Entrepreneurial News®

How to Beat the Competition

This is one of my favorite topics, and I’m pleased to present ideas mostly borrowed from INC that I never used (but might have), even while tripling sales in my family company (my first entrepreneurial venture):

  1. Buy a competitors former phone number: in this day of acquisition by out of state businesses, one of your competitor’s old phone numbers might be for sale as a ‘market expansion number’.
  2. Have a phone number that’s easy to remember, preferably one that relates to your business. Numbers with two or three zeros, or alliterative properties are good. For example, when I started my consulting practice, my phone number was 602-995-4000. Made me look like a big time player. Even now, our main number, 480-200-5678 is easy to remember.
  3. Talk to shelf stockers. Find out where the best location for your brand is. It might be better by the door. Talk to your customers, too. Buy as much shelf space with retailers as you can afford, because it makes you seem larger.
  4. Talk to users of your product. My wife and I have a thing for packaging, which might be child proof (assuming kids bought the product) but breaks fingernails in getting it open. The idea is to make using your product as easy as possible.
  5. Snoop through public records. Public companies will often disclose strategy through public filings and you can counter them. My partner in one of my companies found a trade loophole in a patent filing, which we charged through.

No More Mister Nice Guy

There are a number of different leadership styles, all of which I outline in my monograph ‘How to Run Your Business’.

With apologies to INC Magazine, for borrowing their title, it seems to me that the current state of COVID policy in most businesses is a good time for Presidents and CEOs to test their leadership styles.

I’ve been accused of using whatever leadership style will work in a given situation, which is true, and in  Solutions Forum we coach our clients to do the same.

But, in the present COVID problem (it’s not really a crisis to me), it seems to me that people in a position of responsibility have to get the vaccine, and their employees, to keep their jobs, should do the same.

My GP shocked me the other day when she said that she didn’t plan to get vaccinated, but didn’t have a rational reason for not taking the jab. That’s irresponsible, IMHO. But she does COVID tests regularly.

Which means that you, as the leader, can’t play the Nice Guy. You’ve got to be vaccinated, and you owe it to all of your employees that they get vaccinated too. In fact, they owe it to their coworkers. Why run a risk that you don’t have to?

What is means is that unless an employee has had COVID, or has a doctor’s note about having natural immunity, make sure they get vaxed.

How hard is that?

 

Do You Have A Toxic Work Culture?

This topic has been much in the news, but surprisingly, there isn’t a definition of what it is, so we’ll try to define it by asking questions that you should know:

  1. Does your company have a clear mission statement that most of your employees understand and agree with?
  2. Does there seem to be a lot of arguing about things that aren’t related to the business, e.g., politics?
  3. Are the arguments started by one person, or a small group of people?
  4. What have you done to resolve conflicts?
  5. Have you taken a survey in the last six months or less about how your employees feel (yes, it’s an emotional issue) about your culture?
  6. Do you think you could be the reason for the toxic work culture?
  7. If you find you have a toxic work culture, what do you plan on dong about it?

Are You Really Customer Centric?

The economy is perking along, despite what the Washington Wizards tell us—the small businesses I talk to are generally too busy to come have a free lunch with us in Solutions Forum!

Since you’re all busy, we’ve found that your staff might be relenting a bit on it’s customer focus.

In fact, in our new book on Starting, Running and Selling Your Business, we’ve come up with a new term: Customer Centric, which means what you do revolves around your customers.

Some things to look for in determining whether you’re customer centric enough:

  1. What’s your customer loss rate (should be less than 10%) in the last year?
  2. What’s your customer complaint ratio through all of your activities….production, sales, marketing, post-sale service. Just figuring out how many customer transactions you had is an interesting task.
  3. Have you done any recent customer surveys to measure customer satisfaction?
  4. Do you have a customer advisory panel?

There are probably more questions you could ask, but these will start you in the right direction

How to Spy on Your Rivals

I know, you might think this practice is a little out there, but there are actually companies out there who will help you do it, as mentioned in INC Magazine’s Insider.

First is Task Rabbit, who does things you might not want to do, such as providing intel on a competitor. No idea what the fees are, but the example in INC cost $150, which isn’t much if the intel is good.

Second is Clubhouse, which will keep ongoing track of your rivals for you. Fees weren’t mentioned, but they’re probably proportionate to how much intel you want and how often you want it.

Third is Glassdoor, who does reviews on the competition, such as looking at their Yelp ratings, or Trustpilot. You could do this, but you run the risk of the target finding out who’s making inquiries about them. I’ve used both to research potential clients, and recommend them.

Fourth, you could go full monty and hire a private investigator if you really want a lengthly workup on a competitor. I would imagine you’d Google them.

Don’t Be Too Concerned About the Biden/Harris Business Agenda

The main stream media would have you believe that as businesspeople, we’re all going to pay higher taxes and face increased numbers of regulations over the next 3 or so years.

Don’t believe it.

We don’t think that the Biden/Harris agenda has much of a chance of getting through Congress, which it must do in order to become law.

The Senate is the chief obstacle, and Sens. Manchin and Sinema are the chief thorns in the side of the Biden crowd. Pray for their health.

Because the filibuster is still in effect, legislation requires 60 votes in the Senate to become law. The Democrats have 51, and on recent regulations, they don’t even have that.

We think new, higher tax rates aren’t in the offing, either, because they have to be approved by the Senate and House. So do any more IRS agents.

So, be vigilant, and keep your Senator or Congressperson’s telephone number on speed dial.

Some Imagination on Getting Employees Back to Work

Let’s say you’ve got some employees who’ve been bribed by the government into sitting around until September when their unemployment benefits run out, and let’s assume that amount is $1600. First, you might question how valuable that employee was if he/she isn’t motivated to come back to work for a $1600 bonus. Second, you might have to explain to your other employees that you’re bribing X to come back to work. They might say they’ll take the $1600 in added compensation and don’t rehire X. You could also go to the EIDL or SBA to borrow funds to pay the bounty, either to X orhis/her colleages, because presumable you’re going to leverage their wages into more in revenues. So, you get more back and increase sales.
Think about it over the weekend.

How to Start, Run and Sell Your Business

Get your copy of ‘How to Start, Run and Sell Your Business’ prepublication. Go to Paypal, make payment for $9.95 to Solutions Forum and we will send it to you online. There are secrets in this book that have made $100,000 on average for Solutions Forum members.

An entrepreneur does the best..

A true entrepreneur does the best he/she can do for the customer today and wakes up tomorrow and does the best thing they can do for their customer tomorrow….Draymond Green, as reported in INC Magazine