EnMast http://www.enmast.com Small Business Community | Small Business Tools, Templates, Help and Resources. Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:42:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 How to discover your company values http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/discover-company-values/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/discover-company-values/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:00:11 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18792 Company values can be a powerful force in driving your business success. When we are clear about our values, that’s one thing. When we hire a team who shares those values, that’s another. But when take all of this one step further and we actually reflect those values in our business practices, we create an

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Company values can be a powerful force in driving your business success. When we are clear about our values, that’s one thing. When we hire a team who shares those values, that’s another. But when take all of this one step further and we actually reflect those values in our business practices, we create an offering that’s uniquely attractive to customers who share those values — creating a loyalty that can’t be beat.

company values

But how do I discover my company values? How do I know what values I want to build into my business and hiring practices?

You don’t “decide”, you discover

Values are something you have. Whether you’ve identified them or not, they are already there. You don’t choose your values–they are inside you (and your company) waiting to be discovered. You can’t choose to have company values that are at odds with your personal values–that would mean you wouldn’t be a good fit at that company! So the first step is to discover what your personal values are.

We have a tool that we use with clients to help them discover their core values. First, it helps you to identify values you have by looking at a list of value words. Then, it then helps you to find the ones that are truly core values (really deep, significant values that aren’t easily changed) by asking you some questions about them, like:

  1. If the circumstances changed so that we were penalized for doing X, would we still do it?
  2. Is this a hill that we would die on? Would we rather cease to exist, than change this value?
  3. If we met a highly desirable prospective (employee, customer, vendor, partner) that didn’t hold this value, would we turn them down?
  4. Is this value reflected in our practice already? Can we tell stories about how we have already acted in accordance with this value?

You can have values that aren’t really core values. Your core values are those you would go to the mat for; those that would make you quit if you were asked to give them up. Most people only have a few core values; 4 – 6 maybe. Narrow your list to make sure it is made up of those values that you are really committed to.

Tell some stories

The last question in the list above is really important; if something is a core value, you can be sure that you are already acting in accordance with it. If you say, “Our customers come first” is a core value, then you should have lots of examples about how you’ve put your customers first–times when you put your own work and needs aside to serve your customers better. If you don’t have those stories, though you may want that to be a core value, it’s not.

It’s important to realize that your core values aren’t fodder for your website, or something you are going to put in a frame on the wall. They are values you are going to live with and by. If we choose values that we don’t live by, then our employees and customers notice. They pick up on the inconsistency, and they don’t trust us.

company values

These stories are also important, not because they help identify your values, but because they will also help you to communicate your values. Saying to your team, “We are a company that values ‘trust’.” is good, but a little vague. What do you mean when you say you value “trust”? When you tell a story about the company founder walking into a lab with a bolt cutter and cutting locks off of the equipment cabinets because he wasn’t going to put up with a culture of mis-trust, that story is what will spell it out for them.

Once you have uncovered your own values, see how they match those of your organization. If you took 4 – 8 of your best, most ideal employees and asked them about these values, what would they say? Would your team identify the company values as similar to yours, or different? What values might they identify that you haven’t? What’s on your list that wouldn’t appear on their list? You need to reconcile those differences in a way that is still true to who you are, and what your values are. This isn’t a theoretical exercise–you really can get your team together and do it.

Once you have a final set of values–values that you feel like you can live with for the next 100 years (values don’t change, they are part of your company’s DNA)–then start talking about them by telling those stories you identified earlier. Look for places where your people are behaving according to those values–and tell those stories too! Before you know it, the whole team will be reinforcing those values to each other, even when you are not around!

That’s the power of values. They govern people’s behavior without you needing to police it. If you find people who share your values, then they don’t need policing; they will reinforce those values because they share them! This alignment creates a powerful resonance that drives your business forward without you needing to push it or drive it. Now that’s worth the effort it takes to identify and reinforce your company values, isn’t it?

What are your company values? If you’re not sure, aren’t you excited to find out? Check out the tool below to help you get started:




Core values list: How to identify your company's core values


Photo credit: chase_elliottdenise carbonell

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The ONE word that will help you achieve your goals http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/word-achieve-goals/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/word-achieve-goals/#respond Fri, 20 Feb 2015 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18760 Did you start this year off with big goals? Did you set aggressive growth targets for your sales? Are you thinking about writing a book, working on some speaking topics, or taking a big trip with your family? Well? It’s February. How are you doing on those goals? Have you made significant progress? Enough so

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Did you start this year off with big goals? Did you set aggressive growth targets for your sales? Are you thinking about writing a book, working on some speaking topics, or taking a big trip with your family?

achieve goals

Well? It’s February. How are you doing on those goals? Have you made significant progress? Enough so you are “on track” to complete or exceed them? If not I’ve got one word for you:

NO.

That’s right, the word is “No”–and you’d better start using it.

Why, Brad? What makes you say that?

Well, I could answer that, but I think this quote says it better:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” ~Warren Buffett

If you’ve known someone really successful, you know this is true. I know of a really, wildly successful academic. His admin spent most of her time fielding calls for this man to speak and write and research for so many different organizations, while he sat on his computer, writing. He was serious, thoughtful and selective about his goals; and vigorously defended himself from any claims on his time and energy that would interfere with them.

If you, too, are serious about your goals–if it’s really important to you to achieve them–then you need to clear the decks in order to make progress. Most people fail to achieve goals because of one of two issues: either they don’t commit the time and energy to completing it, or they get distracted. If you don’t want that to be you, then you need to stop doing some things you have been doing, and you need to say no to some new opportunities that are coming along.

What to stop doing?

If you have important things that need doing — but aren’t getting done — then you need to focus on your work and delegate everything else. Your work constitutes those things that only you can do. Your work requires your knowledge, experience and connections. Bookkeeping is not your work, neither is cleaning up the office, or re-writing the deliverable for the 4th time (just to be clear).

