I hate bureaucracy. I have great difficulty to remain cool when I am forced to deal with bureaucrats at public agencies or other organizations.
I fall into a sense of helplessness when I think about bureaucracies. That is probably also the reason why I get angry in these situations, allow the non-conformist in me to take over, and at times may appear unkind, aggressive and sarcastic.
I know what you are going to say: What is the point of doing this? This behavior is counter productive and I should be bigger than this as an adult. True – but I still have difficulty doing the right thing.
The same thing happens to me when I, as a customer, am confronted with poor company service processes.
Two years ago, I changed my telephone/Internet service provider. After a few weeks my Internet connection suddenly stopped working. I could neither send nor receive e-mails, neither with my PC nor with my Smart Phone. For me, this was a good sized catastrophe.
So I called the hotline. An automated female voice greeted me with the following announcement:
“Press ’1′ for questions about your contract. Press ’2′ if you are experiencing problems with your Internet connection. Press ’3′ for any other issues.”
I pressed ’2′. The pleasant robo-voice then asked me to be patient. All service agents are currently on other calls. But if I did not want to wait, I could send an e-mail describing the problem.
“Hello! My Internet is disabled. I am therefore unable to send e-mails. Are you kidding me?”
I was pretty worked up when I was finally connected to a service agent 15 minutes later. Sure, I should have taken the situation with a bit of humor – but I didn’t!
It is not enough to only be friendly with your customers. True customer orientation also means not irritating the customer with bureaucratic processes.
Take a detailed look at your company’s processes. Make an anonymous call to your switchboard, your hotline or your support department. Pretend to be a customer with a problem, and test how you are treated.
Primarily focus on reviewing the rules and processes your employees rely on to interact with the customer. As it relates to this, it is often true that well intentioned actions are not the same as well executed actions!
How do you deal with bureaucratic idiocy?
What are you doing to make sure that bureaucracy does not get a foothold in your company?
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If you want to be successful you must focus on goals, in business or personal affairs.
To focus means to direct time and attention to a limited number of issues. Things that are outside your selected area of focus become unimportant. Tune them out rigorously. – But this is easier said than done.
Do you also have a tough time rigorously rejecting requests, calls for help or opportunities that present themselves when these are outside of your area of focus?
I occasionally catch myself saying “yes” when I should have actually said “no”. Someone asks me for a favor, and I agree without giving it much thought. This usually results in stress and unnecessary time pressure.
I can think of several answers to this:
This is how to handle opportunities and requests!
The following tips help me to handle opportunities, request and favors that are outside my area of focus. They may not always work for me – but I am getting better results all the time:
Take the time to think about it, so that you can realistically assess the effort. Create a clear picture of the consequences for yourself if you agree. What does this mean in terms of time and stress?
Do not beat around the bush. Your rationales should be brief and to the point.
In this way you help the other party and stay focused.
The fear of missing out on an opportunity is frequently stronger than the awareness to remain focused. I frequently observe this in companies that need to adjust or change their previous business model.
They develop a good corporate strategy to improve their profitability. Everyone is in agreement that long-term profitability can only be attained by rigorous positioning. The new strategy is adopted and is ready for implementation – no sooner than that, a telephone call comes in and all the old habits fall back in place:
“Yes, I know! We want to focus on the profitable industry A, but here is this new customer from industry B who is dangling this order in front of us…..”
And just like that, the good intention to focus comes crashing down. Instead of saying “no”, the decision is made to take the path of least resistance.
The laboriously developed strategy is placed on the back burner. The new positioning to become more profitable falls by the wayside. It is best to generate revenue now at a low contribution margin. After all, it is possible that the new strategy might not work out.
Albert Einstein appropriately described this behavior as follows:
“The purest form of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and to also expect that something will change.”
Before adopting a strategy discuss its implementation in detail. Simulate various scenarios. Think about what could go wrong during the implementation process. Discuss what-if scenarios and how your company needs to respond to these.
