Extra Points: Ready for the Storm

Dan_Weedin_034Last week, the Puget Sound area had its second straight year of significant snowfall. For us, it’s between 8-12 inches and that’s enough to create suspension of operations for many businesses.
I received a phone call from a client in the hospitality industry asking if snow was enough to make a claim for loss of business income. I had to explain that for any loss of income claim, there needed to be direct damage loss from a covered peril, like a fire.
It was a good question to ask. It also brings to light the fact that insurance isn’t the only answer to calamities that can negatively impact business. While properly programmed insurance is a huge help when property has been damaged, there are many perils to be concerned about and prepared for.
If you own or are a key business leader, here are a few obstacles that are very real and can damage a business:
Suspension of operations due to weather; loss of power and connectivity; bad behavior by individuals causing reputation damage; loss of primary client or supplier; loss of key person, including the owner. Too often, business leaders focus on only growth and forget what impact to growth a suspension or reduction in operations has.
While some may be eligible for insurance help, it’s best to create a plan to prevent and recover. Not doing so – in advance – can kill a business, even if insurance is in place.
Your assignment is to make prevention and disaster recovery a part of your overall strategy. That way, you and your business are prepared to thrive in any situation.
P.S. If you think this only applies to a business, you’re sadly mistaken. The same is true for your personal life. Consider yourself the CEO of your family, however that may be structured. Take on the same assignment!
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies within you.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Is Your Company Eating Cheetos?

Dan_Weedin_034One of my regular modes of transportation is the Washington State Ferry service. The crossing time is about 30 minutes, so while I often will catch up on emails and other correspondence, I try to take advantage of the time by getting my “steps” in.
Walking the ferry is a very popular thing for ferry travelers. You can often see half a dozen or more walkers circling the track. We pass by each other and sometimes nod or smile knowingly as we cram some exercise in our day.
In the last ferry walk I did, one of the other walkers whom I had passed many times over about a 10 minute span, stopped at the vending machine. My first thought was that I didn’t know of any healthy alternatives in that machine. Sure enough, on the next lap I saw her walking and chomping on Cheetos. Cheetos!
Yes, this woman was showing some commitment to exercise, but the action of eating something that is certainly not a healthy snack was incongruous with the first activity. In other words, one action didn’t line up with the other and – at least in my opinion – eliminated the value of the good action.
How many companies do exactly the same thing?
Have you ever been in an organization that publicly espoused that they cared about company culture but their words and actions said something else? Rather than foster collaboration, the company didn’t listen, didn’t develop people, and didn’t keep promises the result is low employee morale and high turnover.
Have you ever seen companies that said they care about client service, yet offset that with long wait times for service, lack of communication, and not using technology to improve service.
Here’s the deal: If ones words and actions don’t align with what they assert publicly, then no one believes they are genuine and all of the positive stated is lost. Just like I didn’t buy the walker’s commitment to health because of her subsequent food choice, employees, clients, and community will see through duplicitous words and actions.
Here’s your assignment: Check your own company, regardless of whether you are the boss or employee. How does your mission, vision, and value align with what happens daily with your company?
What we say matters. Our actions matter more. Make sure your mission, vision, values, and actions all are in concert. That will lead to a very healthy organization!
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”
~ Bernard Baruch
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: How To Avoid Putting Out Fires

Dan_Weedin_022Barb and I had the privilege of having our granddaughters visit for the weekend. Our oldest is at the stage where she “parrots” everything she hears. All of a sudden, I will hear her repeat my, “Bella be quiet!” or “Captain Jack, lay down!.” It was fortunate for me that she was asleep during the Seahawks playoff game!
Parents have learned that what they say might either come back to haunt them or be repeated out loud by their toddler. It’s the same lesson CEOs and business leaders should be learning with their adult employees.
How one talks to their employees and those under their leadership becomes incredibly important to the culture, and overall profitability of the organization. Not that many years ago, the old “command and control” method of running a company was thought to be the fastest way to results. You saw it at all levels of leadership; from the athletic arena to the military to the boardroom. While a certain amount of command and control is needed in a life and death situation like the military, it’s found to be far less effective in the modern world of business.
While my granddaughter has become very adept at “parroting” our language as she learns how to communicate in the world, your employees will also mimic your language and culture. The “command and control” version doesn’t recognize innovation, new ideas, or fresh voices. Rather it stifles all of that to assure that whomever has been around the longest will tell someone how to act, lead, or respond. The result is a detriment to profitability and a potential crisis for the company.
I often tell clients that while a fire is damaging, there is insurance and a plan on how to respond. The real challenges are the proverbial “fires” being out out daily by leadership. These have often ignited due to poor leadership, lack of sound communication, and the command and control method of leadership. And, they are very costly to the bottom line and to reputation.
What you want for your company is a collaborative environment where ideas are fostered and people are recognized for thinking outside the box. Leadership is about listening, encouraging, and communicating. What you want your employees to mimic or “parrot” are positive attributes of the company and its leaders. You can tell a well-led sports team by how it talks after a game, especially after a tough loss. You can also identify the culture of a company by how people respond and how long they stick around.
Your assignment: Start the year of checking on what your employees and co-workers are saying and doing. While it may not be bad, improvement always leads to improved morale, reduced turnover, and increased profitability.
And isn’t that message you’d like repeated?!
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
~ Leonardo DaVinci
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Unleashing the 2020s!