I know that it’s not as easy as “just saying no”. Someone has to do these things. But if you want to reach your goals, you’ve got to make some space to do it! So we need to find someone else to do all that other stuff. Some things are easy: hire a bookkeeper and you are no longer the bookkeeper. Other things are more difficult: you are re-writing the deliverable for the 4th time because you have tolerated poor results from your team and now it’s too late to get them to finish it. Changing that will require you to ask more of them next time, and establish some consequences if they fail.

What new opportunities should you say no to?

I’m tempted to say all of them; but that’s not realistic, right? And yet, if you have really important goals, then you have to say no to anything that’s less important than the goals you have set. The biggest threat to your goals is distraction from some new shiny object — so to stay focused and accept ahead of time that you will have to defer those things.

I know it’s scary to say no to new opportunities. I mean, “What if this is the one? The one opportunity that’s going to bust things open for me?”. Just take a minute and look back. How many times have opportunities like that come along? If you’re honest, you’ll recognize that, yes, there have been a lot of things that looked really great. And, not many of them lived up to that initial expectation. What if reaching your important goals is the thing that is going jettison you to wild success? Can you just delay the new opportunity and pick it up once you have actually met your important goals?

If not–if this opportunity is really that huge–then by all means go for it. But be realistic, and stop work on the other goal you are pursuing. If your dream client comes along, put writing the book on hold — just don’t try to do both.

This doesn’t sound like a lot of fun!

I feel your pain. It’s true. This won’t be easy and probably won’t be fun.

But you know what is fun? Completing your goals! Having that significant and completed project behind you instead of hovering over you like a cloud! It’s also tons of fun being a person who has a realistic work load; being a person who can say “yes” to family and friends and get away from the office to be with them on significant occasions. It’s actually fun to have the flexibility that focus gives you.



Core values list: How to identify your company's core values


This article was originally published on Anchor Advisors. Photo credit: Will Clayton, quinn.anaya

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How to build a really awesome organizational culture http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/how-to-build-awesome-organizational-culture/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/how-to-build-awesome-organizational-culture/#respond Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:21:32 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18749 We wanted to put a spotlight on a business that understands what it means to have great organizational culture, so we started searching for some shining examples. That’s when we noticed Grasshopper. A company that helps business owners run their operation using cell phones, they offer services like call forwarding to mobile devices, vanity numbers,

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We wanted to put a spotlight on a business that understands what it means to have great organizational culture, so we started searching for some shining examples.

That’s when we noticed Grasshopper. A company that helps business owners run their operation using cell phones, they offer services like call forwarding to mobile devices, vanity numbers, voicemail transcription, and more.

organizational culture

And while they go above and beyond for their customers, they do the same for their employees, too. I spoke with Emma Siemasko, Head of Content Marketing at Grasshopper, to get an inside look at what it’s like to work within a company that puts so much focus on making the workplace fun and inspiring.

Brand DNA: The Makeup of Grasshopper’s Organizational Culture

garygrasshopperBack in 2003, Co-founders Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser wanted to create a place where people actually enjoyed coming to work. That’s why they decided to build their brand DNA in a two-fold format–with internal culture and customer perception. By investing in their employees, they’ve been able to improve their customer perception–because happy employees are more motivated, more productive, and just downright more pleasant to interact with.

“Our team is passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed; we work hard, enjoy our time — and just get stuff done.” -Siamak Taghaddos, Co-Founder and CEO

They’ve also taken the time to define what their company values are. They spell out GARY, which is the name of the company’s mascot.

G: Go Above and Beyond

We strive to exceed the expectations of the people we work with and the entrepreneurs we serve. From taking ownership of responsibilities outside of our job description, to remaining committed to a project from start to finish, we go above and beyond to make a positive impact on everything we do.

A: Always Entrepreneurial

Being an entrepreneur means taking the initiative to find new and innovative solutions to daily challenges. This proactive approach to problem solving requires us to effectively calibrate risk while still thinking creatively and strategically.

R: Radically Passionate

Passion fuels our lives and ultimately paves the way to greatness. We create, evaluate, and innovate with pride and enthusiasm reinforcing our position as company ambassadors.

Y: Your Team

Successful teamwork requires listening, sharing and keeping an open mind. Teamwork is achieved by leveraging individual strengths and overcoming differences to produce the optimal results. Working in this way cultivates trust and respect for each team member and maximizes productivity.

These values translate into the physical office, too. Within the Grasshopper workspace, you’ll find:

  • pool tables
  • game room
  • workout center
  • snacks and coffee

Other perks include:

  • Flex hours
  • Half-day Fridays in summer and winter
  • Profit sharing
  • Healthcare and 401K

But it’s more than just a few perks that contribute to the organizational culture here. “We have an open floor plan so everyone is accessible and are really deliberate about maintaining our culture through ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, charity work, and much more,” Emma said. The company even has a designated Culture Team, with three employees who’s sole focus is keeping the culture alive and well. “They bring in guest speakers, organize internal events–we even just recently went to the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas to see another great example of workplace culture first-hand.”

People are taking notice, too. Grasshopper was nominated for a Timmy Award for Best Workplace in Boston, was noted in the Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40 Awards, took bronze in the WOMMY Awards, and more.

The benefits of strong office culture

strong culture

Grasshopper is reaping the benefits of their organizational culture, too. There are several indicators that prove the investment into organization culture is paying off.

First of all, turnover has rapidly decreased, going from 25 to 10% in 2008. While at one point in its past Grasshopper had 200+ employees, it now has about 45–a much smaller and more specialized team. With fewer employees to manage, the Grasshopper leadership can put more focus on its small group of core team members.

The company has also seen steady growth as well. They aim for 10% growth each year and currently serve more than 150,000 customers.

“I think that when employees feel taken care of, they’re compelled to take care of the company, too,” Emma said.

Advice for improving your own workplace culture

So how can you transform your business’s culture and values? Here are a few tips based on Grasshopper’s success:

  • Establish written values. Make sure each team member knows them and lives them at work.
  • Break down barriers. Give people opportunities to work with others, regardless of their department.
  • Have fun. Make the workplace more enjoyable by adding a few perks for those times when mental burnout takes over.
  • Be flexible. When you allow employees to run to a doctor’s appointment or shift their work hours, it shows trust.
  • Educate. Provide ways your team can keep learning and improving their skills year-round.

