Archive for the ‘Articles by Rob’ Category

The Leader and The Windshield

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

I was thinking today about how many of us as leaders get in the way of our followers instead of being transparent to them.  Many people like the attention that being out front brings.  It is usually our name that is in the paper.  We are the ones quoted for some wise saying we devised from our wealth of knowledge.  Many times, very capable people are ignored by those seeking out the person in charge.

But, as I ponder on that thought, I’m thinking about the really successful people I know.  Most of them are available to be out front and actually do have very wise things to say.  But, when their team is on the bus, they are not standing in the front blocking the view.  They are transparent, shielding those who follow from the minor distractions of the road, and allowing capable people to focus on execution. 

The successful leader is providing a clear vision of the road without blocking the view.

The plan has been clearly communicated so that everyone on board is clear about how they are to contribute to the organization’s success, allowing them to focus on results.  Speeding along the highway, changes in scenery that require speedy adjustments to a global marketplace are much easier to make when the team is looking through the windshield instead of at the leader.

The mistake many leaders make is thinking that they must constantly communicate their changing view of the road to those who follow.  By forcing competent people to focus on themselves instead of the road, valuable time and clarity is wasted.  Every movement the leader makes threatens to upset the organization’s momentum and delays an effective response.  Before long, the response time is shortened to the point that there is only enough time for excessive reactions, not measured responses.  Crashes occur that would not have happened if the leader were not blocking the view.

The effective leader communicates a clear vision, shields the team from unnecessary distractions and then allows team members to focus on execution.  Sounds like a windshield to me.

“Is Time Really Money?” – by Rob Burnham

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Even though the term “time is money” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, if he were living today, Ben would probably be proud to see his picture on the $100 bill.  But, I’ll bet he would also be open to reconsidering that statement.  Now, I’ll agree that time does display many of the characteristics of money.  But, to say that time is money, one would have to consider that the owner of a thriving business might be sleeping in his Ford Focus while his faithful janitor parks his Hummer in front of a nice vacation home on the beach.  The fact is that both time and money are something many business owners hold in short supply.

So, does the business owner have any more hours in his day than any of his associates?  If he could, would he buy some of the janitor’s free time to spend with his own family?  Or would he borrow a few days a month and pay it back with interest when he gets the business going?  Sounds good; but it just doesn’t work that way!

If we need money, our first stop is to borrow it from a friend or family member.  Many successful businesses were funded with loans from those close to the new business owner.  They believed in him or her and were anxious to help, many times with little or no interest.  But sooner or later, most businesses require more capital than those close to the owner are willing or able to supply. It may be that they just don’t have the funds; or it may be that they have figured out that the chances of repayment are slim and the time has come when they are not willing to yield more of their precious resources.

When Uncle John cuts them off, the next stop is usually the local bank.  If you have a good plan and the banker has confidence in your ability to repay the loan, chances are that he can work out some sort of financing.  For the best borrowers, he might even make the loan at the prime rate.  But, it seems that the more often we come to the well and the less reliable we are at repaying the loan, the higher the interest rate becomes until the only options are the Tower Loans of the world or the mafia.

Think for a moment about how that relates to your time.  You can’t seem to get everything done.  So at first, you borrow from those closest to you; ten minutes late for dinner or you miss a ballet recital to work on that big deal. Not so bad.  But then it becomes a habit.  The family no  longer looks for you at dinner time and the neighbor automatically picks up your son to take him to the ball games.  Nobody even expects you to show up anymore!  Boy, is the interest rate skyrocketing!

Get the picture?  Before long, the interest rate on time costs a lot more than money.  Maybe the business is successful, maybe not.  But, the fact is that there is no reason left for the business to succeed.  All the things you were working for are gone.  The dreaded 3 D’s (death, divorce, disability) have taken their toll and you are left with nothing to show for your hard work except a few Ben Franklins.

There is a truth here.  Think about it.  Everyone has the same number of days in their week, the same number of hours in their day and the same number of mintues in those hours.  So, how do some people seem to never catch up while others, like Benjamin Franklin, accomplish so much?

I think it has something to do with the way we view our time.  On one extreme, we just waste it away.  We don’t value our time and as a result, we never accomplish very much. You trade too many of your hours each week for too few dollar bills and are happy just getting through the week.  You are working harder than ever.  You just don’t get anywhere.  After 30 years of work, you really don’t have 30 years’ experience.  You have one year 30 times.  Where has the time gone?  Ask Benjamin.  My guess is that his time ran out long before his money did.  Doesn’t that prove that money is not time?  If so, time can’t be money either!

