July 22, 2018

5 Questions And Answers to Change Your Business For The Better

It is hard to believe that I have been coaching for ten years. It seems like a few months, because I so love the work I do and am really so happy when I see people succeed.

As the years have flown by, it is not uncommon for the same questions to pop up over and over again, and at the end of the day, my clients (CEOs, Company Presidents, Executive Directors) hire me to make their organizations stronger so that they can be more profitable. I also work with non profit organizations, and their goal is of course to raise more funds, recruit more volunteers and provide more and better services to their clients.

So, today, I want to leave you with five questions that I have heard most often and provide you with one strategy to answer each question. I want to remind you that I am not a consultant…I am a coach, so finding solutions to these challenges rests with the client..my goal is to bring those solutions out of the client and onto the table. While you probably have similar or better solutions than the ones I am listing below, I am simply sharing with you what I have seen has worked quite well in the recent past. These solutions are not fluff or blue sky thinking…they are practical and simple, yet not always so easy to achieve. These approaches require hard work, consensus and as a leader, your full commitment to seeing that the strategy/strategies are implemented and refined over time.

The 5 Questions and Answers to Change Your Business For The Better:

Question 1: What is it going to take for me to succeed as a leader and for our company to thrive?

Answer: To be as candid, direct and transparent as possible. Too many companies “talk around” tough or sensitive issues, which can waste time, energy and money. If you are not being candid, creativity is blocked, projects slow down and money is lost. Just consider the last time you postponed having a tough conversation or being open and frank during a project, and ask yourself what was lost as a result. While being candid is simple, it is difficult to implement, because employees are fearful of backlash if they are candid and open. According to Lee S. Rosen Miami, Being transparent, candid and direct should be encouraged, praised and rewarded, and your employees will trust that being candid is actually a success tool…not an approach that is going to cost them their job.

Question 2: How do I stay competitive in today’s business world?

Answer: Attract the best players and train the up on a regular, ongoing basis. You may have the most beautifully built company in the world, but the people who live inside that building are your key to staying competitive. If you attract top talent, and you then don’t have a world class training program (and I don’t mean sitting in the classroom), it will be very hard to retain your best people. When building a training program, it is critical to implement the following:

  • Planning: Your training programs need to be planned to meet the needs of a variety of learners and should be mapped out for each quarter of the year. Today’s workforce is made up of three generations, and their training needs will all be different. Consider the sub groups in your company and invest time with your HR Department to properly plan your training programs.
  • Mission Statement: I believe that all training programs require a mission statement. The people in your company who are being trained are more than likely sitting in their seats thinking “Why am I here?” A mission statement will clear up they fuzzy “why” questions.
  • Design: Your training programs need to be designed to meet the needs of your learners. If you are training a young, 23 year old woman in a classroom with a powerpoint presentation and a flip board, you won’t get very far. The best approach for this young woman would be to use short bits and bites of information while taking advantage of the use of new media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, You Tube), storytelling and experiential exercises. Why? Because this is how this generation best learns. Proper planning can make your training programs fly and build passion in your followers.
  • Measurement: This is a no brainer, but many companies do not measure the success of their training. The only way to improve on the next training is to measure success and ask for feedback.
  • Accountability through follow up coaching and mentoring: Once your training programs end, it is now time to implement the training into the real world of your company. A strong mentoring and coaching program can help your employees not only implement the steps learned but it can help your employees strengthen the skills they are learning along the way.

Question 3: Our company is going through a change, and I am having trouble getting people on board. What should I do?

Answer: Design and implement a strategy for executive level, management level and employee buy in. It is not uncommon for companies to implement a change in their company without thinking through a clear strategy on how to get buy in. There are multiple ways to get buy in (make sure to communicate the change in a clear, simple way; offer employees the opportunity to give you ideas through the use of an anonymous suggestion box; hold town hall meetings; allow employees a way to be heard), yet at the end of the day, as a leader, the skills you will need most during a change initiative are patience, listening and persistence. You will have some employees who jump right on the bandwagon with you while others will drag their feet or complain about the change. If you design a strategy for buy in, including a time frame to get everyone on board, the change initiative will go much more smoothly. Just remember this: Generally speaking, people don’t like change, and if a change is on the horizon, they are going to want a voice and a listening ear from their leader.

