Best Business Advice Tuesday, May 20 2014 

Experience has taught me that there are no results without action. You have to dream, develop your idea through research and investigation, and then make it happen with time and effort.

Nearly 15 years ago when I interviewed author/entrepreneur/nurse/public speaker Carol Havey for my book, Mentoring Heroes, she said she based her seminars on three key steps to decision-making. These steps are:

  1. Figure out what you really want.
  2. Consider what it will take to get it.
  3. Decide if you are willing to pay the price.

Carol’s steps sound simple, but there are many people who go into business without thinking these things through to begin with and then cannot, or do not want to, do what they need to do to achieve their goal.

Another one of the 52 women highlighted in Mentoring Heroes, Harriet Gerber Lewis, who was Chairman of the Board of Gerber Plumbing Fixtures, Corp., said one of the most important business lessons she learned from her father was to respect every employee. Each one is an integral part to the company’s success.

Following are some other good business pointers, mostly from my family. Please comment and add your own to the list:

  • Never tell a customer “No.” Give them another option. If they ask if we print posters, which technically we do not, tell them the largest size we print and that it fits in a standard-sized frame. (Photographer Ron Grey)
  • If someone else can do it, so can you. (My husband, Marshall Brodien, creator of all TV Magic products)
  • You don’t get the order if you don’t ask for it. (My sister, Patti Brewer, financial advisor)
  • Don’t spend more on your business than you make in profit. (My practical father, John Doyle, who was an engineer for the phone company)
  • At the end of the day, ask yourself what you’ve learned. If you want to succeed, you can’t remain stagnant. You have to learn, apply, and grow. (My daughter, Lisa Kluge, pharmaceutical rep)
  • Don’t assume you know what the customer wants. Ask questions, listen, and be honest. (My son-in-law, Chief Petty Officer, Steven Lukasiewicz, USN)

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Accountability for Success Tuesday, Jun 11 2013 

Building a profitable business appears more challenging today but taking a different approach may turn all of that around.

Originally published in 1994, The Oz Principle by Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman continues to make a valid point that is useful personally as well as professionally. The premise is that businesses are not successful because we as individuals and organizations are not accountable. We don’t recognize and take responsibility for our shortcomings and failures.

Instead, we look outside of ourselves at all the challenges and obstacles. We blame the economy, unproductive employees, vendors, the government – basically anyone and anything other than ourselves for the decline.

According to the authors, this  woe-is-me mentality is unproductive and deems ourselves as victims. It focuses on what difficult things are happening to us, how impossible the situation is. We see ourselves as trapped, stifled, and unable to succeed. We then are unable to make the necessary changes for success.

On the other hand, if we honestly assess the situation and take responsibility for our decisions, actions, or non-actions we can rectify the problems and move into a more positive position. The questions would then be, what could I have done differently? What can I do now? And then we need to take action.

Yes, this means that we have to be accountable for our mistakes but we no longer are victims. When every employee is allowed and encouraged to take ownership and is involved, the success of the organization and every employee is inevitable.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Business – Customers = 0 Business Thursday, Sep 6 2012 

Sales reps know the key to increasing sales is to build relationships with their clients. We like buying from people we like.

In a post dated 8/29/12 by Christine Crandall on Forbes.com, Crandell writes that Fortune 100 buyers are relationship focused. She says that regardless of the industry, organizations place more importance on their vendor relationships than how well the product or service performs. This finding applies to the everyday consumer as well.

Certainly the product must stand on its own. But a successful business pairs a superior product with excellent customer service.

In a previous post (“Kitchen Rain” posted July 12, 2012) I listed several companies I use regularly. I rely on them year after year because they consistently complete a job as agreed and at a fair price.

I also feel comfortable with them in my home. There is a mutual respect between business owners, employees, and me. I like these people.

However it is not uncommon for small business owners to find it challenging to handle the business end while also physically providing the service. We recently had a major project done here where the main part of the work was done very well but the entire job was not completed. I left multiple phone messages over several weeks asking when the owner planned to return.

I later learned the owner was injured on another job and unable to work. His absence was for a legitimate reason but he left me wondering if the work would ever be finished. A couple of phone calls from him to inform and update me would have alleviated my concerns.

Customers want to feel special, as if their business matters to the owner. We want to be greeted with a smile when walking into a store or restaurant. We want the owner or employee to answer their phone, complete projects in a timely manner and as promised, and send an accurate bill within a reasonable amount of time. Also, it is a significant plus if they remember us in some way. These elements are crucial in a successful business no matter how large or small.

It’s simple, really. It’s called professionalism. Actually it is common courtesy.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

Wind in Your Sails Friday, Apr 13 2012 

Do you have a mentor? Do you mentor? If not, maybe you should.

For about ten years, I wrote feature and profile articles for newspapers and realized there was a pattern to each story. The subjects of the articles eagerly stressed that they did not reach their level of success alone. They had mentors who they relied upon.

Further investigation proved that most people at the top of every field had one or more mentors. My findings are the basis of the book, Mentoring Heroes. Following is an excerpt from this book:

“The wind propels the sailboat. It influences the speed and direction of the vessel.

Mentors are the wind in your sails. They can accelerate your career voyage. They can guide you down a stream you would never have chosen on your own. You, the sailor, remain in control of the journey. You may choose to resist a mentor’s nudge or direction. But as the sailboat does not move without the wind, your progress may be nil or slow without the mentor.

Professional mentors share information they have gained through experience, saving you the time and challenge of discovering the information on your own. They can introduce you to other high-ranking people in your business who have the power to promote and support your growth. They can identify talents and capabilities within you of which you are unaware. They can send you in a direction better suited to your advancement than you otherwise would have chosen.”

(See more about the book, Mentoring Heroes, on my website at http://www.marykdoyle.com/pages/mentors.html )

©Mary K. Doyle

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