Set a minimum period during which you and your company will remain true to the new strategy, for instance 3 months. Do not allow yourself to lose focus during these 3 months, regardless of what “opportunities” present themselves during this period. Change your focus during this time only if you are confronted with an unexpected critical issue.
You should then evaluate the results after 3 months and reassess the situation. Is it necessary to adjust the strategy and your focus? Now is the time to do so – but not before this period has expired!
Lots of managers spend as much as 50% of their time at work in appointments, meetings and conferences. Many of these are certainly necessary and serve a purpose. But frequently, meetings are prepared poorly and waste the valuable time of the participants.
You are most likely familiar with meetings that were intended as decision-making committees and ultimately degraded into a free for all. Loosely according to the motto:
“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to get anything done!”
Of course employees need to exchange and discuss information. It is also true that many decisions are best made in meetings, assuming that all decision makers are invited. But these get-togethers must be prepared well, and be managed efficiently and effectively.
Before scheduling an appointment, you should therefore always ask yourself: is it truly necessary to have an official meeting? Is it possible to replace the appointment with e-mails, a telephone call or a telephone conference?
When planning a meeting, you should ensure that the number of participants is held to a minimum, but is at least large enough to make the required decisions.
Create the proper environment: The success of your appointment begins with adequate preparation:
Develop clear expectations about the objective, or the objectives that you hope to achieve with the meeting.
When convening a meeting, you should determine who is responsible for drafting and sending the invitations. Who manages confirmations and cancellations?
How long will the meeting last? Do not forget to schedule a break after 90 minutes for meetings that are scheduled to last several hours.
The invitation to an appointment should clearly outline what the objectives of the meeting are, and how you expect participants to prepare. For each topic, plan a separate agenda item with a description of the objective and the scheduled time. Don’t forget to designate the person responsible for preparing this agenda item, i.e.:
Information about the status of the new CRM system rollout,
presented by: Mr. Smith, time: 15 min.
The invitation to the meeting is also intended for the individual participants to prepare. Ensure that participants are provided with all required information, such as the minutes of the last meeting. This is best accomplished well in advance, along with the invitation.
Book the correct room for your event well in advance. You will need a large space for an informational event with many attendees. You may also need to arrange for a microphone system and a projector and screen.
Workshops intended to identify ideas call for sufficient pens, flip charts and pin-boards.
If you are the person in charge of the meeting you should be there 5 to 10 minutes before. Verify that everything is porperly prepared for a smooth meeting.
If you are the moderator you control the meeting. You enforce the rules. Of course, you must adhere to these yourself and be a good role model.
Ensure that your meeting begins on schedule. It goes without saying that all participants should be present on time. Accept late arrivals only if absolutely necessary. Arriving late demonstrates a lack of respect toward you and the other participants.
I vividly recall a production manager who had a large sign posted in all conference rooms of his factory that said:
“Being on-time is a key quality characteristic!”
After welcoming the participants, you must first decide who takes the notes: Who will be the note taker?
Normally, meeting notes are sufficient if they are a brief, understandable and to the point written summary of the results. Ensure that any agreed to action plan always has a responsible person and a deadline assigned.
“Participants discussed the new CRM system. Several employees are struggling with the system. A decision was made to conduct employee training.”
Wrong! A decision was apparently made, but the meeting failed to decide who should take care of this and by when. It is therefore frequently useful to not only take notes about the meeting results, but to also visualize the results on a blackboard or a flip-chart. This approach will much more readily make you and the participants aware that you forgot to designate a deadline and a responsible person in the heat of the moment.
The meeting notes do not take much time to write. The note taker can frequently write the notes during the meeting and forward these to the participants. But he should have the notes written no later than the next day and have sent these to all participants.
Before sending the notes to other recipients outside of the group of meeting attendees, give them an opportunity to provide any feedback about misunderstandings or omitted results. You should plan at least 1-2 days for this and let the participants know about this in advance.
Did you designate the note taker? Outstanding. You should then review the notes from the previous meeting item by item – assuming that a previous meeting took place.
