Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur’

Running Your Business like a Referee

April 21, 2010

They are referred to as zebras but their ‘real’ title is official or referee. They stand right in the middle of the chaos and decide when someone breaks the rules, goes out of bounds, or catches the ball.

The referees all follow the same basic signals which tell us what went wrong or right. As entrepreneurs, we can learn how referee’s signals can help us in our businesses. The various signals let us know when something has gone wrong, when we’re making progress, and when we’ve made a touchdown.

Crowd Noise Signal – Are you spending too much time on non-business related conversations or out on errands when you should be working? Do you spend half your day opening, reading, and responding to emails? Excessive crowd noise in a game creates a virtually impossible situation for the visiting offense to communicate. It may be time to hush the crowd noise in your home office by focusing on tasks at hand first. This same signal can also mean dead ball. When you foolishly waste your most productive time doing non-productive tasks, it can mean a dead ball as far as your time. Quiet crowd noise and focus on your priority list.

Personal Foul Signal – This comes in many forms; roughing the kicker, roughing the passer or face mask. As business owners, we are often kicked around by rude vendors, high maintenance clients, or even social media discussions that get out of hand. Let’s make sure we aren’t the ones causing personal fouls and penalty yards to others by our bad behavior and loose lips.

Time Out Signal – When you’ve been working hard, accomplishing your to-do list with a vengeance, and not wasting time with non-essentials, it’s o.k. to take a time-out. Take Friday afternoon and get a massage. Meet with a friend for some ice-cream. I take every Wednesday mid-day to attend a Bible Study at my church for an hour (www.corchurch.org). Time outs are good when they refresh you and get you back in the game.

Player Being Disqualified Signal – Don’t disqualify yourself with negative thoughts or a defeated attitude. You won’t please every client every time. Sometimes, it’s just not a good client/vendor match. You disqualify yourself when you give up or work lazily.

First Down Signal – Gain 10 business yards by sending a handwritten note to a client. Include a personalized article, relating to your client’s interests. Call your present or former clients just to say hello and ask how their business is doing. Send an email and include a helpful tip that your client can put to use right away.

Touchdown Signal – You have scored! You’ve nailed a project exactly how your client was expecting it. You’ve received a glowing endorsement from a client, raving about your service or product. You’ve reached a major milestone in your business plan. Feel free to do a victory dance in your end zone.

Half-Time

January 30, 2010

Whether a team is winning or losing…it’s inevitable…half-time WILL come. It’s a time when sports announcers  banter with each other and aggressively give their take on what’s happened in the first half. It’s a time when advertisers unashamedly flaunt their wares with multi-million dollar ideas. It’s also a time that coaches have to lay groundwork for the second half of the game.

Coaches are well aware that they have only 15 minutes at half-time to:

  • Analyze the competition and make necessary adjustments
  • Refresh, rest, and rehydrate the team
  • Motivate and focus on team strength’s
  • Keep their game face on while players offer feedback

Half-time often comes to businesses too. You’ve gone through the opening kick of start-up, you’ve toiled through the downs of marketing attempts and client interaction, and have more than likely reached the goal line of an increased client base and referrals.

Now, half-time comes and you find yourself needing to do all the above bullet points. I’ll break them down so you can go into your second half, revived and ready to give your all.

  • Analyze the competition and make necessary adjustments. Have you looked at your competitors’ websites lately?

Their call to action? Special offers?

Are there any adjustments you can make to keep yourself ahead of your competition?

Perhaps a website copy analysis? A press release to announce your latest product/service offering? A revised auto-responder to draw in a greater number of respondents and increase sales?

  • Refresh, rest, and rehydrate. How many hours a day/week do you work? I’ve consistently worked more hours than I ever have since I’ve been an entrepreneur. I attend a 6:00 a.m. resistance/strength training class to energize me for the first part of the day. I take an afternoon break during my body clock’s dip time, then it’s back to work until around 7:30 or 8:00 p.m.

The more I move up the field as a self-bosser, the more I realize I need to aggressively take time to relax and refresh myself. I have to make a conscious decision to get up at least once an hour and stretch, I need to re-fuel with food every 3-4 hours, and drink plenty of water.

I’m talking to myself when I tell you to take a break and read for 30 minutes. Go for a short walk. Eat a little chocolate (I don’t have any problem with that one). I’ll often take Friday afternoon off to pick up my 6-year old granddaughter for a sleepover. Of course, the piggyback rides and chasing games serve to exhaust me to new heights.

  • Motivate and focus on your strength’s. You’ll find plenty of ways to motivate yourself, you just have to look around. A simple Google search will produce millions of results of motivational content to uplift and inspire you. Also, make a list of your strengths.

It took those strengths to start your business and it takes your strength and talent to manage it. After all, what do football players think about…how inadequate they are? That they have no talent? Huh, I don’t THINK so or they’d have a one-way ticket out of the NFL.

  • Keep your game face on while others offer feedback. If you want to improve your business, you’re going to have to ask for feedback from your clients, your peers, and your mentors. How do you react to feedback when it’s less than what you expected? What if the feedback comes from a trusted source and is still not what you wanted to hear?

Do you keep your game face on or fall apart?

Do you get mad and hurl negative comments back?

Do you wince and glare with nonacceptance of critical comments, even when they’re meant to improve your game?

