Alan Urech’s Killer Secrets for Developing a Powerful Business

 

ALAN W. URECH

Alan Urech, a valued business partner and friend, is Managing Partner of Stoney River Capital Partners, LLC, based in Roswell, GA. With his permission, I am delighted to share this helpful article with you.

Be sure to visit his Web site: http://www.StoneyRiverCapital.com

10 Killer Secrets For Developing a Powerful Business

The following is a listing of 10 Killer Secrets that will help you develop a powerful business. They are not in order of importance because I see them as equally important to business growth.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Develop a stellar Advisory Board across functional levels

This is not a Board of Directors (BOD), which is a legal entity with potential liability. Advisory Boards are a must to grow strong businesses. As business owners we get very wrapped up with what we ourselves think is important and forget that there are other ways for business growth. We are products of our own life’s business experiences but should understand that other people have diverse experiences that may be more relevant to the situation at hand and we should embrace those experiences to grow our businesses intelligently. Advisory Boards should be set up along functional business parameters and members chosen for their experiences within those functions. Operations, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Legal, Human Resources, Product/Services are some of the different functional areas the slots you should have solid focused and seasoned professionals represented on your Advisory Board.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand the Management’s strengths and weaknesses

As managers we all have our strengths…and our “challenges”. This is the way it is and we must understand what they are and make sure that our management team has representative diverse views. Some managers see no dangers and charge ahead with programs while others may be more hesitant and see the positives and the negatives of the movement. Whether you are optimistic, a risk-taker, can rally the troops and engage others, are traditional and hard-working with a strong focus on quality, detail and precision or can build trust and help others, you need to know your business personality “gifts”. Embrace them. Brownell Landrum at DrawSuccess (www.DrawSuccess.com) has some very interesting methodologies for you to access your strengths and weaknesses.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Grow the Business methodically

In Six Disciplines for Excellence Gary Harpst states that most businesses do not succeed because they are not grown methodically. Something always gets in the way of a business’s methodical growth path. I believe that if you establish upfront some solid and non changing parameters like “Monday mornings 9:30am we are having a management meeting and reviewing operational issues that affect the business”, most of the time you will succeed. Don’t deviate from that plan. Keep it simple and formal on a Project Management type electronic or paper template and make sure that everyone one is accountable weekly for the action items that they said they would complete. Have firm dates and if the task is not completed by that date, make sure that the whole team knows why. This takes a couple of weeks to instill but the company’s president must be vigilant and hold his/her management team accountable for the actions they have agreed to accomplish.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Be very focused on what your business is…and is not. Understand what is important to you…and your business

Strong businesses must understand what their market opportunity is and then focus their organizations on their core competency within that opportunity. Know your opportunity and then exploit it. This does not mean that you can’t have adjacent products and services that improve your core offering. You can. For example, if you are in video productions and your first product is traditional movies, it does not mean that you can’t go into some adjacent product lines like commercials or promotional pieces. Just treat this as an adjacent product line. The core product is still video productions. Do an “elevator” pitch of 15 words or less about what your business is. An example might be “North Atlanta Networks, Inc, develops, markets and services high technology turnkey satellite, terrestrial, wireless and VoIP network solutions to business and government customers.” Or “The Medical Group is a provider of all-inclusive turnkey management solutions to meet the increasingly complex technology needs of physician practices”. Also understand what your personal goals as a manager are. What you will do and what you will not do. Each organization should have a posted Vision Statement, a Mission Statement and a Values Statement.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Focus on Sales and Marketing, not on the products or services

Once your product or service offering is “complete” or Version 1 is complete, shift your human and monetary resources to sales and marketing. Most companies have a very difficult time crossing over the chasm from a Research and Development organization into a Sales and Marketing business that can commercialize your product and make you money. Understand that your product/service will never be done because our world is in constant change mode. Put a “stake” in the ground to when your resources will be focused on sales and marketing. At this point, 90% should be spent on Sales and Marketing and 10% on R&D.