Question 4: How can I get my employees to do the work they have been assigned to do and to get it done on time and with excellence?

Answer: The typical answers by many of the leadership gurus of our past and present (no…I don’t put myself in the leadership guru category by any means) is to design a strategy, develop a great plan, work the plan and then hold people accountable for results. Yet there is one piece that is usually missing from this puzzle: As a leader, you must be willing to delegate the project, back out of micro-managing the project and give your employees the permission to fail. I have said it before, and I will say it again…people learn more from failures than from being taught in a classroom or even shadowing a leader or manager. For most leaders and business owners, delegation and empowerment are scary propositions. You may be a leader or a business owner who has always managed every detail of a project, and now you are being asked to step back and let them possibly fail so that they can fly. As a leader, one of the best ways to change your business for the better is to trust your employees to the nth degree to complete a project and complete it with excellence. At the end of a project, debrief the project with your team to uncover new ideas which will make the next project better and stronger and one that will have a greater positive impact on your team and for your customers.

Question 5: I have an employee who has been so loyal to our company for years, and the company has outgrown her. She no longer has the skills we need, has no interest in learning the skills she needs, but I just can’t bring myself to let her go.

Answer: If you have offered additional training, provided coaching and have done everything you can for this employee, it is more than likely time for you to part ways. I have worked with clients from age 26-75, and the old saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is just not true. I have coached people over the age of 70 who have stepped up to the plate to learn new media, to learn new ways of doing business. So, if you have an employee who is simply not willing to learn new skills, you can either place her in a position that does not require the skill or let her go with compassion and appreciation for her loyalty and dedication to your company. I have also worked with companies who classes to terminated employees to help them find their next job. But, at the end of the day, if your company has outgrown a few of your employees, it is time to make that tough decision and do it sooner rather than later. If you continue to hold on to employees who are not helping your company due to an unwillingness to learn new skills, your company will not only not move forward, you will take multiple steps back…far away from your future goals.

In closing, I want to leave you one of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Action should follow your goals. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”

OctoFinder

Businesss Comic Books Hit Bookstores Today

If you are looking for a new, quick and exciting approach to reading a business book, Roundtable  Companies has just launched its first wave of business comic books in bookstores across America today.

I picked up a copy of The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, and I cannot wait to see how RTC has portrayed one of my favorite business books of all times.

So head over to Amazon and check out the suite of books now available

If you go to this page, and scroll down, you will see the business comic books on sale.  Just pop open the screencast link to see a glimpse of this first selection of business comics.  Have Fun!

http://screencast.com/t/d1O61LqkA

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7 Questions to Answer Before Reinventing Your Business Model

Is Your Company Truly Prepared to Reinvent Your Business Model?With the unpredictability of the economy and the unrest on a global scale, people are starting to panic, screaming “We have to get on top of this!  We have to change our business model!”  Woah…slow down!  Reinventing a business model takes time and a great deal of planning, and it can be done by answering the following seven questions:

1. Do you have a solid strategy in place before you being the reinventing phase? Many companies will tell you they simply react and don’t stop to plan.    This plan needs to include very serious thought about how you are going to operate, the team you need in place and how you are going to educate your stakeholders about the reinvention.

2. Do you have the right person at the top of your organization? This is a quandary that organizations bump up against during a reinvention phase.  The CEO or President of the company may have been a superstar during a crisis or in managing an old business model.  The new model may be entrepreneurial, innovative or driven by technology, so looking at the person at the top and analyzing their skill set will be a critical component during a reinvention phase.  If the person at the top is not your right man or woman, it may be time for a change.  As hard as it will be, the visionary of your company must be forward thinking, or the new business model will die in about one month.

3. Can you explain how a loan works and how you financially afford to reinvent your business model at this time? Times are tough, and the financial resources may not be available for a full overhaul of your company.  If this is the case, you might consider reinventing one department in your company as a beta test to see if reinvention makes sense and if you can truly afford to take this change to a company-wide level.

