Tag Archives: accomplishing business goals

What is Your Company Culture?

Experts claim that company culture can have a huge impact on the success of a business. A healthy, vibrant company culture makes for better employee performance and satisfaction. But, what makes company “culture” and how do you create one that is enjoyable?

What Makes Up a Company’s Culture?

Vision – A company mission or vision is a great way to guide business decisions and directions, and give employees a purpose and a common goal to strive toward. Having a mission statement sets the tone for attitudes, choices and professional performance. A vision statement or mission statement gives the company a purpose and shares it with the world.

Values – Values are the core of company culture. They provide a tone which employees should take on to achieve the company vision. They give a set of rules for how the company behaves and performs. Values are a necessity to keep employees on track with company goals.

Being different – Define what sets your business apart from your competitors both internally and externally and what gives you the leading edge in your industry. Everyone wants to have that special ‘wow’ factor and showing your employees and customers that something that makes you different will make them want to be a part of that and will create loyalty.

Being consistent – Once you have defined your culture, stand by it. Employees and customers should know they can always count on you to be consistent. Your company should always respond the same way to problems and maintain the same values and focus.

Why does Company Culture Matter?

A company with a positive and healthy culture will make employees excited about their jobs. It creates an environment where people like to be. Creating a culture that makes employees happy increases productivity, lowers turnover and draws more talented individuals to your company. In turn, it will make customers and clients excited about what you have to offer.

businesswoman thinking

What does a Healthy Company Life Look Like?

Employees know the company’s mission and values – Employees should be well-versed in the values of the company, which can be done through experience and example, not necessarily memorizing a mission statement word-for-word. This way the culture is alive and part of the company. Employees should be able to naturally parallel the company values in their daily work. In a positive work environment, employees aren’t just there putting in hours, rather, they are there as part of the mission. They know the purpose and want to live it.

Employees work as a team – Healthy culture happens when employees are seen as a team instead of individuals with separate goals. A healthy establishment works as a cohesive team with one goal in mind. While tasks may vary, the purpose is the same and everyone should be playing on the same team.

Employees have a voice – To establish a healthy culture, employees should feel that they are heard and that their opinions and ideas matter. No idea should be overlooked and no opinion should be minimized. Employees are the future and growth of a company and should be seen that way.

Cultures to Emulate

There are companies out there that have well-known company cultures. Their cultures make them strong and successful.

Zappos dedicates space on their retail website to sharing information about their company culture. It is fun and innovative. So much so, that they got special attention regarding their positive work environment on 60 Minutes.

DreamWorks is all about innovation. Employees are encouraged to take risks and their ideas are valued. DreamWorks employees have a 97 percent retention rate.

Google’s culture keeps employees around for years. They love innovation and ability over experience. They also create a place where employees feel comfortable. Their headquarters, for example, is stocked with amenities making it an enjoyable place for employees to be. It has cafes, an on-site doctor, snack rooms and child-care centers, to name a few.

Company culture is made up of many aspects, and a strong healthy culture can help a company go the distance. If your employees are happy, they are working hard for you which results in success and growth.

Mike Mann is the founder of numerous successful companies and charities. His focus is on generating profits and channeling them to charitable causes. For more of Mike’s tips on creating successful businesses and using them to make the world a better place, download his book, MakeMillions.Com or tune back in to the blog for new stuff weekly.

How to Know Your Business Idea isn’t Ready for Prime Time

The odds are against any given idea for a product or service actually succeeding. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, and common business mistakes sink new businesses even before they really get rolling. Assuming you have your wits about you, and you’ve learned from experience what mistakes not to make, how do you know your idea is a good one?

Since there’s no guarantee that even very well-thought-out business concepts will work, there’s no set formula for guaranteeing your success. There are some questions you can ask yourself to help give you a good idea whether your idea is ready for the big time, whether you need to go back to the drawing board or if you should scrap it altogether.

Take a Good, Deep Look at Your Competition

Your competitors are a good indicator of the barrier to entry for your idea to break into a tight marketplace. Are you doing it (your product/service) better than the current big players in the industry? Are you doing it cheaper? If you are, is it possible for you to get noticed, either through targeted marketing or through word of mouth?

All of these questions could send you back to tweak your idea or work on it a bit more until you’re sure it’s fully baked. If you feel like you’re ahead of the curve, however, it may be time to move ahead with your business idea and start disrupting the current status quo, as all good business models do.

Time is also a factor when it comes to competitors. Many ideas have a shelf-life, and you’re often competing against other entrepreneurs who are rushing to get the same thing, or an alternative, to market. Can you get there before they do?

Do You Have the Resources to Get it off the Ground?

