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StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

How to Move Your Business Forward

For any business, there can be times when your market starts to slow down. There could be a number of reasons why this happens, but the important thing is what you do as a business to keep your company moving forward. If you are a new business, it can be a scary experience, especially if this is the first time and you haven’t put a strategy in place. However, here are a few ideas that can help you to focus on the important things and encourage you to keep going.

Fight Your Fear

Seeing the market slow down can be a worrying time for any company. You want to do things to try and boost your exposure, but you are wary of doing something that will cost money. While being cautious is a good thing, you need to weigh up your options and see where your opportunities are. Instead of becoming too fearful, try to analyze things objectively and decide the best way forward. If you find trying to be objective difficult to do, ask a friend in business to take a look for you.

Do Your Research

Before you can start to do something about your company growth, you need to know what areas you have to target. That is why you need to do your research not just on your customers, but also on your competitors. You should also be thinking about what has caused the slowdown in your market. Is it anything that you can work against? Is there a way that you can use it to your advantage? See where your competitors are going and see if there is an area they aren’t currently occupying. That might be the angle you need to start your company moving forward again.

Researching your customer’s feelings are also a good way to see what’s changed. Send out a survey on your social media accounts or try to email your existing customers. Their feedback could be the key to finding out which way to go.

Look Within Your Company

At these times, it can be a good thing to take a look at your operation to see if anything can be changed or improved. Assess and decide if there are any processes that can be managed in a better way or if there are members of staff who would be more efficient in other areas. It doesn’t mean you have to release any staff; it just gives you the opportunity to take stock of the company. It can also be a good time to look ahead and see if there are any ways you can save money, just in case things don’t improve. Look at your suppliers – are there any that could renegotiate their arrangements? Are there any contracts that are losing your company money? If there are, you might have to consider stopping them and putting your resources elsewhere. It also means that if you manage to save a little money without losing staff, you can then reinvest that money in marketing.

Have a Strategy

Once you have done your research, you should be able to think about how you are going to keep your company growing. Why have your customers stopped using your company? Is it the same for your competitors? If your competitors are doing better than you currently, then try to see why that is, what are they offering that your business is not? It may be a simple thing that you can do which will start to grow your customers again, or perhaps you can offer a different service where you see a demand. Try to devise a strategy that can be adjusted to suit a variety of conditions. For example, set limits on the amount you spend on bonuses or overseas trips, these can be raised or lowered depending on how well the company is achieving.

Consider New Approaches

Part of your review of your company may have shown that you need to think about offering a new approach to your customers. If you have always dealt with them in person, then maybe offering an online service would entice them back. Perhaps you need to offer some new additional services that have become popular with other companies. For example, if you are a law firm, then maybe using a Practical Planning System estate program to help people with their will and power of attorney will attract some additional clients. Perhaps you can take advantage of new technology to do more interviews and meetings via video conference instead of traveling to them. Not only will it save you money, but it will also enable you to arrange meetings quickly and increase your productivity.

Change Your Marketing Strategy

Another way that you may be able to get the jump on your competitors is to refocus your marketing strategy. There may be nothing wrong with what you are currently doing, though by adjusting it to other areas, you may increase your reach and obtain more leads.

Take a look and see if there are any areas that you are not currently advertising. It could be that you have never placed an ad on television before, but it might be a good idea, especially locally. This is where you need to be brave and think about the long-term benefits of advertising. Try a limited run, to begin with, and see how many new leads it generates.

Another good idea is to email your old clients and see if they need your services. It might seem unlikely, but there may be people that have been putting something off until the time was right. Your email might be the nudge they need to get it done.

It can be easy to think the worst and try to downsize your company when the market begins to slow down. Though that can be a good way to save money, it doesn’t help attract new customers and drive the market once again. If you begin to panic, it’s important to think about all the things you haven’t done yet and give them a try, but be decisive, because the sooner you get moving, the quicker you will see the results.

9 Team Building Activities Your Entire Staff Can Enjoy

In theory, organizing team building activities is a perfect way to get your team to get to know each other outside the office and form a stronger bond within the office as a result. However, finding the right activity for everyone if you are running a company that has multiple departments can be a real challenge.If your workforce is very diverse, there’s a good chance that preferences are going to vary – especially if you have a workforce in which there are employees who are not all the same relative age. This is why you need to find a way to celebrate these differences by choose activities everyone feels comfortable participating in.

