Archive for July, 2012

The Curse of BS

Posted: July 29, 2012 by Micah Baldwin in Leadership, People

How are you?

In your head, how did you respond? Did you automatically blurt out “fine”?

My freshman English teacher, Mrs. Carter, once told me that answering the question “How are you?” with anything other than “I’m fine” was a waste of breath.

People don’t really care how you are.

It’s the same with honesty. People don’t want honesty.

“How’s it going with your company?”

“We’re killing it.”

Shut up.

I’ve taken to answering that question with “It’s interesting.”

Blank stares and fear that I am eliciting a response flow over faces.

We have been cursed by a belief that being anything other than [BS] is helpful to whomever we are speaking with. Don’t burden them with your problems, let them enjoy a false sense that your life is better than theirs (after all we all know how sucky our own lives can be). Don’t blog about pain, confusion or doubt (unless you are Dave McClure, but you know, that dude is crazy!). Don’t use any other colors than happy to paint a picture of your life.

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The Wisdom of Listening

Posted: July 22, 2012 by Bill Cunningham in Leadership, People, Startup

“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change” – Confucius

For those of us in the middle, we know that change is no longer an option, but a required course to survive and thrive. If your company is growing quickly, you may feel your whole culture change every three to six months. So what can you do to stay ahead of the curve?

“As a an entrepreneur, don’t start from scratch. Set up a good support network to share (or beg, borrow and steal) good ideas, test your assumptions and hold your feet to the fire. A common comment from startup entrepreneurs is that they have no one to talk to about their issues. The employees all come to them with their problems and concerns – but the business owner needs a friendly ear.

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Beating the Odds

Posted: July 15, 2012 by Rodney D'Souza in Ecosystem, Innovation, People, Planning, Startup

IS NOT just having a unique, one-of-a-kind idea. While inventing the idea is necessary to start a new venture, execution of that great idea distinguishes successful from unsuccessful startups. To execute well, entrepreneurs need to take advantage of every resource in their environment such as the industry connections, mentorship, access to capital and market intelligence. If you are new to the startup world, or even if you are a veteran, Business Incubation has proven to be a great model that helps entrepreneurs better navigate their environments, and dramatically increase their survival rate and success.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) data indicates that 40% is the success rate for startup businesses – meaning that of 10 businesses started today, six will disappear over the next 5 years. In contrast, the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) reports a success rate of over 85% for incubated businesses. Business incubation provides entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services critical to young, growing companies. Incubators come in many flavors – both for profit and nonprofit, target a range of early stage companies, and focus on a single industry (such as BioLogic a life science incubator in Covington Kentucky) or a variety of industries (such as the Hamilton County Business Center).

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Think Global-E

Posted: July 8, 2012 by Chuck Matthews in Global, Marketing, Planning

“The interconnected, interactive, global economy challenges
both the way we see business and way we do business.”

Kenichi Ohmae, Global Strategy

With the World Choir Games in full voice right here in Cincinnati and the Queen City reaching out to the world on multiple fronts throughout the year, this is the summer to be thinking globally. In June of 2010, I had the privilege of hosting the 55th Anniversary World Conference of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) here in Cincinnati, with over 430 delegates representing educators, researchers, business owners, and thought leaders from over 60 countries. This past week, I had the honor to spend some time with an eight member delegation from eight sub-Saharan African countries participating in President Obamba’s Young African Leaders Initiative. On an even larger scale, it is estimated that over 350 Choirs representing 46 countries will bring over 15,000 visitors arriving from 64 countries to the U.S. and our hometown. If you are a Tri-State small business owner or entrepreneur, this is the perfect time to consider the possibilities of Global Entrepreneurship (Global-E). Ask yourself, what unserved and/or underserved global market opportunities exist for current and future goods and services delivered by your venture?

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Years ago, I left the friendly confines of a Big 4 consulting firm to become a senior executive at a publicly traded financial services company.  I actually expected smooth sailing.  In consulting, I had been involved in some difficult assignments with emerging businesses.  It was the learning years of my career.  I had experienced first hand how businesses grow and become successful.  And so, why would it be any different in this new role?

I was prepared for a cultural adjustment and for operating a business instead of a consulting practice.  What surprised me and threw me off stride was the talent gap and the employee’s questionable commitment to working hard.  I knew success would only happen by having the right people in the right spots.  The company was not ready to “go on offense” because the skills were not in place.  The opportunity was in front of us, yet we lacked the skilled players to execute the strategy.

Every day, entrepreneurs are confronted with the “talent issue.”  Employees at start-ups are asked to do more with less.  This operating approach requires highly motivated, skilled people willing to work harder for a possibility at the end of the rainbow.  Look around.  How does your team stack-up?  Are you confident that they have the stuff to make the entrepreneurial endeavor successful?  Lofty goals require top talent.  Look at your people.  Can they do it?  Or are you playing defense because the offense hasn’t drafted very well and shown up to play?

The Five Questions Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask about their Talent?

You may often ask yourself – “How do I assess whether I have the right players on the team?”  Spend some time observing and looking around for the evidence.   As you are looking around, consider the following questions:

  • Are you coming up short in the critical skill areas?

Are your financial professionals providing a thorough analysis of your numbers?  Has your marketing staff been diligent in introducing products that your customers need?  Can your HR professionals recruit and attract top talent into your company?  Do your employees have the skills to deliver on your promises and their commitments?

Assess your current level of talent.  Do it now!  Set clear expectations and provide the needed resources.  If you still come up short, make the tough talent decisions and move on.  You must have the critical skills on your team to scale the mountain top.