in a discussion after someone leaves, breaking the circle of participants, which then allow us to comfortably slip right in. The following guidelines will also help:
People approach when your back is to light, such as standing in front of a window during the daytime
Keep your posture erect, palms up with arms and fingers open and a friendly smile that invites conversation
Always hold your beverage in your “left” hand to avoid a wet and clammy handshake
Be mindful that the best conversationalists are the ones with the best “listening” skills!
Introductions can be confusing so here is an easy way to confidently introduce two people:
Introduce the person with the “least important” title (regardless of gender) to the person with the most important title. For example: Mr. or Ms. Greater Authority, I would like to introduce you to Mr. or Ms. Lesser Authority. An example is introducing a company president’s name before a sales representative. When introducing someone to an individual from another company, however, the one with the “highest position” is actually the guest, or client…even if he/she holds “lower” title.
Introductions should be brief. “How do you do?” or “Hello” is fine. If you can’t remember someone’s name, reintroduce yourself and they will often say their name again. If they don’t, say something like, “We met at last month’s marketing conference at the Embassy Suites. I’m (name).” They should offer it to you at that point. If they still don’t, just smile and say, “I apologize. Would you give me your name again please?”
The main point to remember is: lean slightly forward, give a warm handshake, smile and be totally sincere and engaged in getting to know them and what they do! That kind of interest will have them wanting to get to know you better as well.
While growth is desirable, not all growth has equal consequences or outcomes. Everyone is familiar with the coined phrase “urban sprawl” which is the result of unplanned growth. This type of growth happens without forethought and causes unforeseen challenges and complications, often unpleasant or with a negative connotation. According to Blackenterprise.com, “strategy is not about waiting for opportunities to come to your business. It’s about making sure your business is moving, and most importantly, that it’s moving in the right direction.”
Here are five steps they suggest are needed when developing a solid plan for strategic growth:
- Know exactly how the market you are doing business in operates.
- Learn your role in the value chain. Make sure it’s a profitable position.
- Identify your competitors as well as your business’ competitive advantage.
- Understand what your customers need and how you can best serve them.
- Be sure the products and/or services the business is providing now as well as those it’s capable of providing in the future are aligned with the company’s core skill set.
Instead of the business edition of urban sprawl, take a page from urban planners who incorporate the concept of “smart growth” into their five and ten-year plans. Smart growth plans include evaluating the present circumstances and introducing projections of requirements needed to meet anticipated changes that might become necessary due to growth. This smart concept requires the business to evaluate the anticipated changes in organizational structure and capacity, human resources, infrastructure, and financing.
WordPress is a fantastic blogging and content management system and one of the huge benefits is the wealth of information out there. This one day training camp will help you discover the basics of WordPress here are just a few things your will learn:
- How to create an Account and Login
- Navagating the Dashboard
- Post and Pages; what is the deference and how to building them
- How to add, manage and delete images and other media
- Adding links to your WordPress site
- Working with comments
This is a hands on training camp so bring your laptop. All attendees will recieve printed training manaual.