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Improve Your Strategic Decision-Making Skills with this Simple Game

which_wayAnita Bruzzese is the author of 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy. We were fortunate to meet her at a conference we attended a few months back. She had a great post recently, where she discussed a game she played with her kids called, “Which would you rather?”

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georgeWith this game, you present your fellow players with a choice. For instance, I asked Mary-Lynn which she would rather give up for a month – chocolate or her cell phone.

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marylynn That was a tough question, but I would give up chocolate. My phone is my mobile device; there’s no way I could live without it for a month!

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georgeHmmm … Mary-Lynn with no chocolate. I’d plan to be away that month!

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A fun way to keep a conversation going

When we discussed conversation continuers recently, we said that games are one way to keep a conversation going. This is a great example of a game you could play to do that. For example, you could ask … 

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marylynn Who would you rather work for – a boss who’s super-demanding or a boss who’s never around? Anita posed more great questions in her post.

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georgeIf you check out her post, you can see how I answered the questions she asked.

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A fun way to improve strategic decision-making

Decision trees are a great way to visualize possible business strategies, since a business can be thought of as a series of either / or options. Sounds like a ramped-up version of “Which would you rather”, doesn’t it? Question 1 leads to Question 2 and so on.

For example, let’s say you plan to start a restaurant. Play “Which would you rather?”

  • Which would you rather open – a big restaurant or a small restaurant? Let’s say you choose bigg … with two g’s of course!
  • Which would you rather be – part of a franchise system or an independent? You really want to create your own brand, so you want to be independent.
  • Where would you locate – in a strip center or a free-standing building? You could do some research to determine which one seems to work better for restaurants like the one you plan to start.

We could keep going, but you get the idea. The reason you create the decision tree is to see the impact of your choices. For instance, if you chose “franchise” for the second question, they may specify whether you’re inline or free-standing.

A fun way to teach your kids critical entrepreneurial skills

Play this game with your kids and help them develop critical entrepreneurial skills! Just add the “decision tree” dimension one question at a time. So instead of asking your kids to think of one question, ask them to think of three – the initial question and a follow-up question for each of the possible answers. They’ll be thinking like an entrepreneur in no time!

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Next time, we’ll examine a highly-touted way to pay off your mortgage early. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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You Can Avoid the Mistakes that Brought this Business Down

quote There’s a great post by Roger Ehrenberg on his Information Arbitrage site. Roger was an investor, board member and leader in Monitor110, a company that planned to become the internet version of Bloomberg. The team had impressive credentials, but ultimately the business didn’t make it.

Roger spells out the reasons why. We admire him for sharing these lessons because most of us don’t like to talk about our failures. These are mistakes that any of us could make, so he provides a great opportunity to learn from others. But even more than that, it’s the way he wrote about it that impressed us – he doesn’t cast blame; he just discusses the lessons he learned in the hopes that we may benefit. And we did!

That’s why we highly recommend that you read the whole post. We’ll hit his highlights here.
 

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7 mistakes that led to the demise of this business

#1 – No single leader
Monitor110 had two leaders – a technology person who was one of the founders and Roger, who was a business person. Roger said this structure just didn’t work.

This reminded us of the number of times we’ve seen two people start a business. It’s pretty common to split everything 50/50. But it’s a recipe for disaster. In almost all cases, there has to be someone who has the final say for a business to succeed.

#2 – The technology-side drove the business
This made us think of the number of entrepreneurs who start a business in their craft. They’re technically oriented. They love their product or service, but they ignore what the customer wants and needs.

#3 – Too much PR too early
Roger’s company was featured on the cover of the Financial Times. You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, would you? But Roger says this raised the bar with everyone – customers, themselves, and financiers … which led to the next problem.

#4 – Too much money
Too much PR. Which led to too much money. Sounds like a company that’s been blessed. But Roger says the blessing turned into a curse.

  • Because of the great PR, expectations went up significantly.
  • Within the financial community, so money flowed in
  • With their customers
  • And most importantly – with the people of Monitor110.

With all these high expectations, they didn’t push a product to market because it needed to be just right. And that didn’t matter because they had a cushion of cash.

#5 – Not enough customer feedback

By now, you see how all of these mistakes were interrelated. Because of the great publicity, they were afraid to show the customers what they had. They didn’t want to disappoint them and be disappointed. But it wasn’t a problem at the time because they had plenty of money. One mistake was feeding another which was feeding yet another.

