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Archive for category: Business Development

New thinking gets Lean

New thinking gets Lean

Most leaders have at least one area of concern associated with their businesses that keeps them awake at night. To keep a finger on the pulse of what executive leaders are facing, the Executive Development Associates, Inc. conducts a survey every other year to understand the trends, growth, and evolution of executive development.

The group was surprised to see a shift in the top hot topic of executive development away from leadership, as it had been for over 20 years. Now ‘critical thinking’ has become the top issue that has executive leaders concerned.

Many companies are making critical thinking a part of their culture by implementing Lean thinking. The core idea of Lean thinking is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste   The concept has a goal to problem solve until perfect value is provided to their customer, through a value-added process that has zero waste. It works to ultimately encourage businesses to never stop looking for ways to improve their businesses, the value they give to customers, and saving as many resources as possible across multiple areas and systems of the company.

At one time, Lean thinking was considered to be most important for the manufacturing industry. Yet determining how to add value while stripping waste can and does apply to every business and every system or process, and Lean thinking is now spreading across all industries and services including healthcare and government.

These groups are applying Lean principles as the way they think and perform in every part of their jobs. Their Lean processes may be branded differently so that the company can feel an ownership of the process. The process becomes an operational philosophy that dramatically improves on those big critical thinking issues.

Regardless of where your business is, the concepts of Lean thinking can stimulate the way your associates develop their critical thinking skills. You don’t have to know all the ins and outs of Lean thinking to start applying the concepts to your work and business – check out this simple cheat sheet.

Already applying Lean techniques to your business? Share with us how you’ve been effective.

Tools for Making Meaningful Connections

Tools for Making Meaningful Connections

How we meet and make new business connections may have changed significantly with all of the technology now available to us, and it still remains a critical component to the longevity of small and large businesses alike.

The standard operating procedure for making contacts and generating leads may vary significantly depending on your industry, products and services – and there are still a few human communication basics that continue to apply to meeting new people who may become important contacts for your career and business success.

One key networking tool to know and keep relevant is the 30 second elevator speech. By practicing how to quickly share your company’s vision and its relevancy to the person to whom you are speaking is still an important tool in your networking toolbox.

Find out what the contact may need by

  • asking questions,
  • listening,
  • watching for non-verbal clues, and
  • hunting for how you can help or support.

Check out this article on the 7 Key Components of a Perfect Elevator Pitch.  Also, consider following up by reaching out to connect on LinkedIn so you can continue to deepen your business relationships when a communication opportunity presents itself.  This gives you the opportunity for ideas on how you may be able to help each other and helps you to create additional brand touch points which are essential when converting contacts to clients.

While we are on the subject of LinkedIn, we should also talk about making sure your profile supports your 30 second elevator speech by being current. Include examples of major projects that are relevant to your current position. Consider how you are leveraging LinkedIn to demonstrate your knowledge of your industry such that more contacts would like to connect with you. If you are new to LinkedIn here a few videos that can help you get started.

What is LinkedIn In 5 minutes

Building an Awesome Profile on LinkedIn

Connecting with Others on Linkedin

Remember, another classic is your business card. No matter where you are in your career or where you are headed, a business card says you are prepared. A great business card is another great brand touch yet can be forgotten. Need a little refresher on business cards? Check out this blog for the ABCs of Business Cards.

Keeping the brand alive means touching new contacts through social media, phone calls, face to face, and emails. You may be amazed to find your business growing by setting a goal of reaching out to 5 new contacts per week. Give it a try, along with these tools, and share your success with us.

Enhancing Give-Back Partnerships

Enhancing Give-Back Partnerships

Corporate responsibility has become a theme that more and more businesses are giving special attention. With proven bottom line benefits, philanthropy is now a part of corporate strategies to increase employee retention, morale and brand awareness.

As the trend towards give-back businesses and business programs rises, tools and resources to help businesses be as giving as they can be are also growing. Whether you are part of business that wants to ensure its philanthropic efforts are organized to make the biggest impact or you represent an organization that needs more corporate partners, new resources are available to help connect you to your goal.