To market your product use “Groundswell” techniques. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff wrote a great book on using new technology tools to market your products by getting a social network “buzz” about them and then when people come to your website, they will be “warm” prospects. Much easier than cold calling. Free social networking technology tools like LinkedIn (an online network of more than 25 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries, www.linkedin.com), Flickr (online photo management, www.flickr.com), WordPress (blogging, http://wordpress.com), FaceBook (social network, www.facebook.com), Twitter (social networking and microblogging service utilizing instant messaging, SMS or a web interface, http://.twitter.com), Del.icio.us (social bookmarking, http://delicious.com), Digg.com (discover and share content by tagging, http://digg.com), Wikipedia (online free encyclopedia that anyone can add to and edit, www.wikipedia.com), Add This (Social Bookmarking that adds content everywhere, www.addthis.com), Ping (a website that makes updating your social networks a snap, www.ping.fm) and Second Life (virtual world, www.secondlife.com). To measure and monitor your blogs and online discussion groups use TNS Cymfony (http://www.cymfony.com), Nielsen BuzzMetrics

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Focus on Sales and Marketing, not on the products or services (continued)

(http://www.nielsenbuzzmetrics.com), and Google analytics (improving your understanding about where your website visitors come from to better utilize your marketing dollars, http://www.google.com/analytics/). It is easy to do and will gain you great exposure.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Work with people that are Compatible

Life is too short to work with people that you don’t like or are not compatible. Surround yourself with people that have similar values that you do so that in addition to just “working” in the business that you sometimes get together in social events to understand each other as fellow human beings with personalities, families, attitudes, biases and needs. I think this is critical for people to understand where their work companions are coming from and sometimes forgive them when you know they have had a rough day when something outside of the work place is weighing on them. Help them along and you will be stronger and happier in the business and as a person.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Form Key Business Alliances/Partnerships/Affiliations

This is a critical component of growing a company into a strong business. Strong growing companies form alliances, partnerships and affiliations with companies and businesses that can support their growth. Once a company focuses on their business they should look for alliances and partnerships that make sense to them within their competency. Being a good partner means that when something falls outside of your core competency, you refer that business to the other organization to fulfill the customer’s needs. Customers love this and embrace this as being good corporate citizens by putting the customers’ needs above their own.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand the Businesses Unique Value Propositions

When I consult with companies, I first develop with them a “Corporate Position Paper”. A CPP has three areas in it. The first section answers the question “What are the problems in the industry?” The second section answers the question “What is different and better about my products/services?” This should be about 3 bullets that include your unique value proposition that no other company can say. Remember that your unique value proposition does not include service, price or quality. No one will say that they deliver poor service, high prices or bad quality. They always have the best service, low prices and great quality. That is a given. Create your UVP on something that no one else can claim that they have like a product that does (xxx) or a service that provides this.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand the Business’ Revenue and Profit model

A business must understand where they make their income. Detail by bullets the different components of where the businesses money comes from and the profit potential from each area. Once this “audit” is completed you may see that there are some areas that need to be focused on because they bring you more profit.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand your Product/Service offerings

A company must understand their product lines thoroughly. It is vital to understand what the products are and what they are not. The “consultative sell” approach works wonders when the business development person first listens to the “challenges” the prospect has (what keeps them up at night) and then leverages their products and services to alleviate those challenges. They are showing an understanding of their business, a concern for the prospect’s business, and a solution to their concern. Many business development people do not understand this and subsequently do not form a relationship with the decision maker. Developing this relationship becomes capital that the strong business person can use to leverage their first product into the organization and positions them to sell additional products later on in the business cycle. I suggest a PowerPoint or something like that that outlines every product and service that you have and its value for the consumer.

I hope that these 10 Killer Secrets have helped you understand some business “Secrets” that can help you to significantly grow your business. Being methodical with great management focused toward your growth is the core, understanding your value proposition and then understanding where you make your money.

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You’re Fired–So Solve These 8 Major Problems

You can’t believe what your supervisor just said: “Our company is feeling the impact of the economic nose dive. So we’re going to have to eliminate your position, effective today. Now let’s take a minute to review your severance plan.”

Instantly, you’re in shock. Controlling your inner turmoil isn’t easy. A tidal wave of emotion sweeps over you. You feel cheated: “This isn’t fair,” you’re thinking, “because I’ve been loyal and productive. Why not Alice, who never got her work done on time?”

You are afraid: “How am I going to pay our mortgage? And Jenny has three more years of college. Where is her tuition coming from?”

You are resentful: “After all I have done for these people, they owe me a promotion, not a pink slip.”

Your feelings are hurt. You are profoundly sad. As your supervisor asks for your office keys, your eyes sting from the mounting tears that are ready to flow.

You want to protest, fight back, demand an appointment with the CEO, and even talk with an attorney.

