Category Archives: Business in general

General tips and info on how companies operate.

Mistake # 100: Living the top business mistakes

BtoB posted 5 top business mistakes of 2009. I happen to agree with all five.

I might even add one more. Remember how this year was a struggle for all businesses? We just experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression. We had hiring freezes, extreme budget cuts, layoffs (well, my company didn’t but many did), and many employees were working three jobs due to not being able to hire other resources. It was a tough year.

Don’t make the mistake of not hiring where the resources are needed. I needed a sales support staff since January. This decision was always pushed off because management always wanted to “see where we are at the end of the month.” Now, we’re at the end of the year and still needing one sales support staff. It takes months to train a person on our systems, get them beyond the learning curve, familiarize themselves with our business, and train them on answering customer questions. Now that things are feeling (and looking) like we are getting out of the woods and business is really picking up, it could be at the end of the first quarter when we finally have someone sitting in the chair.

Good luck to you and your business in 2010!

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Mistake # 85: The consultant is working on it

Wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong way of thinking.  I’ve worked with many consultants in my life. Some I even learned from so much, that they became mentors (two, in particular). However, when you have consultants that really don’t have something specific to do, but are on the monthly company expense report, it’s really hard to justify.

Being a consultant right now could be very lucrative, since many companies have reduced hiring and controlling their activities by hiring freelance work.

Being a consultant right now could be very lucrative, since many companies have reduced hiring and controlling their activities by hiring freelance work.

When you do hire a consultant, I suggest that you at least follow these tips:

* Have specific outcomes monthly on what you expect that individual to perform.  It seems like a very obvious tip, but you would be surprised on how months go by and you are wondering what that individual is actually doing out there!

* Ask the individual to put together a monthly report on activities with specific deliverables attached, along with their invoice. This will monetize the value of this individual on what he/she is performing.

* Speak with the consultant weekly to answer questions, ask questions, identify if he/she is on track—or on the wrong track—to accomplish the assigned project. Just thinking that they are doing what they need to do could be a big problem in the end. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Finally, be sure to evaluate the value of the work the consultant has performed every 3-6 months. You’ll be glad you did!

Mistake # 84: The numbers just don’t add up!

Why is it that every company I’ve worked for has different sales numbers all over the place, and they never add up! I am trying to put together my progress report for the month, and there it is! Six different ways to look at one sales rep’s sales.

Why are they different?  Who knows. All I know is that I’ll spend another hour in the CFO’s office on Monday trying to have him explain which number I should use for my report. Again.

Martini anyone?

Mistake # 83: Text message in the wrong places

Are there etiquette rules out there for adults on text messaging? Anywhere? How about if you are at dinner with your boss and you receive a text message? Should you answer back in between bites of shrimp or prime ribs?

I say nay, nay. I was at dinner not too long ago and my direct-report received a text. He puts his fork down and answers away.  Head down to his lap to poke his fat fingers on the phone’s buttons, I’m still talking to his bald spot on his head. What’s with that?! Is that really necessary?! What happens when he’s at his desk and in the middle of a conference call on the office phone. Does he do that too? It’s unlikely that it is from a customer, because, let’s be honest, what customer would text message a representative for more information?!

Here are three rules for text messaging for employees:

* Text messages are like emails. Answer them when you can, but don’t stop the train to do so. Take a break and go out to a hallway or the work break room to answer your text message.

* Don’t text message in front of your boss. If you do, there are likely to be questions on how you are spending your time–at the computer answering customer questions, or on your phone answering your wife’s questions on what color she should color her hair.

*Don’t ever text message at dinner with clients or your boss. Ever. If you do, it will look like you are not paying attention to the conversation and you have other things to do tend to. “Dad, did u deposit my $ yet? I want 2 go 2 the muveez w/Jak!”

What are your rules for text messaging at work?

Mistake # 77: Keep it complex and accomplish losing market share

It’s been evident after the release of iPod and iPhone that Apple is stealing more market share away from Microsoft. It’s been reported last week that Microsoft has just closed one of the worst quarters in its history.  

Apple, led by Steve Jobs, shaved off most of the complexity and made things much more simple by focusing on cell phone and MP3 space, in addition to their PCs. Microsoft can’t handle the competition. It is still too complex and cannot retain a focus. And, clearly Microsoft is unable to meet Apple’s match on cell phone or MP3 products.

Google is also struggling. The economy, yes, has much to do with it since people and businesses overall are still holding back on spending.

Google, too, is focusing on too much, creating many divisions within the corporation by taking on libraries, maps, utilities, and other off-shoots that are making Microsoft look like a simple cookie jar.

So, as an iPhone user, Mac lover, and Apple advocate, I promote being just like Apple. Keep it simple, stupid! Stay good at the core of what you do, do it well, perfect it, and market it well.

As for Google, well… I still use Yahoo!

Stay focused!

Mistake # 76: Make it difficult

Seth Godin wrote in his blog about the reason why riding a unicycle is difficult. Not one, including me, likes to fail. It’s too hard, actually. It also requires mental preparation and focus. He advocates creating non-unicycle moments for your customers related to the products and services you offer.

It sounds so simple. But how often do we sell these to our customers without any sense of the customers’ perceptions? Is it too hard to grasp? The moment your product or service fails – just once – you are dead in the water.

It could also go the other direction, and be too good to be true! How do you create the balance between unicycle and non-unicycle products and services for your customer?

Mistake # 73: Fail to manage information carefully and securely

We have said it a million times:  “We are on information overload.”   In fact, we have been talking about this for more than a decade. In an article in Information Week in 1995, it appears that it was only going to get worse. It is.

As businesses grow, we have a variety of complex business partnerships.  As a result, we have issues that develop in order to secure these relationships. Primarily

This may be good for streamlining business, but it is hard to secure. While organizations focus on the technical controls around network connections, they forget about the people, process, policy, and contractual controls necessary to secure these relationships – technologically and internally within personnel so that competitors do not intervene.

Then you have the issue of offshore outsourcing.  Is sending logins and intellectual property overseas safe – just to ensure cost savings? What are the risks?

And, let’s not forget weather events. I happen to be in tornado country and the opportunity for a tornado to wipe out a computer system is likely. Not high odds, but likely.

I don’t recall the source, but after 9/11, there were voice lines and more than four million data circuits that failed due to infrastructure overload. Mobile cell phone calls were blocked, causing communications system failures.

Businesses that lose data from natural disasters are forced to fail, and/or close their doors. Businesses need a thought out plan in the event of natural disasters in the event something happens to their computer servers. I haven’t done the research, but it would be interesting to find out what the percentage of those companies that definitely have a written plan.

I’m overloaded. My head hurts…