Ensure that the result is again recorded and that it is brought back up at the next meeting. By taking these steps you are facilitating the implementation efforts.
Efficient meetings require certain basic rules. The most important ones are:
I am getting mad when people read e-mails during the meeting. I hate that!
Watch the video below to clearly understand how to handle important e-mails in a meeting:
When the scheduled time has expired for an agenda item you must decide whether to defer the item, to convene a separate meeting, or to process or prepare the issue in a smaller group. You are free to discuss this with the participants, but the ultimate decision rests with you as the meeting moderator.
Certainly no later than at the end of the meeting you should schedule a follow-up appointment with the participants, if needed. Afterward you or the note taker briefly summarize the results of the meeting. You end the meeting by thanking all participants.
Now it is your turn.
Please leave a comment! Tell me, what rules have I forgotten to mention in order to run efficient meetings?
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If you want to grow your company, then answer this question honestly.
“What tasks are you spending the majority of your time on: Functional, management or entrepreneurial tasks?”
I know entrepreneurs who swear that they are spending hardly any time on functional tasks. When I follow up on the details, they are surprised to find out that they are spending the majority of their time on purely functional duties after all.
No wonder then that these entrepreneurs feel they are stuck in a hamster wheel and there business is not growing.
Not later than after your company employs more than a small single digit figure of employees should you stop performing functional tasks:
Functional tasks are fundamentally the tasks of your employees. You, as the managing director, have enough on your plate with management and entrepreneurial tasks. If you are not addressing these, then who is?
Why are so many small business owners still having so much difficulty delegating functional tasks? The reason is rooted in their expert knowledge. Many were recognized experts in their field during their prior roles as functional staff. They are having a tough time rigorously delegating functional tasks to their employees. I frequently hear things such as:
“Nobody can do this as well as I can.”
“By the time I have explained this to my employees, I will have done this faster myself.”
Are you one of these? Please consider: Both sentences are disastrous. You will never have enough space for yourself and for the actually relevant tasks.
It may be true that your functional tasks will not be performed as quickly, and possibly also not as well, when you first start delegating. But you must begin delegating at some point.
In the beginning, delegating should the thought of as an investment. You must accept and reckon with slower progress and potential mistakes in the short term. In the long term you will gain time and energy. If you want to grow with your business, you have no other choice but to delegate functional tasks!
Once you start providing the necessary instruction and suitable feedback, you will be amazed how quickly your employees can learn. Generally, and over the mid-term, the transferred functional task will be performed equally well, and just as fast, as though you had done it. Sometimes even faster and better.
It may well be true that you enjoy taking on selected functional assignments for yourself. These are functional tasks that you simply enjoy doing. It would not be an issue to take on such activities from time to time. But, since your available time is your bottleneck, you must delegate these tasks. It also demotivates your employees if you are seen to cherry pick the most attractive functional tasks.
There are people who will not let go of functional tasks. That is OK! But such a person will have a tough time filling the role of an entrepreneur – at least if the company wants to grow, or is already employing more than a single digit figure of employees.
Anyone who starts a business does most of the work themselves in the beginning. When the company starts growing and more employees join the ranks, the first barrier to growth is reached.
This already happens at a size of 5-7 employees. The entrepreneur must now decide. If he wants to keep growing, he must rigorously delegate functional tasks. Otherwise, he will not find the time for the important management and company tasks. If the does not have this time, the company cannot grow, and he will be dissatisfied.
Once the entrepreneur has successfully taken the first barrier to growth, and the company begins to prosper and grow, the second barrier to growth is reached at approximately 15-20 employees. The entrepreneur may be delegating all functional tasks, but he increasingly feels that he is only dealing with operational management tasks, and cannot find time for the important company tasks. If the company is to grow further, he must spend more time on the company tasks and less time on management tasks.
Are you in this situation? Then you must not only delegate the functional tasks but also the operational management activities and detail decisions. To do so, you need suitable internal company structures and employees who will step in to perform these management functions.