#6 – Slow to adapt to the market
On a post not long ago, we talked about a military concept called OODA loops. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. The idea behind the concept is that by getting into the loop, you gain information. Then, by adapting to what you’ve learned, you gain a competitive advantage.

#7 – Disagreements about strategy
This stemmed from the technology side and the business side not being able to come to terms. It’s also an outflow of Mistake #1 – without a single leader, it’s hard to have a clear vision.

Just get started!

All of this made us think of the saying, “You don’t have to get it perfect; you just have to get it going. That’s one of the things that we did with Bigg Success. We talked to a lot of people who had all kinds of great ideas. Some diametrically opposed to each other! We could have easily just got caught in the quagmire.

Ultimately, we just launched. It wasn’t perfect – we knew that. We’ve learned a lot. There are things we would do differently if we had it all to do over again. But by launching, we were able to learn from the most important people of all – our community. We learned from you.

We’re happy to let you know that you’ll be seeing some bigg additions in the near future. So keep checking in and let us know what you think! We’re listening!

 

 

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The Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster Ride

When you own your own business, you have your highs and you have your lows. And it seems like you rarely have any in-betweens.

George said  …
I never talked about this for years. I thought it was just me. Then I got up the nerve and mentioned it to my sister, who also owns businesses.

She said she knew exactly what I was talking about! So that encouraged me to ask other business owners about it. So far, every single person I’ve ever talked to about this knows exactly what it means. You can see it on their face as soon as you bring it up.

But it’s something I think a lot of entrepreneurs don’t talk about.

Mary-Lynn added  …
With Bigg Success, I’m experiencing business ownership for the first time. And I feel like I’m on a roller coaster. There are days where I feel exhilaration from the ride and there are days when I feel sheer terror and want to get off the ride.

Entrepreneurial terror

If you’ve never experienced it, count yourself lucky, but most people in business have.

You can feel terrified at times even with a job. You may fear you’re going to lose yours when you see other people’s jobs getting cut. But it’s still different for business owners.

George …
I remember one of the guest speakers for my class who talked about the number of mouths he had to feed now. A lot of the most successful business owners I know take personal responsibility for their people. They don’t look at just putting bread on their table; they worry about their employees as well.

That can keep you up at night!

Inc. published an article (way back in February 1987) called Entrepreneurial Terror. A portion of it has been republished on Wachovia’s Small Business site.

It was written by Wilson Harrell, a serial entrepreneur and author of For Entrepreneurs Only. He said:

“… the ability to handle terror, and to live with it, is the single most important
– and, yes, necessary – ingredient of entrepreneurial success.”

This company doesn’t love misery

He says that you shouldn’t share your lows with your friends and loved ones, because you’ll just pass the worry on to them. Unless they’re your partner in business.

He adds that you should always share your highs, though.

How highs turn to lows

The way you spend your time and money when you’re on a high often has a lot to do with how low you go. Let’s look at two examples:

  • Too busy for marketing
    When you’re so busy, you may even be running at capacity, and you know your business couldn’t crank out any more volume no matter how much you wanted to. So you slow down – or even stop – your marketing efforts.

    George …
    I’ve done this! It’s easy to do – there’s no time! But that insures the next down cycle because you’re not doing those things that you did to get to the up cycle.

  • Being careless with money
    A lot of times cash flow is at its peak during an up cycle. That’s part of the reason you’re on an emotional high. So you make that major expenditure. Or you add to your overhead. The next thing you know you’re on a low because business and cash flow have slowed down and you have little or no cash reserves.

You may not be able to avoid the highs and lows. What you can do is conduct business so that your lows are higher … and your highs are higher!

It may not feel any different, but you know it is. You’re reaching ever higher levels of success! Now that’s bigg success!

 

 

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How Do I Find My Passion?

Bigg Challenge
Amy knows she’s not passionate about her career, but she doesn’t really know what she would love to do. She wants to know how to discover her passion.

Bigg Advice
We recommend that you get a notebook to write down your thoughts and answers to the following questions, Amy.


These things all revolve around one simple theme –

Look to the past to discover your future.

#1 – What did you want to be when you grew up?
Now you may think that’s a silly question to ask at this point in your life, but it’s not. Because it leads to the more important question …

Why? Why did you want to do that one thing when you grew up?

Mary-Lynn wanted to be a singing star. She wanted to be like Cher – up on stage performing in front of an audience with a microphone. Unfortunately, she couldn’t sing!

But today, she does perform in front of an audience with her very own microphone. It’s not exactly what she envisioned as a kid, but the elements are there.