Your idea might be phenomenal, but if you don’t have the capital or —perhaps more importantly— the startup talents to get it off the ground, it might as well be a dud of a concept. Acquiring financing is a pre-requisite, and having the manpower to make your idea happen is the key. Even more important is having the right people in place who have a similar passion and vision as you do for the idea.

Also, don’t ignore time as a resource. If your startup’s time and talent is already distributed to too many other projects or ventures, is this new business idea going to be starved of the attention it needs to succeed?

Find a Skeptic to Rip it to Shreds

Sometimes you need someone who doesn’t buy what you’re selling to show you where your weaknesses are. If your idea can survive the gauntlet of someone who doesn’t like the concept picking it apart, it’s less likely that you’re ignoring glaring flaws that could spell its doom.

This is where having a trusted mentor can come in; someone whose expertise and experience you trust, but who’s not so emotionally involved in you that they’ll be afraid to tell you where your concept goes wrong. Emotion doesn’t belong in business decisions, so having an uninterested, objective third-party vet the idea is a key step to determining whether you really have something.

Remember and keep in mind

After Everything, Trust Your Gut

No number of assessments or second opinions can make the decision for you; you’re the one who has to pull the trigger. That means you need to take stock of your feelings, your confidence and your willingness to move forward. Often your gut will tell you things your brain can’t quite articulate.

Don’t make emotional business decisions unsupported by good evidence; you can fool yourself into believing what you want to be true. However at a certain point you have to take what you know from research and experience and just make the decision to either go forward with it or dump your idea and go back to the drawing board.

The gut check is really a way to test your own enthusiasm for an idea; your passion for it. Are you willing to spend your time, energy and money on this project? Hard work isn’t the only ingredient in a startup’s success, but it’s a definite prerequisite. If you find you’re not excited enough to dive in head first, maybe this isn’t the idea you want to be spending your time on.

If you’re idea survives all this scrutiny, it’s likely that it—and you—really are ready to go after it. If that’s the case, best of luck to you!

Mike Mann is a serial entrepreneur and author seeking to drive real-world change using profits from his many profitable business ventures. To learn how to make your own business a success, and to hear more about Mike’s charitable vision, read or download his book.

3 Business Tips for Success in 2013

By now you should know that there’s no magic bullet for succeeding in business; every industry is different and you have to find your niche. The only keys to business success you’ll find are sound principles that you can learn to apply in your daily life as an entrepreneur and professional. As we lay 2012 to rest, it’s time to start thinking about how we’re going to reform ourselves and our companies to compete in a business landscape where the ground seems to be constantly shifting beneath our feet.

Get Serious about Data Security

It can be hard to drive home the gravity of the world’s current vulnerability when it comes to technology. So, to drive the point home, let me frighten you a bit:

A friend of mine who works for a public accounting firm told me an IT security horror story about one of her clients. This company, which had millions a year in revenue, was running their entire accounting operation from a single computer running Windows 98. All their sensitive customer data was contained in unsecured Excel spreadsheets, on an outdated computer with absolutely no anti-virus software on it. The PC wasn’t even password protected.

Anyone with access to the building could have stolen all of that information, including client bank account information. If the company had been publicly traded, and it was known that this was their level of IT disaster preparedness, their stock would be worthless, and the shareholders might even sue.

The future is bright for businesses who take on the right strategies this year.

The future is bright for businesses who take on the right strategies this year.

My friend’s story is an extreme case of negligence in the IT world, but even large corporations with sophisticated IT security measures are experiencing significant data breaches. And the root cause of these problems is usually traced back to an improperly configured server or some other security flaw that could have been caught with a simple IT audit. Lax security is putting everything from your customers’ identifying information to your individual trade secrets at risk.

As your company grows, it’s essential that you have regular audits. You can’t simply trust a single IT professional to take care of all of it. A single significant data breach can expose you to huge liability that can easily sink a small or medium-sized business. You simply can’t afford not to be serious about protecting yours and your customers’ data.

Make Your Business a Marketing Extrovert

Many successful business people are accused of being narcissistic, but it’s that very trait of putting yourself out there on a consistent basis (hopefully in a non-obnoxious way) that helps you spread ideas, establish yourself as a leader and make sure people know your name. The same goes for companies. If your business only toots its own horn through traditional marketing channels, you’re going to get left behind. An increasingly digital world requires that we all become online marketing extroverts, spreading our message through web ads, PPC advertising, social media marketing, SEO and content marketing. If you’re not involved in these things, you might as well not exist to huge demographic swaths of would-be customers.

Start a company blog. Begin touting your products and your brand in social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and anywhere else where your customers will start looking for you. A slick website and an online ecommerce platform aren’t enough for businesses to compete in the marketplace anymore—they’re the price of entry.

