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Living Thanksgiving Every Day

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40I’m watching my alma mater, the University of Washington Huskies playing the University of Utah Utes in a wild and exciting game Saturday night. The Huskies down late in the game make an improbable comeback and are in a position to kick a winning field goal with only two seconds left. The kicker has had a tough year and had already missed an extra point and field goal in this game. With victory at stake, he calmly boots the game winner and is mobbed by his teammates.

It dawns on me as we head into Thanksgiving week, that this is a lesson on thanks.

Although true, it’s easy to point to family, friends, and health as things to be thankful for. As I get older, I become increasingly thankful for the journey. The journey includes struggle, resilience, good days, bad days, and mediocre days. The journey includes teammates and opponents and ultimately offers opportunities for redemption and glory. Sometimes we lose the battle as Utah did and sometimes we are victorious. But in all cases we are blessed with another day and opportunity until we won’t be and the journey ends.

Here’s what I’m thankful for: the journey, the struggle, the opportunities, the people, the redemption, the uncertainty and the fun. Honor the struggle and the journey and be thankful you’ve got the opportunity to live and craft your on journey and share it with those you want to.

Thank you for being a part of my journey and for continuing to allow me to be a part of yours.

Quote of the Week:

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, becasue I was a different person back then.”

~ from Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll)

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I can help you get your company culture stronger and more robust. Contact me to discuss how you can better and more quickly reach the results you want. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592.

Being Entrepreneur

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

58842029-Dan+Weedin+Unleashed-43 copyIt takes a special kind of crazy to be an entrepreneur.

It requires a rare blend of risk taker, visionary, creative thinker, resilience, perseverance, confidence, and tenacity to even start a business, much less run one successfully. It’s not for the faint of heart. Since the week of November 13-17 is Global Entrepreneurship Week, this month’s column will offer entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs ideas on growing and protecting a successful business.

The dictionary defines entrepreneur as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.” With all due respect, I would revise that to “always” with considerable initiative and risk to health, wealth, and sanity. While entrepreneurs built this country, it’s never been the easy way to go in creating a way of life. As both a former employee and an entrepreneur, I can confidently say that employees rarely lack the full understanding or empathy for what it takes to start and build any business. It’s the ultimate risk and reward situation. To that end, let’s examine a few thoughts I have for both starting and growing a business:

Starting Out:

  1. You have an idea on how to create a business out of your skill set? Great. You’d better also have a passion for it because you will be tested. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you will die on a hill for it, and sometimes that’s what it might ask you to do. It’s a two-sided sword you must wield: competence and passion.
  2. You need boldness and confidence. This is no place for the meek. While humility is a personal virtue, nobody wants to hire a humble consultant, attorney, IT expert, contractor, CPA, or brain surgeon. I’m not suggesting arrogance, which is aloofness with no care for the well being of others. Confidence is believing that you are highly skilled and able to improve the conditions of others with genuine concern for their improvement. You must be able to boldly project and communicate that confidence.
  3. You need to line up enough financial reserves for six months. While it may not take that long to get going making money, you don’t need the stress of a financial burden to cause desperation.
  4. Create a marketing “process.” Business plans look good on a shelf, but often don’t ever get looked at. What you need to focus on in as acquiring clients. That means picking up the phone, setting meetings, and solving problems for them.
  5. Plan for obstacles. Bad things happen. Whether in your control or not, you need to create a strategy and plan for being resilient. It’s a combination of adequate insurance, strategic planning, communications, and practice.

Current Entrepreneurs:

  1. Have a board of advisors. Too many entrepreneurs go the “lone wolf” route. The smartest business owners are the ones that surround themselves with experts and sages. Executive coaches, technical experts (finance, IT, Human Resources), and peer groups are crucial for assuring you don’t get caught breathing you own exhaust.
  2. Constantly reinvent. Don’t become stale; rather constantly seek ways to build the better mousetrap; to differentiate yourself from the competition; and to find new ways to help your clients. Business (and life) is about changing realities. Be on the cutting edge of change.
  3. Hire strong people. Building a strong team is paramount to growing and transitioning out of your business. Don’t settle for warm bodies; rather demand excellence from your team. That starts with you. Modeling and mentoring is required to build a top-flight team of employees.
  4. Plan for obstacles. Look familiar? Let’s just say “ditto” for the suggestions from above. Entrepreneurs may be resilient by nature, but often get bloodied and bruised in the process. Make it easier for yourself with proper pre-planning of crisis and critical systems.
  5. Remember to have fun. I’ve met too many entrepreneurs that work themselves to a frazzle. They become a worse boss than the one they left to start a business. Entrepreneurship is supposed to be fun. If it’s not, then you should go get a job working for someone else. It’s not worth the sacrifice if you’re not enjoying the journey.

Bonus: Vibe Coworks in Poulsbo will be offering an exciting lineup of events, activities, and workshops to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. Check out their schedule at www.VibeCoworks.com. What an opportunity to learn more and engage with fellow entrepreneurs.

Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are the engines that run our communities and country. You are responsible for hiring and developing more people that the Fortune 500 companies. You’ve taken a huge financial and emotional risk, with hopes and dreams of making a better life for yourself and your employees. For all of you, I leave you with three final words of encouragement as you end one year and prepare for the next:

  1. Don’t listen to the haters. You know who they are. They are energy suckers and will only harm you and your business. Stay positive and focused on the next step in the journey.
  2. Don’t be one of the haters. Positivity starts with self-talk. Worry is a bully; it gives you nothing and only takes. Keep your confidence and boldness up.
  3. Utilize help. There’s no glory in being stubborn and trying to do it on your own. There are colleagues, experts, and friends that can help in a multitude of ways, be it emotional or financial. Find those friends that believe in you and always keep fighting the good fight.

It takes a special kind of crazy to be an entrepreneur. Go be crazy!

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 My November column for the Kitsap Sun/Kitsap Business Journal.

Extra Points: Smells Like Entrepreneurial Spirit

November 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40This is Global Entrepreneurship Week and we are going to focus our attention on the what I think requires a certain amount of crazy to do…start and run your own business. Additionally, I will share my ideas on the spirit required and you don’t have to start your own business to take advantage of it.

This country was built on the shoulders entrepreneurs. The railways and roads were built; commerce was conducted; and people were employed and able to live out the American Dream becasue of the courage and perseverance of men and women that chose to metaphorically hang up their own shingle, unleash their potential, and create their own destinies.

There’s a unique spirit that entrepreneurs have. It’s a unique blend of confidence, passion, skill, stubbornness, resilience, cleverness, and crazy. Being an entrepreneur is not for anyone that can’t (or won’t) deal with failure, conflict, drama, and the well-meaning unsolicited advise of family and friends that think they are making a mistake.

So what drives that spirit? After having worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the past three decades, I’ve observed it’s one main thing that propels people to traverse this often bumpy, but always fulfilling way of life: they simply won’t accept someone else being in control of their lives and futures. They’ve found a skill they they love, turned it into a business that employs people and serves clients, and ultimately creates the life they want to lead.

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not blind to the reality that many business owners slip into situations where they become despondent, financially strapped, and sometimes have to give up the dream. While this is true, it is also true that the most successful entrepreneurs I’ve ever met have had the unabashed belief in themselves that they could overcome anything and opportunity was knocking daily.

Final thought: I promised to talk about entrepreneurial spirit in those that work for others. The most valuable employees are those that have taken an entrepreneurial spirit towards their work and why the do it. They treat the business as if it were their own, and that spirit catapults them higher and higher on the stairway of success (okay it’s playing on Pandora as I’m writing this and I was inspired…). All of us can share that olfactory sensation of entrepreneurial spirit as Nirvana once sung about. The task at hand is all yours, regardless of your station.

Do your embody that entrepreneurial spirit?

Note: Follow me on social media to get a daily dose of entrepreneurial spirit this week. I will also be posting on my blog. Finally, this week will also be the start of special discounted pricing on services that will last through the end of the year in some cases. If you have that spirit, invest in yourself and your business. It’s the best money and time you’ll spend.

Quote of the Week:

“Life is like the monkey bars: you have to let go to move forward. Once you make the decision to leap into entrepreneurship, be sure to loosen your grasp on old concepts so you can swing your way to new ones.”

~ Leah Busque, American businesswoman

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I can help you get your company culture stronger and more robust. Contact me to discuss how you can better and more quickly reach the results you want. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592.

Global Entrepreneurship Week Nov.13-17

November 10, 2017 Leave a comment

JackNext week is Global Entrepreneurship Week and that means I will be focusing my attention on helping entrepreneurs to grow and protect their businesses. Every day next week will feature something new regarding entrepreneurship on the blog and on my social media sites.

To follow me on social media:

Linked In

Twitter

You Tube

Facebook

I will also be featuring time-sensitive opportunities to take advantage of services to improve your business with special offers. Captain jack and I want to encourage you to make sure you check out these fantastic opportunities starting on Monday! You’ll be glad you did!

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Culture Club

November 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40I spoke last week to a group of business owners and professionals on the topic of creating a strong company culture. We began by defining the term “culture.” It’s not an easy term to define; you can’t really quantify it and everyone has a different take on what it looks and feels like. The one constant is that everyone wants a good one!

A strong company culture is not defined by constant happiness, joy, and smiling faces. In fact, there will be many times where employees will – and should – disagree, get upset, challenge others, fight for agendas, and go home unhappy at an outcome. In my definition, culture is all about respect and resilience.

Let’s face it, every day in business and life poses challenges to overcome. Being part of a “team” means being able to rebound from shared defeat, keep your eyes on the goals, and be able to collaboratively work together respectfully for those goals even in the face of adversity (and occasional shouting matches). A strong leader is one that can model and create that behavior. A robust company culture needs adversity and struggle to grow. The measurement for you to keep an eye on is how quickly that rebound occurs.