You can do whatever you want to with your game face in private but keeping your game face on in public is essential to show that you’re a professional – teachable and humble.

Half-time can be a time of commiserating, re-hashing mistakes, mishaps, or a symphony of woe-is-me’s, or it can serve as time well spent. How will you spend your next half-time?

The Uniform

September 12, 2009

How do you dress for work?

If you’re a college or pro football player, you wear protection from head to toe. For safety. To avoid injury to important parts. To cushion the falls.

As entrepreneurs, we don’t think much about that in our daily business lives but maybe we should. Let’s take a look at the various elements of a football players’ uniform to see if we can’t relate it to our own internal and external attire.

Helmet & Facemask

The helmet is obviously meant to protect the head against concussions. The facemask acts as a rolling bar for the player’s face to protect against pokes and hits and damage from falling on his face.

My guess is that you don’t wear a helmet during your workday. You’d look pretty ridiculous if you did and the nice people in the white coats would probably take you away.

But, what about starting your day with meditation, prayer, positive thoughts, a thankful spirit, and reading the Bible or other devotional book?

Doing those things on a daily basis protects your mind from potential injury from circumstances or various outside influences that come your way on a daily basis. It might even cushion you from mental and emotional falls.

Shoulder Pads, Hip Pads, Knee Pads, Flak Jackets

Again, all meant to protect different body parts. Football is a game about the power of muscle, not the ability of the body to absorb everything.

Do you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders? Is that what your shoulders were meant for?

Do the pressures of your business keep you up at night? What purpose does that serve?

Are you chained to your desk for long periods? Are your muscles so tight that you groan when you get up to take a break? Your body was not designed to be in a frozen position for long periods of time.

Do you take regular breaks during your work day to revive and restore your mind and body? Protect yourself from wear and tear…nobody else will do that for you.

Have you taken the time to strengthen the power of your own muscles with regular exercise, strength or weight training and cardio? If not, start today.

It’s all about the Shoes

Players wear different types of shoes for different playing surfaces. Depending on the playing surface and condition of the surface, longer or shorter cleats are worn. The bottom line is that cleats give players better traction in varying field conditions.

As an entrepreneur, have you adjusted your approach to clients, depending on the circumstance?

Some clients are firm; I call these ½” cleat clients – you need to be business-like, no-nonsense, and to the point.

Other clients are just average; 5/8” cleat clients – you can give a little leeway with your terms and be a wee more relaxed with communication.

Still others are mushy (touchy, feely, emotionally-charged); ¾” cleat clients – you’ll need to balance that out with some bottom-line statements, a firm stance, and maybe a little humor.

Then there are the 1” cleat clients – they are messy and muddy (temperamental and demanding) and cause miserable playing conditions. You’ll have to remain strong in your stance, not slip in their mud with any verbal giveaways, and not be afraid to take them out of your game.

Outer Wear – Jersey, Pants, and Socks

These are the outer clothes that players wear on the field. Many specific rules are linked to a players’ uniform but all for a reason. They don’t call it a uniform for nothin’. The uniform is governed closely by the NFL. If violations occur, the player is fined.

All those rules make me glad I can wear any old thing while I’m working at my desk at home. However, when I’m meeting with clients, some rules apply.

When you have a client meeting, do you show up, dressed for success, with a professional demeanor? Hair groomed? Nice aroma? Clean, pressed clothes? Minty breath? Notepad and pen ready to work?

All these seem like a no-brainer but I’ve heard horror stories about client meetings with vendors showing up, looking like they just rustled themselves out of bed. I’ve also heard about entrepreneurial folk answering their phones with the first phrase being, “Hey, I’m stepping out of the shower, can I call you back in a sec?” Oh my, these things ought not to be people.

If you’re meeting with a client in a casual setting…sure, ditch the suit and tie and go business casual. Depending on the client, dress the part…wear your “uniform” to the game. Don’t penalize your credibility for your appearance. Show your client you’re on his team all the way.

I’ll ask you again…How do you dress for work? Make sure your internal attire…your mental attitude, your emotional well-being…is in check. Also make sure your outer attire…your appearance for clients…is fit for the occasion.

Hurray! Football season is here! See ya’ll on the field.

The Heart of the Matter

April 2, 2009


What makes a football player great? What makes an entrepreneur stand above all others? What is the key ingredient that makes each excel?

HEART! A player can have all the talent in the world but without heart, they won’t ultimately succeed. Players with heart impose their will on the opponent. A defensive back with heart will always cause a wide receiver to watch his back. A player with heart will back up the talk which equals credibility.

Without heart, talent becomes a lifeless, sterile environment. Going through the motions without the passion.

As entrepreneurs, we impose our will on our prospective customer with our dynamic closing skills, made with heart…really caring about our customer’s needs and wants.

Of course we don’t want people to have to watch their back around us, that’s not what I’m talking about here. We want to have so much heart that we make a splash wherever we are; people are aware of us. When we promise end results to our customers, backing that up with action also equals credibility for us as individuals and for our businesses.

When I think of the greatest pro players, past and present, I think of Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner and Payton Manning just to name a few. All of them played with heart and their stats prove it.

How will you set yourself apart in the business community? Are you known by your heart? Do your customers really know you care about them and their businesses? Reach out today and get to know your customers then check your stats.