Are YOU a Game Changer?

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Regular readers of my blog know that this summer was pretty exciting for me as I had the opportunity to teach at two universities (Brandeis and Boston University) and visit Lagos, Nigeria where I spoke with over a thousand students about innovation and entrepreneurship.

However, the lesson that stands out the most from this summer is that one-time speaking engagements and short-term (3 to 5 day) conferences don’t really ensure nor support meaningful change. It’s great to speak with motivated students and business owners about change and innovation but it can also be quite disappointing if the impact you are aiming for is fleeting.

How many times have you left a seminar charged up and inspired to execute change within your organization only to return to your ‘daily life’ and ‘business as usual’ never implementing the much desired change? I can personally attest that this is something that plagues me and sometimes leaves me pondering why I bother attending or speaking at conferences if it isn’t going to make a difference.

This month we explore how to shake things up and become the game changer you need to be!

Beth

 We all know that change is hard, really hard, but if you (and I) don’t take the steps required to execute on our dreams, then nobody is going to do it for us.  Change is in your hands but it won’t happen simply by attending a few workshops or networking occasionally to make the ‘right’ connections. These are activities that are great starting points but you must take the time to create very specific and measurable goals in order to achieve the vision that you are aiming for.

As a trainer, my desire to have a long term impact on individuals I have the privilege to work with led to the creation of a business card handout used to capture an important SMART goal. It asks ONE simple question: “What SMART goal do you want to achieve in the next 30, 60 or 90 day period (you pick the time frame)?” Plus, there’s space for only four actions to be executed during that period to ensure you don’t become overwhelmed with too many activities that simply won’t get done.

Since I started handing these out at seminars I have been thrilled with the responses I have received. Months later participants in a workshop or talk I gave have come up to me to show me their SMART Goal card and tell me that they carry it around to ensure they actually do what they had committed to. This takes the prize when it comes to my own job satisfaction. Would you like your own card? Feel free to click here to download the SMART Goal Card.

 I’ve seen the benefits of follow up in my workshops and in the classes I teach at BU and Brandeis. One example is a course I taught over the summer called the BU Urban Business Accelerator. This is a 10-week course designed to help students gain expertise through consulting with small business owners in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The students achieve solid experience as they begin to truly grasp what it means to be a small business owner and see first hand the obstacles encountered in growing and maintaining a business. The business owners get support from dedicated, hard working students who research their specific industry (e.g., beauty salons, electronic stores) and help them better understand how they are doing relative to others in the industry and learn how to manage their business by the numbers.

This course, masterminded by a BU student in his senior year, has a unique twist that is at the heart of its success and differentiates its impact and value from other programs. There’s a 24-month follow-up.  The program doesn’t end when the course does, unlike most traditional classes and business growth programs. This follow-up provides a chance to review what’s working, what’s not and what midcourse corrections need to take place to ensure the companies are using the new tools provided to them by the students. While we are still in the early stages of gathering this post-initiative data, I am convinced, based on early data collected, that this is a critical element that will help make this program a true game changer. In fact, I believe it makes enough of a difference that I am reviewing other business growth classes that I offer to determine how I can ensure that the lessons taught are lessons executed

Long-term success has a better chance of occurring when individuals measure their success not by the strength of their idea but by the actions they take to directly achieve their goals.

Like a great diet or exercise regime, success depends on what happens when we leave the protected environment of the classroom and return to working IN the business. Without making time to work ON your business and make appointments with that very important VIP – you, you may have had a nice experience but the bad habits return quickly.

Ready to set your SMART goals now? Simply visit the SMART Goals page here on my website for a worksheet to help you define your goals and executable action steps and to download my SMART Goal card.

http://www.m-edge.com

Why Is Walking Away So Darn Hard…Even When It’s the Right Decision?

I haven’t slept well over the past few weeks plagued by a ‘Go – NO Go’ decision over a major contract that was certain to have a huge impact on my business and my personal life.  Why is walking away ALWAYS so darn hard, even when you know it’s the right decision?

A few years back I was involved with helping a non-profit organization create a curriculum for a program to educate inner city businesses throughout the U.S. They ran the program through the SBA and now, in its fifth year, the program is offered in almost 30 cities. The contract with the SBA to run the program recently became available for bid and boy, did I want it. I really, really wanted it (did I mention that I wanted the contract?).

