Archive for the 'Blog' Category

Going out on your own: Pursuing the Passion 29, 30 & 31

#29: Hiring the first person
Don’t hire someone, get them on a contracting basis for a while.

#30: Make every dollar work for you
Stretch every dollar as far as you can, and I mean as far as you can. Once I used to drink tea at coffee meetings to save a few bucks. (Cheap but was half the price of a coffee).

#31: Eco-System
Find out who your competitors are, send them work when you can’t help a client, it’s an eco-system not a free for all.

November 30th, 2009

Benchmarking Small Business Call Etiquette

Unfortunately I fell ill last week and had to cancel some appointments.  Most were understanding (hey I don’t want to get you guys sick) some not so much.  One disgruntled person said could have given us more notice.  Hang on? It’s not like people plan on being sick….

It was then I wondered wouldn’t it be neat if there was a service that benchmarked small businesses call etiquette – the service rings up businesses and follows certain procedures to rank and score a business.  This is then shared online for all to see.  Then we can find out which are good to deal with and businesses can get a realistic view of their call staff.

Big businesses already do this (to a degree) but not in such an open format.

Imagine comparing a new hairdresser based on call manner.  As Drucker says “what gets measured gets managed”… I think we’d rapidly see an improvement.

November 29th, 2009

Avoid one offs

One offs are expensive, focus on ongoing relationships where you can work together, get to know one another, take a dance.
For the continual ongoing growing relationship is made up of thousands of small steps, each compounding the previous. It’s this approach which creates tremendous change.

November 26th, 2009

The crazies

I have always wanted to write a post on the crazies.

These are the people who come up with hair brained schemes to change the world.

However they don’t get the credit till they do just that.  Up until that point they are just crazy.

Yet we shy away, they’re different, out there, exude passion.

Take a leap, listen to them, see if you can help.  They could be the next big game changer and even if not chances are you’ll learn something new that you’d never have learnt hanging out with regular people.

November 25th, 2009

People buy reassurance

From the outside looking in at some businesses you wonder how they make money.

Anyone can do that right?

Well actually yes if someone else is doing it and offering as a service – chances are you can do it too.

BUT you’re not in that business.

If someone else can do it much more efficiently and take the stress away they have something of value.  What their customers are buying is reassurance that the job will get done.

A classic example of this is recruitment, yes you can seek and attract employees, vet them and do it yourself.  However it is probably more efficient to use a recruitment company to seek (and filter) candidates for you.  Don’t forget that, you don’t have to change the world to make a buck, just sell reassurance.

November 24th, 2009

Big Picture

My common fault of public companies is that the focus shifts to the next quarter, the next dividend, keeping stockholders happy.  And so they should.


What is the bigger picture? What are you working towards? A little less in shareholders hands this year could be magnitudes times more in five years.

It’s these big picture perspectives and long term plays that really pay off.  Bill Gates was for years saying Microsofts aim was to get a PC in every household.  Now that is virtually true.

If they had focused on the short term, forgetting the big picture, they would have ended up with mediocre results.

Great companies think big for the long term.

(And your Marketing should reflect that).

November 23rd, 2009

Sales pitches guised as conference sessions

I hate it when people just give sales pitches at conferences.

At least respect my intelligence and try to hide it in something that is of value to the audience.

People come along to conferences to learn, meet people and catch up on industry changes.  Not to hear the latest pitch of how to buy your product.

It’s a very ME mindset. I’d rather focus on helping the audience – IF they want to know more they can have a chat afterwards.

And some do.  Most dont but this is a quality game not a quantity one.  Those that do are usually highly motivated to work with me.

That’s a win for everyone, audience gets info they can act on themselves, I don’t waste time on tyre kickers and those that are motivated can still have a chat.

November 18th, 2009

Going out on your own: Pursuing the Passion 26, 27 & 28

#26: Financial Buffer
Once you can, build up a three month buffer and keep it there, you never know what is around the corner, I know it’s tempting to invest that amount or use it for something, but the way I see it the return you get by having a three month buffer in case something goes wrong out performs the alternatives.

#27: Blog
Blog. Blogging is the #1 marketing tool. Use it to your advantage; like networking, blog with the intention of helping your customers, you don’t need to give everything away, but answer the common questions, share your experience, compare/contrast competitors, industry news. By helping your audience you build your brand, stimulate an otherwise non existent conversation and build a community.

#28: Avoid fixed costs
Avoid taking on fixed costs, keep everything variable, this helps avoid negative cashflows and ensures flexibility when you need to keep costs to a minimum.

