Build Success by Creating Value

It seems that almost every day I get an e-mail or note telling me about a new blog. Tracking several of these blogs I have found that often, after a sort time, the writer begins to realize that it takes a massive amount of time to regularly write compelling blogs. A common result of this realization is that the posts begin to slow and eventually the blog fades away.

Then, every once in awhile, I run across a new blog that inspires and opens my mind to new ideas.  These are the blogs that seem to begin filling a niche almost overnight.  On my blogroll you will find several such blogs that have lasted the test of time including Ford Harding’s blog and Mark Buckshon’s Construction Marketing Ideas blog. I’m going to step out on a limb and say that I believe I recently found another such blog, Mel Lester’s E-Quip blog.

Yesterday I tracked Mel Lester to his Business Edge website to find more about an obviously well known consultant, trainer, and coach.  What I found was probably the most common reason that people succeed: Mel has created value for anyone that visits his website through his articles page. Let me encourage you to visit Mel’s Business Edge website to view his articles page as the resources there provide great insight into a number of business topics from Strategic Planning to Productivity.

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Four Steps to Changing Corporate Culture

Corporate culture doesn’t change overnight, just as it was not built overnight. It is not always an easy process, but by looking at the thousands of firms that have gone before us we can identify a systematic process that yields success through a cultural change. That systematic process can be broken down into four easy-to-understand steps that will allow you to take control of your cultural change:

Step 1 – Educate and Encourage

Education and encouragement are the foundational step of any cultural change.  Without the knowledge of how to succeed in a new culture it will be impossible for employees to move towards that new culture.  As an example I am going to focus on changing corporate culture toward a culture that embraces Rainmaking.  Under this example, the first thing people need to know is how to “make rain” or how to bring work in the door.  This will require training in areas such as networking and business development. During and after training it is important to encourage employees to try out their newly acquired skills.  Through this process you will begin an ongoing process of training and raising up a company that embraces the new culture.
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Step 2 – Define Expectations

The second step in changing a corporate culture is defining expectations. This should not be done in the context of threatening or coercion, but rather by clearly identifying what is expected of employees in the company.  Note the emphasis on individuals in each step; changing corporate culture is dependent on changing one person at a time. This also means that what is expected of individuals may vary, a project manager may be responsible to achieve specific business development goals while a receptionist may be responsible to learn people’s voices on the phone and address key clients by name.

Step 3 – Acknowledge & Celebrate Success

Acknowledging and celebrating success is the most important step in changing corporate culture.  Firms often begin the process of change by bringing in outside training and defining new expectations, but the culture change never takes root.  The reason is that culture change is dependent on the acknowledgement of success at the highest level. Taking our example of building a culture that embraces rainmaking, this could be accomplished by the CEO taking the time to walk into individual’s offices just to say “thank you” to an employee for bringing work in the door.  That brief moment of acknowledgement will ensure that the individual knows what they did was important, not just to their manager, but that all the way up the chain their efforts are being appreciated.  In addition to acknowledging success you can celebrate success through popping a cork on a bottle of champagne when a new client signs up, or with bagels the next morning for the department with a note of thanks.

Step 4 – Reward Success

The final step in changing a corporate culture is rewarding success.  Title changes, bonuses, parking spaces, raises, and office locations linked to culture change successes ensure the long-term success of your cultural change.  This final stage should only be implanted after the other three steps as it can backfire without the proper foundation. The goal is to build the cultural shift based on people that are working to build a better company for themselves and others.

A Final Note

It is important to measure your success in changing your corporate culture one person at a time. Your culture didn’t instantly become what it is today, and it will not instantly become what you want it to be.  Rather, focus your attention on the success of individuals, by doing this you will see a wave of optimism unfold as these individuals begin to build your new corporate culture.

For more information on each of the Four Steps to Changing Corporate Culture see the links below:
Step 1 – Educate and Encourage

Step 2 – Define Expectations

Step 3 – Acknowledge & Celebrate Success

Step 4 – Reward Success

Ten Basic Business Principals

Mark Buckshon has again written an excellent post on business.  In it he identifies ten basic business principals that remind us “that the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Here are my favorites:

3. Accidents happen. All the time. Plans are meant for constant change.

6. You have to have fun to succeed. Sure parts of your work may — and probably are — painful, but if you really don’t enjoy what you are doing, find out why, really quickly, and change things. Don’t do stuff just for the money.

7. It is really dumb to put anyone ‘down’ while you are acting high and mighty. It drives people nuts and makes enemies. I know I’ve done it, to my permanent regret.

8. It rarely helps to hold grudges. Sure, we should not be wimps if we are attacked or mistreated. But it is important to know when to move on.