Here’s a list of fun team building exercises everyone can participate in and enjoy.

Scavenger Hunt

Purpose: Teamwork

A scavenger hunt is a classic team collaboration game. The rules are easy:

Split your team into equal sized groups and send them out with a list of fun things to find. You can choose whether you want to do this in the office or outside the office. Set a time limit for all groups and put together some fun clues or even riddles that will force your teams to get creative and use not just their eyes but their brains as well! Whichever team comes back with the most items once time has run out is the winner.

Minefield

Purpose: Communication and problem solving

For this indoor game, you will need an empty room or hallway and a bunch of random office items. You can use office chairs, paper, boxes, anything you have around the office that isn’t too delicate or expensive to create obstacles in the empty space or “minefield.” Divide teams into pairs in which one of them must be blindfolded.

The other one must guide that person from start to finish without setting off any mines. That means they cannot step on any obstacles or venture outside the given boundaries. Their only guidance is the voice of their partner. You can change the number of pairs and obstacles depending on how difficult you want this game to be.

Three Truths and a Lie

Purpose: Getting to know each other

This is a really easy game. Before starting, give each team member four slips of paper where each of them can secretly write down three truths and one lie about themselves. It’s very important that the lie is believable. Instruct them not to reveal to anyone what they wrote down!

Then allow 15 minutes for conversation between the team members. This is the time when everyone should go around the room and talk about their written talking points in random order. The goal here is to convince others that your lie is a truth while you try to guess other people’s lies by asking them different questions. Remember- you should not reveal your truths or lies to other team members, even if everyone else has already guessed everything!

Say My Name

Purpose: Breaking stereotypes

Everyone should write down names (e.g. someone famous) or types of people (e.g. professor, doctor, wealthy, athletic) on name tags. Then put those tags on each team member’s back or forehead so they cannot see who they are but everyone else can.

Give people a few minutes to talk to each other and ask questions. The point is to treat everyone according to stereotypes related to the name on their tag. After each team member figures out who they are, they should exit the game and leave the rest of the people to continue playing. This game allows your employees to have fun and engage in conversation while confronting stereotypes at the same time.


Office Trivia

Purpose: Bonding

This is one of the easiest team building games to put together! All you have to do is come up with a series of questions about your office and then test your team’s knowledge. You can ask a variety of questions such as: “What brand of computer does a certain employee use?” “How many people are in the finance department” or “How many windows are there in the office?” or “Who takes their coffee with cream and sugar?”

Besides bonding people through conversation, this fun and easy team building activity is great for testing how observant people are and how much they know about their office, company and colleagues.

Community Service

Purpose: Enhance teamwork and collaboration

Find an activity that reflects your company values, get out of the office for a day and do something good for your community. This team building activity is not only excellent for getting your employees together and bonding through something that’s incredible positive, it’s also great for the overall image of your company in terms of local marketing.

When businesses go out into their communities and help people in need, the members of the community take notice and reward those businesses with loyalty.

Mural Painting

Purpose: Enhancing creativity

For this fun and creative team building activity you will need paint, brushes and something to paint on. It can be a canvas or a wall of your building/office. The point is to give each member of the team complete freedom to paint whatever they want. Give them a general theme and then let everyone create their own colorful masterpieces.

If you are giving an individual canvas to each employee, put them together and display them in your office as a mural once they are dry. Some people might refuse to paint at first because they don’t think they are talented, so make sure you explain to everyone that this is not a contest. This game’s purpose is to show that everyone has a creative side once they overcome their fears of showing it.


Make Your Logo

Purpose: Problem solving

Start by asking everyone to empty their pockets, purses and wallets and gather all the coins you can find and then place the coins on a table in front of you. Each team member should create their own logo for the company or team using the coins in front of them in one minute.

You may also use pens, notebooks, paper and anything you else you have around the office to create the logo. The logo can represent the team members individually or you can work together to create a logo for the department or even the entire organization. It’s a fun and creative game that encourages resourcefulness.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Purpose: Communication skills

For this team building activity, you will need a small piece of paper for each employee and a list of well-known “couples” such as peanut butter and jelly, Romeo and Juliet, salt and pepper, and so on. Each team member should wear the name of one half of each pair on their backs.

