Archive for December 28, 2012

There is No I in This TEAM

December 28, 2012

You may be surprised to learn that Richard Branson, the famous and sometimes brash entrepreneur, when speaking about his many companies or successful ventures, rarely mentions “I” and always refers instead to “we.” Why? Because he knows that his success has been due in large part to a team, each of whom brought a certain strength to turn the vision into reality.

There are three essential characteristics of any successful business:

  1. A Product or Service — You must be able to make or provide a fantastic product or service.
  2. Marketing — You must have a great story and be able to sell your story to the market.
  3. Financial Management — You must be a smart money manager and reinvest the cash wisely.

Since each of these skills requires a vastly different mindset, no single person can do all of these with any degree of high expertise.

The most successful businesses have all three of these skills spread among their team. The long-term success and viability of your business depends on these three areas. Therefore, it is vital that you have the best-qualified hires for each skill.

Whether you’re a micro business or a global brand, the success and growth of your venture depends not only on making the correct hire but also on getting out of the way and letting the experts manage what you hired them to do. Both of these skills are critical to the long-term success of your company. One does not work well without the other.

Your company may not be the size of Richard Branson’s companies, but the lessons of hiring the best possible candidates and giving them the necessary space to manage their parts of the business are lessons that apply to all successful enterprises.

Defining Values, Mission, Vision, & Goals

December 21, 2012

With the end of the year nearing, many of us will be revisiting that time-honored tradition of planning for the new year. As part of the planning, we need to define what we want to accomplish. In order for our plan to be complete and comprehensive, we need to start with four elements:

  1. Values
  2. Mission
  3. Vision
  4. Goals

Many people have a tough time determining what values, mission, vision, and goals really are. Everyone knows they should have them, but most of us aren’t sure what each of these elements actually is or how they differ from one another.

Let’s end the confusion today!

Values are the qualities you stand for.

Mission is how you intend to change the world around you.

Vision is how you see yourself or your business in one year, two years, five years, or even longer down the road.

Goals are the outcomes you want to achieve over the next week, month, quarter, or year.

That’s it!

Of course, you could write whole books about each of these topics, but that’s all you need to start with. Complete these four objectives, and you’ll be well on your way to making your dreams a reality.

Buzz-Free Writing Tips for Better Marketing

December 18, 2012

Buzzwords and phrases are common to just about every industry and every business situation. But while your colleagues may understand the jargon you use, your customers and prospects probably don’t. In marketing, what you say and how you say it are critical to success. Here are five tips to help you swat the buzz and make your next business letter or marketing piece clear, concise, and jargon-free.

  • Keep it simple. As a prospective customer, I want to know what your product does and how that will benefit me. I don’t want to hear a bunch of techno-babble and gobbledygook meant to make you look like the smartest person in the room. Use short, declarative sentences and plain, common words. Focus on benefits (what’s in it for me) rather than technical details. Avoid hype and outrageous-sounding claims.
  • Consider the audience. There may be times when it’s ok to include some jargon in your communication. For example, if your audience speaks your industry’s language and understands its terminology, a little jargon may actually help to build credibility and confidence. But try to use it sparingly, even in these situations. Too much jargon (even with those who understand it) can end up sounding pretentious.
  • Provide a definition or analogy. Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid technical terms when describing a product or service. If you find yourself needing to use a technical term that your audience might not understand, try to explain what that word means in simple, layman’s terms or through an analogy. Both of these techniques are used commonly on TV shows that deal with highly technical subject matters.
  • Avoid acronyms. Abbreviations have their place, but usually not in customer communication. If you can’t avoid acronyms altogether, or you believe the piece will flow better with an acronym or two thrown in, make sure you explain what the acronym stands for the first time you use it.
  • Get some feedback. Once you’ve completed your initial draft and proofed it, have someone else in your office read through it, too. Try to choose someone who is not as familiar with the project you’re working on, so they can come at it with fresh eyes and a different perspective.