Final thought: Company culture is a business continuity factor. A poor culture is far worse than a fire or cyber attack because it’s tough to reverse bad momentum. The best CEOs and business owners know how to stay on top of company culture to assure enhanced performance, productivity, and profit. How is your culture club?

Quote of the Week:

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”

~ H. Jackson Browne, Jr. American Author

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

I can help you get your company culture stronger and more robust. Contact me to discuss how you can better and more quickly reach the results you want. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592.

Shrimp Tank Podcast: Dan Weedin as Guest!

October 24, 2017 Leave a comment

I got to be guest on my own podcast. Watch the video wrap up or click here to listen to the entire podcast! Listen to questions that I get to answer on entrepreneurship, business, and Captain Jack!

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Customers or Clients?

October 19, 2017 2 comments

20 Under 40 20_3My October column for The Kitsap Business Journal/Kitsap Sun

Do you have customers or clients in your business?

This might seem to be a question without distinction. Some readers might think there is no difference between the two. I’d posit that there is a clear difference and that at the end of this column, you’d decide which of the two you want for your business.

We should start off by defining – according to me – the difference between the two. To be clear, one is not better than the other, so this isn’t a judgment. It’s simple defining two types of “buyers.”

A customer is someone that purchases from you without regard to whether there is a long-term relationship required. Professional skills, talents, and differentiation are rarely required for customers. You find customers at grocery stores, donut shops, fast food restaurants, clothing stores, and outlet malls. There might be some loyalty due to ease of access or habit. But overall, if a new product or service came around cheaper or easier, the customer will go elsewhere.

A client demands a relationship based on trust, respect as a peer, expertise, and knowledge. Client relationships are built around the ability to dramatically improve the condition or experience of someone, which results in the client’s loyalty and evangelization of the provider. You often find client relationships with doctors, attorneys, insurance brokers, real estate agents, and IT consultants. However, you can tell from my own personal life that I am a client for the following providers: my barber, my shoe shine guy, my dry cleaners, my regular coffee shop, and my grocery store. There are more but you get my point. The difference between a customer and a client is the level of importance that buyer places on the relationship. Anyone can be a customer, but not everyone can be a client.

Why do I make such a big deal of this? Simple. The more you work off a client based model – including the use of the word client – the more likely it will be that your client does three things: One, will continue to buy your regular products and services; Two, will utilize and become early initiators of new products and services; and Three, proactively send you referrals and become an evangelist for your work. While customers have no emotional attachment outside of price and ease, clients have a strong emotional bond to doing business with you.

Let’s consider two examples, one professional and one retail. Professional: Insurance is marketed in an obnoxious way. For the majority of commercials and national ad campaigns, humor and celebrities are used to entice people to shop with them. The reality is that insurance is vitally important to the ability of individuals and companies to financially survive a calamity. It’s no laughing matter. Customers of insurance companies care nothing about anything other than price. Clients of sophisticated and savvy insurance brokers worry more about losing their agent’s expertise and knowledge to help them overcome adversity than what the bottom line cost is. While price is always a consideration, the truest value is a person.

Second example: Retail: While I use a couple different grocery stores, I’m a customer for all except Central Market in Poulsbo. Why? Because when I go to Central Market, my experience is far better than anywhere else. I acknowledge that I may pay a little more, however I actually enjoy the experience of the store. The variety and diversity of foods, the ability to interact with experts in each of the departments, the smiling faces, and cleanliness of the store exceed what I experience elsewhere. They turned a normal customer experience into a client experience and in return they created an evangelist.

While customers certainly pay the bills, clients add value, wealth and profitable growth to your enterprise. It may sound easy to make this verbal switch, but it requires a mindset not only from you, but your employees. Let’s start with a simple 3-step process:

Step 1: Require that your entire organization refer to the people that fund your business as clients. Define what a client is, why they are so valuable, and how they should be treated. When clients are considered more than a customer, the attention to detail on how they are served changes. Try it and watch!

Step 2: Focus on outcomes, not methodology. Methodology is what you do (e.g. sell insurance and groceries). Outcome is the value clients receive (e.g. peace of mind and a positive experience). When you focus on outcomes, clients keep coming back in!

Step 3: Encourage referrals frequently. In professional services, this is more common. However, any business can utilize social media and other promotions to encourage word of mouth evangelism of you and your company.

BONUS: Thank clients early and often, not just at the time of the sale. There are many ways to express gratitude. Become creative based on your industry and services. The more creative and personal, the more your clients love you and will tell others about why you’re so great.

Bottom line: Every business can easily gain customers, but that is a fleeting and fickle romance. You want to create a long-lasting symbiotic relationship built on tremendous value and respect. So reduce the number of customers you have and increase clients. Your bottom line and your clients will thank you!

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved