4 Mentoring Myths and How to Overcome Them

4 Mentoring Myths and How to Overcome Them

Yogi Berra once said of Bill Dickey, “Bill is learning me his experience.” That’s exactly what mentoring is, a way for a mentor to share their experience with a mentee. This can be a huge win/win for the individual mentors and mentees, as well as the company. There are many mentoring myths out there, and it can be difficult to determine how mentoring might work for your own business. In fact, mentoring can provide you with more capable and loyal employees. Here are four mentoring myths and how you can overcome them.

Four Mentoring Myths, and the Facts about Them

  1. The most popular mentoring myth is that Millennials don’t want to be mentored. Not true! According to a 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, 94% of millennials being mentored believe their mentors provide them with positive information, and 69% intend to stay with their current employer for at least five years thanks to the mentoring program.
  2. A second mentoring myth is that mentoring doesn’t change the bottom line. According to a study done by UPS, 30% of small businesses without mentors didn’t survive for two years, and 50% didn’t last five years. Of those with mentors, 70% of small businesses survived more than five years, and 88% of business owners said having a mentor is invaluable.
  3. Another popular mentoring myth is that there is no return on investment (ROI) when it comes to mentoring. The myth is that mentoring is investing in individuals who will soon leave the company, taking the investment with them. In fact, a 2006 study by Gartner of more than 1,000 employees revealed that retention rate for mentored employees was more than 72% higher than non-mentored employees. Additionally, mentored employees were promoted six times more often than those who did not participate in a mentoring program.
  4. One more mentoring myth is that there’s a lack of ROI for mentored employees. The idea is that mentored employees find mentoring to be a time drain and don’t receive any benefit from mentoring. According to the Gartner study, mentored employees were promoted more than five times more often than employees without a mentor. Additionally, 25% of mentored employees had a salary grade change, as compared to only 5% of employees who did not participate in a mentoring program.

How to Implement a Mentoring Program

Implementing a mentoring plan in your workplace can take your company from good to great. It’s important to create a structured program that aligns with your business’s culture. For formal mentoring, that means establishing a time and frequency for mentoring and developing a plan to determine the right fit between a mentor and mentee. Consider group mentoring as well, with several mentees meeting with one or two mentor facilitators.

For a more informal mentoring program, allow participants to consider the frequency of their mentoring sessions, and consider allowing mentees to select their own mentors, even if that means the mentor comes from outside the company.

Keys to a Successful Mentoring Program

Here are a few keys to consider to help you establish a successful mentoring program.

  1. Manage expectations for both mentors and mentees. Mentors are there to offer information, wisdom, and knowledge, not to get mentees promoted. Mentees are expected to do the work themselves.
  2. Communication is key. Everyone in your organization should be aware that you’re starting a mentoring program so you can solidify mentoring as a part of your business culture.
  3. Trust is important. Mentees need to feel that they can discuss any issue without judgment and that the information won’t be used negatively against them.
  4. Respect is crucial. Both mentors and mentees need to feel like they are truly being heard to receive advice or apply information.
  5. Motivation on the part of the mentee can make or break the relationship. Almost every mentoring study shows that the participation on the part of the mentee is key to the success of the mentoring relationship.
  6. Reciprocity can happen, but shouldn’t be expected. Often, reverse mentoring occurs, with a mentee being able to offer their expertise to a mentor. An example of this is when a mentor can ask a mentee for assistance with an area of difficulty in their job, such as technology. Mentors and mentees may continue their relationship for years, increasing job opportunities and networking potential for both.

Get your mentoring matches correct by matching up employees that are motivated and on the right track to where they want to be with mentors who have relevant experience and are a bit further ahead on the path than the mentee. Successful matches will not only be a win for the mentor/mentee relationship, but also your business.

If you would like some help setting up a mentoring program, contact me today.

5 Reasons Why Executives Should Volunteer to Mentor

5 Reasons Why Executives Should Volunteer to Mentor

Recently I had a chance to speak to the National Association of Women Business Owners mentoring group here in Phoenix. During my talk, I spoke to them about the importance of setting SMART goals. The response to my session was overwhelmingly positive, and it reminded me of how important it is for executives to volunteer. Here are five reasons you should consider volunteering to mentor:

1. Helps You Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Mentoring can help you break out of your comfort zone because as an executive, you’ll benefit from a learning environment that is not possible under other circumstances. You have to find ways to use your gifts to add value to an organization that might be different from the ones you’re used to working with. This forces you to stretch yourself to tackle new problems from different angles, an indispensable skill for executives.