As the entrepreneur, you need to develop the strategy, you need to know your customers needs and how your company benefits its customers. As the entrepreneur, you are leading and supervising your company’s managers.
Over the longer term, you should structure your company in such a way that at least the operating end of the business will work entirely without you.
“The company is a reflection of the leadership personality. Both can only grow together. If your company is growing you have two options:
You can either grow with it and be successful, or your company will grow beyond your ability to control it and you will personally fail!”
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People make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. The main thing is to realize your mistakes, analyze them, and then try to change your behavior to avoid making them again in the future.
But that is easier said than done. When trying to improve, the first step is decisive: You have to realize your own mistakes.
That is why today I would like to share with you the WORST 10 leadership mistakes. Probably many of the mistakes will already be familiar to you. Perhaps you remember some of your own bosses who you had to endure.
But more importantly, think about whether you, as manager, have made these mistakes yourself. I have made a few of these mistakes as manager. The effects they can have on employee motivation can be devastating.
So let us take a closer look: Here are the WORST 10 leadership mistakes, which you should watch out for and avoid:
Decisions need to be carefully considered. But to wait as long as possible because of this, until you thinkyou have every last bit of information, is usually the wrong way to go. Accept the fact that you, as manager and leader, must make decisions even when you don’t have a complete overview because you still haven’t got all the facts.
As leaders and entrepreneur you need to make swift and clear decisions, and you have to live with the risk of making the wrong decision.
One of my bosses once laid it out for me really clearly:
“As manager you bear all the risks in the decision! So let’s make one thing clear: To be a manager means accepting that you can get fired!”
The higher you are in the hierarchy, the more unpleasant the decisions that you must make will be. Some examples which come to mind are firing employees or shutting down plants, for example.
If you continually put off making decisions because of anxiety or for political reasons – if you even keep out of sight of your employees and simply don’t reply to emails on the subject anymore – then you will frustrate and demotivate your employees, especially those who are very motivated and committed.
As manager it is your job to make the decision.
What are you like? Do you avoid making decisions?
Many managers don’t trust themselves to tell it like it really is. They don’t want to commit themselves. They want to keep all options open.
Their non-committal nature can often be recognized in their speech. Phrases get mangled, and weak expressions are used, such as:
Some of these managers don’t even notice anymore that they only emit meaningless mumbo-jumbo – but their employees sure do!
That’s why I say don’t skirt around the subject. As manager you want to be understood. Get to the point. Commit yourself. Formulate goals clearly and tell your colleagues exactly what you expect from them. Be decisive and dependable, because that will make you consistent!
Are you decisive and consistent?
Many misunderstandings in daily exchanges can be prevented, if only managers would take the time to simply pay attention.
Why do managers find it so difficult to listen actively?
I believe it is for the following reason: Most managers want to be perceived as active doers. I know that because I went down this path! Often, activity seems to give you a supposed feeling of being in control. In contrast, listening is wrongly equated with passivity and subordination. That’s why many managers concentrate more on speaking than on listening. After all, the boss has the final say.
But: People who don’t listen and pay attention are more likely to make the wrong decisions!
Unfortunately, many people only listen briefly and form their own opinion much too early on. The technical term for this is “premature assessment”. Many managers suffer from making premature assessments. They form judgments on statements by their staff much too quickly.
But when they do that they are not actually really listening to their staff. They are already engrossed in their own ideas for solving problems, and don’t even take the time to really understand the problem and the point of view of their staff. When this happens, misunderstandings and wrong decisions are inevitable.
Do you listen enough? Or do you judge and react even while your people are still speaking?
Micromanagement is a classic example of demotivating manager behavior. The micromanager assigns tasks and then controls them in minute detail, without permitting his subordinates to participate in decision-making. The manager not only specifies the goal, but also the detailed plan of how to achieve it. By their behavior, micromanagers demonstrate their lack of trust in their subordinates. This frustrates, demotivates, and paralyzes subordinates’ ability to think on their own.