Start Defining Your Best Practices

Productivity is through the roof in most businesses around the country. And those where it isn’t may soon find some other, leaner, more agile company is coming up from behind to eat their lunch. While you’re first starting out, growing fast and just making sure everything runs smoothly, it’s easy to just let everyone do what works. But that can’t last once you’re past the startup phase. You have to define your critical operations and develop best practices for them.

In my book for entrepreneurs, I make the analogy that best practices are like weapons. The idea is that defining and reforming the on-the-ground tasks that are your everyday business, from one end of the company to the other, cuts the waste out of your organization. Taking a microscope to the way each department—each person, even—operates will help you identify week spots in your best practices, weak spots that your competitors may also have. Then you can reform your own processes and start to exploit that former weakness in your competitors in the marketplace.

The businesses that nail down a process for self-reflection and reform set themselves up to be on the bleeding-edge of innovation in their industry. That’s a good place to be. (This feeds back into being an extrovert. If your company has the leading experts in the field, make them blog about what they know; use them as a marketing resource to establish your authority in online spaces and build your brand.) When you’re constantly improving, you’re gaining on the competitors who are resting on their laurels, and the competitors who are behind you can’t catch up. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon.

As the New Year approaches, it’s likely that we’re about to experience a serious amount of growth in many sectors of the economy. If you’re ready to buckle down, refine your processes and start getting over the growing pains that so many new businesses suffer from, you can ride that wave through a year of prosperity and progress. Good luck.

Mike Mann, social activist and serial entrepreneur, is the author of MakeMillions.Com, a business book focused on making money in small business in order to better serve society. Read or download the book today for insight on his philosophy on wedding entrepreneurship and charitable goals

A Long-Term View

If you’re not looking ahead, you’re falling behind. At all times, you must be looking toward the long-term future of your business or charity. This requires intense focus, hard work, and an ability to multitask. You must set demanding goals and simultaneously pay attention to the big picture and small details. Above all else, you must have full confidence in yourself. There is no room for self-doubt in business.

Setting the Right Goals

While goals about next month’s revenue or this year’s product sales are important, they are not enough. You must also set goals for the years ahead. A successful business plans three or more years ahead and sets appropriate targets to meet along the way. If you are not constantly working for a goal beyond the current fiscal year, you may lose sight of your vision. Meanwhile, your competitors who do focus on the future will rush past you and claim more market space.

Your goals should challenge you. If they seem easy to achieve, you will not reach your potential. The best goals will seem a little beyond your ability—the route to the finish line will not seem totally clear. James Collins and Jerry Porras defined such goals as “BHAGs” in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. BHAGs are “big, hairy, audacious goals.” BHAGs encourage creative thinking and problem solving that will open doors to new possibilities. You can only become aware of opportunities if you are looking for them. Along the way, set achievable targets that will serve as mileposts on the way to your BHAG.

Splitting Your Attention with Focus

There are only so many hours in the day. Most people work as many of those hours as they can. The only way to get ahead is to be more efficient during those hours by using Best Practices. To do so, you must focus on many tasks and projects at once. You also must take care when splitting your attention to look at details. By nature, multitasking leads to a quality loss unless you take care to avoid it. Focusing on details enables you to maintain top quality on multiple projects.

When examining the details of many projects at once, it can be easy to forget the big picture. You must always keep your ultimate vision in mind as you look at each individual project. One way to accomplish this is to limit your projects to only those that accomplish your BHAGs best. Being the best in your market space is what makes you successful, and that requires a big-picture view to achieve.

Maintaining Your Confidence

Confidence comes with direction. If you have set a BHAG and appropriate milestones along the way, you set the stage for confidence. Confidence also comes from knowing your talents and knowing the industry. Staying up to date by reading articles and going to conferences is a critical part of maintaining your confidence and keeping your skills sharp.

However, you will make mistakes. It is crucial that you do not let mistakes shake your confidence. When you feel confident, you can make decisions faster and respond faster to the demands of our rapidly changing economy. If you feel self-doubt, your decisions will always be made after hesitation, and your more confident competitors will beat you to the finish.

Winning Success

With a solid plan, challenging goals, and confidence, you are on the path to success. When you split your attention between the details of each task and the overall vision, you ensure that you stay on that path. The only ingredient remaining is motivation, and that comes with passion, which we talked about earlier. When motivated, you will reach your goal. To stay motivated, you must find something that drives you. For some, it is charity. For others, it is providing for a family. The best motivator comes from deciding what you most want out of life and making it what you work for.

Please share your thoughts on what your vision is. What goals do you set, and what motivates you to get there?