2. Gain More Perspective

Volunteering gives executives an opportunity to work with different people on new challenges, allowing you to gain a fresh perspective.  If your business is going to be an industry leader, you will have to help lead the way. Partnering with other organizations through volunteering to mentor can help you expand your idea frameworks, giving you profound new perspectives that can help shape both your personal and professional lives.

3. Networking Opportunities

Volunteering to mentor provides executives with opportunities to meet new people with different backgrounds, experiences, and approaches. Since most volunteers also have regular day jobs, there are also additional opportunities for networking and making career connections with other executives. The adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is true. Volunteering will give you the chance to build new relationships and broaden your network of connections, who just might think of you the next time an opportunity arises.

4. Open the Doors to Product and Service Possibilities You Haven’t Thought Of

Becoming too focused on your own field means you can lose touch with what’s going on elsewhere, a possible career-killer for many top executives. Volunteering allows you to interact with people from other fields, companies, and disciplines, which can expose you to different ideas about products and services.

5. Leadership

Mentoring gives you the opportunity to practice skills you may not normally use. With the right volunteer position, you can experiment with setting a vision, developing strategies to achieve your vision, raising funds, motivating people, and reconciling conflicting personalities. These essential executive skills will make you a better leader, and you can take these new skills back to your job, making you a more valuable executive.

Business executives can gain a lot from volunteering to mentor, according to Mark Horoszowski , co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, in his article on Huffington Post. The skills and experience you gain volunteering can be directly transferred to your workplace. Volunteering can make you and your team better and more effective. Solving problems in new environments, watching how other leaders lead, and working with different teams in new ways will all help you do your job better.

I can help you set up an effective mentoring program in your organization. Contact me to learn more.

Mentorship’s Effects on Mentors

Mentorship’s Effects on Mentors

Many companies talk about the importance of mentorship, and some even have established mentorship programs. Regardless, you can always take an opportunity to mentor someone within your company or industry. If you feel you can teach them, reach out. They are probably eager to learn.

What you may not realize is how important mentorship is for mentors themselves. Many people think that only mentees benefit, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that mentorship is transformative for both the mentor and mentee.

What is Mentorship?

Many people confuse mentorship with coaching. The two are actually quite different. Coaching is a more focused version of on-the-job training, where someone needs help gaining a specific skillset. Coaching can be carried out by anyone who is an expert in the required skills, whether the person is a colleague, boss, or even someone junior to the learner.

Mentorship, on the other hand, is carried out by a mentor who is a leader in the organization or industry. The mentor usually has a broad range of knowledge rather than a specific skill set, and may also have a strong network of contacts that can benefit the mentee.

For their part, the mentee is focused on a long-term relationship that will help them grow in their career. The mentor and mentee work together to determine the goals, purpose, and duration of the mentorship.

Must-Have Personality Traits to be a Successful Mentor

A mentor must have, or be willing to develop, specific traits to be a successful mentor. Here are some of the important attributes:

  • Patience. Obviously, a mentor will be working with someone who has less experience in the industry or organization. As a result, it requires patience to be a mentor.
  • Passion. Mentoring is not for someone who is cynical, disengaged, or burned out. A great mentor should be passionate about what they do.
  • Experience. A great mentor will have both experience in the field or organization, and experience developing others. This experience helps them be effective in the mentorship.
  • Desire to Help. A mentor must honestly desire to help the mentee. Being stingy with time, contacts, or advice will not create a successful mentorship.

Mentorship’s Effects on the Mentor

Mentorship has a variety of positive effects, not only on the mentee but for the mentor as well. As a mentor, there are many ways your career and personal perspective can benefit. Here are some of the many benefits for a mentor:

  • Leadership Skills. When you mentor someone, your leadership skills grow. You learn more about providing feedback, communicating well, and relating to others.
  • New Perspectives. When you mentor, you often find yourself learning from your mentee as often as he or she learns from you. The interaction can give you a fresh perspective on your career and your organization.
  • Energize Your Career. While you’re focusing on helping your mentee develop their career, you’ll find yourself reflecting on why your own career has meant so much to you. Also, your mentee’s enthusiasm will rub off on you, re-energizing your attitude.
  • Learn New Technology. Younger people haven’t been doing things the way you have been your entire career. As a result, you’ll learn new processes and technologies through mentorship.
  • Increased Productivity. If your mentee works with you directly, you’ll find that delegating specific tasks to them will help you be more productive with the rest of your time. As your workload lightens, you can focus on other things that are often put off.
  • Positive Energy and Purpose. When you help someone else, it shifts the energy in your life. Instead of being focused on your troubles, you’ll be focused on helping someone else grow. That not only helps you be more positive, but it also gives you an increased sense of purpose.
  • Deep Friendship. Many times, a mentorship can turn into a life-long friendship. For instance, the golfers mentored by the late Arnold Palmer considered him a close friend even decades after the formal mentorship ended. Gaining new friends is a great benefit of mentorship for mentors.

Most people don’t realize all the positive benefits that mentorship has on the mentor, as well as the mentee. Interested in becoming a mentor? We can help you learn the steps. Contact our office to learn how to be a mentor today!

The Mentor-Mentee Relationship: 3 Keys to Getting it Right

The Mentor-Mentee Relationship: 3 Keys to Getting it Right

Are you wondering how to get ahead as you start out in your industry? Or are you a seasoned veteran who’d like to help the next generation of professionals become leaders? In either case, you’re probably interested in a mentor-mentee relationship. These types of relationships don’t just happen. They have to be intentional. They have to be done right. Here’s how.

Purpose and Goals

One important aspect of a mentor-mentee relationship is understanding the purpose and goals of the arrangement. Many times people confuse mentoring with coaching. In reality, the goals of mentoring and the focus of the relationship are different than coaching. In coaching, the recipient is looking to learn a specific skill and may be taught by a colleague or their boss. In mentoring, the mentee is interested in a large-scale development of his or her career, and the mentor is frequently a leader in a different division with a lot of experience and a wide variety of contacts.

The goals of a mentorship should be laid out at the beginning of the relationship. While it may seem awkward to start out with this kind of discussion, it will help avoid misunderstandings. It’s vital when you begin a mentor-mentee relationship that the expectations, purpose, and goals of the relationship are clear to both the mentor and the mentee.

Roles and Responsibilities

Having a mentor and a mentee with the right attitudes, skills, and approach is also essential to having a successful relationship. Here are specific roles and responsibilities that each person should have to ensure a successful mentorship.

The mentor should have:

  • Passion. A good mentor will not be someone who is burned out, cynical, or ready to get out of their profession. Instead, a great mentor will have a tremendous passion for the industry, company, and career.
  • Experience. A mentor should be someone who is advanced in their career and is a senior leader in the organization.
  • Patience. Knowing how to develop others, and having the patience to do so, it vital in a mentor. Not everyone who is successful can be a great mentor; it requires persistence and patience.
  • Desire to Help. A mentor should be someone who is interested in helping another person advance in his or her career. Someone who is jealous or petty is not someone who would make a good mentor.

The mentee should have:

  • Eagerness to Learn. A mentee should come into the relationship knowing they have a lot to learn. Someone who feels they already know everything they need to know is not someone who makes a good mentee.
  • Positive Attitude. Along with being teachable, a mentee should have a positive attitude about both the mentorship and their career. Someone who has a positive attitude will learn and benefit from a mentorship in a way that a negative person or excuse-maker will not.
  • Patient. Just like the mentor, the mentee should be patient. Even a higher-level executive isn’t a perfect person. There may be delays or rescheduled meetings due to last-minute responsibilities. A mentee must remember there are a lot of priorities involved and be patient.

Trust and Collaboration

The foundation of any relationship is trust. Trust isn’t something that can be assumed, and often it takes time to grow. A new mentor-mentee relationship will have a certain level of trust involved, but over time a great deal more trust can be developed. As with any relationship, poor choices by either the mentor or mentee can erode or even destroy the developed trust. It’s essential to make sure that both parties respect the trust within the mentorship.