Dan_Weedin_034This is my January 2020 column for the Kitsap Business Journal and Kitsap Sun. I’m celebrating 10 years as a monthly columnist. In fact. my first column was January of 2010! Many thanks to the Kitsap Sun for a great relationship. On to the next 10 years!

Welcome to the Roaring 20s!

While the original Roaring 20s were identified by the Prohibition era, extravagant living, and ultimately financial collapse, these “Roaring 2020s” are open for your own interpretation. One hundred years later, the business world now belongs to more people and has become a global economy, even for the smallest of businesses. Are you ready to begin the next decade like a lion?

You must view this decade as an opportunity unlike any in history to grow your business, unleash your career, and thrive in life. Unlike almost all past decades, the potential of your business is unlimited. The question is; will you be using tools and resources based on past decades or will you be innovating and forging your own path using new ideas, modern mechanisms, and platforms that have yet to be created?

What will be required of you will be far different that 100 years ago. Back then, our lifestyle was unimaginable. The incredible thing for us is what the next decade brings might be unimaginable to us today.

In order to grow, unleash and thrive in the next 10 years, you need to invest time, energy, and resources into short and long term vision. Yes, the cliche isn’t lost on me; creating a 2020 vision for the future. But once we get past the cleverness, we must roll up our sleeves like the old days and get to the business of forging that vision.

There are the three areas to begin focusing on today that will help you plan your company’s next decade: Strategic growth planning, technology to leverage your business, and strengthening your organization through employee recruitment and retention.

Strategic Growth Planning:

Everyone wants to grow their business but not everyone invests the time in strategically planning for it.

Strategic planning means bringing your key leadership or executive team together for a full day (or two) of planning how you will grow your business. That meeting can be done in person or virtually. Utilize technology to include everyone that has a voice, even if they are outside your organization.

I just returned from Montana helping my client do just this. They invested a day with me to shape and formalize their plan for 2020 and beyond. This family-owned company has been in business over 40 years, yet they realize their industry is changing fast and they need to be leading the charge. What about you?

The focus of your session should be on issues surrounding sales and marketing, innovation, new audiences, improved efficiency, and business continuity and succession planning.

Each of these areas deserves conversation and understanding of the organization’s direction. The reason is they all focus on the two most important aspects of business: revenue generation and protection of wealth.

In the next decade, your value proposition and ability to reach your target market profitably and broadly will be critical to your success. Additionally, your ability to recover quickly from any type of calamity may save hundreds of thousands of dollars and keep you in business. This is an area that often is overlooked; don’t make that mistake. Plan that your ability to continue in business through this decade and beyond is assured.

Technology in your business:

You don’t need me to tell you that technology is not only changing rapidly, but also has a volatility that can be both scary and exciting. Certainly, we have little idea today of what technology will look like 10 years from now. A decade ago, we couldn’t have predicted to abundance of changes to how we live and work; things like mobile apps, digital keys, and smart homes and offices.

We all need to be attentive in understanding how technology is changing and importantly, what our clients expect from us in return. Lack of innovation can kill a small business. Fortunately, your ability to be nimble comes in handy when it comes to speed of decision-making.

Here are areas you should be examining, reviewing, and charting innovation in for your business technology:

— Your website. Is it up to date with images, copy, contact information, and tools? Are your clients able to chat or connect with you in real-time?

— Mobile apps. You might say not every business needs one. That’s what we might have said about web sites and blogs at one time! In the next several years, will your clients expect and demand an app from you?

— Social media marketing. How will you most effectively reach your target audience? I’m not talking about your audience today, but rather those that will be buyers in 5 and 10 years. How are they influenced? Do you need to improve your game with video, podcasts, and blogs?

— Infrastructure. If your technology doesn’t work or becomes attacked, you can’t operate. Everyone needs an expert – either internal or external – to assure that the infrastructure is sound and constantly updated.

Employee recruitment and retention:

Just because our world has adopted more Artificial Intelligence, your employees are often still the face of your business. Relationships still matter, and always will. It’s become more important than ever that you recruit people that will value your culture and grow with you.

Once recruited, it becomes your job to properly develop and trained them. Too often, employers don’t invest the energy and resources into assuring new employees are “onboarded” and mentored properly.

Employees of this generation value financial well-being, but it’s not everything to them. How they are treated and what opportunities they have for career growth and development are also high on their list. By creating a thoughtful and intentional program on developing employees in the 2020s, you will be more assured that your company will be creating a legacy for everyone.

The new age “Roaring 2020s” are upon us. Unlike 1919, we have much more to think about when it comes to both our business and personal goals and dreams. Are you prepared to “roar?”

Happy New Decade!

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life. He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-271-1592; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his web site at http://www.DanWeedin.com.