Anyway, the truth of time is that we all are measured out the same amount of it every day (expect our last, of course).

Now that you’ve gotten this far, let me tell you about the point of this article.  I want you to be motivated to improve how you invest your time.  I want you to get more out of life.  This is what I mean by MORE.

M-aximize your time

O-rganize your stuff

R-educe your stress

E-nergize your mind.

If the interest rate you are paying on borrowed time has gotten out of hand, contact me.  I can’t sell you any time; but I can help you find some.  rob@bdsinstitute.com

“Harnessing the Chaos in Your Business” – by Rob Burnham

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
This post was adapted from a powerful post by my productivity coach. Hope you enjoy……..
Chaos is at the heart of every high-growth business. Chaos is a powerful stimulant for business growth.  It’s also the leading cause of business failure.
Unbridled energy for a business owner is like an untamed horse. While It is very powerful and can be helpful in growing your business (and in fact may be a major factor in your early success), if left untamed, it can result in unbridled stress and ultimately lead to business failure.  Even though chaos may have gotten you to this point; and your team may have thrived on the excitement at first, be careful!  Even the most adventurous among us gets weary if chaos is not harnessed.  Consider these tips for dealing with chaos in your business.
4 Pieces of Advice for Harnessing Chaos

Forward this post to your business coach for discussion.  If you don’t have a coach, email me at rob@bdsinstitute.com.

  • 1. Accept it- This may sound odd. But, in a growing enterprise, chaos is a normal thing. It’s there; and it’s not going away.
  • 2. Create boundaries – Consciously establish rooms in which you are allowed to operate. (Focus on Most Valuable Activities).
  • 3. Give Some Space – Explore new product ideas and ways to improve, but within boundaries.
  • 4. Seek Accountability – There are 2 givens in business ownership: 1) it’s lonely at the top 2) it is difficult to self-correct. The bottom line is that you need to seek a business coach who will hold you accountable and help keep you on track.

Principles:

  1. Chaos is untamed energy that wants to run wild in you and your business.
  2. Initially, chaos helps growth; but over time, it can stall growth or eventually destroy the business.
  3. Harnessing chaos means directing it and focusing that energy in a certain direction to help propel the company forward.
  4. Four tips to harnessing chaos include:
    • Accept chaos
    • Create boundaries
    • Give some space
    • Seek accountability
  5. It’s lonely at the top and it’s difficult to self-correct. Accountability through a coach can keep you on track.

“Six Factors that Determine the Value of Your Business to the Marketplace” – by Rob Burnham

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Consider These 2 Foundations of Our Society

Worth of the Individual — We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Free enterprise system — An economic system characterized by private ownership of property and productive resources, the profit motive to stimulate production, competition to ensure efficiency, and the forces of supply and demand to direct the production and distribution of goods and services.

 

Personal Choice — You may recognize the first quote from the Declaration of Independence.  Through that document, our founding fathers hard-coded into our society their vision that, as individuals, we are all equal; we have the same rights and our individual worth is unquestioned.  However, the second statement defines our commitment to allow individuals to determine their own measure of success and to pursue individual dreams… sometimes at the expense of the success of others…as long as personal rights are not violated.  While the ground may be level in the personal worth area, with our declaration of independence from employment to become an employer, we find that the ground is anything but level.  It is up to us as business owners to ensure the continuing value of our business to the marketplace. 

 

For a business owner…

Success in Life Demands the Effective Balance of Personal Worth and the Worth of Your Business

 

There are many factors to evaluate the health of a business, but I would like to ask that you consider 6 that were shared by my friend, Dave Crenshaw.

 

6 Value Factors…

1.   Demand – You have little control in some cases because of the weather, laws, etc. But, success requires that you be a student of the demand for your products/services, understand trends and align with them.

2.   Ability – How well you add value, exceed your customer expectations. How consistently you perform.  Does your business and every employee consistently deliver a product or service that demonstrates that you know what you are doing?

3.   Irreplaceability – How difficult is it to replace you? Is there a company or a technology that would provide your customers with a better product or service than you can offer? What is the biggest factor keeping your customers from firing you?