Finally, collaboration will help the mentorship be successful. When both the mentor and the mentee work together on common goals for the organization can help further both careers. Not only does the mentee get the prestige of working on impactful projects, but the mentor also gets the positive press of coming up with creative ideas while helping someone else develop. Collaboration is a win-win in a mentorship!

Mentoring has an amazing, positive impact on the mentee and vice versa. If you believe you could be a mentor to someone, give it a go. It could change their life, and don’t forget it can change yours too.

I have spent over 30 years building a successful business and mentoring men and women along the way. I can help you identify what’s holding you back and accelerate achievements towards your goals. If you’re ready to go beyond the status quo, contact me today!

How to Get Your Teams Collaborating

How to Get Your Teams Collaborating

Teams that are highly effective get things done with minimal drama and disagreement. Other teams are less effective and are full of jealousy, complaining, and poor work ethics. How do you take an ineffective team and turn things around? You teach your team the value of collaborating.

Why is Collaborating Important?

Collaboration shows that everyone is on the same page, moving together toward the same goal. The word literally means “the act of working with someone to produce or create something.” A group of people that are effectively collaborating will complete projects, meet goals, and bring value to the organization.

Beyond the obvious goal of completing projects, collaborating has other benefits. Working with others promotes self-analysis because it requires you to explain and describe your ideas. You have a mirror that helps you understand how you’re coming across and how to communicate more effectively.

Secondly, working on a collaborative team builds your emotional quotient (EQ). EQ is the ability to identify, understand, and manage your emotions in positive ways to help you overcome conflict, relieve stress, communicate effectively, and empathize with others. Understanding both your emotions and the feelings of others makes you more valuable as an employee.

Finally, it teaches you and your fellow team members how to draw on each other’s strengths and experiences to solve problems. You come to respect different viewpoints and learn new methods of problem-solving.

How Do I Get My Team Collaborating?

One of the first things you can do to get your team collaborating, is to make sure that you understand how each individual is motivated and how they would best work together. Assessments are a great way to understand your team. Once you understand each team member individually, you can work on bringing them together as a group.

The next step to get your team collaborating is effective communication. You want to make sure you communicate the purpose of the work and show how it aligns with larger goals. Once you’ve laid out the vision, get buy-in from your team. Help them articulate how working together will draw on their strengths and help them reach their personal goals.

Finally, you’ll need to organize project roles. Make sure everyone understands what they are expected to contribute, along with timelines and clear communication protocols. When everyone understands their role, they will be able to collaborate much more easily.

Getting your team collaborating isn’t just about your team members, it’s also about you. You’ll need to provide key leadership, organize day-to-day operations, manage conflict, and more. As a leader, you are a key part of your team’s collaboration.

Breaking the Ice

When you bring a new group together, it can be challenging for them to initially get to know each other. If you use assessments, you can bring a group together to discuss their results to better understand each other. Let each team member share individually about what they learned about themselves and what they would like other team members to know.

You can also use discussion questions to break the ice. These questions help get people talking and sharing about themselves, their motivations, and what they like most. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Who do you look forward to seeing when you come to work?
  • What is the best part of your job?
  • What’s the best technique you have been using to better manage your time?
  • Who is the leader that you try to emulate?

Bringing your team together can be a challenge, but it certainly isn’t impossible. When you assess each member of your team, help them understand themselves and their fellow team members, communicate, organize team roles clearly, and provide great leadership, you’ll have a team that gets more done with less drama.

If you need help learning more about how to get your team to collaborate, contact us today for a free consultation!

Should You Take a Sabbatical From Your Business?

Should You Take a Sabbatical From Your Business?

A sabbatical has traditionally been a paid break that a college professor was given every seven years. However, it has expanded far beyond academics. Now, more people than ever are taking breaks from their jobs, and they aren’t always paid. In fact, some people simply quit their job to take some time off before finding something new.

Paid or unpaid sabbaticals have a wide variety of benefits. Hundreds of companies offer sabbaticals to allow their employees to improve their health, recover from burnout, develop new skills, or determine a new direction for their lives. There may not be pay or benefits, but there is the benefit of rejuvenation and fresh ideas.