Organizational culture is what you make it. Model yours after the folks at Grasshopper, or invent one all your own. Just stop waiting for the right time to make a change. The best time is the present.



Core values list: How to identify your company's core values

Photo credit: Sparrow’s lensrahego

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7 Tips for Empowering Employees with Remote Work http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/7-tips-empowering-employees-remote-work/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/7-tips-empowering-employees-remote-work/#respond Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:01:53 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18772 You’ve read plenty of articles and heard all about telecommuting, remote work, working from home, flexible work hours… the list goes on. You’ve heard it makes employees happier, that it’s ‘good for business’, yada yada. So you offer the option to your employees. Now what? You have always worked at the office! You always managed

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You’ve read plenty of articles and heard all about telecommuting, remote work, working from home, flexible work hours… the list goes on. You’ve heard it makes employees happier, that it’s ‘good for business’, yada yada.

So you offer the option to your employees. Now what?

work remotely

You have always worked at the office! You always managed employees in cubicles near you. If you needed something, they were right there. If you needed to meet, you walked over to talk to them. You could see them working, and could tell when they were spending more time chatting up their coworkers or browsing the Internet instead of working on that monthly report.

“How do you know your employees are working if you can’t see them? How do you know they’re not just lying around watching TV if they’re ‘working from home?’”

To be honest, you have to let go of that mentality. And I’ll get into that more later.

I work about 80% of my time at home, at coffee shops, co-working spaces, or staying at a friend’s or family member’s place to visit and work. I have some colleagues that work 100% remotely. And they’ve found a way to make remote work— work.

remote work

Here’s from when I worked remotely from my grandpa’s in FL this month.

So, after a few years of experience doing this, here are a few tips for implementing remote work options at your company.

Remote work: How to make it work for you

1. Explain that this is a privilege, not a right.

Unless employees have a proven track record or have worked remotely in the past, allow them to earn the privilege (if they can keep their performance level up.) You can test their remote working abilities with a transition period during which your employee only works remotely a few days each week.

If you find that work is not getting done or you can’t seem to communicate effectively, don’t just say, “I told you so.” Try a few different configurations. Set times for regular calls so you can be on the same page with scheduling. Be clear about expectations, deadlines, and project details.

More often than not, it’s not the remote work relationship that gets in the way—it’s a team’s inability to communicate.

2. You will need to invest in some tools

Here we go, the infamous ‘cloud’ — we’ve all heard about it, and some of us actually understand it. But moving your project management tools and company to cloud-based platforms will not only be crucial in the long run for your company’s operations efficiency, but it’s imperative you have cloud-based tools if you have remote employees. They need to have the ability to work from anywhere via Internet connection.

For example — for us, Dropbox changed how we do things and manage files and projects entirely… but for the BETTER. We have everything stored up there with a business account that enables us to have over 1TB of space for about ~$1000/year. We can share and link to files internally and to clients with a click of a button. How much did that server cost you again?

I talk more about must-have [remote working tools and apps here].(link)

3. The way you manage your employees will change a bit

You can’t walk over to an employee’s desk at any given moment to check in on them or sneak peak at their computer screen if they’re not there. But they are working, and they will get their work done.

working remotely

Sure, it might mean that their working hours are more flexible and the work is getting done later at night or early in the morning. But as long as it’s being completed and is quality work…does the time it was done really matter?

Also think about how productivity can actually improve with remote work: When employees leave the office space, they also leave those workplace interruptions (people popping in to chat) that slow down their workflows.

4. You need to let go some.

Remember when your Dad let you take out his car for the first time after getting your license? Or maybe you remember handing over the keys to your daughter for the first time, scared to death wondering if your car would come back in the same shape it left in (…and well, your daughter, too).

You have to let go. You have to lend some trust. And if you did your hiring well, you should be confident in whom you hired. You should feel comfort knowing you have competent employees you know are good at what they do and have a proven record of delivering and performing consistently.

5. You will have new communication norms

During the workday, I’m working, unless I give him a heads up I’m out during lunch or something, but will work a little later so I can make sure I get my work done. (That’s where flexible hours come in.) But as connected as we are today, you can most likely still reach your employee somehow, some way. Brad and I use iMessages primarily to IM during the day on our computers, but within reasonable hours. We’ll use Skype to chat “face-to-face”

Whether it’s through text messaging, a chat service, or email that pops through right to your smartphone, your team is more connected than ever — and there’s a ton of new apps out there that are made specifically for remote working companies. So while you can’t stick your head in their cube to ask a question, you can likely reach them just as fast with technology.

6. You have to allow some flexibility

For working moms and dads, this is especially crucial. With hectic schedules that mean coordinating pick up times, school events, and sick kids, nothing seems to stress parents out more than the inability to care for their children. Allowing flexible hours means parents can still be there for their children while being fantastic employees—they don’t have to choose one or the other.


working remote

The numbers prove it: Cisco conducted research and found that remote employees reported an 80% improvement in quality of life. It’s good for retention, too: Happy employees with work-life balance are more likely to stay with you.

7. You need a solid reporting system and to set clear expectations

Sure, you can study the success of your remote employees by deadlines. But using a reporting system that shows hard numbers on how remote work is improving (or decreasing) the success of their roles will give you a the real details.

For example: If your digital content manager (website, social media, blogs, etc.) works remotely, use tools like Hubspot, Hootsuite, and Google Analytics to study trends over time. Look at reports at least monthly to see where improvements can be made, and make sure your remote employee knows exactly what goals he/she is expected to reach.

These 7 tips are just the beginning of making remote work part of your business. Over time, you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t for your unique business.

The bottom line: Explore the option before ruling out the idea. You might even be surprised at how it improves everything from company culture to project outcomes.