And, my personal favorite:

10. People stay the same. Basic principals apply. Respect and recognize others and appreciate that great relationships are the essence of great business. New and old, through good and hard times, the entrepreneur who understands appreciates the basic rules of respect and integrity will succeed as fly-by-night operators come and go.

To read the other five principals visit Ten Basic Business Principals at the Construction Marketing Ideas blog.  Great insight Mark!

Principles of Service-Centered Selling

Mel Lester’s recent posting on his E-Quip Blog is a great reminder of the importance of relationships in the sales process.  Here is a brief look at his posting Uncomfortable With Sales? You Should Be:

Principles of Service-Centered Selling
“Service-Centered Selling is the application of service excellence to the way we develop new business for our companies. Remember, great service happens in the context of a strong relationship with the client. Selling is essentially how we initiate that relationship. It’s courtship. Naturally the way we start the relationship sets the tone for how it will develop. If we want the client to value the service difference we offer, we should begin demonstrating it during the sales process. That difference likely then becomes the key factor in our being selected for the work.”

Note that how you begin the relationship “sets the tone” for how you will be viewed throughout not just this contract, but also future work.  Are you the “low cost” fix, or the “high quality” solution?  Take a moment to reflect about how your sales process sets the tone for your business, are you laying the foundation to achieve your business goals, or are you just getting another job in the door?

Please note that E-Quip has been added to my blogroll.  Thank you Mel, I look forward to reading more great posts!

Networking, Marketing, and Business Development Resources

I am excited to announce the addition of a new “Resources” tab/page to this blog. This new page is designed to contain a variety of free resources on training in the areas of Networking, Marketing, and Business Development. 

Of all of my speaking engagements my favorite topic has always been networking.  As such, I thought it would be appropriate to make the first resources on this page two of my presentations on Networking: Rethink Networking and Networking: From Theory to Reality. The Power Point presenations contained on this new page are fully editable and downloadable .ppt files (not .pdf copies) that you are welcome to edit and reuse for training at your company. I can’t embed my stories and personal touch, but I am certain that you will find the slides beneficial.  As always, please provide credit where appropriate. 

I hope that you will find this new page as a valuable resource.  As always, I welcome your feedback and additions to this blog. – Tim Klabunde

A Values Based Business Marketing Approach

I have seen the remergence of a refreshing way of doing business that is nothing less than exciting.  It is the idea that being simply honest with your clients is no longer enough to separate you in the crowded marketplace.  Rather companies are beginning to embrace the idea of ‘going the extra mile’ for their clients, the concept that I like to refer to as Values Based Business.  The exciting thing about a Values Based Business approach is that it generates a marketing mechanism that cannot be stopped.  I have seen companies that use a Values Based Business Marketing Approach enjoy rich profits, extremely loyal clientele, and a satisfaction that only doing a great job can give.

So, what is a Values Based Business Marketing Approach

A Values Based Business marketing approach is running your company not to make money or to grow, but specifically to help other people.  It is the idea that, by running your business with integrity and honesty, faithfully serving your customer instead of your wallet or your own interests, you will experience true success.  Let me clarify true success here: more profit, less hassle, a peaceful satisfaction every day on your way home from work, and a good nights sleep (this last one is for all the business owners that haven’t had a good night of sleep in years).

What it looks like

Values Based Businesses do several things that most profit and growth oriented businesses have a hard time swallowing.  Here are just a few examples:

  1. They always do something extra for free:  I used to go to an auto shop that would always do something unexpected for me free of charge.  They rotated my tires, replaced light bulbs, oiled squeaky doors; the list goes on and on.  In return can you guess what I did?  I never had my vehicle serviced at another shop and told everyone I knew to take his or her cars there.
  2. Take on pro-bono work: Vales Based Businesses help out non-for-profits, low-income families, and even their everyday clients.  They do it because it is right and because they really care.  Finally, when they do it, they treat the non-paying client just as good as the paying client.
  3. They treat every client like a first class client: Taking calls and returning e-mails promptly is just the tip of the iceberg. Values Based Businesses see what their clients need and help them to achieve it, even if it is out of their scope of work.   

The Result

By putting others first you are beginning the process of controlling your own destiny.  Values Based Businesses leverage their entire business as a marketing tool that uses referrals, recommendations, references, and relationships as their primary marketing vehicle. This allows a company to increase profitability and to grow far beyond that of a typical money and growth focused company.

Firms that practice this philosophy have strong client bonds based on trust and respect.  They have a client base that refuses to work with anyone else because it is a known fact that you will always go the extra mile and never compromise the customer relationship. They have employees that are excited about coming to work to do something good. They have managers that choose what work they want to do and who they want to work for.  Perhaps developing your company as a Values Based Business, focusing on others first, will allow you to achieve the success you have always hoped for.

A final note: Isn’t it amazing that when you change your focus to people instead of the bottom line, you begin to experience the success that you were looking for when you were focused on the bottom line.