Should You Take a Sabbatical?

Taking a sabbatical from your business may seem riskier than taking a break from a job, but it doesn’t have to be. To set up a sabbatical, you just need to make sure the right staff and systems are in place to keep things going until you return.

A sabbatical can give you a very important chance to refocus, adjust, and get refreshed for the next phase of your life and business. You’ll find that you have a whole new sense of ambition after your sabbatical.

There are four primary benefits that taking a sabbatical from your business can have:

  • New Perspective on Work. Many people who take a leave return so rejuvenated that they feel like they have an entirely new job. The rest and new perspective they gain from traveling help them return to work ready to work hard and advance in their career.
  • Inspiration to Grow the Business. When you return after time away, you’ll find yourself looking at everything in a new way. This is especially true if you use the time off to travel, build new relationships, or develop new skills. You’ll return with a ton of new ideas on how to grow your business!
  • Focus on Personal Goals. Life isn’t just about work. A sabbatical can help you have the time you need to focus on personal goals. You may want to improve your health, spend time with family, finally see Paris, or climb Mt. Everest. Those goals are just as worthy as your career, and after your sabbatical, you’ll return to work knowing you’ve achieved something that mattered.
  • Avoid Burnout. Doing the same thing for years is a sure recipe to lose your passion. By taking a sabbatical, you can break your routine for more than just a long weekend or a one-week vacation. You can have extended time to clear your mind, reduce your stress, and focus on other aspects of your life. When you return to work, you’re refreshed and renewed. You extend the life of your career by taking sabbaticals.

What Steps Should I Take to Prepare for a Sabbatical?

The first thing to do is make sure you are following the sabbatical policy. If you own the business, you aren’t exempt from following the policies. It’s possible that you don’t have a sabbatical policy yet, and need to create one. Make sure you define what level of employees it applies to, the maximum duration of a sabbatical, and what benefits do and don’t apply during the sabbatical period.

Secondly, make sure you have a transition plan in place leading up to your sabbatical. Since you will be gone for at least several months, you’ll want to define responsibilities and who will cover them. Set up a timeline, and transition the new people into those responsibilities a couple of weeks before you leave. That way, you’ll be able to oversee the transition and have confidence that everything is in order while you’re gone.

Finally, define how available you will be. You should be reachable in times of emergency, but you need to be distance enough that you’re truly getting an extended break. Don’t put yourself in a position to be tempted to work during your sabbatical!

Taking a sabbatical leave can be scary for some people, but it typically helps more than it hurts. You’ll gain a new perspective, new ideas, and new inspiration. Your staff will stretch and grow, and you will avoid burnout and cynicism.

If you think that you can’t take a sabbatical because of inefficiencies in your business, I can help. My experience in growing and scaling your business may be just what you’re looking for. Learn more today!

Building a Strong Mindset with Habits

Building a Strong Mindset with Habits

Have you ever wondered why you sometimes just go on autopilot and wind up working on a Saturday when you meant to go to the grocery store? It’s a testament to the power of habits. Developing new habits can be difficult and takes time, but when you’ve established a new habit, you’ll find that you can do the task automatically without much effort at all. Habits can help you conquer mindset issues and set you up for success.

The Science of Habits

Every habit begins with a three-part process called a “habit loop.” There’s a cue or trigger that tells your brain to act, then there’s the action itself, and finally there’s what we think about as we perform the action. The final part of the process is the brain’s reward that helps it remember to do the action every time the trigger occurs.

When a habit is deeply ingrained, the brain can devote almost no resources to performing the habitual action. This means your mind is free to do other things, which is why you often daydream during a habitual drive.

There are two keys to successfully utilizing habits. First, realize that habits are very hard to break, but fairly easy to replace. If you have the habit of being in a certain mindset in a specific situation, don’t try to break the habit. Instead, replace it with a more useful mindset habit, one that serves you well.

Secondly, it’s important to be intentional about setting your habits. While habits are performed on autopilot, your life should definitely NOT be on autopilot. Use intentionality to recognize your habits, choose which ones serve you and which ones don’t, and purposefully develop specific habits to strengthen your mindset and set you up for success.