Core values list: How to identify your company's core values



Photo credit: Jorge QuinterosPaul Jacobsonmootown

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Why company culture eats strategy for breakfast http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/company-culture-eats-strategy-breakfast/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/company-culture-eats-strategy-breakfast/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:34:28 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18764 Representatives from the armed forces came to my son’s school to recruit soon to be high school graduates. Each branch of the armed forces gave a little presentation and slide show about what made them unique. Except for the Marine recruiter. The Marine recruiter walked up to the podium and silently looked into the eyes

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Representatives from the armed forces came to my son’s school to recruit soon to be high school graduates. Each branch of the armed forces gave a little presentation and slide show about what made them unique. Except for the Marine recruiter.

The Marine recruiter walked up to the podium and silently looked into the eyes of each of the students in the room. This took several minutes, and as he did it the tension rose in the room. After looking at each person intently he said,

“I don’t think I see anyone here who has what it takes to be a Marine. You might think I’m wrong. If so, come see me after the presentation.”

Then he sat down.

company culture

The Marines are not going to attract the same candidates who might be attracted by the Navy’s presentation — they are looking for men and women with a different set of values. It’s part of their DNA: “The few, the proud, the Marines.” By being different, and demonstrating that difference strongly, the Marines have built a very cohesive culture; despite drawing from a very diverse base of recruits, among all the branches of the military, the level of commitment from the Marines is remarkable.

It’s that cohesion that they draw on when the stakes are high. It’s that cohesion that demands action in the face of danger or death! The Marines have intentionally built a strong, self-reinforcing culture; and that culture makes them one of the most effective armed forces on the earth.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast, technology for lunch, and products for dinner, and soon thereafter everything else too.” – Peter Drucker

The core values of a company matter. A company with great strategy, superior technology, and wonderful products can still fail if the culture inside the business is not coherent (and fails to draw the organization together). Conversely, a company with a great culture can often survive some mis-steps and a few bumps in the road because the employees are committed to something more than a paycheck, and the customers have found more than a vendor, they have connected with a “tribe”. It’s that connection that we call culture, and it’s the secret weapon for growing your business.

A well constructed company culture guides employee decisions about both business activities and how they interact with others. It means that there’s an agreement about what we will do, and what we won’t do — even if we came from vastly different backgrounds, and have different life goals. At work we are going to act like this.

Research from Booz and Company found that 84% of executives believe culture is critical to their business success and 60% of executives believe culture is more important than strategy or their operating model. Just to be clear, really successful companies have both, great culture and a great strategy — but culture is something that changes slowly — if at all. Part of choosing the right strategy is finding one that aligns with the culture of the company. No matter how brilliant a strategy, it would never work for Apple to try to be the low cost supplier — that wouldn’t align with their culture.

Culture is the CEO’s job — something only they can do. You can delegate your product development, and you may not drive your company’s approach to technology; but the culture is up to you. In a small company, the culture will most often be a reflection of you. The way you communicate is the way everyone will communicate, the way you treat others is the way everyone will treat others.

The team is going to look to you for cues.

Is what you are reflecting to them what you want your culture to be?

Nearly every business owner I talk to asks me about how to make their team more committed. How can they get a team that’s focused and doesn’t “do stupid things”? That’s what culture is for. Culture is a mutual agreement about how we will act, what values we will hold, and most importantly what we won’t do. Having a strong company culture means that no one person needs to enforce that agreement — the whole organization will enforce it. In fact, a company with a strong, healthy company culture will reject bad hires — those who don’t share the company values — by enforcing the culture and communicating that the new hire needs to conform.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast; it always has and it always will.

You just need to make sure that that dynamic is working in your favor.

What have you done to build, and reinforce your company culture?


Core values list: How to identify your company's core values


Photo credit: Marine Corps Archives & Special Collectionsfabmae76

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Company core values: Why your business needs them http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/company-core-values/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/company-core-values/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18727 On paper it was a good deal. Our company had a chance to create a joint venture partnership with another company in the same industry. They had developed some designs and tooling for the Italian market that would enhance our product line. We had a distribution network in the states that they couldn’t touch. Everything about

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On paper it was a good deal. Our company had a chance to create a joint venture partnership with another company in the same industry. They had developed some designs and tooling for the Italian market that would enhance our product line. We had a distribution network in the states that they couldn’t touch. Everything about it made sense. But something just didn’t seem right.

company core values

It wasn’t about the products. The money was fine. But our businesses just didn’t see eye to eye. It wasn’t about a superficial culture thing, like a city mouse, country mouse kind of thing. There was a real difference in company core values. One of our core values was building and maintaining long term partnerships with customers, dealers, and vendors. Our dealers were our friends as well as our customers, and we always treated them with respect. The other company’s core value was to make money. They valued making money so much they didn’t care what it cost them to do it. They didn’t mind driving a hard bargain, even if it meant souring a relationship.

We passed on the deal. The other company ended up partnering with a competitor. It hurt us in the short-term–we needed that product in our line! But when their relationship with our competitor went sour, even those customers who were complaining about gaps in our product line were glad that we didn’t jump at the deal.

Values define your limits. They tell you what you will say “no” to.

The most common reason we see partnerships split up, and promising new hires fail, is a mismatch in values. It’s not a failure in talent, smarts, or drive, but a disconnect in the basic beliefs (or core values) behind the drive. When we work with people who’s values match with ours we know that we are “safe”. We know that the decisions that person is going to make are most likely going to be similar to those that we would make. Similar values mean similar drives, similar decisions and similar limits. Values that match build trust.

That’s why the company I talked about earlier — the one that valued relationships and wanted to build long-term partnerships with their dealers — couldn’t partner with a company that wanted to make a quick buck by pushing overpriced products out the door. There was a mis-match in values at the most basic level. All the work that company put into building dealer relationships would be put in jeopardy by creating a partnership with a company whose single concern was the bottom line. But protecting those relationships was more valuable to them than the short-term gain that the partnership offered.