When we are working to raise money for a worthy cause, there is always room for more donations. Amplify your efforts and impact by visiting This site can help you  increase the amount of money you raise from matching gift and volunteer grant programs. The group provides donors with the tool they need to get their match requests in the hand of corporate decision makers. Donors can easily access matching gift guidelines and forms to streamline the process. The site offers direct donation and custom match pages hosted through the Double the Donation page or on your own corporate page.

Many corporations also want to volunteer to support an important cause through their actions and non-profits need volunteers. Volunteer Match makes it easy for giving people and good causes to connect. With over 100,000 non-profit organizations registered and submitting volunteer opportunities and over 9 million volunteers matched to meet their needs, the service is growing daily. If you are a non-profit, post your story and get help incorporating more volunteers into your effort to make your impact even bigger.   If you’re a corporation, plan your next team building event to include a give-back project and you’ll see more smiles around the conference table.  If you are an individual with a giving heart, you can also get involved. Gather a group of helpful friends and make volunteering a pay-it-forward part of your social time.

Momentum begets more of the same. Don’t miss the opportunity to amplify your efforts to tackle important challenges with a few digital clicks. You may be surprised at what a difference connecting to like-minded groups can make in multiplying your impact.

What have you found that works well in connecting with non-profits or corporate donors and sponsors? Please share your comments below.

5 Steps to Improve Your Time Management and Avoid Distractions

5 Steps to Improve Your Time Management and Avoid Distractions

5 Steps to Improve Your Time Management and Avoid Distractions

Staying Focused Is Time Management for the Important Things in Your Life

staying focusedMost everyone is aware of how difficult it can be staying focused.  With all the distractions around us, whether it’s the numerous interruptions caused by  technology, your family’s needs or your finances; not to mention your health, relationships and many other areas of your life – it is a miracle that we get anything done!

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Excel with these Professional Business Coaching Tips

Excel with these Professional Business Coaching Tips

Looking for a professional business coaching tip to consider implementing today?  How about the focus on developing a sense of trust with your 6453718_sprospects.

How many times have you completely zoned out when a sales pitch begins, either reading one or hearing one?

Maybe this is what is happening in your head as the seller talks:

Seller: You are our number one priority.

You: Yeah right, I hear that from everyone.

Seller: We have the best in class product or service.

You: Sure you do.

Seller: We have a unique solution to your problem.

You: I’ve heard that before.

Let’s face it, we are constantly bombarded with sales pitches that are coming at us from all directions. Have we gotten to the point where we don’t even believe much of what a sales person says or how sales information reads?

As business owners, how are we to build a solid relationship with our potential customers right up front, while at the same time selling our services or products?

Even if you have a unique service or product that offers a unique solution, is best in its class, and you always keep your customers happy, how do you relay this information and make it believable?

3 Simple Strategies to Help Your Customers Trust You

1.  Stop bragging about your business: It may not seem to you that you’re bragging, and for many of you who don’t have a team around you, you are excited and just want to talk about your great new service with someone other than yourself, or you want to share great accolades a client recently conveyed to you!  You may have every right to brag, yet the more you talk about how great you and/or your business are, the more turned off a new prospect may feel.

Please don’t start a new conversation by saying nice things about your business, your product, or your service.

And it’s really not necessary to hand them any glossy brochures, either.  A follow up call, note or email offering specific feedback on what you heard them say in your initial interaction, will go a long way and be much more helpful than handing them your company’s generic brochure.

2. Focus on your prospect: At this point in a new relationship, it’s appropriate to place all of your attention on your prospect. Quiet the mind chatter that’s going on about you and the next brilliant thing you’ll say to impress this person. Instead, be curious and thoughtful with your focus being on them and how you can help them.

This is what your customer cares about – how will you, your product or your service help me?

Don’t be afraid to offer them initial feedback based on your wisdom or guidance as initial insights or ideas, based on what you hear them say.  Then you’re back to #1 – sending them a follow up call, note or email based on what is important to them and a few more ideas on how you can be of help.