Habits to Strengthen Your Mindset

There are two primary types of mindset. A fixed mindset is one that believes improvement is difficult or impossible. You feel that you’re being tested, rather than using challenges to grow. You may believe that you have to prove your capability. A fixed mindset often fears challenges, failure, and change.

On the other hand, there’s a growth mindset. A growth mindset focuses on continuous improvement. You embrace challenges and look for chances to improve and grow. You don’t fear failure because you believe that you can learn from mistakes and do better next time. Rather than proving yourself, you see yourself as a work in progress.

Generally, a growth mindset is more helpful and brings more success. You’re more willing to take risks and learn new things. Challenges are not threatening, and failure is not a judgment. Creating habits to develop a growth mindset can bring personal growth, professional success, and increased happiness and satisfaction in life.

Here are some habits to develop to strengthen your mindset:

  • Persistence. Create a habit of continuing to work on a problem even after you want to give up. In the beginning, it may help to set a time, perhaps 5 minutes beyond your frustration point. Gradually extend the time. You’ll find that when you keep trying, you’ll solve more problems and gain satisfaction and confidence.
  • Take a Pause. Instead of impulsively blurting out the first thing that comes to mind when you’re asked a question, think of at least two different answers. If there’s only one right answer, think of at least two ways you can phrase the answer. Taking the time to think through a problem in a different way is a great habit that can bring new insight.
  • Respond to Challenges with Curiosity. This habit requires you to consciously change your mindset in the beginning. When a challenge arises, instead of being frustrated, confused, or afraid, choose to be curious. Ask questions. See the challenge as an adventure.
  • Take Responsible Risk. Stretch yourself to try new things, even when it means you might fail. Volunteer to lead a project, or offer a new idea, or explain a possible improvement to a process to your boss. When you stretch beyond your comfort zone and make a habit of taking responsible risk, your mindset will change to embracing risk and challenges rather than shrinking from them.

In the end, you choose how you respond to the world around you. Challenges and risks will come. Will you develop habits that will let you embrace them and learn from them? Or will you remain mired in old mindsets that tell you to protect yourself from change and failure? It’s up to you. Choose intentionally, then create habits that make it easy to take action. For those who have taken your Kolbe A Index™, work within your MO, to make your habits something that is second nature to your instinctual behavior.  If you haven’t taken a Kolbe A Index™ and are not familiar with the conative portion of your brain, give me a call.

A strong mindset leads to healthy, focused, decisions that drive the success of everything you do. I’d love the opportunity to help you build a strong mindset. Contact me today by scheduling an appointment online!

How to Achieve Economies of Scale in Your Business

How to Achieve Economies of Scale in Your Business

One of the goals of every business is to “scale their efforts”. However, sometimes that term is thrown around without true understanding. What does it mean to scale your efforts, how do you know if your processes are scalable, and how do you achieve economies of scale? The answers to those questions are vital to long-term growth and success in your business.

What Are Economies of Scale?

An economy of scale is a way to produce more products with a lower cost-per-unit. Essentially, anytime you increase production and lower costs, you’ve achieved an economy of scale. Examples include volume discounts on parts when buying in bulk causes each unit to be cheaper, or dividing a fixed cost like advertising over a larger number of produced units. Also, the lessons you learn in examining your processes can help you make them more efficient, which helps reduce your cost of production.

Scale also applies beyond production. When you can increase the number of customers you serve at a faster rate than you increase your costs, you’ve achieved a scalable business. For instance, you can serve 100 customers for $1,000, but you can serve 200 customers for only $1600. This scalability will allow you to grow significantly and profitably, because as you grow your profit per customer increases.

Examples of Economies of Scale

What sorts of areas can you focus on to create economies of scale? Here are a few examples.

  • Spread Fixed Costs Over More Customers. Can you reach significantly more prospects with a small increase in your ad spending? If so, you can gain more customers without spending very much. This allows you to spread your advertising cost among more customers, making your cost of acquisition per customer lower. Another example would be gaining additional customers for your cloud services, allowing you to divide the fixed costs of your computer equipment among additional customers.
  • Specialized Training. You can make your production or service processes more efficient by having each employee highly specialized in their part of the process. Instead of having 12 employees in charge of an entire service package, have 4 people specialize in the first third of the package, 4 in the middle third, and 4 in the last third. Each group will become more efficient and need less training, both of which lowers the cost of delivering the service package.
  • Bulk Buying. Can you get special deals from your suppliers if you buy more components or upgrade a service? If so, you can gain the items you need to serve your customers at a lower cost per item. Then the cost of fulfilling your products or services to your customer’s drops, which increases your profit.

