April Business Tip

To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they’ll turn on their computers or open their doors and start making money – only to find that making money in a business is much more difficult than they thought. You can avoid this in your business ventures by taking your time and planning out all the necessary steps you need to reach to achieve success. Read on to find out how.

 

1. Get Organized

To be successful in business you need to be organized. Organization will help you complete tasks and stay on top of things to be done. A good way to do this is to create a to-do list each day – as you complete each item, check it off your list. This will ensure that you’re not forgetting anything and you’re completing all the tasks that are essential to the survival of your business.

 

2. Keep Detailed Records
All successful businesses keep detailed records. By keeping detailed records, you’ll know where the business stands financially and what potential challenges you could be facing. Just knowing this gives you time to create strategies to overcome the obstacles that can prevent you from being successful and growing your business.

 

3. Analyze Your Competition
Competition breeds the best results. To be successful, you can’t be afraid to study and learn from your competitors. After all, they may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.

 

4. Understand the Risks and Rewards
The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. A good question to ask is “What’s the downside?” If you can answer this question, then you know what the worst-case scenario is. This knowledge will allow you to take the kinds of calculated risks that can generate tremendous rewards for your business.

 

5. Be Creative
Always be looking for ways to improve your business and to make it stand out from the competition. Recognize that you don’t know everything and be open to new ideas and new approaches to your business.

 

6. Stay Focused
The old saying that “Rome was not built in a day” applies here. Just because you open a business doesn’t mean that you’re going to immediately start making money. It takes time to let people know who you are, so stay focused on achieving your short-term goals and give the rest time to come together on its own.

 

7. Prepare to Make Sacrifices
The lead-up to starting a business is hard work, but after you open your doors, your work has just begun. In many cases, you have to put in more time than you would if you were working for someone else. In turn, you have to make sacrifices, such as spending less time with family and friends in order to be successful.

 

8. Provide Great Service
There are many successful businesses that forget that providing great customer service is important. If you provide better service for your customers, they’ll be more inclined to come to you the next time they need something instead of going to your competition.

 

9. Be Consistent
Consistency is key component to making money in business. You have to consistently keep doing the things necessary to be successful day in and day out. This will create long-term positive habits that will help you make money over the long term.

 

Conclusion
Starting and running a successful business can be rewarding and challenging. Success requires focus, discipline and perseverance. However, success will not come over night – it requires a long-term focus and that you remain consistent in challenging environments.
By Chris Seabury

March Business Tip

What’s the secret to building customer loyalty? According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review, many companies focus on making loyalty a strategic priority but fail to gain traction. The reason is simple. Their policies and processes don’t focus on making an emotional connection with their customers.
When you consider that emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend a product to others and return to make another purchase – finding a way to delight customers on an emotional level can be as important as the product you sell.
Customer Loyalty to the Moon and Back
The most persuasive case study on the subject, of course, is Disney, which achieves an amazing 70% return rate in customer visits, according to the Disney Institute’s book on the subject. And it’s all due to Walt Disney’s original promise to create happiness through “magical” experiences.
Those magical results are not based on Disney’s access to magic carpets and the like, but start with the company’s Seven Services Guidelines:
  1. Make eye contact and smile
  2. Greet and welcome every guest
  3. Seek out guest contact
  4. Provide immediate service recovery
  5. Always display appropriate body language
  6. Create dreams and preserve the “magical guest experience”
  7. Thank each and every guest
When Tone Trumps Procedure
According to the Disney Institute, there are four keys to delighting customers:
  1. Safety: Always first.
  2. Courtesy: Going above and beyond to exceed guest expectations.
  3. Show: Ensuring the area is show-ready for customers at all times.
  4. Efficiency: Performing the customer service role efficiently so the guest can get the most out of the experience.
The tone of their answer is also important, especially when trying to figure out what the guest is really trying to ask. When guests ask “When will the three o’clock parade start?” the answer is never a tired or sarcastic “at three o’clock.” When a guest asks a question like this, they generally want to know when the parade will pass by their current location. So Disney staff offer proactive advice on when to expect the parade and where to stand to get the best view.
Embrace Innovation
To create a magical experience for customers, it’s also important to stay current with customer-pleasing technology. For Disney, this means using MagicBands that allow guests to gain access to everything from their hotel rooms to rides and attractions.
But companies can never rely on technology alone. “It’s not the magic that makes it work; it’s the way we work that makes it magic,” former Walt Disney World® EVP Lee Cockerell said.
A magical customer experience doesn’t have to be limited to the “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Your team can be the reason customers are raving about your company to their friends and family, as long as you’re willing to make customer loyalty and experience a priority.
By Refresh Leadership on December 23, 2015, in Leadership and Management

