Operational Processes

Joel on Software writes a great article about Starbucks and how they have developed customer services “systems” and “procedures” that are failing.

If you’re planning to expand your business to a certain scale, you must first establish procedures and build systems to get predictable outcomes so that your employees can produce decent results even when they’re not having a great day.”

This is extremely applicable to my current role.  The nature of working with Clients as your customers mixes different personalities and can create frustration somedays.  It is so important to have good work processes in place so you can turn off your email, let the frustrations go and continue to crank on the work that needs to be accomplished.  Getting Things Done is the easiest way to satisfy a Client as a customer.

Natural Breaks

Gen. Michael Hayden was interviewed on Meet the Press about the Iraq War.  He used the term “Natural Break” to describe circumstances that create change or opportunity. 

“So I knew if I got to mile 22, there was a natural break that would begin to turn things into my favor.”

We need to look for Natural Breaks in business.  Examples are holiday downtime, the period after a Product Launch or new Release, after a company meeting, etc.

What is a SWOT analysis?

Strengths are exploited

Weaknesses are isolated and alternatives sought

Opportunities identified

Threats identified, isolated and alternatives sought

What does Pro Forma mean?

Sometimes terms are used in a meeting, everyone nods their heads in agreement (including me), but then I walk away feeling like I did not understand perfectly what was being said.  I have often times seen this as a sales technique….people are afraid to ask questions so the sales person uses terms they realize the potential client will not understand and will intimidate.

Anyway, the term “Pro Forma” was used in a meeting the other day and although I had a general understanding, I thought I would look it up anyway and write this quick blog post.

Projected earnings based on a set of assumptions and often used to present a business plan (in Latin pro forma means “for the sake of form”). It also refers to earnings which exclude non-recurring items. Pro-forma earnings are not derived by standard GAAP methods. 

Source: Investopedia

Understanding your Market

As I listened to Venture Voice #48 with Frank Addante I thought about how successful people always seem to understand their market incredibly well. 

This is, of course, an obvious statement.   I wonder though, is this understanding in part due to hindsight? Maybe they got really lucky and can now justify their decisions…when really at the time they had no idea of the impact.

Listen to the mp3

Business Advice from Walden

This excerpt from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden offers great advice on Business: 

Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood.  “Do you wish to buy any baskets?” he asked.  “No, we do not want any,” was the reply.  “What!” exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, “do you mean to starve us?”  Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off — that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed — he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do.  Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man’s to buy them.  He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other’s while to buy them, or at least make him think that it was so, or to make something else which it would be worth his while to buy.  I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one’s while to buy it.

Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them.  The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind.  Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?

I read this book via DailyLit, a service that delivers a few paragraphs a day to your Inbox.  I highly recommend trying this out.