How to Achieve Economies of Scale in Your Business

If you’ve achieved a basic level of success in your business, it’s time to focus on economies of scale. Here are some steps you can take to achieve economies of scale in your business.

  • Evaluate Your Processes. Where is there waste? What steps are non-value added? Where are bottlenecks you can eliminate? When you evaluate and streamline your existing processes, you create efficiency, reduce costs, and discover economies of scale.
  • Assemble the Right Team. Make sure everyone on your team is placed properly according to their expertise and career goals. Make sure your leadership team isn’t made up of people with your same skill set. Instead, hire to cover your weaknesses. With the right team, you’ll be able to achieve scale much more quickly.
  • Find and Establish Key Networks and Relationships. Sometimes, it’s all about who you know. When you know the right people, you can get introductions to new suppliers, preferred pricing, and find the expertise you need. When you have a great network, you’ll know people who can help you no matter what you need.
  • Evaluate Financing Options for Expansion. When you’re ready to scale, you’ll probably need money up front to invest in expansion. Make sure your finance director is looking for growth and expansion opportunities, and use your network to find investors. Be sure to compare various financing offers and choose the one with the best options for your organization.

Whether you’re a large or small business, you can achieve economies of scale in every stage of business growth. I can help you get started. Contact me to schedule your free consultation today!

Business Development Is Not Sales

Business Development Is Not Sales

Business development is a part of business that is focused on developing and implementing growth opportunities within the organization. Because of this focus on growth, business development is unfortunately often confused with sales. In reality, business development professionals have a much broader focus than just selling more products and services. By thoroughly understanding business development, you’ll be able to encourage significant growth opportunities within your company.

What is Business Development?

Now that we know that business development isn’t simply sales, what exactly is it? It’s important enough that companies have employees who might be described as the “Vice President of Business Development.” Since this is distinct from the Vice President of Sales, how can we define business development?

A clear and simple way to describe business development is that business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from its customer base, market opportunities, and relationships.

Long-term value describes growth, income, and other forms of value over time. This goes far beyond a single sale or even a year’s worth of revenue. It focuses on value over time, and how that value can continue to increase. Business development focuses specifically on creating value that doesn’t bring in income today at the expense of long-term growth tomorrow.

Customers and sales do play a role in business development, but only a partial one. Clearly, customers are the lifeblood of the business, but business development extends beyond simply growing sales.

Market opportunities exist in all markets, both geographical and demographic. By keeping a pulse on the things happening in various markets relevant to an organization’s products and services, business development can allow your company to take advantage of new opportunities.

Relationships are the final piece of the business development puzzle. Building, managing and leveraging relationships, both inside and outside the organization, is vital to long-term growth. Relationships include the company’s connections with partners, customers, employees, the press, and more.

The Relationship Between Business Development and Sales

Now that we clearly understand what business development is, we can better describe the relationship with sales. Clearly the sales department is vital to the long-term value that business development professionals seek to create. However, business development is more of a partner to sales professionals.

Many times, business development staff help sales with their lead generation and sales processes. Because business development employees understand a wide scope of market opportunities and help build relationships within and outside the organization, they are uniquely positioned to advise and assist the sales department.

Far from taking the place of the sales department, the business development staff help the sales professionals be more effective in their work. This not only helps guide the short-term sales for the company, but helps those short-term efforts be in alignment with the long-term needs of the organization.

Why Establishing Business Development is Important

Now that you know that business development is not simply sales, it’s easy to see that your organization needs both a sales department and a business development staff. If you only have sales staff, you may find that your company makes decisions that have a short-term positive impact on growth, but long-term aren’t helpful to company profitability.

Many sales employees have only short-term motivation. They are rewarded based on their sales in a particular month, quarter, or year. As a result, they will be focused on short-term results. By combining the efforts of the sales department with business development employees, you’ll ensure that the processes and strategies implemented are focused not only on short-term results, but on long-term sustainability.

