Archive for the ‘Business Advice’ Category

Where are You Supposed to Be Now?

No – not about time management.

If you have published a book – you would be nuts not to have it listed on Amazon. Similarly  an audio book or song just has to be on iTunes.

So where should your product or service hang out?

In the middle ages people with similar trades grouped together in the same location. Some professions such as car sales continued the practice through the industrial era – its rare to find one set up completely separate from all other car yards.

So be conscious of this …….new world – where should you be located in the virtual world – separate or together? Which one and why?

Actress demonstrating initial reactions of fea...

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Fear is the stock and trade of terrorists. They act fearless and hope to paralyse their target society with fear. The intense security surrounding the Commonwealth games in India has inevitably lead to smaller crowds held back from the action and athletes held in the protective custody of their accommodation. Bearing in mind the whole point of the games is to bring the Commonwealth together, I can’t help but feel the terrorists have won this round – Whether there is a bomb or none.

What makes business people fearful?

* The threat of legal action.
* Possible Patent disputes.
* The potential power of a bureaucracy.
* The threat of industrial action.
* Our products might not be as good as others.
* My staff just don’t seem to be as motivated as theirs.
* Tax audits.
* Cashflow projections.
* Pressure Groups Protests using you as a football.
* The new mall just  down the road.
* A Competitor that seems poised to dominate.

Did you notice that none of the items on this list tangible? None are real. Every single one is only a possibility – a fear. A little terrorist in your head.

Now I appreciate you are tough enough to handle all of the above, otherwise you would not be in business in the first place, but fear can be insidious and influence a decision unconsciously. I recall meeting a one-time competitor and sharing war stories. We were both shocked to realise we both thought the other was the better equipped, better organised and had superior products – and had both factored this fear-belief into how we approached prospects. Had either of us been conscious of this – we could have been twice as successful.

So – what fears are keeping your business from being more successful?

Is your competition just using guerrilla warfare tactics to scare you? Is it working?

Chances are the competition is no more scary than the wizard of Oz.

Chances are they will back off in fear when you seem confident, assured, act boldly and decisively.

Chances are they will become fearful when you seem fearless….



The Bathurst 1000, held at Mount Panorama Circ...

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I sat and watched the Supercheap Auto 1000 Motor race at Bathurst yesterday and it struck me what a lot  V8 motor racing and marketing have in common.

The first crash of the day was in the first lap, spectacular and completely destroyed the $400,000 car because of a $1.20 part. (Attention to detail – especially in customer service)

One team had no end of trouble – pit problems, tyre problems, bad luck on the track – but still ended up on the podium. (Perseverance, and Focus)

All the teams never lost sight of where their money was coming from – sponsors – and always took the time to answer the pit reporter’s questions as though they had all the time in the world (Public face, customer service etc). I wonder how many senior management could learn this one a little better?

From memory the safety car only came out 4 times, no one was hurt and no one retired because of mechanical problems. (Everyone was professional, prepared. Competition is stiff)

One team had suffered a major prang in practice and needed a part from Melbourne in order to race. A rival team lent their private plane so a round trip could be made to get the part. The team worked through the night to rebuild the car. This story was repeated all day as an example of the passion for the sport overcoming rivalries and gave massive positive coverage for both teams sponsors.


What $1.20 parts are you cost-saving on that could derail the entire marketing plan. Are your ‘free’ customer gifts cheap and nasty? Is there fine print in your agreements that upset customers frequently? What do your customers moan about the most? Chances are it will be something small at the heart of the issue – FIX IT

If you think you are coming last in the market with a lemon of a product – can you dig deep and find the tenacity and market focus to end up winning?

Are you and your team well prepared and trained, rested, un-distracted and sufficiently professional to tackle all the competition in a long haul race at  300 kph?

When have you helped a competitor – for the good of the industry, market, customer base – i.e. when have you put long term ahead of a quick win?

New Zealand national rugby union team

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Meeting your legal obligations with safety warnings and such does no have to be boring

In fact if customers are involved – you should really try hard to make it fun – make it a point of difference.

If memory serves – Southwestern Airlines in the USA was the first to inject a little humour into the safety briefing such as, “There are 50 ways to leave your lover, but only 6 ways to leave this aircraft” and many more.

Seems many airlines from around the world including our own Air New Zealand has picked up on this and made it their own. I recently saw their new video safety briefing that features several All Blacks, (New Zealand‘s National Rugby Team), and Graham Henry, their coach. My favorite line was “If  you need to smoke on this flight – consider yourself dropped” (from the team)

This appeals hugely to any red blooded Kiwi. And if you don’t know how significant the All Blacks are to New Zealand – try asking one of us – we’ll be only too happy to tell you just how significant and how good they are.

So the question for today becomes – How can you turn something you HAVE to do in your business into something fun? And not only for your clients – what about the staff (” Oh no – not the Monday meeting again”)

Oh – and if you want to see Air NZ’s video – go here:

And with this sort of attitude I don’t think its a coincidence Air NZ continues to be profitable while many other airlines are stumbling along.

Longer maceration at high temperature can brin...

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This post has come about by two seemingly unrelated events and a nice glass of wine…

Event One: Seth Godin gave a fascinating speech recently to a skeptical book publishing industry – virtually pleading with them to wake up and avoid the mistakes the music industry made when addressing the change online digital media forced upon their industry. Seth outlined how they MUST gather a tribe – that leading an audience is more important that owning products and patents. (And he is right!)

Event One-and-a-half: Magazine industry heavyweights are in a battle with Apple. They want to sell their product via iTunes – but they also want to own the information about the subscribers – after all the magazine business understands the value of the subscriber data better than the book, music and movie industries appear to. Apple believes its customers are its own and that data is private between Apple and its iTunes subscribers. The media continue to blast Apple for ‘knowing whats best’ and not be more open.

In effect – they have a Seth ‘Tribe’ and continue to pick and choose the products they wish to offer ‘their’ followers. Magazine owners have lost their biggest asset and didn’t see it coming. They have no choice but to compromise and work with Apple, Amazon and any other platform that represents a tribe.

Event Two: Facebook‘s recently got a lot of negative press about opting you in by default to public sharing of information. Whether you were OK with this or not – a lot of debate centered around Facebook making decisions on your behalf – and not making them conscious opt-in choices for you.

The Glass of Wine: My initial reaction was in line with old-think: “Boo Apple – let me choose” – but then i thought that through a bit more. As Facebook user – I do not want the rules changed without my approval – I now do not trust Facebook as much as I trust Apple and Amazon. I am comfortable giving these two organisations my credit card number and address details to make future purchases easier. I would not give this sort of information to Facebook in a million years. And there is the key insight for you:

If your customers give YOU information – treat it as you would a rare and precious gift. Don’t on-sell it. Don’t rent your customer list out. Don’t contact your customers using invented reasons to thinly disguise a naked sales drive.

Do this – and your customers will reward you with trust – and that is the most precious gift that Seth and some companies get – while the rest seem stuck in a 1930’s version of the catalog business.

So – what information do you have about your customers? How can you increase their trust in you by demonstrating to them your respect for their privacy (actions – not words)

HINT: Think of the quintessential English butler – the one that sees you at your best, worst and everything in between, knows your habits, anticipates your needs, but always acts with utmost discretion to the point you completely trust them with your life.

Forearmed is forewarned so the old saying goes – and I hope this is true for you and your business.

The Entrepreneur’s Prayer

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Business Advice
Focus 8

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God grant me FOCUS on my GOAL,
The one that stirs deep within my SOUL.
I pray my PASSION steadfast stands,
On the rocky road LESS TRAVELED to my promised land.

I wrote this thinking about the passion and commitment needed to see a new business venture go from idea to success – and the personal faith needed to pull you through the hard bits and truly help you succeed.

The Australian elections this weekend gave a sobering lesson in how (NOT) to stand out from the crowd.

Both major parties appeared to pedal similar policies and want the same things, (at least from an NZ perspective)

Result: A hung parliament – too close to call, and all power now vests with the tiny solo ‘independents’ and the one seat of the Greens. Its happening all over the western world as political parties bend over backwards so as not to offend anyone – and end up not standing for anything and annoying everyone.

The lesson applies to large business – if you are perceived to be similar to your major competition – then you will loose market share to some little startup sooner or later.

It could be argued Apple did just that when the phone market was full of me-too items

The lesson applies equally to small business – stand for something different – stand out – and you wont be trampled by the big guys – but you might just grab more market share than you expected – in a hurry – from people bored with the same old same old.

So – In what way is your business the same as your competition?

And how can you change that – and strengthen your customers perception of a business that is strong, vibrant, a leader – someone they want to do business with!