This is also true with employees. In that same company, when we hired team members we only looked for people who could express a real concern for customers. We looked for people who understood and cared about the value of long-term relationships. To find these people, we asked applicants about times they had passed up a short-term gain in favor of a customer relationship. Those who had lots of stories like that were our kind of people. If we had done that deal, our employees would have been horrified! It just wasn’t true to who we were; it would have violated our company’s core values.

Values create a tribe.

Do you want a team that’s really committed to the work they are doing? How ’bout employees who come in every day for more than a paycheck? Do you want customers who are fans and supporters — who treat you as more than a vendor? Values might be your answer.

When we demonstrate clear values we attract people who share those values. I love my Apple products, in part, because I value design. But not just design that looks good. I want well designed products that make me work better, and that’s one of the values Apple has demonstrated over and over through their product development, their marketing, and even down to the way they hire and train their “Geniuses”. They have earned my loyalty by demonstrating values that resonate with mine.

Values get you more.

That same company I talked about in the beginning developed a new product a year or two later. It was innovative, it was just what the market wanted, and it was in high demand; but it just didn’t work. Oh, it worked fine for a little while, but then the products started to fail. Not all of them, but way too many.

When the products started to fail, of course we replaced them, and raced to find a solution. As the returns mounted the dealers started to get frustrated; then they got angry! This product failure was costing them money (and damaging their reputation). We needed a solution fast. Because we had hired a team that valued customer relationships, they knew that we had to fix this quickly and they gave their all to do it! We had people working 7-day weeks — and the days were long. We had sales people working alongside our dealers to help them replace the bad units with good ones; and we didn’t have to ask anyone to do it –they did it because it was the right thing to do. Everyone in the company went the extra mile out of respect for the customer, because that was what they valued.

We survived that fiasco — in no small part because we had built long-term, strong relationships with our dealers. They knew that we had made a big mistake, but they trusted that we would commit our all to fixing it. And we did. Our team felt terrible that we had let our dealers down; but going the extra mile and fixing the problem felt great.

IF you are clear about your company core values, if you hire people based on those values, and if you reinforce those values through your company’s business practices, then your people make decisions, and “do the right thing” even when you aren’t there to enforce it. They know what “do the right thing” means without asking you, and you attract clients and customers whose values resonate with yours.

What are your company’s core values?



Core values list: How to identify your company's core values


Photo credit: Natesh RamasamyJitabebe

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Creating a company culture: It’s all about your core values http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/creating-company-culture-core-values/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/creating-company-culture-core-values/#respond Fri, 06 Feb 2015 18:14:32 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18714 So you’ve hired some team members. This is a big step in building your business. Now you have help! But you also have worries. Are they doing what you want them to do? How do you know they are making good decisions? What if they are slacking off or not representing your company the way

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So you’ve hired some team members. This is a big step in building your business. Now you have help! But you also have worries. Are they doing what you want them to do? How do you know they are making good decisions? What if they are slacking off or not representing your company the way you would want them to?

creating a company culture

As your business grows you realize your limits. You can’t be everywhere, you can’t double check everything. You need something bigger than you to do the job of watching over people’s actions and attitudes. That’s what your company culture is for.

Your company culture is a set of agreements, often embodied in a vision or mission, and a set of values that you teach and reinforce into every team member (hopefully) from the day they interview until the day they depart. The culture helps individuals to decide what they should, and (more importantly) should not do, even when you aren’t around to watch over them. It’s an agreement of standards of behavior based on some fundamental beliefs (values) and a shared vision.

Let me give you some examples.

When you fly Southwest Airlines you expect a different experience, right? Southwest isn’t like all the other airlines. Their employees smile more, have more fun, and generally seem less bureaucratic than those of other airlines. That experience you have is a reflection of the “Southwest Way” (which is what they call their culture). Their values of “Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUV-ing Attitude” are readily apparent when you interact with their people.

southwest airlines

There are lots of different types of cultures; and they do not all look like Southwest. I once had a client who scheduled everyone to work a five and a half day week. Everyone worked on Saturday; it was considered “just part of the job”! If someone needed a new pen, they were told to hand in the old one that was out of ink. Their offices were threadbare and the floors weren’t level. Their commercials had the business owner sitting in his basement talking about the “deal of the week”. All of these choices reflected a “stingy” company culture grew out of the practice of selling their products for very low prices (and margins). That one choice had a ripple effect and a huge impact on all of their business practices.

What are your values?

Most businesses resemble their owners. Your strengths and your weaknesses get reflected in the organization you build.

Similarly, the values of a business don’t magically spring up from the ground. The business owner’s values are most likely going to be reflected in the values of the business. Values aren’t something that you “decide”; they are core beliefs that are already there. You couldn’t give them up if you tried! In fact, one way we test to see if a belief is really a core value is by asking:

if the market punished you for this, would you change?”

If not, you’ve probably bumped into a core value. Your values are most helpful in telling you what you won’t do. Values are the reason you say no to things.

Building a culture

If you want a culture that is going to help to maintain your standards and beliefs even when you aren’t there, you need to do more than write them down and hang them in a fancy picture frame on the wall. You need to live them, and you need to tell stories that show how you (and your employees) are living out their values. If you really believe that “Customers come first” then you should be able to give examples of when you and your team put personal needs aside in order to make sure that the customers were attended to. If you really believe in integrity then there will be stories of times you told customers things they didn’t want to hear, but were true. Times when it cost you business.

Remember how we said that your culture is an “agreement”? Well, when you are asking your employees to behave in a certain way–a way that will enable them to be a significant part of a bigger vision–they need to see that you are bound by the same standards you hold them to. An important part of the agreement is the application of it: if there is any favoritism, if there are people–even high performers–who don’t abide by the agreement, then the agreement starts to fall apart. If you want them to submit to your business values, you’ve got to submit to them too.

You might not think you have a culture, but you definitely do. The thing is, do you want to be intentional about building this culture? Or do you want to be passive about it? Do you want your agreement to be something everyone can articulate? Or some sort of hidden agenda that no one really knows, but somehow everyone abides by?