Obviously, Your first major problem is to subdue your anxiety, despair, and resentment.

I faced that problem, too. In 1996, the year had dawned with great promise. As vice president of a charitable organization, I had exceeded my fund raising goals by thiry-one percent. My salary was excellent, and I had just deposited a strong year-end bonus. The signs pointed toward remaining in my current position until voluntary retirement. Then my supervisor entered my office, shut the door, and said, “I have an unpleasant job to do today.”

From a couple of vantage points, the odds didn’t look good for me. My fiftieth birthday was behind me, and I was well aware of an unspoken managerial preference for “new faces and fresh ideas,” which ordinarily translates into younger employees. My quest would be tougher than the same challenge a decade earlier.

Too, my salary had been at a high level I wasn’t sure I could match. And I was racing against time, as my severance package would last just a few months.

Like you, I felt like launching a counterattack, starting with, “You’ve had your say, now you’re going to listen to what I really think about you and everybody else in management.”

What stopped me? An inner voice told me that combative response would only make my situation worse. Whether my firing was justifiable or not, I would need positive references. A potential employer might ask my HR Director, “Did Bill leave a good impression there?” Then too, spiteful words would rule out possibilities of eventually asking for an extension of benefits.

Your second major problem: Telling relatives and friends

On your way home, you’re likely to feel ashamed. You silently ask, “How could I let down those who love me and believe in me?” Facing your family and friends seems unbearably tough.

I still remember when my wife came home from her job that January day, asking the usual, “Well, how was your day?” Without delay, I told her what had happened. I didn’t blame anybody else, nor did I play the victim’s role.

“But we’ll lose our home,” she said “That’s a logical fear,” I responded,”but you can take my word that won’t happen.” I was right. Ten years later, we made our final mortgage payment.

That night, we called my wife’s mother, our daughters, my brother and two sisters. We made a list of friends to call the next day. I opened those phone conversations with, “I want to tell you something before you hear it from somebody else.”

Your third major problem: The tendency to postpone your job search

You are tempted to share relaxed lunches with friends you didn’t have time for before. You can head to the gym mid morning , and find other unemployed people to talk with. And isn’t this an opportune time to take a few golf lessons? “Gotta wait until I’m in a better mood,” you reason, “before I start knocking on doors.”

I faced those temptations, because leisure and recreation are unquestionably more enjoyable than a job search. Yet they don’t move you closer to a paycheck. So–with the help of an outplacement specialist my former employer provided–I mapped out a job search strategy. Instead of giving myself a vacation, I went after my next job with the persistence that got me my first professional position.

During the next six months, I phoned every colleague who might know about job openings, and I followed the referrals diligently.

Your fourth major problem: Taking the wrong job just so you’ll get paid.

As your bank account dwindles and your benefits deadline approaches, you might feel obligated to take the first job offer you get. “Whew,” you sigh with relief, “that was a close one. At least now I’ve got some income.”

After chasing many empty leads, I took that misstep which is common for the unemployed. I accepted a job that didn’t match my interests or skills. Almost immediately, I felt out of place. My employer sensed a mismatch at least as soon as I did. After four months out of state, I returned home, once again off the payroll.

Now I had two recent job losses to explain. I hadn’t simplified my quest, I had complicated it. So learn from my mistake before you impulsively grab the first job offer.

Your fifth major problem: Overcoming your deficiencies.

During candid analysis of your skill set, you will identify gaps that might limit your marketability. Let’s assume that you live in a bilingual community, yet you can’t read or speak anything other than your native tongue. All right, now is the time to erase that limitation. Enroll in language classes or hire a tutor.

During my self-appraisal, I identified several areas of weakness. Example: While my colleagues were becoming comfortable with computers, I delegated that responsibility to my staff. Now I had no one to delegate to, so I took charge myself. I bought a computer and paid for private tutoring. Soon I became comfortable with the Internet and with word processing. Months later, I enrolled in evening seminars on Power Point and Desktop publishing.

Your sixth major problem: Identifying your major interests and assets.

Having just been told that you are not valuable enough to remain at your company, you could easily lose your self-confidence. Big mistake–because you need strong self esteem now, possibly stronger than ever. So balance your list of liabilites by spotlighting your assets. Write them down specifically, not generally. Don’t be overly modest. Keep an old athletic adage in mind: “It isn’t bragging, if you can do it.”