4.  Do you have the very best talent on board...talented people who are not only great in one area but who have a wide variety of skills whose talents and knowledge can be used in a variety of ways.  During reinvention, you will be asked to dare to be innovative and you will be bumping up against a multitude of obstacles, and if your employees have a wide variety of skills, you can pull them in when a challenge strikes and leverage their talent and skill sets. Tools like the Strengths Finder Profile can help you in analyzing the strengths of everyone in your company (including people who are your wage workers…they may have just what it takes to address a tough problem).

5.  Do the employees in your company have the ability to drive new business growth? Some people are just plain stuck in the past and some people are forward thinkers.  When it comes to driving new business growth, this  is where online social networking can truly be an asset to your company.  If your employees are what I call the “super connectors” of the world, they can bring new customers, partners, investors, talent and consultants to the table who can help you master your reinvention process and actually drive growth by bringing in their networks.

6. Does your culture need an overhaul? Look around your company.  What does it look like?  What does it feel like?  Are you living with the 60’s look of vinyl furniture and cubicles from the 70’s and 80’s?  Are people walking around with scowls on their faces, just watching for the clock to strike 5:00 so that they can get the hell out of dodge?  If so, it’s time for a culture change.  In today’s world, the cultures of companies that are working are open, bright, with the latest technology and most employees are receiving coaching and feedback on an ongoing basis.  People are excited and dancing out the door just to go to work.  If your culture is one that is stuck back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s or even the year 2000, then wake up!  We are in the year 2010, and boy have times changed.  Your culture needs to change with what’s going on in the year 2010 and should pull you into the future…not the past.

7.  Are you ready to think? In order to reinvent, true, deep thinking, brainstorming and masterminding to look to the future will be a part of your process.  The thinking, brainstorming process is not as easy as it sounds, because you are going to have people on your team who are going to play devil’s advocate and will pop every balloon you blow up.  I truly believe that the brainstorming process should be managed by someone on the outside who is skilled with pulling all ideas out onto the table…even the ones that are the crazy, far-fetched ones.  Once all ideas are on the table, you can then bring in the nit-pickers to pick apart the ideas to see which reinvention strategy is going to best serve your company.  But…at the end of the day, you are going to have to be willing to truly brainstorm, and if an employee just cannot get on board with this process, maybe it’s time to let that person find another place to hang his hat.

If you or your company is in the middle of reinventing your business model and you need help from a coach, give me a call at 910-692-6118 or email me at beafields@beafields.com.  I am happy to talk with you to see if I can help or if I can find someone from my network (which is quite large) to help you.

24 Marketing Strategies That Can Make You More Money During a Down Economy

Everyone loves to blog about their hundreds of marketing strategies that can help you get more paying clients. The reality is that only a few of your marketing strategies are bringing in the biggest pop of your income.

So, I went out last week and asked 30 people who I know are making money right now which strategies are bringing in the most income for them. While these answers are not “new” strategies, they ARE the ones that seem to be working. One thing that I noticed on new companies is they are missing signs, every business should print out the signs to market, take a look at foamboard printing by visiting www.foamcoreprint.com/blog/styrene-vs-foamboard-printing/. Some other people said that they started a delivery service and drive around in their new leased car, you should check out this site if you´re interested.

I also find it interesting that a few folks who I reached out to did not respond to this question. Just tickles my brain a bit to wonder why. Of course, they could be experiencing a family emergency or did not get my e-mail…but the eager people are the ones who are always at the top…as they say “The cream always rises to the top!”

So, I invite you to look over this Youtube video language translate today and ask yourself the same question “What marketing strategy has brought the most money into your business over the last year?” Once you answer that question, then go triple the use of that strategy to see if your results improve.

Thank-you to each professional below who took the time to respond. Trust me…in some way, you will be rewarded for sharing!

1. I use personalized video introductions, video messages and video outreach. I use vimeo plus and throw together 15-30 second clips of me introducing myself, an event or a service. It is so personalized that it really breaks down quite all the barriers. It puts a name with a face, shows that you care to take the time and it is something that can be shared with others. For new and existing friends on Facebook, I use the Facebook video message feature quite a few times a day to reach out and have some face time with new friends. Best of all it is very inexpensive, takes no time at all and jump starts the Relationship Building process.