Have everyone mingle and try to figure out the word on their backs while only asking each other “Yes or No” questions. Once they figure out their word, they have to find the other half of their pair. As they find each other, have them sit down while the rest of the team continues until everyone has connected with their pair.


About the Author

Tamara Luzajic is a web content writer and editor, currently working as a copywriter at Humanity, employee scheduling and workforce management software.

Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World

Are you prepared to get vaporized? During the past twenty years I’ve worked with companies all over the world, big and small, helping them to craft a strategy so they can transition from the old world of producing physical products to a new world in which most things tangible – products, devices, stores, and even companies – will simply disappear forever to be replaced by invisible software.  I call this getting vaporized.

My motto is “Whatever can be vaporized will be.” That means any part of your business or product that can be replaced by pure digital information almost certainly will be.

You can’t stop this transformation process because dozens or even hundreds of other companies are already working on it. They are catering to the two billion consumers wielding smartphones who demand instant access to apps and services.

For start-up ventures with no stake in the old physical economy, this poses no particular challenge – just a wealth of opportunities.  But for old-school bureaucracies, it’s a scary new world that requires managers to rethink the basic principles that govern established businesses.

From health care to handbags, no industry is immune. At least some portion of every firm’s activity will be transformed from the old-school physical industrial process into a vaporized state of information available on demand. You won’t be able to stop this process, but if you react soon enough, you will at least have the option to determine how and when you will respond.

The secret to success when technology is driving change rapidly in an established industry is to envision possibilities that many consider unthinkable: to make an effort to envision what a disruptive change might look like, and how it will transform the entire business process. That’s easier said than done. To do so, you have to set aside everything that made your company a big success and focus on the changes that will wipe all of that success away. This is not an easy exercise for anyone.  To get started, ask yourself the following questions:


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About the Author

Robert TercekRobert Tercek invents the digital future. He has launched satellite TV networks, the first video on mobile phones, multimedia games, and live interactive learning programs. He provides strategic insight to Turner Broadcasting, InterPublic Group, PBS, and other firms. He previously served in executive leadership at MTV, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and most recently as President of Digital Media at OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. And is the author of VAPORIZED: Solid Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World, For more information, go to: http://www.roberttercek.com/

Do You Know What Your Boss Wants From You?

As an executive coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of people in all types of organizations. Each person has their own story, of course – a unique narrative that includes their skills, experience, strengths, weaknesses, and relationships. While every engagement is different, these people all have one thing in common; their boss always plays a central role in the story. That’s why my first coaching question is “what does your boss really want from you?

Now, some of my clients have great bosses, so we discuss the relationship briefly and move on. However, a lot of my clients don’t work for a great boss. They’re not clear about his views, or don’t understand what she really wants… and all of this is impacting their engagement, performance, and happiness.


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About the Author

Steve Arneson is one of America’s top executive coaches and corporate leadership speakers. His follow-up to the best-selling Bootstrap Leadership is What Your Boss Really Wants from You. Both books are available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com.

How to be an Effective Manager

Effectively managing people, processes, or both is in many ways a balancing act. Some would even describe it as an art form. There are many variables in play simultaneously which determine if somebody will ultimately be successful in a leadership role.

Before a manager begins to understand all of these nuances they must learn one of the major underlying principles if they are going to recognize their full potential as leaders. They must learn to walk the tightrope between being personal and professional at the same time. It is important to be personal and on good terms with your team members because this is the only way to ensure teamwork and peak performance, but you must also be professional to be respected and trusted. Be too friendly and you may be taken advantage of or not taken seriously, be too buttoned up and ‘professional’ and you risk coming across as uncaring and stubborn.


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About the Author

Gabriel Bristol, president and CEO of Intelicare Direct, is one of today’s most versatile CEOs, having led remarkable turnarounds for several large corporations as well as helping establish rapidly growing start-ups. Gabriel’s success has been well documented, with features in Forbes and other publications throughout the country. To read Gabriel’s complete biography, click here.