Do you want to know if you have micromanagement tendencies?
Then answer the following questions:
If you answer even one of these questions with yes, then you should take a closer look at whether you are micromanaging in your daily work.
Ask your staff if you allow them enough freedom to do their work. If not, learn to delegate instead of only controlling.
Managers don’t have much time. Their schedules are hectic because they have a lot to get done. They are very committed, and bustle from meeting to meeting. Ultimately they are really important, after all things would collapse without them.
That is why they often think that they can take the liberty of doing things that their subordinates would never do, such as coming to a meeting too late (after all, there was that critical telephone conversation with a major customer…). Such managers also have so much to do that they naturally think they must read their emails while a colleague holds a presentation. But woe unto the employee who reads his/her emails during a meeting while the boss explains the new company strategy!
Some bosses are so important and have so much to do that there is no area where they don’t try to save time, even when it comes to saying please and thank you. After all, they can streamline things even more by leaving out the formalities, can’t they? And when the stress becomes unbearable, one has to accept that a guy just has to fly off the handle sometimes – which can get pretty unpredictable!
If you demonstrate through your actions to your staff that “I am important, you are not so important!”, how do you think that will affect their motivation? How would you feel?
You have to act as a role model first for whatever you demand from others. It is important to treat your staff like you yourself want to be treated. Do you do that?
Fairness is an important basis for a good company culture, but some managers seem to forget this in the midst of hectic day-to-day activities. They are so pre-occupied with themselves and their work that they don’t take the time to put themselves in the position of their staff.
Often they are not even aware of how they hurt their subordinates with their conduct and words. This happens, for example, when the boss gives preference to a few favorite staff members by giving them all the interesting projects. Or if an employee makes a mistake and the boss gives him/her a dressing down in front of the whole group. Such behavior is unjust and unfair, and that is exactly how it is perceived by all the other employees. This leads to frustration and demotivation among them.
A really critical issue is remuneration. It is very important that the boss behaves justly and fairly.This is especially true in the case of the salary. Don’t be stingy when determining payment.
The salaries you pay must be appropriate and plausible. That is especially true in the case of the internal salary structure.
More important than the actual amount of the salary is the relation of salaries to one another. Are the differences in the salaries of your colleagues fair? Imagine if the salaries would be revealed for all to see. Would you be able to explain in good conscience the differences in the salaries of all your employees? Are these differences in salary justified?
Leadership only works with trust. But trust is something you have to earn. The only way to build trust is to actually do that which you also say.
If you make a promise, then keep it! Not only in the big things, but especially in the small things. If you tell your colleague you will forward the report in an email today, then he/she should get it today, and not tomorrow! After all, you promised this. What you have said is your word of honor!
Have you ever heard this typical sentence;
“Especially now, in the current crisis, we need to communicate credibility”?
What nonsense. You don’t have to communicate credibility.
You must be credible!
You need to take a clear stand; you need to keep your promises; and as manager you need to act consistently.
You will lose your credibility very quickly when people expect something of you and you let them down. That’s why you shouldn’t make any promises that you can’t or don’t want to keep! Building trust takes time. But you can lose people’s trust in a matter of seconds!
How credible are you?
If something goes wrong in your company, don’t only concentrate on numbers, data and facts. You have to really get to the bottom of things. But you can only do that if you understand the underlying emotions and motivations of people, and to do this you need to ask questions and listen – but you have to do it right!
Especially in the case of difficult colleagues, it is important to understand their emotions and motivations. Why does the colleague behave exactly like this? How does he/she see the matter? What is his/her view of reality?
Avoid drawing premature conclusions. When you convey respect you will gain trust. This way you can gather valuable information, assess the situation better, and thus avoid misunderstandings.
Do you only trust numbers, data, and facts?
The new manager who was just hired just made a fatally bad decision. This bad decision will cost the company a million dollars.
The company owner then calls him in for a meeting. With head lowered and sagging shoulders, the manager enters the owner’s office.
“I expect you are going to fire me.”