Product plug: I love the FLIP HD MINO… game changer for Social Business Development Introductions

Ryan Coleman
http://twitter.com/nextforce

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2. Promoting our work with at-risk youth through our book From the Barrio to the Board Room has generated an influx of new business (much from traditional companies looking to improve their communication) and inspired current clients to increase the level of business they do with us. Promotions include blogging, newsletters, videography and photography, brochures, street teams and social networking that have led to free media exposure, partnership with major organizations and an invitation from the US Department of Education to present our work in Washington DC at a National Conference.

Corey Blake
http://writersoftheroundtable.com

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3. Live presentations, hands down. It results in immediate sales, future sales (consulting, investments, etc.) and other live presentations.

Mike Michalowicz
www.ToiletPaperEntrepreneur.com
www.ToiletPaperEntrpreneur.com/blog

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4. Writing books that become bestsellers.

Michael Port
http://www.MichaelPort.com

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5.  I’d have to say good old-fashioned personal networking has brought me the most business in the past year. I have been working my address book of contacts and making sure that everyone know what “I’m up to” now that I’ve left banking. I’m supporting this with speaking engagements at (or simply attending) bank trade shows, my monthly e-mail newsletter, webinars and articles to substantiate my “position” in the community banking industry. I also was recently added to the faculty of the Graduate School of Banking and will be teaching a two-day elective on social networking for bankers and have taught in their online classroom on website strategies for bankers (which has got me speaking to at least three new banks). While this all may not be “networking”, I feel that my best businesses deals come from “connections” and when I lose, it’s mainly because I’ve been asked to participate in the bidding process as a “vendor” and the relationship isn’t there.

Eric Cook, MBA
http://www.PoweredByWSI.com

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6. Creating blog content that serves our niche, which leads to generating opt-in subscribers into Mike’s (Toilet Paper Entrepreneur) list. After individuals join the list we sell tele-seminars to them.

Scott Bradley
http://networkingeffectively.com

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7. Networking and personal contact. By talking to people – regardless of how well I know them or have come into contact with them – and engaging them in a conversation about things that are important to them has often lead them to ask more about what I do and how it could work for them.

Roger DeWitt, PCC, CUCG
www.coachingnycinc.com

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8. My Michigan Entrepreneur TV show is my biggest strategy. This is not monetized, but I typically capture the first or second place in Google search for Michigan Entrepreneur. I’m currently moving everything to a blog format, so I hope to capture first place all the time — soon. If you want to make money, it is critical to get this high ranking on Google.

Strategy: Our online marketing for local businesses strategy is to post press releases for each and every guest after the show as well as for other newsworthy events related to the program. Press releases, in my opinion, are an important and vital part of getting the word out about the Michigan Entrepreneur. Benefits of using press releases are many, including the fact that we can post them on a number of free media sites. Not only are they a powerful vehicle for communicating newsworthy items, but also they provide links back to our site which helps with search engine rankings. Also, they can be repurposed into blog posts and can be printed and included in hard-copy media packages.

Tara Kachaturoff | Creator, Producer, and Host
http://www.MichiganEntrepreneurTV.com

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9. Social media has been a key component for our success. We are very active in it…blog hosting, group hosting, etc.

Lee Salz
http://BusinessExpertWebinars.com

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10. The marketing funnel – not one strategy – implementing 5-7 consistently (articles, blogging, local networking, newsletter, social networks and so forth).

Darshana Hawks
www.dreamsfulfilled-llc.com

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11. Offline marketing believe it or not! We actually book a lot of consulting work via speeches and panels Team Brazen is a part of. I think social media is a gateway to bigger and better things. Real world interactions with customers still matter.

Ryan Paugh
http://BrazenCareerist.com

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12. Reaching out to people using “hand-written” greeting cards (a font created using my handwriting) with SendOutCards. That was a very effective at closing business last year when my banking target market was still spending money. Although the strategy is not generating cashflow at the moment, I know based on verbal feedback that it is the right strategy to create relationships and generate cash flow when the economy turns.

Jeff Simpkins, Book Yourself Solid Certified Coach
Community Bank Consulting, Inc.
www.CommunityBankConsulting.com

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13. Building my network (growing my list). This allows me to build a relationship founded on trust with my subscribers. When it comes time to sell a product (membership, book, training CD, TeleSeminar, etc.) my subscribers trust me and are more likely to purchase from me.

