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The Coming Age of Small Business – Part 1

small-businessIt’s one of the most famous opening lines of any novel. Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities, wrote, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

Could the same be true for small business owners today?

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Many small businesses are struggling. According to Discover’s Small Business Watch, half of the small business owners surveyed reported cash flow problems over the last three months. The good news is the number is down slightly, but it’s still significant.

It’s been tough to get credit. Vendors are more demanding than ever while, at the same time, customers are paying slowly – especially if you do business with certain state governments.

But it’s also a great time to be a small business owner.

In a post awhile back on the Harvard Business blog, Peter Bergman said small companies will win. He talked about a small business that had won large accounts – and got prepaid – even though they were competing against much bigger, more established companies. He says clients aren’t looking for …

big names …
flashy offices …
lots of time in the industry …
highly-capitalized vendors. 

So what do they want?

Bergman says: “Small is the new big. Sustainable is the new growth. Trust is the new competitive advantage.”

He reports that even senior level managers at many large companies have lost faith in their companies. As go the employees, so goes the company.

People want to do business with people they trust.
Not companies.
Not organizations.
Not institutions.

People.
People want to do business with people.
People want to trust again.
People want to do business with people they trust.

Increasingly, that’s small businesses. Trust is one of the reasons small companies have an inherent competitive advantage right now.

So to capitalize on this trend, super-serve your customers in your chosen niche. Build relationships by building trust and you’ll create a competitive advantage.

It’s hard for large companies to create a culture of trust. It’s much easier for small business owners.

If you think about it, we’re back where we started. In days gone by, we did business with people we knew.

It wasn’t about the promises of a faceless brand; it was about the promises of a person. Deliver on your promises and you’ll be a bigg success!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. We trust you enjoyed it!

Please join us next time when we’ll look at this topic again by exploring two other ways small businesses can gain a competitive advantage. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00522-111009.mp3

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Engage Your Employees in 10 Syllables

0-building-blocksResearch shows it. We know it.

Engaged employees are more productive. Productive employees help us grow sales faster than costs. Therefore, engaged employees are key to increasing your bottom line.

How’s that for a logic exercise?

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Let’s discuss four words – which all begin with the letter “C” – that will help you engage your employees in ten syllables:

First, a one syllable word: Care
Really and truly care about your employees – not as workers, as people.

Throw the old adage about mixing business and friendship out the door. That’s yesterday’s mindset. For every time it bites you in the butt, there will be many times when it serves you well.

Let your people get to know you. Get to know your people individually, personally and professionally.

We work harder for people we like. We like people who care about us.

So genuinely caring creates a competitive advantage. Isn’t that something? It happens spontaneously, though. It’s not something that can be forced.

Second, a two syllable word: Converse

Talk with your employees. Find out what is going well and what isn’t. Discover what would help them do their jobs better.

We believe in open book management. However we don’t believe that you have to tell all of your employees all the details. Be positively real.

Leaders have more on their plate than ever. Everybody is trying to do more with less. But don’t neglect your people.

Get out from behind your desk a few times a day. Walk around. Spend some time chatting with your people. It’s probably the most productive thing you can do.

Conversation creates concord. Listening is one way to show your people you care. Many people assume the worst. Keeping them informed tames the beast.

Third, a three syllable word: Celebrate!
Our news media thrives on bad news. Do the opposite. Make a bigg deal of good news. Celebrate! Whenever your team does something spectacular, pause and enjoy the moment.

There’s an old management technique called management by exception. Try this instead – manage for exceptional. Highlight people on your team who have done something outstanding.

Share the credit liberally. It’s a rookie mistake to do otherwise. There’s almost nothing you can do to engage your employees that goes as far as a genuine “atta boy” or “atta girl”.

Celebration encourages continuation. It’s fun to play for a winning team. We can’t wait for the next game, for the next opportunity to show what we can do. We look forward to the next victory. So we can celebrate again!

Fourth, a four syllable word: Collaborate

Michael Jordan said it best: “Talent wins games; teamwork wins championships.”

Encourage your people to share their ideas. It will make your life as a leader much easier.

Great leaders make decisions but the best answers often come from their people. Your employees will be more engaged when they see their ideas being adopted. That leads to bigg success!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks so much for the gift of your time today. Please join us next time when we ask, “Are you a volcano waiting to erupt?” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00497-100909.mp3

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Engaging Your Employees

Does Haste Still Make Waste?

speed Do you remember this old saying, “Haste makes waste?” It certainly rolls off the tongue. But we wonder – is it still true?