#2 – What classes did you really enjoy?

You probably thrived in these classes. What were they, from grade school all the way up through college? And more importantly …

What about that particular class did you enjoy so much?

George loved philosophy – learning how to think logically and debate a subject. He’s used those skills his entire career. He has found that the work that’s most enjoyable to him often has to do with problem-solving.

#3 – What extracurricular activities did you love?

And more importantly, what did you love about that activity?

Mary-Lynn loved music. She loved being in the pep band and going to competitions. These additional benefits were a bonus to learning to play an instrument well. It appealed to her competitive nature and fulfilled her social needs.

#4 – What jobs or roles have given you the greatest satisfaction?
More importantly, what common themes were there?

George has been an entrepreneur and a teacher. As his career as a business owner advanced, he found that teaching and inspiring others was what he really enjoyed. He got great feedback about meetings he conducted. He also got positive reviews from his students. Today, Bigg Success gives him that outlet to share knowledge with others.

#5 – What is, or was, your favorite hobby?

What do you, or did you, do for free?

Mary-Lynn has loved writing since she was a kid. It taps into her creative side. That desire to be creative has guided her throughout her career. She once left a job because it didn’t offer creative freedom. Her need for creative control in her job spills over from her hobby. Being in touch with what you naturally do, even without pay, can help you discover your passion.

So as you ponder these five questions, think about the elements of the activity, rather than the activity itself, to discover your passion.

Thanks, Amy, for sharing your bigg challenge with us. We’re confident you’ll discover your passion soon!

If you have a bigg challenge, e-mail it to us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com
What advice do you have for Amy? Click on the Comment link below

Our bigg quote today is by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who said,

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”

So find your passion to uncover your greatness.

Next time, we’ll discuss what to do if working harder isn’t working anymore. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

 

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Keep Your Job Or Buy A Franchise?

Bigg Challenge
Ellen e-mailed us because she and her husband are considering buying a franchise. Currently, she’s the #2 executive at a small business she’s worked at for years. She has two questions:

  • What franchise should she buy?
  • Will it pay off within ten years, because she plans to retire then?

Bigg Advice
Obviously, this is a very personal decision, so only you can decide what franchise to buy. We can, however, give you some guidelines.

What’s your expertise? What are your interests? Where’s the opportunity? Match these up when looking for your franchise.

How to find your franchise

Check out How To Buy A Franchise to learn more about the International Franchise Association. This industry group also provides some fantastic resources for people like you. In the article, you’ll see our review of their exhaustive, step-by-step guide to buying a franchise. The only thing we don’t like about it is that we didn’t write it!

They also have a listing of franchises, but in our opinion, it’s not as user-friendly as the next great resource.

You’ve probably heard of the Fortune 500. Entrepreneur publishes a similar list called the Franchise 500 every year. You can look up franchises by category – restaurants, business services, and just about any other category you can imagine.

They also have lists of the top new franchises, the lowest cost franchises, top home-based franchises, fastest growing franchises, and more. We definitely recommend that you check it out.

Making it pay
Buying a franchise, as with any business, comes with uncertainty. You have to take chances to succeed. However, you can and should reduce your risk to a level you can tolerate. You’ve heard us say this before – successful entrepreneurs are very adept at that.

Use the resources we mentioned above. Do your homework. Build your projections, but remember they are just SWAG.

SWAG, in this sense, has nothing to do with the Oscar presenters! It is an acronym for scientific, wild-assed guesses! So make sure you build some “fudge” into your guesstimates.

Is there another option?
You’ve painted an either / or picture – you either keep your job or you buy a franchise. We wonder if there are other alternatives.

You mentioned your husband, but we don’t really know what his situation is. Could he run the business?

You could also hire someone to run the franchise for you. Find a way to align their interest with yours. This could range from sharing profits to an actual ownership stake.

Obviously, if you choose this last option, you’ll have to accept a lower upside. However, your downside is a lot less, too.

If either of these works, you can keep your job AND buy a franchise!

Thanks, Ellen for sharing your bigg challenge! We wish you bigg success, whatever you decide!

What’s your bigg challenge? E-mail it to us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com!

Our bigg quote today is over 2,000 years old. Seneca, the Roman philosopher, said:

“It's not because things are difficult that we dare not venture.
It's because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”

You have to look at the downside, but if you spend too much time focusing on that, you’ll never enjoy the upside.

Next time, we’ll discuss a recent study that shows that happiness is overrated. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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