How I build my list: Become “findable” via Google. My strategy for becoming findable is blogging.

Tom Heck
http://teachmeteamwork.com

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14. The single smartest marketing thing I did this year was to take the Become a Blogging Maniac Program. It’s that simple. It opened up the best way for me to market my book. Not just because I could bring attention to the book, but because it gave me the opportunity to expand upon various aspects of the book, and tell the success stories as people began to use the book. Your class got me blogging regularly, and got me up to speed incredibly quickly. I now blog on Fast Company and Huffington Post. The amazing think about Huff Post is that wherever my blog appears on the site, and it can be in numerous places, ads for my book also magically appear.

Gerald Sindell
www.thoughtleadersintl.com

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15. Proper site structure & SEO to make 120K with treadmill-world in 1.5 years & then sell for 220K + 1/4 payments for a yr

Jeff Knize
http://www.30daytwitterchallenge.com/

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16. #1 has been repeat business & referrals from existing clients. #2 has been seminars & public speaking.

Ian Brodie
http://www.ianbrodie.com/

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16. My best strategy was to self publish a book and a workbook – it floors me how it adds to one’s credibility – people will say, “you have a BOOK?” as if you are an amazing genius. It is quite simple and cost-effective to put some of your already-existing content into book or workbook form (or both) and self-publish through a platform like www.lulu.com. Now at every speaking opportunity, there are revenues – even if I’ve waived my speaking fee. I can also send to prospective new clients, or clients I have not heard from in a while. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I also had a photoshoot with a brilliant photographer so that everywhere I am in social media sites and on my books, a photo that finally, for probably the first time in many years, captures my “essence” and it has reconnected me to many, many people.

Lori Richardson
http://scoremoresales.com

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17. Fishing with a Net and not a pole.
As a speaker I’ve spent a lot of time building one on one relationships, which is great and I still do it. But since I started finding out where the main decision makers get together (i.e. their associations) and keynoting there to get my message in front of a large audience have a seen major results.

For example, just one talk I did landed me $20,000 in new business and I immediately so the power of fishing with a net and not a pole. Now a large majority of my time is spent on finding where my clients are gathered together in one room and finding a way to present in front of them. Making this relevant for your readers will obviously be finding
a way for them to get their product/service in front of their target audience (but not as an advertisement, I don’t find those as effective, for example buying advertising space in a trade journal isn’t nearly as effective as keynoting at that trade journals’ regional conference)

Arel Moodie “America’s Top Young Speaker”
www.arelmoodie.com

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18. I think the marketing strategy that has generated the most referrals (and therefore the most money) has been to use the Internet. By developing my website and now my blogsite at www.passion101.com/blog, and focusing on the niche of couples services and products, potential clients get a feel for who I am prior to calling or meeting with me. Many will subscribe to my Passion 101 Newsletter for a few months, get a feel for my philosophy and then contact me for in-person or phone/Internet sessions. Having a blog really supports this concept and I’m really excited with everything I’m learning in your class. Just this week I received two couples referrals from the Internet, which in the past would seem like a really crazy way to generate business.

Dr. Adam Sheck
http://Passion101.com/blog

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19. The marketing strategy I used that made me the most money was doing JV telecalls that addressed submitted challenges (on productivity around technology and product creation) that didn’t have a pitch at the end, but an invitation to a strategy session to folks who wanted to dig deeper and if I sensed a fit would offer a big ticket offer to work with me (I didn’t make an offer to everyone, but I did strategize with everyone who signed up for a strategy session).

Carol Dickson-Carr
Productivity Coach
http://ManagingPersonalResources.com

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20. By providing superior customer service and training to support (new and existing) EPIC clients in the use of assessments and/or promoting a few people and products that I truly believe in.

Alicia Smith
http://discninja.com

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21. The marketing strategy that earned me most in the last year remains the follow up and checking upon clients. Dropping a line by e-mail is good but the ultimate remains phoning up people, building relations, checking upon them, broadening conversation, finding out their needs, matching these needs with a solution and of course asking for the sale. Nothing actually works better than asking for the sale. However, it implies having built relationships. Final note: it doesn’t necessarily involves a long time frame. You can build a relation in 10 or 15 minutes sometimes but it’s got to be based on trust and you have to be relaxed to let your best come out. Humor especially is a winner that only comes with relaxation. So have fun!

