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by Administrator 16. February 2012 10:19

"Are You Allowing Your Company to Become a Spork?"

by Jim Senhauser

Did you ever wonder about the guy who invented the spork? You know what a spork is, don’t you? It is that plastic utensil that some of the fast food places give you in place of a fork and a spoon. I am guessing that the inventor of the spork thought it would save the restaurant chain a lot of hassles and waste because it can be used to fill the need for either a spoon or a fork or both.

You’ll note that I say theory, because the spork, with its very short tines, does not do the work of a fork very well, especially when it comes to eating salads. The spork also is deficient when it comes to eating anything that requires a spoon, because its bowl is really only a fraction of that of a real spoon.

Here’s the deal: do you know what a spork really is? I’ll tell you. A spork is a fork that wasn’t willing to commit. Or, perhaps a spork is a spoon who wasn’t willing to put himself out there to decide what he really wanted to be in life. You get the gist.

So, here is my question to you as a business owner or manager — are you allowing your business to become a spork? Are you like many business owners or upper level managers in that your company is not really fully dedicated to any particular path? Is your firm going through each day as if it is a “play it by ear” exercise?

Alternately, like the spork, you may be trying to have your company do double-duty, in an attempt to be all things to all people. As a result, your company in its efforts to be multiple things to multiple markets, might just end up not being anything to anyone. Sometimes it is necessary to decide if you are going to be really good at something or mediocre or less at trying to do a lot of things. It is all about commitment.

Compare this fragmented approach with companies that put themselves “out there,” and play full-out. Their approach is to be the best fork or the best spoon that they can. Companies like that are committed to an ideal, a goal or simply dedicated to being the best or just really good at what it is that they do. The commitment decision and subsequent follow through are the key to winning the battle.

Find a company or its management that is not committed to a well defined principle and highly visible goals and you are likely to find one that ends up not achieving their fullest potential. Why? Because they pursue an ill-defined goal, often half-heartedly and are likely to get off track easily. Like the spork, they inadvertently try to be easily adaptable chameleons that don’t stand out for anything that they do.

Don’t get me wrong; a company can succeed as a “jack of all trades.” However, if that is the case, the key is to be genuinely committed to being the best “jack” that you can, AND be really good at a number of those trades. Trust me when I say that no one is going to refer to your company as a “jack of all trades” if you either are not particularly effective at those skill-sets or have a less-than-full commitment to pursuing them with a high degree of excellence.

So, the next time that you walk into a fast food restaurant and you happen to pick up a spork, think to yourself how much better a good, solid fork with long tines or a nice well-rounded spoon would serve your purpose.

Then relate that to how a company that exercises a committed, full-out approach to doing one or two things really well, or conversely, practices a well-rounded and well-grounded approach to getting a variety of things done exceptionally WELL works for you. But, whatever you do, don’t allow your company, like the spork, to get stuck in the middle, not doing either approach well.

Meanwhile, back at that fast-food restaurant — grab that spork they give you, and toss it away. Then, use one of the real utensils you brought with you (in your pocket or purse) to eat your meal efficiently and effectively.

‘Cause let’s face it: life is far too short to get sporked.

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by Administrator 11. January 2012 11:51

"During Tough Times, Don't Let an Economic Recession Become a Courage Recession"

by Jim Senhauser

Over the past few years, no one can deny that there has been an excess of disappointing financial news. More recently, employment trends have been ticking up. Still, in viewing the future, there remains a lot of economic uncertainty and insecurity out there. This is true among business owners, heads of companies as well as lots of people who are just trying to keep their job or find a new one.

Let's face it – uncertainty can breed fear. Unfortunately, that fear can lead business owners and managers to make some pretty regrettable decisions, long-term, if they are not careful. Such a reaction is natural. When we are concerned that the road ahead might still be a bit rocky, we often tend to want to "tighten things up" and begin to cut our costs and expenses of doing business. Nothing wrong with being a little cautious, is there?

Normal caution is a good thing. Irrational fears and the knee-jerk reactions that they can trigger are not. The trick is to refuse to allow an economic recession to trigger a courage recession. Even during less than stellar economic periods, there are opportunities out there that would not be available during more prosperous and comfortable times.

So, beware – take precautions in your business strategies and your personal financial affairs so that you can weather whatever the economic slowdown throws your way. But, don't let that blind you to the possibilities that will begin to crop up all around you.

When it seems that everybody else is tightening their belts, a shortage of economic or personal courage can sometimes lead businesses to become overly conservative in their "paring back" strategies. When these businesses abandon a market or become less aggressive, they may even be creating openings for you, me or other competitors in various niches, or simply lower our barriers to compete.

Advertising costs go down, suppliers become hungrier and more goods or properties become available at unheard-of prices. It is essential for all of us to keep our eyes open for all of the opportunities that downturns create.

When times get tough, those companies with less courage often cut back on development and delay or stop their new product launches, marketing efforts or service innovations. However, if the market continues to demand the types of products they produce or services they offer, consumers are still going to be looking for something that is newer and better than what they have seen previously.

It was not so long ago that the cell phone market was considered stagnant. Then, the so-called "smart phones" were introduced. A variety of innovative products from Apple, Blackberry, Samsung, HTC and others recreated a market that a few years earlier seemed stale and saturated. While during an economic slowdown there may be fewer consumers overall who are buying, if you are the one who is selling, it is still your job to capture all those customers that you can. As a result, when things do improve, as they eventually are bound to, you will be in a superior position vis-à-vis your competition. You will have created a legion of new customers and clients from the ranks of your competitors' former devotees.

In slow economic times, it is also important to keep an eye out for other markets that might have potential for you. There may be unexplored niches that could become viable for your company as a line extension or even an entirely new business.

Now don't get me wrong. It is crucial to exercise normal caution. No one is as familiar with your business or financial situation as you are. You know what you need to do to remain "in the black." However, don't let fear blind you to the possibilities that are out there to develop a competitive advantage over those who are being overly timid.

Much as we would like to think so, it is not always the people who are exceedingly brilliant or the most creative who succeed. It is instead often the most courageous, or just those who exhibit normal levels of courage in tough times. Everybody knows that whiners are rarely winners.

To fret and worry is simply a waste of valuable energy. If you have anxieties about your business, channel those concerns into doing what you need to do to correct the situation. Let your concern about the future provide you with the resolute impetus needed to move forward, not to be competitively complacent or paralyzed with worry, doubt and fear.

Remember, courage is not the absence of fear or doubt. It is instead the ability to press on, even when some level of fear or doubt is present. You and I can never allow an economic recession to become a recession in courage.

(This article from Jim Senhauser is copyright 2012 – IdeaTree®, Ltd. Chicago, IL 60613. All rights reserved. IdeaTree is a registered trademark of IdeaTree, Ltd., an Illinois-based web marketing and copywriting firm.)

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