February Business Tip

The path to success isn’t always straight.
There are often bumps and turns and forks in the road.
But a little bit of guidance can help you find your way.
In fact, many of the most successful leaders are where they are today because they took advice from people they trusted!
Here are a few tips that executives have shared.
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway board of directors member Thomas Murphy told him:
“Never forget Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow – you don’t give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today, and see if you feel the same way tomorrow.”
From a 2010 interview with Yahoo!

Marissa Mayer, president and CEO, Yahoo!

“My friend Andre said to me, ‘You know, Marissa, you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to pick the right choice, and I’ve gotta be honest: That’s not what I see here. I see a bunch of good choices, and there’s the one that you pick and make great.’ I think that’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten.”
From a 2011 interview with the Social Times

Terry J. Lundgren, CEO, Macy’s

Gene Ross, the man who recruited Lundgren at Bullock, told him:
“You’re not going to do this forever. There’s a finite amount of time you’re going to be doing this. Do this really, really well. And if you do this really, really well, everybody will see that, and they’ll move you onto the next thing. And you do that well, and then you’ll move.”
From a 2009 interview with The New York Times

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs

His boss at Goldman during the 1980s told him:
“First, it’s good to solicit your people’s opinions before you give them yours. And second, your people will be very influenced by how you carry yourself under stress.”
From a 2009 interview with CNNMoney

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google

“Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learn something new. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids.”
From Katie Couric’s book “The Best Advice I Ever Got,” excerpted by The Daily Beast

Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO, Likeable Local

Several weeks into his first job as a salesperson for Radio Disney – where he was “failing miserably,” Kerpen’s mentor Peggy Iafrate said:
“How well are you listening to what your prospects have to say? How many questions are you asking them to better understand them? How are you showing them that you care about them more than you care about selling them?
“Remember this one thing: Shut up and listen.”
From a 2014 LinkedIn post

Arianna Huffington, cofounder and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post

“Whenever I’d complain or was upset about something in my own life, my mother had the same advice: ‘Darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don’t replay the bad, scary movie.’
“We don’t have to wait until we move or change jobs to change our lives. Nor do we have to wait for large-scale, upstream change. We can initiate change right now. There are endless starting points.”

From a 2014 LinkedIn post

Brian Chesky, CEO and cofounder, Airbnb

When Airbnb was going through Paul Graham’s Y Combinator program, the legendary programmer and startup mentor told Chesky:
“Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.”
From a 2013 interview with Pando Daily

Richard Parsons, former chairman, Citigroup

APSteve Ross, the former CEO of Time Warner, told him:
“Just remember, it’s a small business and a long life. You’re going to see all these people again.”
From the 2008 HACR Roundtable

Mohamed El-Erian, former CEO, PIMCO

“I remember asking my father, ‘Why do we need four newspapers?’ He said to me, ‘Unless you read different points of view, your mind will eventually close, and you’ll become a prisoner to a certain point of view that you’ll never question.'”
From a 2009 interview with CNN Money

January Business Tip

In a fast-moving world with short time (and attention) spans, time management is still an issue. If we were to receive an updated version of the Ten Commandments focused on time management,
what might they look like?
In the ancient world, people took longer-time horizons.
It took about 20 years to build a pyramid. Rome wasn’t built in a day. In fact, it’s estimated to have taken 1,000 years to reach its height of glory.
But today we live in a period of compressed time spans.
The average TV commercial is 30 seconds. Typical smartphone users check their phones 150 times a day. In all this immediacy, time management is still an issue.
If we were to receive an updated version of the Ten Commandments focused on Time Management, what might they look like?

