Small Business

Are your Priorities Reflected on your calendar?

It has been said that your email inbox is nothing more than the well-organized priorities of everyone else. Is that also true of your calendar? Would it be apparent to a stranger looking at your calendar what your highest priorities might be?

In my work with even the greatest clients, I have learned that what a leader might say is important to them and what they actually do, are sometimes not in coordination. It follows that what we value most requires the time to achieve. Whether it is being a great Dad, or a great business owner plotting a positive trajectory for the business and all that work in it, the one absolute is that it will not happen unless the time, effort and focus are applied in direct relationship to the goal’s priority. It is extremely difficult in today’s ridiculously paced business world to try to get everything accomplished. Therefore, we must choose. Choose sometimes to not make that meeting, attend that lunch, or answer that call until our highest priorities are met.

This week, write down your three highest personal and professional priorities. List them in importance and apply a reasonable amount of time to achieve your objectives. Now go to your weekly calendar and place the necessary appointments with yourself that need to be as sacred as an important client meeting. If something comes up – as it always has and always will – simply move the meeting with you instead of missing it. When we miss consistently committing the time to our goals – plainly put – we miss achieving our goals. Missing our goals creates self-doubt and an unwillingness to establish new ones. This is what happens to the average executive – be more than average this year!

Have a productive week!

Coach Kirby

Pesky Persistence – Part 2

Is your plan still correct? If not, update the plan. Is your goal still correct? If not, update or abandon your goal. There’s no honor in clinging to a goal that no longer inspires you. Persistence is not stubbornness.

This was a particularly difficult lesson for me to learn. I had always believed one should never give up, that once you set a goal, you should hang on to the bitter end. The captain goes down with the ship and all that. If I ever failed to finish a project I started, I’d feel very guilty about it.

Eventually I figured out that this is just nonsense.

If you’re growing at all as a human being, then you’re going to be a different person each year than you were the previous year. And if you consciously pursue personal development, then the changes will often be dramatic and rapid. You can’t guarantee that the goals you set today will still be ones you’ll want to achieve a year from now.

The value of persistence comes not from stubbornly clinging to the past. It comes from a vision of the future that’s so compelling you would give almost anything to make it real.

Persistence of action comes from persistence of vision.

Major in the Minor

It is better to be the best in a niche than just a face in a busy crowd. I met a realtor who markets himself as an expert in the disposition of real estate for those in divorces. Why would he do this? 1) There are 5,936 Realtors in San Antonio, 2) The divorce statistics in America are 45%-50% of first marriages end in divorce, 60%-67% of 2nd marriages and 70% – 73% of third marriages all end in divorce, 3) This is a unique situation with particular complications that most realtors will not want to deal with – he did his research and became an expert, 2) He represents both parties – so each needs a new place to live.

In your business – what is your specialty – you can have more than one. Be a specialist – market yourself heavily to that vertical and watch magic happen!

Be the best!

To your success!

Vanilla is Awesome – unless you are a small business!

According to the International Ice Cream Association in Washington, D.C Vanilla is still the runaway most favored ice cream flavor in the United States with a 29% approval rating vs. number two, Chocolate, with 8.9%. Just to finish the thought – because I know you are dying to know – butter pecan ekes out a third place victory over Strawberry.

McDonald’s and Pepsi can serve vanilla. So can Charles Schwab, a Presidential candidate or General Motors – but can a small business? My short answer is “No” unless you have the type of money to market the “All-things-to-all-folks” message.

For us little guys, however, we can’t afford to be vanilla and be a break out success. We must be strikingly relevant in unique and contextual ways. If a business has competitors that do precisely the same thing – and we all have a bunch of them – then all of us fade into the background. Our quest, then, is to either out-spend them or out-market them. Since most of us will raise our hand for the latter strategy, this will force us to do a little homework.

Why do our loyal customers choose us?
What do they think makes us unique?
When they refer us – what are our qualities, or the things that we do, that they tell their friends about?
What are the most important benefits that they seek when they choose a vendor in our space?

Once we understand this – our marketing must scream this messaging – in our ads, our postcards, our invoices, our phone work, our networking and, of course, our websites.

Without uniqueness, we are just another scoop of vanilla in a 31 Vanilla Flavors display case. You know we are there – we are just hard to find! So as the customer strolls along the freezers with their nose up against the glass, they can’t see a difference between the vanilla offerings except for the price per scoop next to each tub. We are then subject to the only quality we have given the opportunity to compare against. Nobody wins in a price war.

Stand out or stand down!

To your success!