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We hear all the time that we have to move fast today to gain, and maintain, a competitive advantage. So it may seem that the old saying has become outdated.

But if we move too fast, we risk making more mistakes. Now this age-old saying may not be talking about high-level mistakes, but we wondered if it could be applied in that realm. We may squander precious resources if we don’t make the right moves in the right sequence.

Speed without direction gets us nowhere fast.

It doesn’t do us any good to go fast if we don’t know where we’re trying to go. Yet we often make this mistake. In our haste, we skip a step. Instead of “Ready, Aim, Fire”, we truncate it to “Ready, Fire.”

The result? We’re in perpetual motion, but the actions we take don’t move us toward the life we want to live. We waste a lot of time but see little advancement. We get tired, frustrated, and discouraged because we feel like we’re working our butts off but still not getting anywhere.

Direction without speed is no better.

Once we’ve decided where we want to go, we do need to move fast. Because we often miss a step here too. “Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim …” doesn’t work either.

We fail to take the first step because we get scared. So we don’t get anywhere. We allow our fears to paralyze us. Then someone gets where we need to be first and we miss our bigg opportunity.

Get where you want to be when you want to be there.

Speed and direction. We often have one without the other. But to succeed bigg, we need them both congruently.

  • Speed to direction.
    We need to move quickly to determine where we want to go. While we don’t need to move as fast here as we do once our destination is determined, it’s still important not to lollygag. We only have one life to live. So we want to discover where we want to take it as quickly as possible.

  • Direction with speed.
    Once we’ve done that, we want to get there as fast as we can. GO! FAST! Now is the time to move quickly and this is where the competitive advantage comes in.

Because as we move toward our destination, we learn about the environment we’re operating in. There may be a detour we have to take. There may be road construction we can avoid. By moving quickly, we spot these things before others so we’re able to stay ahead of them.

So speed to direction with speed for bigg success in your life! 

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks so much for checking in on us today. Join us next time when we discuss the art of delivering value. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00337-022409.mp3

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(Image in today's post by lockstockb)

Get in the Loop to Gain a Competitive Advantage

Planning is certainly important to set your direction. Analysis is necessary, but a lot of people take it too far. At some point, you just have to do it.

United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd developed a concept for the military called OODA Loops. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.

It’s a useful concept in business as well. Boyd postulated that you gain an advantage if you work through this loop faster than others. This is particularly true in today’s highly competitive, rapidly changing business world.

Start by getting in the loop

Boyd’s four processes are overlapping and interacting. That’s why you gain an advantage by getting in the loop. As you move through it, you constantly receive new information. Feedback that you don’t get if you never act. You’re able to use that feedback to adapt.

And that’s what gives you an advantage – you know things that the “analyzers” haven’t discovered. You can’t know everything before you make a decision, even if you conduct surveys, interviews, focus groups, or any number of other things.

Because they’re all speculative … conjecture … hypothesis. When you take action, you get real facts. Hard evidence. Things you only get by taking action.

Action is what creates the advantage
Nothing happens until you take action. Once you do, you start gaining information that others don’t have. You’re getting real data, while the others are still analyzing the situation.

By taking action, it’s not guaranteed that you will succeed. However, you have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. That education gives you a competitive advantage over those who aren’t yet in this game. That’s part of the process.

So get in the loop … and do something – even if it’s wrong!

Using OODA Loops in business
Let’s say you’re in business. You spot an underserved market – customers want something that your competitors don’t offer. You start gearing your organization in that direction. You choose a strategy to penetrate that market. Then you do it.

Now while that’s going on, your competition is catching up. But you’re there first, so you’re learning things about the market they don’t know yet. You have new observations which you use to tweak your strategy to maintain your competitive edge.

Get your friends in the loop … tell them about Bigg Success!
Just click the Share This button below.

Our bigg quote today comes from Arie de Geus, who said,

“The ability to learn faster than your competitors
may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”

So jump in the loop so you stay in the loop and gain the upper hand.

Next time, we’ll offer four tips that can lead you to a million dollars. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Sources

OODA Loop – Wikipedia

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War 

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(Image by wernerbrau)

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