4.   Focus — Have you determined what your personal 2 or 3 most valuable activities are?  What hinders you from concentrating on those activities?  For the business owner or key executive, effective personal systems are critical to his/her success. For the organization, effective business systems are critical to the success of the business. A healthy balance of personal and business systems frees the owner and the organization to maximize creativity and positive results.

5.   Connections – The value of a business is directly related to its ability to connect with others: stakeholders, vendors, customers, and the community.  These connections normally include personal contact, a system of building a positive relationships and a method to maintain an effective follow-up to promote repeat business and referrals.

6.   Authority – Our world is saturated with information. Many look for an authority to help them shorten the decision cycle. How strongly does the market view your company as that authority?  What niche can you dominate by exercising your authority?

 

Every person who owns a business is vulnerable to the constant demand to balance personal and business issues.  True success only comes to those who achieve a healthy balance.  Let me encourage you to evaluate your business or career from the eyes of those closest to you, those who depend on you and those who have no question about your personal worth.  Then, from that perspective, make adjustments in the coming year to increase the worth of your business.

Business Start-Up 101

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Americans are starting their own businesses in record numbers. Whether it is for greater income, professional freedom or personal fulfillment, there are some important details for you to consider.

If you build it, will people…?

Several years ago, a friend returned home to Jackson after three years in California.  He started a new company modeled after a very successful west coast business.  His team of 12 employees delivered meals from local restaurants to customers in affluent communities.  After spending thousands of dollars to set-up and run his new business, it failed in just 18 months.  I asked why and this is what he told me.   Affluent people living in large west coast cities are willing to pay for delivery services.  They don’t have the time or patience to deal with traffic and restaurant crowds during the week.  Therefore, the meal delivery business is very lucrative.  However, here in Jackson, people look forward to dining out.  This savvy business man was doomed to failure because there was no market for his services.  How would you like having successful business people give you unbiased feedback on your products, services and markets? That’s what a business incubator does.

 

Running a business vs. owning your job

In the book, The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, he tells the story of a hard working, conscientious employee who decides he can run his own business better than the guy he is working for.  He starts his own business, in the same field. He is motivated, trained and talented.  However, within a short time, he realizes there is a big difference between running a business and owning your job.  Do you know the difference between being an entrepreneur, a manager and a technician? Being good at a job isn’t necessarily enough to have a successful business.  Who do you have to help mentor you to greater success? That’s what a good business incubator provides.

Relationships, selling and better mouse traps

It wasn’t until after Ralph Waldo Emerson died in 1889 that he was misquoted as saying, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door”.  Today’s market is different.  If people think you have a better product, they might be willing to listen to you as long as you were referred by someone they know.  Providing excellent value is extremely important.  However, it takes more than a good idea to build a profitable business. If you believe relationships generate revenues, then building relationships and selling your ideas is much better than waiting for someone to knock on your door! Where can you get business development coaching and training?  Venture Incubator helps small businesses succeed.

What is a business incubator?

A business incubator is an organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections

There are more than 1200 business incubators in the US and 20 in Mississippi.

87% of companies who graduate from a business incubator succeed

The Venture Incubator is the only multi-use business incubator in the Metro Jackson area.  There is space available for new incubator clients.

More information can be found at www.ventureincubator.org

Wes Holsapple is the Executive Director of the Venture Incubator as well as President of the BDS Institute.  He is a contributing author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Masters of Networking.

Wes can be reached at wes@bdsinstitute.com

3 Basic Productivity Tips

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

In the area of productivity, I see 3 basic topics that we all should consider.

  1. Accept the Truth of Time – the fact is that there are 60 minutes in each hour,  24 hours in each day and 7 days in each week.  Nothing you or I can do will ever change that. The basic foundation of getting things done always come back to this simple truth.
  2. Never Pay Interest on Time – whether time is money or not (I’ll leave that discussion to someone else), I know that time acts like money.  If you are in control of your time or your money, you can be a happy person.  If our are out of time or out of money, you can be a miserable person.  If you run out of money, you will need to pay interest to borrow some of someone else’s.  The more out of control you are, the more interest you will pay.  If you run out of time, you will have to pay to borrow some from someone else.  The more out of control you are, the more you will pay.
  3. Limit Your Gathering Points – It takes the postman much longer to pick up mail from 100 rural boxes than it does for the same postman to pick up the same pieces of mail from one central box.  Doesn’t it make sense to limit the points from which you gather information?  Not only will your desk, your office, your car and your house look more organized, you will spend much less time looking for the next item you need to process.