The current program is excellent and I have a lot of respect for the organization running it but, like every entrepreneur, I was (and still am) confident that I could make it even more effective in terms of its economic impact on urban businesses. I’ve run a variety of uniquely designed business accelerator programs since then for a number of organizations engaged in helping small business owners grow, including the state of Massachusetts. So taking the lessons learned, I am totally confident that I could deliver one heck of a program. So, what’s the problem? Why not go for it?

Well, honestly I wish it wasn’t such a complicated decision but the bottom line is, I don’t currently have the business model nor infrastructure required to effectively run the program in so many cities (30 simultaneously). My fear is that running a program of that scale would either destroy my current business model  or my mental stability or both. The thought of not sleeping for an entire year is not very appealing. Have you been in a similar situation where you really (REALLY!) wanted to do something but your gut told you, Stop and evaluate what this will mean in terms of your business and your life? It’s akin to a chef who loves to cook opening a chain of restaurants across the country all at the same time. She might be able to handle running one (although preparing amazing meals and running a business are different) but a chain, I don’t think so!

(Continue Reading on the Marketing Edge Newsletter Website…)

Beth

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Nine – The Importance of Understanding Your Competitors

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the ninth of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question about understanding who your competitors are, even when they don’t look nor act exactly like you.

Competitors don’t always offer the same product as you do. Therefore, in understanding and clearly defining who your competition is, it’s critical to think of them in terms of the solution they provide because that’s what you will end up competing on. Watch how I respond to a question about defining competition to grow a business.

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Eight – Gauging Interest in a New Product

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the eighth of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question about how to best gauge interest in a new product.

Market research is not just an option for large businesses. If you are thinking about launching a new product, it’s critical to gauge customer interest before you release it, to ensure the best outcome. Watch how I respond to a question about how small businesses can learn more about their customers’ needs.

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Seven – Do You Have A Branding Problem?

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the seventh of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question about the importance of aligning customer perception with reality to secure a solid brand.

Branding is all about the customer experience and perception IS reality. Watch how I respond to a question about the challenges and danger of misaligning one’s brand/value promise with what the customer actually experiences when they interact with a business.

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Six – Is Goal Setting Really Worth It?

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the sixth of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question about the importance of setting goals as it relates to business success.

Research proves that if you set very specific goals (SMART ones), your chances of achieving them increase significantly. Watch how I respond to a question from one of the entrepreneurs participating in a business growth program that I teach in Massachusetts who wonders if it’s really worth his time to set goals.

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Five – Are Business Cards Passé?

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the fifth of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question about the importance of physical business cards in the networking process.

With the prevalence of technology engrained in almost everything we do, is it time to get rid of physical business cards and begin using a v-card?. Learn how I responded by watching this week’s video.

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Four – What’s Luck Got To Do With Business Success?

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the fourth of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question from a reader of my Small Business Growth & Innovation Newsletter about the role of luck in business.

Are you seizing lucky business opportunities? I’m often asked why I wrote about the role of luck in business. It turns out lucky business owners (defined as those whose businesses are growing) are actually engaged in different business activities than folks who are simply working hard (but not able to seize lucky opportunities). Learn more about what these activities are by watching this week’s video.

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Three – The Art of the Pitch

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the third of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question from a reader of my Small Business Growth & Innovation Newsletter about perfecting your elevator pitch.

When was the last time you worked on perfecting your elevator pitch? At the heart of every business’ success story is their ability to convey their value proposition succinctly and clearly to key stakeholders. If you haven’t worked on perfecting your elevator pitch, now is the time to do so if you want to accelerate growth. Watch this week’s video to discover tips on perfecting your pitch and check out my Elevator Pitch Template at my website (m-edge.com) to start today!

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.

Biz-Edge Video Series: Episode Two – Have You Outgrown Your Business?

Welcome to Biz-Edge where we answer YOUR business questions. In the second of the Summer 2012 Series, I address a question from a reader of my Small Business Growth & Innovation Newsletter about outgrowing your business model.

Have you adjusted your business activities to reflect the growth of your business? As our businesses grow, a common challenge  that many owners face is their inability to change their role in the business. If you’ve been wearing every hat to grow your business to its current stage and that’s not working for you any longer, watch this week’s video for some tips on how to make changes that will get you to the next level!

Have a question about business growth? Here’s your opportunity to ask questions about business challenges you face so you can gain an EDGE in business. Plus, hear advice that we’ve given other small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them make bold leaps forward. Complete the form at the Biz-Edge Website and I will try my best to answer it via video.