November 15th, 2009

12 Hour Startup: Creating significant change


I was quite a curious kid, always asking questions, the ever curious question of WHY?  My first job was classic of this, it was assisting the local fire wood producer, chop up and distribute firewood.

My boss was an aging man, putting in the last few years before retirement, and it was his little one man band.  Our first job was to go out and collect the firewood, he would use the chainsaw to cut trees brought down by flooding.  Firstly he would cut the trees into rounds, my job was to then grab the rounds, put them in a pile.

We would then split the rounds in half, load them on the back of the flatbed truck and take them back to his wood yard.  Back at the yard, unload all the wood, put it in a pile.   The next step was to cut the wood with a log splitter, stack in another pile.

Finally we were ready for orders! Orders were by the cubic metre, and so a certain amount of barrow loads was a cubic metre.  We would then load the truck up an order at a time and deliver it.

It took me all of one day to speak up and go, hang on we are double, triple handling this wood.  Why don’t we split the back of the flatdeck truck in half, then into little stalls, the horizontal sides of the stall being such we could pull them out.

Then we could cut the firewood, split it on location, throw it into the stalls (which could be measured out on a cubic metre basis) then deliver straight to the customer.  We could save sooo much time.  “No Ben, this is the way I do it”.

This frustrated me to no end, but hey I got $10 for a mornings work and that bought me basketball cards.  I hung in there annoyed at partaking in such an inefficient process, as soon as the opportunity came up I quit my job and moved on.

What I rapidly learned was the concept of idea development, failing fast, modifying and moving on.  It’s no big secret, smart people understand it and embrace it.  Fail fast.  However whilst there is understanding – we fall short of having a mechanism for it.

That’s what the 12 Hour Startup (my first idea in The Best Ideas are Free) is about – formalising a mechanism that allows for remarkable ideas to be shared, tested, proven and ultimately to create significant change.

November 12th, 2009

Listening to the right people

Everyone has a voice.

Whether you hear it or not is another thing BUT you can decide who you listen to.

The 1% rule online dictates that 1 in 100 people will place a comment.  As a blogger these are the people you tend to listen to.  However what about the other 99?

The same goes for negative comments, if you hear 20 good comments and one negative you tend to focus on that one.

Remember to make sure that you are listening to the right people.

November 11th, 2009

Motivation touchpoints

What motivates you? What motivates your customers?

Two hugely insightful questions if you can answer them.

If you can find these motivator points, then keep pressing the button, things will change dramatically.  And I mean dramatically!

November 10th, 2009

Going out on your own: Pursuing the Passion 23, 24 & 25

#23 Charging
Forget hourly rates, charge value based fees.

#24 Tom Peters advice: meet the crazy people
Meet at least 1 totally new person a week for lunch, if possible do 5 new people, but at the very least do 5.  Take them to lunch, have a coffee, learn about their business, what they do, how you can help, share what you do.

You will learn a lot by hanging around new people, you gain zero by talking to people who already agree with you on everything.  This is my favourite way of building my business getting to know people.

#25 Invest in yourself
Invest in top tools, don’t skimp on yourself, if you use a computer, get a top computer.  Getting the top tools of the trade communicates to yourself and your clients you are serious.  (This isn’t always easy when you start out, but keep it in mind).

November 9th, 2009

It does what it says

Funnily enough I’ve had this conversation a few times in the last few weeks – hey it does what it says.

(Most of this has been centred around the Flip Mino HD)

It really is a betrayal of consumer trust that ‘it does what it says’ becomes a point of difference.  Everything should do what it says.  Yet we find (especially with technology products) that actually doing that is out of our reach.

Just a reminder, keep your products simple, people do like to buy stuff that does what it says…

November 8th, 2009

We could all learn a thing or two from Steve Jobs

Carmine Gallo breaks down the five elements (common threads) of every Steve Jobs presentation. Read it.

November 5th, 2009

Want to own a small profitable company?

Simple – buy a big company and wait for it to shrink.  These are the words Tom Peters uttered earlier in the year when he came through Auckland.

There is something in that statement.

Actually there is a heck of a lot in there.

Remembering that ‘big’ is a relative term, but when you become a behemoth in an industry what are your options for growth? Move sideways; squeeze more from existing customers, get more customers and/or move vertically.

Get more is the default choice (as fits in with the scale a big company has).

The problem here is, get more = increase compromise to get that extra customer. You compromise too much you begin to lose your core audience.

Further (and you can see this happening) you almost create a culture of compromise – whereby suddenly you’re not doing anything interesting at all.

So what next? Split up and shrink.  Become small, agile, specialised.

November 4th, 2009

What are you doing all the way down here? You could:
- View my about page
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