1. Thou Shalt Not Multitask

Multitasking is one of the great myths of the twentieth century. You can do a few things well, or a lot of things badly. Do one thing at a time.
  • Action Step: Break tasks into segments. If you start a project, continue until the end of that segment.

2. Thou Shalt Not Confuse Immediate With Important

Ringing telephones and other interruptions stop you from getting work done that really matters. When someone gets you to stop working on your project to address theirs, they are managing your time.
  • Action Step: If you were in flight and unreachable, that immediate issue would actually wait. Work behind closed doors. Let calls go to voicemail.

3. Thou Shalt Not Dive into Office Intrigue

Yes, you need to know what is going on, but reorganizations or rumors occur frequently. Just keep a low profile and wait for the storm to pass. Gossip can be delicious but time consuming – and meanwhile, productivity suffers.
  • Action Step: Lost time is lost forever. Continue working on the projects you are being paid to accomplish. Look good. Out of crisis comes opportunity.

4. Remember the Weekends are For Relaxing

When you own your own business, it’s tempting to throw yourself into work 24/7. But your batteries need to recharge. Plus, the human mind is complex. It often gets its best work ideas when doing something unrelated to work.
  • Action Step: Consciously decide not to work on Sundays except in extraordinary circumstances. As brilliant ideas come, write them down for Monday morning.

5. Honor the Concept of Prioritization

Effective people build an action plan for the next day before they leave the office the previous evening. Often we list more projects than it’s possible to accomplish.
  • Action Step: Prioritize projects. What needs to be done that day? That week As the week progresses, second-tier projects move up as the deadline approaches. Focus on getting all the top priority ones done.

6. Thou Shalt Not Kill the Messenger

You work with others. Some are peers, others specialists or direct reports. Treating them well encourages them to speak frankly and make an extra effort to get the job done.
  • Action Step: Treat subordinates as peers by respecting their opinions and insight. Don’t hold them responsible for events outside their control.

7. Thou Shalt Not Lose Focus

Certain projects are high priorities. Your compensation is based on reaching certain goals, your bonus on exceeding them. These ring the cash register.
  • Action Step: You know how your performance is evaluated. Ask yourself: “Does this upcoming activity ring the cash register or help me get closer to my goals?”

8. Thou Shalt Not Let Time Be Stolen

People don’t arrive for meetings on time. Conference calls get delayed. Often we sit around and wait. Lost time is stolen and cannot be recovered.
  • Action Step: Maintain a list of small projects that only take a few minutes to complete. Tally your expense account. Compose an e-mail and save it in drafts for future review. Knock out some e-mails. Make use of the time that might otherwise get wasted.

9. Thou Shalt Not Get Discouraged

Big goals can seem insurmountable, especially early in the year. To hit a big goal, you need to hit a lot of little goals.
  • Action Step: Where possible, break goals into weekly and daily tasks. Set your own goals for activities leading to completing the sale or finishing the project.

10. Thou Shalt Keep Score

Always know where you stand. It’s tempting to rely on the firm’s reporting, which often records revenue, not the necessary effort to get there. Develop your own tracking.
  • Action Step: In addition to tracking numbers, your daily business journal should include categories like: What good things happened today? What other things happened? How did I drive project A? Project B? Project C? Reviewing this list is also an efficient way to track leads that might fall between the cracks.
There are no new ideas in time management. The occasional refresher helps a lot.
Bryce Sanders,President of Perceptive Business Solutions

Engage

President’s Message ~ 2016

I was sitting in one of our local coffee shops, reflecting on 2015 and what I hope to see in this New Year, and had an overwhelming thankfulness for this town. We may not be “so little” any more, but the character and charm of Louisville has carried on through every growth spurt, and that’s what makes it unique. A community of small and large businesses, people, dreamers, and doers that put us on the map and make this place thrive!

So when I think about what I hope for in 2016, I hope to ENGAGE this wonderful community, made up of everything listed above and more, and tap into all you have to offer!