But the owner replies:
“Do you think I’m crazy? After I just invested a million dollars in your training?”
This anecdote wonderfully highlights how managers should deal with the mistakes of their colleagues.
Mistakes are permitted – as long as one learns from them and doesn’t make the exact same mistake a second time. Demanding zero mistakes is absurd. Everyone makes mistakes – me and you too, just as much as your employees. Managers who demand zero mistakes, get zero mistakes, too. That is because either their staff don’t report mistakes anymore or because they act according to the following saying:
“Anyone who works a lot makes a lot of mistakes.
Anyone who doesn’t work a lot makes only a few mistakes.
Anyone who doesn’t work at all makes no mistakes!”
Do you really want your staff to make no mistakes? How do you deal with mistakes – your own as well as those of your employees?
Most people want to develop themselves. They want to grow and become better at what they do.
Naturally, you should give your employees an opportunity to take extra training and learn new things. But that’s not all by a long shot:
If you really want to help your employees to better themselves, you shouldn’t set any unrealistic goals, and you should put them to work according to their skills and strengths.
Feedback is extremely important. People need criticism and praise. Anyone who wants to improve him or herself needs sincere, constructive feedback. As manager you should recognize the work of your colleagues in a sincere way, and give them constructive feedback.
Do you do that? Do you support the development of your employees, in their efforts to improve themselves?
Which of these mistakes are you aware of and doing right now?
I know I am guilty making mistakes 1, 3 and 8.
What’s about you?
What are your leadership mistakes
and what are you doing to avoid them in the future?
Lots of managers want to motivate their employees. I believe that is the wrong approach. You don’t need to motivate but you have to take care that you don’t demotivate.
I share with you 3 ways how employee’s motivation can be easily destroyed and how you can avoid doing this.
I believe most managers don’t demotivate their employees by purpose. They act improperly without thinking about what damage they do to the motivation of their employees.
Here are my 3 favorite ways of demotivation:
That’s a classical way of demotivation. The micromanager monitors and assesses every detail and every step of a process. He avoids delegation of decisions by all means. He wants to be in control of everything. Employees will have barely any autonomy under him.
The problem is: Micromanagers rarely view themselves as such – the micromanager may say:
“I work structured and well organized.”
How can you know if you are a micromanager? Just ask your employees. They easily recognize micromanagement and will give you useful feedback – if you just listen.
Avoid micromanaging and instead give your employees decision making authority and manage with objectives and trust.
No one wants to be blamed for a mistake. Even if you really made a blunder it hurts to get criticized. Using criticism rarely works as a way of improving someone’s overall behavior.
But even worse is if you criticize in public. It will not help at all! To the contrary: If a boss acts like this, he destroys employee’s self-confidence and demotivates.
Therefore, never ever criticize in public.
Research shows: If you pay an above average income, this will by no means result in your employees being more motivated. Money does not buy engagement.
But if you pay a salary which your employees perceive as unfair, because it is too low compared to others, then acting like this demotivates. Just don’t do it. You don’t need to overpay but beware of underpaying your employees!
What kind of “motivation destroyment” have you experienced in your business?]]>
In this post I’ll share 3 misconceptions, you should be aware when running a start-up company.
These 3 dirty little secrets can become a huge asset for you. Knowing about them will help you to make the right decisions in your business.
When I started my businesses I would have wanted to know them – but I didn’t!
Based on research of the University of Tennessee
55 % of all start ups fail or give up during the first 5 years! 55%!!!
There is a bunch of obvious reasons why entrepreneurs fail, for example:
But from my own experience and from talking with lots of entrepreneurs there are 3 common misconceptions. Most entrepreneurs learn about them the hard way.
Sometimes they are the reasons why companies fail and entrepreneurs go out of business. Here they are:
You developed your business plan. You are pretty detailed about where you want to go with what kind of product and what you want to achieve with your business. That’s great, but be prepared that you will end up running a different business than the one you planned in the beginning.