Alice Bismut
www.alicebismut.com

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22. I’d have to say the most successful marketing strategy I’ve used over the past year has been a play on an old management style – Marketing by Walking Around. Whenever I have been in a business or social setting where there is a crowd (conference, someone else’s or one of my own events, etc.) I have made time to get out and speak with as many people face-to-face and find out how I can serve them. Sometimes this service has simply been connecting them with someone else who can help them solve an issue, other times it’s been a direct service opportunity. In either and other cases, those connections remember the conversation and contacted me and/or referred me out later if they had no immediate need.

This has worked so well in some cases that I have arrived at some events and run into people actually looking for me when they had heard I was going to be in attendance. In this world of electronic social networking, there’s still incredible benefit in the face-to-face connection where people truly get a sense of who you are and how you can help them or someone they know.

Chuck Hawks,
www.dreamsfulfilled-llc.com

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23. Teaching the Become a Blogging Maniac course, blogging every day and meeting new people through Twitter. I have attracted 170 new clients into the training arm of my business and have added 479 people to my network, which is pretty solid considering all that is going on in the world right now. Right behind this strategy is public speaking…if you want to make more money with blogging…blog every day!. If you want to make more money with public speaking…speak a LOT!

Bea Fields
http://beafields.com

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24. Collaboration and word of mouth – which I guess are the old fashioned terms for social networking and joint ventures.

Delivering over-the-top customer service makes it easy for people to tell others about you – in fact they almost can’t help themselves. And collaborating with innovative, interesting people with high integrity makes me look that much more innovative and interesting, as well.

Those are the “outer” marketing activities. Just as important is the inner shift I have made – which is to be completely, authentically, and outrageously me. No holding back, and no hiding. I think I have finally gotten the meaning behind a phrase I’ve used for years: “To be someone you are not is to waste the person you are.”

Nina East
PersonalGrowthPrincess.com.

The 5 Steps You Must Take Before Choosing a Business or Joint Venture Partner

I meet people every day who are either choosing a new business partner OR who are going into a joint venture partnership with other people.  Many of these partnerships work, and many are a recipe for disaster from the get-go.

Before you enter into a business partnership with anyone in the future, I highly recommend that you take the following five steps.  Trust me…they work!

1)  Date the person for at least six weeks.

Choosing a business partner requires a courting period.  I recommend that you go to and outing (movie, sporting event) and  eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with your potential biz partner at least 3 times.  You can pick up cues (do they eat with their mouth open, are they rude to the waiter, are they a cheap tipper, do they constantly use foul language?) during the dating process that will show up in the partnership down the road.

2) Check at least 3 references.

Ask your future business partner for 3 references from other business  partners they have worked with in the last 18 months.  This could be in business, an investment or someone they served with on a board of directors.  Ask about their time management skills, ability to interact with other people, integrity and work ethic.

3) Meet the family.

When you begin doing business with people, the family will get involved…trust me on this.  If the wife/husband/partner/kids  are hell on wheels, this is going to come into your business partnership.  I see it every day.

4)  Perform a DiSC Assessment on yourself and your future business partner.

The DiSC assessment (Download a Sample D.i.S.C. Assessment here) is a great tool for telling you a bit about your communication style.  As an example, a high “D” is a very dominant, driven person.  If you are both high “D’s”, you may get into a battle over who’s really in charge.  But…if you have complimentary communication styles (High D/I’s and high C/S styles usually do a great job together,) you will probably be on the right path in choosing a business partner.  For more information on the DiSC or to purchase one, visit our assessment page.

5)  Notice your intuitive hunches about your future business partner.

When you spend time with this person, is something just not adding up?  Does something feel “off”?  If so, you may be staring into the face of someone who is going to screw you to the wall down the road.   It is not uncommon for people to “shrug off” those intuitive hunches about people, and this is a huge mistake.  If something just does not feel right about this person, back off immediately, and look at your own history.  Who does this person remind you of, and what went down in the past that is conjuring up this intuitive hunch?  Pay close attention to that hunch before diving into a business relationship..