What do I mean by engage? Well, I believe the best way to create & sustain a thriving business community is to find out what people are most passionate about, and let them run with it. This year, I look to engage our Chamber members by asking you to find what you’re passionate about and put it to use for your fellow members and community!

At some point you wanted to be a part of something bigger, but often busy schedules and life stresses pull us away from what we want to do. They disengage us without us even realizing it, but now you find yourself in a comfortable routine, and it’s a little daunting to risk changing that.

I want to challenge you to try, to become engaged again, to rekindle whatever made you want to get involved in the first place.

What does this look like?

  • Get involved with the events that interest you most. We have no shortage of fantastic events to be a part of! Like beer? Find out how you can be a part of Pints in the Park!
  • Have a great business tip? Share it at a networking event, or better yet, host a happy hour with the Chamber to share it with our members.
  • Engage in social media. You are on there already, share what you find interesting from our page with friends, and share what you think we should know on our pages!
  • Push past your comfort zone at the next After Hours, meet someone new, and then visit their business. The only way to make meaningful connections is to be a meaningful connection.

I read recently that “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”. Let this be a year of growth for you, for our Chamber, and for our community. I look forward to all you will get to experience this year when you take that leap!

Sarah Giammaria ~ 2016 Chamber President

What Does “Involved” Mean To You?

Summer is one of the best times to take advantage of our thriving Louisville community by getting involved!  I realize the word “involved” can feel a bit daunting … especially if you’re not certain exactly what IS involved.  It can mean many different things.  Most importantly it means you can be directly connected to a variety of events, festivals, special programs and fundraising activities on any level that works for you!  Here are my 3 top, easy and fun ways to get involved:

#1 – Networking: if you aren’t already regularly attending our Louisville Chamber networking events such as our “Business After Hours” and our new monthly “Biz Crawl,” to name a couple, please consider attending.  These events are a direct benefit to the profitability and success of our member businesses and organizations.  You will meet new people and see familiar faces!

#2 – Special Programs and Fundraising Activities: Getting involved in these types of opportunities are not only important by giving your support, but they are also great ways to market your business and pick up on practices and ideas that you may not have thought of!

#3 – Volunteer: By offering your time to volunteer with fellow Louisville Chamber members, you are helping to improve and protect our business environment and overall quality of life in our Louisville community.  Our Chamber is always looking for and welcoming volunteers for our events and we are so very grateful for your time and support!  Just give us a call if you are interested.  It is A LOT of fun!

The Louisville Chamber of Commerce is committed to making our community a fantastic place to live, work, have fun and thrive.  There are lots of fun options of entertainment and adventure –day or night–  all year long.  Please consider getting involved … you will be glad you did!

Marketing Is A Noun

It is both exciting and daunting to be asked to write for the Chamber Blog.

As many of you know we write a blog for our own business and often publish articles that we believe will be of value to our customers…. most of whom own and are trying to grow a business.

People join the Chamber for a many reasons…. but growing your business has to be among one of the more common of those reasons.

It’s part of what is often called “marketing”.

I spent many years not understanding how to “market” my business.
Or if I did understand how, I didn’t get why.

All in all it was an uncomfortable, scary and an unproductive place to be.

I felt like it was something hugely important (and it is) that I didn’t get and certainly didn’t do well.

If that feels like you, I would guess two things about you –

  • You didn’t go to school to study marketing.
  • You are a pretty typical owner of a small business.

One of my favorite business strategists, Michael Gerber, wrote a book in 1986 titled “The E-Myth Revisited” so long ago, that in this case the “E” stands for entrepreneurial (not electronic or e-mail).

One of Michael’s root premises is…. most small businesses are not owned by entrepreneurs, they are owned by a technician who had an “entrepreneurial seizure”.  

Most of us came to business ownership by an indirect path.

  • We found something that we liked and/or did well.
  • Then decided it would be even more fun if we owned a business that did that.

There might be another path for many small business owners too…. I call it  “lifestyle seizure”.

  • Many of us reached a point in life, where lifestyle was the most important thing for us.
  • We see business ownership as a vehicle to do more of what we want, and less of what we don’t like.