3. Be honest: Being honest can be extremely scary, especially in this somewhat ‘colorful’ world we live in.  It’s always interesting to me when I hear a sales person’s interpretation of a product or service that I’m very familiar with, yet when I hear them ‘pitch’ it I’m wondering how they can possibly make these claims. You may have experienced this too?

Honesty is critical to beginning and sustaining relationships.

If you have a product or service that will not help this prospect, or if you feel you are not the perfect match for them, simply let them know. (You may have met this person because they’ll become a future colleague or friend.)  Offer them a few recommended resources of others who may be able to help your prospect get to where they want to be. You will be surprised at how being honest will put you further ahead in the long run.  And who knows, they may want to do the same for you.

Building trust is key to creating not only a successful business, but a business that excels. Long lasting relationships with your customers begin at the very first interaction.

Get Noticed With Your Resume

Get Noticed With Your Resume

Your resume is one of the most important parts of your portfolio. This piece of paper can often mean the difference betoverwhelmed confusedween landing your dream job or not. The thing about resumes is that what works and what doesn’t work is always changing. As a best practice, it makes sense to update your resume before starting a job search or even better – automatically update it each year so that it is ready to go.

However, updating a resume is sometimes easier said than done. Whether you don’t have the time or you are unclear on what is working in today’s job market, taking the time to polish it and prepare it for distribution can feel daunting. To help you make sure that you make the best possible first impression, The Daily Muse, a website that offers great career and job search advice, has an extensive list of 45 Quick Changes that Help Your Resume Get Noticed.

You can view the entire article here:

They have their tips separated out based on time. For example, there are tips if you have 2 minutes, 5 minutes and 10 to 15 minutes. This will help you streamline your efforts so you know exactly what you can accomplish in a short amount of time.

Take the overwhelm and frustration of updating your resume by following the tips and advice from The Daily Muse.

And I’d really like to hear your favorite resume tip too. Share it in the comments below.

Lessons From Geese

When you see geese heading south for the winter flying in a “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered about why they fly that way.

As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow.  By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds a 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone.  It quickly moves back into formation  to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go.  We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the point position.

It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs and sharing leadership.  As with geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents and resources.

Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

It helps the leader and the entire flock to “find” the energy and motivation to continue when we honk encouragement.  In groups where there is encouragement, the productivity is much greater.

Finally, when a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it.  They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until it dies.  Only then do they launch out with another formation or catch up with their original group.

If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong.

-Author unknown-

What (or Who) is Managing Who (or What)?

What (or Who) is Managing Who (or What)?

Recently, I heard from a gentleman who feels as though his business is managing him instead of the other way around.  He said that if he had to do it all again, he’s not sure if he would grow his business to the size it is now. Who is ‘in charge’ here?

Unfortunately, I don’t believe it’s him.

As business-owners, we’ve probably all felt that way periodically—who’s managing who? Our time is out of control.  We’re constantly playing a balancing game between business and family and trying to wedge in a little time for relaxation and/or volunteer work. We just can’t do it all! But yet…we continue to try.

When we started our businesses, many (most?) of us were ‘all things to all people’: marketing, sales, delivery, accounting, public relations—whatever the business required—we were the one and only go-to person. (If you’re like me, you also vacuumed the office(s), and washed windows—not often, but when it happened, it was me with the Windex.)

The remedies for the challenge of who is managing what is certainly not the same for everyone; they are a function of the nature of your business, the family and social obligations you have, and financial considerations. There’s a whole litany that makes your situation unique. But there are a few solutions that appear to be common to all of us.

That one is…

Know when you need help and get it! There are aspects of your business that only you can manage. But does that mean everything or everything that you’re doing today? Not likely. There are qualified marketers, social media, accountants, and yes, cleaning people. Look objectively at how you spend your time. Is it on value-added tasks?  Are you primarily focused on activities that contribute to your business growth and/or enhance the quality of your life? If the answer is “no”, and if those non-contributory actions are getting in the way of what only YOU can do—it’s time to get off the “too much, too often” roller coaster.

None of us can do it all—certainly not all the time. You have the right to say, “I need some help.” After all—you are in charge!