This month at EnMast we will be talking about how to discover your values and craft a vision for your business. We’re going to help you to communicate it to your team with words and actions. And we’re going to share some stories of companies who did a great job at it so you can see the impact and power of company culture with your own eyes. (AND help you build your culture too.)

How have you discovered and communicated your company culture? What has it done for your team?




Core values list: How to identify your company's core values



Photo credit: Metro Transportation Library and Archive

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Stop leaving voicemails. Voicemail is dead. Here’s why. http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/stop-leaving-voicemails-voicemail-dead/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/stop-leaving-voicemails-voicemail-dead/#respond Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18694 When was the last time you said, “Wow, I’m so glad I got that voicemail!”…? Tell me. Do you get a thrill when you see that the VM icon on your phone is lit up? Didn’t think so. Maybe it’s time we faced the fact that voicemail is a technology whose time has come —

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When was the last time you said, “Wow, I’m so glad I got that voicemail!”…?

Tell me. Do you get a thrill when you see that the VM icon on your phone is lit up? Didn’t think so. Maybe it’s time we faced the fact that voicemail is a technology whose time has come — and gone.

voicemail

Once upon a time, voicemail was a dream. It was a wonderful alternative. Instead of leaving a message through a person who translated our words (with or without accuracy) on a pink slip of paper, and then having it thrown on a desk with 20 other slips of paper, we could speak directly. We didn’t have to speak in slow motion, spell everything out, edit ourselves in our heads, and then repeat ourselves while someone wrote our words down. Compared to that, voicemail was a miracle! We could talk to someone without having to be on the phone at the same time. We could even mark our message “urgent”! It felt so productive!

But now we have so many other forms of asynchronous communication. We have emails, we have text messages, IM’s, DM’s, Snapchats… Even Evernote has a “chat” function! The number of ways we can send a message to someone seems to grow everyday. Maybe it’s time to drop one: voicemail.

Why, you say? Why has voicemail’s time come and gone?

Leaving someone a voicemail is giving them a project to do

The main problem with voicemail is that it’s not text. In order to do anything with a voicemail, I have to transcribe it into some form of text. Either I write it down on a sticky note (and lose it), or I create a to-do in my to-do list, or I go write an email, text message, or IM about it. But any of these tasks is easier if the original message came as text instead of voice.

Voicemails are low priority

When you have just a couple of minutes to respond to messages, most people will default to their text based messages (email, text, etc.) and leave their voicemail box for later. It takes too long to listen, transcribe, and then respond. If I jump into email I can clear the whole mailbox before I’ve dealt with one voicemail. So leaving a voicemail message is putting your message in the low priority inbox for most people.

But I want them to hear my voice

I’m a huge fan of calling people on the phone — don’t misunderstand me on that. There are so many benefits to talking to someone in real time that it actually saves time. With tone alone there is a level of understanding that you just can’t get in a text or an email — even if you use CAPS. Confusion and miscommunication is not just minimized, but it’s cleared up so much more quickly on the phone than by other means. But voicemail doesn’t have these benefits. Sure, they can hear your tone of voice — but they can’t respond to it. Apart from capturing tone, voicemail has all the limitations of any other asynchronous communication, plus it takes more time to listen and transcribe the message.

If you want them to really hear you, then you want to talk to them in real time. Call them back later, or send them an email to schedule a time for a call.

But I’m in the car! Or — I don’t want to type on this tiny keyboard!

There can be certain limitations to text communication — typing is one. But if you have a modern smart phone, you have either Siri, or Google Now, or both (or even Cortana, I guess). My point is that there are a variety of ways that you can turn text to speech. I understand that these applications can hilariously mis-interpret you sometimes, so make sure you edit your messages!

There really aren’t many excuses for not sending a text based message instead of a voice message.

I’m not the only one with this crazy idea

As of December, Coca-cola turned off their voicemail system at their corporate office to “to simplify the way we work and increase productivity,” according to an internal memo from Chief Information Officer Ed Steinike.

Do you agree?

Here’s how to get on board: be the change you want to see in the world! If you don’t like getting voicemails, don’t leave voicemails. Hang up and send a text based message. Then help your callers to do the same for you: change your outgoing VM message to give people alternative ways to contact you. Give them your cell phone number so that they can text you. Give them your email address so they can email you. Give folks a text based choice. Then tell the world about it with the hashtag #VMisDead

If you don’t agree I want to hear from you! Tell me why voicemail should live — I really want to hear your reasons. Just don’t leave it on my voicemail. ;)




Core values list: How to identify your company's core values



Photo credit: MoShotz

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10 Out of the box interview questions to ask http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/interview-questions-to-ask/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/interview-questions-to-ask/#respond Mon, 02 Feb 2015 16:54:30 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18511 When it comes to interviewing, most potential candidates have their canned responses prepared for those oh-so-predictable interview questions. But how well can you really test interviewees when they don’t have to think on their feet? How can you judge their creativity, world view, critical thinking, and troubleshooting abilities when they know what to expect? The

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When it comes to interviewing, most potential candidates have their canned responses prepared for those oh-so-predictable interview questions.

But how well can you really test interviewees when they don’t have to think on their feet?

interview questions to ask

How can you judge their creativity, world view, critical thinking, and troubleshooting abilities when they know what to expect? The answer: You can’t.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of some out of the box interview questions to ask an employee that can help provide a more well-rounded view of your potential hires’ minds.

1. You’ve seen our work space. What would you change?

An interview question like this one helps you assess the interviewees snap judgement of your workplace culture and environment, while also seeing at what level they’re willing to express their opinions on the spot. Bonus: You might get some great ideas on how to make your office, well…cooler.

2. What weighs more: 100 pounds of feathers, or 100 pounds of quarters?

Answer: They weigh the same (100 pounds.) The question tricks the listener by making them focus on the items themselves, not the fact that the weights are clearly stated. This will test your potential hire’s listening ability and help you judge how carefully they pay attention to details.

3. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you recently?