Either way, business ownership through “seizure” doesn’t make us bad people.

But those of us who came to business ownership via “entrepreneurial or lifestyle seizure”…. are often missing some of the instincts of the true entrepreneur.

We may not have the passion to attack all the challenges of business ownership, without some help.

When I think about what I didn’t know and wasn’t comfortable with…. selling tops the list and marketing is a close second.

So, here’s my marketing lesson for Small Business Owners.

Marketing is a noun. It describes a collection of activities that you will use to grow your business.

Marketing is not a verb (even though you often hear it used as one). You can’t actually DO marketing.

So, if you don’t know how to “do marketing” you are not broken….. you are normal.

If I were to ask you how businesses are marketed, your answers might look like this –

  • Place ads on the radio or in the newspaper (that’s not marketing….. that’s placing ads)
  • Network at a variety of events (that’s not marketing….. that’s networking)
  • Use direct mailers (that’s not marketing….. that’s mailing)
  • Cold call (that’s not marketing….. that’s phoning)
  • Blog or email (that’s not marketing, that’s….. well you get the idea)

So from that, we draw three conclusions –

  • In order to promote your business you have to “do” something.
  • You can’t or won’t “do” something you don’t understand.
  • You understand plenty and could use those things to promote your business.

You can easily turn all of this into Marketing Action Plan.

All that we are looking for is…. a fewspecific activities that you can do well, consistently and measure

That’s really important, so I am going to say it twice and really loud…. A FEW, SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES, THAT YOU DO WELL, CONSISTENTLY AND MEASURE.

Build your plan in the plainest possible language. Build it so it will pass a this test –

  • Is it comfortable for you…. you won’t do it well and consistently if it’s not.

Once you have that plan…. do it well and consistently and your business will grow.

And measure…. even the best laid plans don’t always work, so you might have to “tweak” if you are not getting the results you want.

This very simple approach can work…. the sales of my business almost doubled over the four years after I started using this approach.

P.S.  Michael Gerber really did write a great book. It provides a very useful prospective for the small business owner and you should really think about reading it.

We’re All Part of the Chamber

So I’m sitting here most of the way through the month of April on a monthly blog deadline wondering what to write for the blog for the Louisville Chamber of Commerce.

Most of what I write as an attorney is meant for insurance defense attorneys, district attorneys, other divorce lawyers, and judges. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. I’ve always been a “chamber of commerce” (at least at the local level) and “glass half-full” kind of guy. My Dad taught me to always try to see the good in things. We have a lot of good right here in Louisville.

A newly-elected member of the Board of Directors of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, I have come to know a lot of what is happening in the business community in Louisville over the years. Having moved to the City ten years ago when you could have shot a cannon down Main Street and not hit anything you would have never imagined numerous awards for “Best Place to Live in the Country”. The Louisville real estate market skated through the Great Recession. Lucky us.

With growth comes growing pains. For sake of example, I watch the DELO development going up on the other side of the railroad tracks from my law office, wonder where all of the growth is leading, and how the City’s infrastructure will support this growth. Businesses and residents need to coexist and work together to be good stewards of our City. Get involved. There is lots going on with the Small Area Plans for the South Boulder Road Corridor and the McCaslin Boulevard Corridor. You can find more information at this link.

Stay involved. Volunteer for the Louisville Chamber of Commerce. Volunteer or become a member of the Board of Directors of your favorite non-profit. Become a member of a City Board or Commission. Whether it’s history, the arts, or something else that strikes your fancy there are lots of opportunities to get involved in the community. We have a lot of history here in Louisville. Having grown up in New Orleans, Louisiana, I have always been a big fan of the culture of where I call home. Go to the Louisville Historical Museum. Support the Louisville History Foundation, the Louisville Cultural Council, the Louisville Arts Association, and the Art Underground.

Oh, and how about the Louisville Chamber of Commerce events? I need to get this wrapped up and get ready to go to the Chamber Business Expo today at the Elks Club on Main Street. Got the Taste of Louisville and the Taste of Louisville 5K and 12K races coming up on June 6th, the Spaghetti Open Golf Tournament on July 10th, Pints in the Park on August 29th, and the Parade of Lights during the holiday season. Love the Louisville Labor Day Parade and Parade of Lights. Truly Norman Rockwell moments. I always get goose bumps.