Why? Well, German military strategist Helmuth von Moltke once said:
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy!”
When your plan meets the real world, the real world wins. That’s life! And you better always keep this wisdom in the back of your mind.
Does that mean planning is useless? Not at all! Thinking about the framework for your long-term objectives, having a compelling vision knowing about your core competencies are important assets to your business.
Planning your actions is crucial, because you get a better understanding what works, what is important and how things might develop.
Plans don’t lead to failure, but strictly relying on a plan leads to failure. The crucial point is: If circumstances are different to what you expected you have to change the plan. You have to adapt your goals and actions so they fit into reality!
That’s why I say:
The company you plan today will not be the company you end up – and that is totally OK!
Nobody is an overnight success! When an entrepreneur or a company suddenly seem to appear out of the blue, it usually arrives out of 5-10 years worth of work and failures. Starting up a company and making it successful is hard and you will go through lots of Highs and Lows.
You have to adapt often and you probably have to fail many times before you truly understand how to do things successfully. Successful entrepreneurs fail often, but they get up and start again.
Surely you know Henry Ford as a successful business man, well known for his innovative assembly line.
But he wasn’t an instant success. In fact, he failed 5 times in his early businesses. He was broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.
Don’t get me wrong: That does not mean that you have to go thru bankruptcy but you will have to cope with lots of failures until you make it.
There is no overnight success in business! Never!
Starting and building your business takes time. You seldom get immediate rewards and most of your planned projects and forecasts will not come true – at least not on time. You better be prepared for delays and exceeded deadlines. You better work with internal time buffers and you should have sufficient financial buffers.
This is especially true for sales and profit forecasts in a start up environment. I’ve seen such a lot of forecast charts showing the typical hockey stick curve.
This hockey stick curve illustrates exponential growth following a short, flat incubation period or following an even decreasing profit growth curve.
There are only very few companies which really have strong or even exponential growth in the beginning – and even if they show it – in most cases the growth will come later than predicted.
Why? Well, the initial phase of linear growth can be for years before the right product and the market fit is found. This point in time is mostly impossible to predict accurately.
So always be prepared and have buffers, because everything takes longer than you think!
What are your tips for successfully running a start-up company?]]>
Just recently I attended my first Mastermind Group Session in London.
One day in one room with 8 like-minded entrepreneurs talking about our ideas and challenges in our business.
WAOH! I already was excited to go to this meeting but it was even better than I expected. Thanks a lot to Chris Ducker for organizing and moderating it and to all participants! Chris, you’ve done a great job!
In such a meeting you give and receive useful feedback on business and strategies. It is very motivating to brainstorm on new business ideas together with other entrepreneurs. It is inspiring to hear how others are doing and how they overcome their business hurdles.
If you are an entrepreneur I strongly recommend taking part in such a Mastermind Group.
One of the best definitions I found is from Pat Flynn. He describes it briefly as
“Group of people with a common goal that meet either in person, on the phone or via Skype etc to share and learn to improve what they do. Think of it as a show and tell (and ask) for highly motivated individuals who want to get things done.”
In 1937 Napoleon Hill wrote his book “Think & Grow Rich”. He was the first introducing the idea of Mastermind Groups:
“The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people who work toward a definite purpose in the spirit of Harmony …
No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.”
There are lots of benefits you get, e.g.
- You receive feedback on your ideas!
- You brainstorm together with like-minded individuals!
- You build supportive relationships!
- You hear differing views on business models which helps you to see issues and get insights you may not be aware of otherwise!
- You exchange helpful resources and tools!
Going to my first Mastermind Meeting forced me upfront to think thoroughly about my own business. Just this already helped me a lot to get a clearer picture on where I stand and what I want to achieve this year.
Why that? Well, I wanted to be well prepared for the meeting so I put together a short presentation introducing myself and my challenges. Talking about 20 min is easy but putting it together to a 5 min presentation forced me to think hard about the important issues.