I asked myself honestly, “What do I enjoy doing the most, and what do I do best?” I recalled that during all my years of fundraising and management, I had freelanced as a writer, speaker, broadcaster, seminar director, speech coach and consultant at every opportunity.

In my case, that review of my professional talent and preferences turned me into an entrepreneur. “Now,” I decided, “I can do all these communication activities without creating a conflict with an employer.”

So exactly one year after my dismissal–including, as I said, another job loss–my wife and I talked about launching a new career thrust.  “Let’s do it,” we agreed. I started outlining speeches and seminars, and boldly chose a company name.

That step toward self-emplyment might not describe the direction you will take. Even so, you will expand your job options by becoming keenly aware of your in-demand skills and services.

Your seventh major problem: Trying to handle your job search without help

Sort of predictable, don’t you think? After all, you had spent hundreds of hours with associates who just rejected you. If they turned against you, how can you trust strangers?

I felt that way at the start. For six months, I made cold calls–which brought two negative results: a larger phone bill, and a drop in pride.

Fortunately, next I turned to respected local business leaders for advice, requesting candid feedback for the speech/seminar titles I showed them. They helped me determine which topics would have the strongest appeal.

My smartest move came when I joined both the Georgia Speakers Association and the National Speakers Association. I attended training sessions and conventions, always learning more about how to position myself to attract clients. Within two years I was presenting convention programs for the national organization, which I hadn’t heard of previously.

Your eighth major problem: Expecting things to happen too quickly.

If this is your first time to be between jobs, your impatience will reach unprecedented levels. You get furious with the comment, “We like your qualifications. When our hiring freeze ends next year, we’ll get back with you.” Next year. . .how are you supposed to survive and feed your family in the meantime?

My progress wasn’t immediate either. During the building period, we went months without income from me. I contributed hope, promises, and a rigorous work schedule. And yes, some letters and e-mails went unanswered, calls weren’t returned, “sure things” weren’t so sure after all, and there was no forecast of when business would increase.

For advice and encouragement, I turned to experienced professional speakers. Even the big names talked about how cyclical this business is. “Hang in there,” they advised. “If we made a good living eventually, then so can you.”

I heeded their good advice. I began to think of failures and rejections as detours, not dead end streets. This approach became especially beneficial right after 9/11 and during the current economic slump.

So if you don’t get instant results, have faith that your dedication and determination will pay off.

Although my beginning months weren’t all that encouraging, good things started happening. After hosting my own radio show for a year, I turned the broadcasted material into my book, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! A Waldenbooks store held the first of a hundred book signings.

More than a dozen years after I started my business, I am delighted to share a few professional highlights:

*Enrichment Lecturer for Oceania and Celebrity Cruise Lines in the Caribbean and Bermuda
*Interviewed by more than 300 radio stations
*Keynote speaker, British Columbia Legal Management Association in Whistler, BC
*Produced 28 instructional videos for You Tube
*Stage Fright video on You Tube has attracted 12,755 viewers
*Directed a management seminar for the Ritz-Carlton Cancun
*Provided speech coaching for Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Duracell, and others
*Keynote speaker for a bank celebrating its 75th anniversary
*Interviewed by Cosmopolitan, Entrepreneur, Investor’s Busines Daily, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Delta’s SKY, HR Today, Career Builder, and Working Mother

So if you have gone through a job loss, or expect one soon, consider me an example of a fired persion–and an older one at that–who wouldn’t consider himself finished because he was fired. Amazingly, I have demonstrated that life after downsizing can become even more joyful and creative than before.

I recommend the recovery process that works for me. Forget “If only. . . .” and move on to “Here’s what I’m going to do.” With the understanding and support of family and colleagues, and with dogged determination and drive, you’ll achieve those dreams that–like mine–were once just part-time fantasies.

SPECIAL REPORT:

“From Fired to Hired: Top 10 Communication Strategies
That Will Make That Happen for You”

We’ve looked at the 8 major problems a fired worker faces, and we have described how you can overcome them.

But there’s more. To become a winner in this highly competetive job market, you can follow my “Top 10 Communication Strategies” for job searchers. If you don’t use these top 10 communication strategies, others will. Can you afford to have them know what you need to know–now?

You can access this Special Report by scrolling down to the previous blog, or by using this link: http://thecompletecommunicator.com/?p=72

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., “The Complete Communicator”
http://www.championshipcommunication.com
drbill@championshipcommunication.com
678-316-4300

ADD YOUR COMMENT
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