Don’t forget the monthly Louisville Chamber Business After Hours and the new Biz Crawl where we visit several businesses in one area of the City included with the cost of Chamber membership. These are all great networking opportunities and well worth the price of membership in the Louisville Chamber.

Join one of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce Leads Groups. I’m a member of the Chamber Business Connections Leads Group that meets the first three Wednesdays of each month at 11 a.m. at the Old Santa Fe Grille on Dillon Road in Louisville. We are always looking for new members.

Don’t miss the First Friday Art Walks each month and the Street Faire produced by the Downtown Business Association starting June 12th as well as the Farmer’s Market starting May 30th.

If you need help with realizing your dreams or a legal issue bugging you give me a call. I can either help you or point you in the right direction.

Now that wasn’t hard! Once you let a lawyer talk, it’s hard to shut them up. Out.

15th Annual Business Showcase

Join us for our 15th Annual Business Showcase, Thursday April 23rd from 4-7pm at the Tri-City Elks Lodge, 525 Main Street. Stroll through the lodge and explore some of the local businesses that will be at this event! Find out how they can help you or your business. There will be FREE food samples, DOOR PRIZES and a NEW SCAVENGER HUNT, so make sure to pay attention to some special details at each vendor’s table! This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC so bring yourself, family and your friends!

Oh, and as an added bonus, we’re having a drawing for a Kindle Fire HD6! Join us for the fun and come out and meet some of the businesses that make up the great community we live and work in!

For more details or to share the event, grab our event flyer here: Businessshow Poster!

 

For the Love of Community

We hear the word “community” thrown around a lot – find IT, get involved in IT, tap into IT; not to mention the various types of “community” any one could be referring to at any given time. With this word being used so frequently, it’s easy for the concept to lose its weight; the true meaning of it seems to slip by because “Yeah, yeah I know, I’ve heard it before”. But when I look around Louisville, I get a sense that a lot of people around here actually do care about community, in whatever capacity they view it, and they are running with it! That’s why I am writing this little tribute to the love of this community.

So what do I mean when I say community? Well, I view community as a group (large or small) of people who genuinely care about staying connected. That connection leads to them taking a deeper interest in those people’s lives, leading to a unique support system grounded by a common interest or goal. Plug that into the idea of building a “business community”, and suddenly you have the potential for a very strong force for mutual success. This isn’t some deep or poignant viewpoint, but sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves.

When I was given the opportunity to work with Trailhead Wealth Management, LLC, I was tasked with creating our “brand” and presence in Louisville. Our first thought was to become a part of local organizations here, and see what we could participate in around town. The goal: to get our name out there and find out what the people of Louisville were interested in; what we found: that strong force for success I mentioned earlier was definitely evident, there was a true sense of togetherness – people CARE here, and that was a unique and fantastic discovery! It is what has kept us coming back to every event, and making sure our memberships around town are always up-to-date. By diving into this community, we not only gained meaningful business connections, but more importantly, we developed friendships and experiences that are irreplaceable as a company, as well as individuals. I found myself catapulted from a newcomer to this town, hardly knowing what a Chamber of Commerce did, to part of the Board of Directors, working alongside passionate people with a desire to make this community (yes I said it again) even greater than when we found it.

My experience in the business world is fairly new, I haven’t been involved in numerous organizations over the years, nor have I been jaded by the cutthroat corporate world, but I can tell you that based on my limited but growing experiences in the work force, I know we have something special here in Louisville. Maybe it’s the way we have a small town feel with big-city success, or maybe it’s because the people who choose to live and work here have adopted the concept that it is important to look outside yourself to better your life, and the lives of those around you. Whatever it is, I LOVE it! Our COMMUNITY is special and I want to thank all of you for being a part of it. If you’re new to it, I want to invite you to get involved with us! I know it can be intimidating, but I swear it will be worth it. Can’t wait to see you around!