Your interviewee’s answer might expose a character weakness if they start telling you about how they fell down drunk on their front steps, or it might highlight how they can put a positive spin on a less than fortunate event. Either way, this question offers some unique insight into your candidate’s world without crossing any boundaries.

4. Why do you want to work here?

While it seems like a fairly common question interview question to ask an employee, you might be surprised at how many candidates don’t have a polished response prepared. This is a great opportunity to find out how well he/she knows the goals of your organization and how they could help achieve them, or if they’ve forgotten to do their homework.

5. If you won $1 million tomorrow, what would you do with it? Or, if you didn’t have to work anymore, what would you do?

This question will help you better understand the candidate’s values, motivators, interests, and lifestyle. It might also highlight some interesting qualities you can’t tease out with other questions.

6. Can you sell me this pen?

By asking a interviewee to market an ordinary object to you, you can test their quick thinking abilities and see how refined their sales skills are. (They should know this answer if they’ve also seen Wolf on Wallstreet)

7. If a movie were made about your career, what would the title be?

Test how well your candidate can highlight his/her goals, accomplishments, work ethic, as well as how much they can separate their personal life in this storytelling opportunity.

8. What book do you think everyone on our team should read?

You might get some great recommendations while you find out what type of reading material inspires your interviewee. Or if they’re not much of a reader, you can find out if they’re open to suggestions instead.

9. If you were offered this job, what concerns would you have about taking it?

This is a perfect way to coax out some issues that might arise post-hiring if the candidate makes the cut. And if the interviewee can be honest about his/her concerns, you may be able to start out on the right foot together.

10. If you could be any comedian, who would you be?

If a certain sense of humor is an important part of your work culture, this question might help you determine if this candidate will be a good fit. If their answer is Jerry Seinfeld, but your office taste in comedy is more Steve Carrell, this might be an indicator of a poor fit (on a very, very minute scale.)

Keep in mind: we don’t recommend hiring or not hiring based on this question, or any of these questions, for that matter.

Shake Things Up

The next time you interview someone, test out a few of these interview questions to ask that will challenge your interviewee. Make them step outside the cushy “tell me your strengths and weaknesses” zone and push to the dark corners of their interviewing brains.

In fact, you might find that the answers to these questions showcase some interesting strengths and weaknesses all on their own.

Your turn: What’s the strangest interview question you’ve ever been asked?







Photo credit: Marc Wathieu

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Company core values list: How to identify your company’s core values http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/core-values-list-how-to-identify-core-values/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/02/core-values-list-how-to-identify-core-values/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 20:48:43 +0000 http://www.www.enmast.com/?p=950 Establishing Core Values is not just something that big businesses do — it’s something that smart small businesses do, too. Many companies share their core values through a Mission, Vision (M/V/V) Statement. They use this statement to ensure that their actions, behaviors, and plans are consistent with the organization’s core values. Once you identify and articulate

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Establishing Core Values is not just something that big businesses do — it’s something that smart small businesses do, too.

Many companies share their core values through a Mission, Vision (M/V/V) Statement. They use this statement to ensure that their actions, behaviors, and plans are consistent with the organization’s core values.

Once you identify and articulate your organization’s core values, they become a kind of moral compass against which everything else is measured. When your company makes their core values clear and prominent, it will attract employees who share those some core values. This tool will help you do just that!

What’s Inside:

  • The Core Values Identification Tool explanatory PDF will help you think thoroughly what core values you want your company to have and communicate.
  • An exercise PDF that includes a large core values list you can use to help you find your company’s core values.
Buy the tool for just $9.99 or get the whole sha-bang — our entire library of tools — when you become a Pro Member. (If you are one, login and an orange download button will appear below to download the tool)Buy Now - Button Orange


Become a Pro Member!

 

Want to join a community of other business owners who understand your struggles? Looking for tools, templates and how-to guides for everyday business challenges and problems? Join EnMast.

 

tools displayWe’ve got a library of small business tools and templates that can fix everything in your business, from the flat tires (trouble employees and low productivity) to the major engine failures (no new sales, how to raise your prices) and more!

Plus you’ll have the camaraderie of other business owners who also face those same challenges.

 

By joining EnMast, you’ll become part of a community of business owners who understand and who can help you become a better, more confident business owner. We’ll all work together to help you build your business faster, work smarter instead of harder and make more money!

If this sounds like a community YOU want to be apart of, join us.

learn more enmast

   What members are saying:

jill salzman“EnMast’s tools are invaluable in helping anyone — not just me — grow their business and their profits. Small business owners would be hard-pressed to find EnMast’s community, tips and tricks anything but helpful. Brad Farris is one of the brilliant minds in business today and I trust his guidance. You should, too.”

 

- Jill Salzman, Founder of Founding Moms

Not a Member?  

Buy Just the Company Core Values Identification Tool!

Use this template to lead your team through the process of identifying your core values. This template includes a list of value worlds that makes it easy to create a short list of candidates, plus exercises that help you narrow the list down to just those values that are truly core.

Buy the EnMast Core Values list & exercise to help you and your team identify your company’s core values. Cost $9.99

Buy Now - Button Orange

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Hottest small business articles | January 2015 http://www.enmast.com/2015/01/hottest-small-business-articles-january-2015/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/01/hottest-small-business-articles-january-2015/#respond Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:52:30 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18671 For small business owners, the new year often means a lot of new stuff: new budgets, new goals, and new employees. So we focussed on hiring in January. We wanted you to be enlightened and equipped to navigate the murky waters of hiring.  We even gave away one of our most powerful tools, The Business

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For small business owners, the new year often means a lot of new stuff: new budgets, new goals, and new employees. So we focussed on hiring in January. We wanted you to be enlightened and equipped to navigate the murky waters of hiring.  We even gave away one of our most powerful tools, The Business Owner’s Guide for Employee Interviews! (Still free for download until February 1st!) 

hottest small business articles

AND we hosted a fantastic webinar with Dave Delaney: The 2015 Guide to Using LinkedIn. It was such a huge hit that we’re offering it again in April. (Register here!)