In a Mastermind Group you discuss your business and your business goals very openly. If you meet not just once but you stay in touch or even meet regularly you will be asked how your business progresses. In the next meetings your fellow group members will ask if you have achieved your planned goals and if you have taken the action steps you wanted to take to get your business to the next level. In order to achieve success it is very helpful to talk regularly to other like-minded people about what you want to do. They will hold you accountable.
If you are an entrepreneur working mainly online it can feel quite lonely sometimes. Even Email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Skype cannot fully replace real world meetings. Meeting with other entrepreneurs in a Mastermind Group surely helps to fight this loneliness.
Watch the video with the Six Minute Strategist John Colley interviewing Chris Ducker on this subject:
Do you want to know more about how to start, find and join a Mastermind Group and how to run it? Here are some internet resources I found useful on this subject:
When will you attend your first Mastermind Group Meeting?
Lots of employees complain about the little money they earn. It is too less compared to the hard work and long working hours they put in every day. They feel they are treated unfair.
I believe that is a misconception. You are never paid for hard working or for your efforts, but you are paid for your impact – no matter if you are an entrepreneur or an employee!
Employees mostly believe their company pays their salary because they spend a good amount of time working for the company! But that is a wrong assumption!
I know what you want to say:
“But my contract of employment exactly describes that I get paid X amount of dollars per hour. I am paid for working per hour. So what’s wrong with that?”
It is the mindset which leads you into the wrong direction.
Your company doesn’t really want to pay you money for the time you are working.
In the end it is irrelevant for your company how long you are working.
In the end it is also irrelevant for your company how hard you are working. Only what matters is: The outcome, the impact your work has on the bottom line of your company’s business.
The more positive your impact on the business is perceived the more money you will get paid. Full stop! Therefore, you should change your mindset from working hard to working effectively towards what matters to the business – in the perception of your boss!
The same is true for an entrepreneur. Your clients will only pay for your impact, not for your efforts!
Take a football star in the Champion League. He is playing football, having lots of fun and for this he gets paid Millions of Dollars, right?
Wrong! He is not getting paid Millions of Dollars just for playing football. He is even not getting all these bucks because he plays football very well. He gets the money for winning games.
The management of the Champion League Team perceives that he has a big impact on the team for winning games. Only the teams earn big money who win games. That is why these football stars are highly paid. It’s their impact on helping the team earning money.
Is it important if the football star is practicing lots of hours and working out hard. No, not all – as long as he has a strong impact on winning the game, it’s irrelevant.
You are never paid for your efforts, but you are paid for your impact!
You need to change your mindset: If you want to earn more money, stop complaining and don’t try to work harder. But focus on working effectively and focus on having more impact.
Change how you work in your job or – if that is not possible – get another job: a job where you can work to have significant impact!
Money does not follow hard working, but money follows impact!
The more perceived impact you have the higher your payment will become!
Are you having a strong impact on your company’s business? Does your boss or your clients perceive your work as significant?]]>
Asking questions can be a great method helping and coaching your employees.
But you need to use questions carefully. Otherwise they can be counterproductive.
In this video I’ll talk about how to ask questions in the right way.
If you shoot short questions in rapid succession your employees may feel like being interrogated by a police officer.
They feel pressed into a defensive position. They know they are under attack. They become more and more afraid and threatened.
If a project went wrong and you talk to the responsible person, avoid asking short questions in rapid succession. One question is enough. Allow your employee to think and to find the right answer.
The shorter you formulate your question, the more pressing it is perceived by your employee.
So, avoid this kind of questions. Instead of
“Why did you make the decision this way?”
You can ask:
“I can see that you were in a tough situation. What led you to make the decision this way?”
You see? Asking in that way does not trigger fear and defence.
Sometimes it can help to introduce the background of your question with one or two sentences before asking the actual question.
In the end you ask these questions in order to help or to understand – not to frighten, to demotivate or to frustrate.
Questions can be a terrific way to get others to think. But this will only work if your counterpart feels that you respect him.
Therefore, never ever act like a threatening inquisitor!]]>