Finally, a business development department is important because you’ll want the organization’s relationships managed well, both inside and outside the company. A business development department can help employees feel engaged, the press satisfied, customers cared for, and partners respected.

If you’re looking to establish business development for your products and services, I can help you create a program that’s efficient and scalable. Contact me or schedule an appointment online today!

Preserve Your Culture – Treat Employees as Individuals

Preserve Your Culture – Treat Employees as Individuals

What is your company culture like? Have you thought about it? The culture of an organization is a reflection of its vision, values, and norms. Your company’s culture picks up where the handbook leaves off.  It’s the unspoken behavior guidelines that govern your employees and leadership. How do you preserve your culture and encourage positive change?

As a human resources professional you have the ability to influence and even change the culture of your organization. You can help your company create and preserve a positive culture that creates a fun, creative, and productive work environment.

Why Company Culture is Important

Your culture, the unspoken norms of employee behavior, is vital to your company’s success or failure. It affects so many areas of your company’s performance that it’s mindboggling. Here are just a few:

  • Employee Retention. Poor retention is extremely costly to any company, causing both a loss of productivity and the requirement of spending to obtain a new employee all over again. When your culture is positive and values your employees, you’ll have far better employee retention.
  • Company Reputation. Your company’s reputation has a lot to do with your corporate culture. What do employees say about working for your organization? Do those reports attract top talent or repel it? Does your culture make people want to buy from you, or to boycott you?
  • Productivity and Quality. The productivity of your workforce is tied directly to company culture. Does your organization value hard work, or is there a lax atmosphere when the boss looks away? Do your employees have good morale? Are they inspired to do their best work all the time and pick up the slack for others when needed?
  • Innovation. Being innovative is a requirement for any company that wants to continue to grow and succeed. Does your culture encourage new ideas? Are mistakes tolerated well? Do employees feel comfortable going against the group opinion? All of these factors influence how innovative your business will be.

Preserve Your Culture: The Employee as an Individual

One of the biggest keys to having a great company culture is seeing each employee as an individual. While that may seem obvious, the truth is that many organizations have unspoken norms that promote treating employees like machines. Some examples include very high overtime expectations, a culture of never taking scheduled breaks and lunches, or a culture that discourages the use of vacation time.

The truth is that employees are not machines, and treating them like they are will not only lead to low morale and employee turnover, but it will promote burnout and exhaustion among the staff that remains. Burned out and exhausted employees cannot produce quality work or be innovative. As a result, your company’s success will suffer significantly. In a way, you’re “killing the golden goose” when you don’t take care of your employees as individuals.

From a human resources perspective, it’s important to remember that we’re talking about unwritten rules. Yes, the handbook says everyone gets certain breaks and lunches. But does the culture discourage actually taking them? The vacation time may show up on each paycheck like clockwork, but if the expectation is that people who take vacations are slackers, you have a culture problem.

How to Encourage a Positive Culture Toward Employees

There are several ways that company leadership can encourage a culture that values employees as individuals. First, starting with top leadership, make sure managers get to know their teams and understand their career goals and future plans. All employees have different goals, and have different reasons for the goals they choose to set. When the leader understands these goals and motivations, they can help the employee grow and develop in the right direction. In turn, this will lead to the employees being more motivated, productive, and happier.

Secondly, leadership should foster growth. Based on each employee’s goals and motivations, managers should set challenging but realistic goals. Most of the time avoid team goals.  It’s very rare that everyone on a team has the same idea of success. By addressing each team member as an individual and helping each one grow according to their specific needs, a positive culture will be created and encouraged.

Setting a company culture is not a one-time event. Once a positive culture has been set in motion, you need to preserve your culture by continuing the initiatives that started it. Also, it’s important to involve every level of leadership in the positive company culture. Middle managers won’t do what they don’t experience being done from above, and the employees will never buy in if they don’t see their bosses following through. When you preserve your culture in a positive way, your company will be set on a course for success.

For more information about how to preserve your culture, contact AHA Strategic Partners today! We’re here to help with any questions you may have, or to work with you to implement your company culture plans. Schedule your free 30-minute consultation today.