We have just a few more slots open in our Mastermind Groups. These groups are designed for all you business owners who are serious about breaking through barriers you’ve encountered in your leadership or your business. If that’s you, let us know!

Here’s the top small business articles for January 2015!

1. Hiring employees? Here’s 5 things you need to know

hiring employees

Hiring employees is hard. It’s time consuming and it’s risky (mistakes are painful and costly). For most of us, it’s not something that we’ve been trained to do. But if our business is going to grow, a big part of our job is going to be getting good at hiring and training employees. Here’s what you need to know.»

2. Employee Compensation: 3 mistakes small businesses make

employee compensation

When it’s time to start recruiting for a job there’s always the question, “How much should I pay employees?” Maybe you aren’t hiring, but your employees are asking for raises. How much do you need to offer in raises to keep them? For starters, don’t make these mistakes.»

3. The ULTIMATE Small Business Hiring Guide: Everything you need to know about hiring an employee

the ultimate small business hiring guideWe know how tough hiring can be first hand. So we put together a comprehensive, step-by-step epic guide to hiring just for small businesses. If you’re hiring (or soon), this is your ultimate resource!»

4. The phone screen interview: What questions should I ask?

phone interview question

You wrote a great job ad, you know what you need to pay for it, and you have some candidates lined up. What should you do next? Phone screen them before bringing them in for an interview! Brad shares the questions you should be asking.»

5. Top 10 hottest small business articles of 2014

Top 10 small business articles of 2014

We looked back at last year and found our top 10 most popular small business articles read by you — business owners — in 2014. We wanted to find out what articles had the most impact on owners, what topics were most important to you, and what you wanted to know and learn more about. Check it out.»

What was your favorite article this month?




Employee Interview Guide


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The key to organic business growth: Don’t let your business get stagnant http://www.enmast.com/2015/01/key-organic-business-growth-business-stagnant/ http://www.enmast.com/2015/01/key-organic-business-growth-business-stagnant/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.enmast.com/?p=18656 This article originally published at Anchor Advisors. “What is the difference between a living thing and a dead thing? In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death. If you don’t change, you die. It’s that simple. It’s that scary.” – Leonard

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This article originally published at Anchor Advisors.

“What is the difference between a living thing and a dead thing? In the medical world, a clinical definition of death is a body that does not change. Change is life. Stagnation is death. If you don’t change, you die. It’s that simple. It’s that scary.” – Leonard Sweet

Let’s face it. The last four or five years have not been boom years for small business. If your business is growing; well done. You are beating the averages. But for most businesses with 20 or fewer employees, while we are back to pre-recession levels, growth has been elusive.

organic business growth

There are loads of reasons for this, many of which are beyond our control. But one of the strengths of being a small business is that we actually have more control, when it comes to shaping our destiny, than, say, a big corporation. No, we are not immune to the ups-and-downs of the larger economy; but the beauty of owning a small business is that we can make changes faster, and we are freer to seek business where it can be found. There is risk involved. Isn’t there always? Making changes and finding new ways to do things is hard. But the opportunity to switch things up is there, if we want it.

So, if 2015 is the year that you have decided “enough is enough”–and you want to get growing again, we’ve got three “proverbs” to guide you along the way.

If nothing changes, then nothing changes

Economically speaking, nothing is going back to “the way it used to be”. You won’t find growth by looking backward. If you want to find growth, you need to look for it in new places–places you haven’t been before. You may need to shift your business model, or your service offering, or your pricing. You may need to challenge your assumptions about what can be sold online and what can’t. The point is that what you had doesn’t matter any more–you’re starting over with a blank slate. How are you going to do it now?

We all have our comfort zone, which is some version of a level of business that keeps us out of poverty and doesn’t cause us too many headaches. It’s a nice place to rest. But if you want to grow–if you need to break the cycle of stagnation–then you have to make that comfort zone uncomfortable. Some of this can be a shift in your mindset; like, I’m not going to settle for “out of poverty”. Instead I’m going to get paid what I deserve to make! Some of it might be hiring some hot new talent that is going to push you for better clients and more interesting work. But there has to be something that makes it “not OK” to stay in that zone.

What gets measured gets done

One way to break through that complacency is to have someone hold you accountable to real numbers. Create a budget–not just for expenses–but for new sales. Create a plan to take actions that cause sales, then measure the results. If your actions aren’t causing sales, you are failing. Someone should be disappointed. Someone should force you to look at those results and make changes to improve them. It’s very hard to do that unless you have someone from outside the company holding you accountable.

Who holds you accountable? What are you willing to be held accountable to? If you goal is growth, and you aren’t growing, who’s looking at the numbers and telling you that’s not OK?

Change begins with you

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy

As the leader of your business, you are the one who needs to create the change that your business needs. Usually that means making changes in how you think, attitudes you have, assumptions you’ve held. If you want different results from the same thinking and the same actions…well, that’s just crazy, right? So how are you going to get yourself into a different head space?

  • Reach out to some other business owners and try to see the world through their eyes. What do they see that you don’t see? Try this with someone 10 years (or more) younger than you!
  • Take your youngest employees out to lunch and ask for their opinions about your industry. Where do they see it going? What is it going to look like in 5 – 10 years? Then imagine what would have to happen for their predictions to come to pass.
  • Look at 5 businesses that are experiencing growth outside of your industry. Why are they growing? How is their business model different from yours? How could you adapt that model for your industry?

To gain that new insight, we need to give up some of our biases. We need to let go of the all the lessons we “learned the hard way”. We need to take a step back, and look at the world with new eyes.

If 2015 is the your year to get growing again, look in the mirror first; then start making changes. This is hard work, but you don’t have to do it alone! Give us a shout. We’re more than happy to find someone to walk with you, who can help you through any switch, shift, or transition, to get your company on a path of growth.



Business Owner Job Description Template


Photo credit: Jim Larrison

The post The key to organic business growth: Don’t let your business get stagnant appeared first on EnMast.

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