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The Benefits of CEO Groups

We have all heard the old cliche that, “it’s lonely at the top.” It really is an accurate portrayal of life for most CEOs. Not only can executive officer feel lonely in their specific business, but they may also be in need of peer relationships that bring with it sharing of business acumen, professional experience, and insights that can help grow and mold a successful business. The roles of executives today have never been more daunting or fraught with disruptions. Let’s take a look at how joining a peer group of other CEOs can help.

Having a leadership resource can be just the solution for executives who need to make a connection, want to grow their company, and often don’t have the time during the regular business day to make those connections organically. Joining a peer group can be the answer for several reasons.

CEO Groups Serve as a Sounding Board

During the course of a typical work day, most executives are busy handling day-to-day operations. There is not often the opportunity to call a friend in a similar circumstance to talk about future business questions or concerns. The CEO groups run by the Enterprise Center are a great chance for business leaders to communicate with other business leaders. Peers can act as a sounding board for ideas where CEOs are able to confidentially get feedback from people in similar positions. Other business leaders can add to their experiences and warn of potential pitfalls. The conversations can be incredibly valuable and may even help move your company forward.

 

CEO Groups Can Help with Scaling

One of the more difficult aspects of leading a business is learning how to scale. Oftentimes, CEOs do not have peers that can help them learn how to grow a business by getting more out of the people and resources or by employing better systems and methodologies. A peer group of other CEOs can provide insider access to insights learned from others’ experiences.

 

CEO Groups Can Help with the Big Picture

Often, business leaders do not take the time to plan for what lies ahead. This is especially true for small and medium-sized businesses that are still evolving and finding their niche. Peer groups of other business leaders can be a great chance to plan, organize, and take a look at the bigger picture. Being a part of an executive group means that monthly you will hear about other businesses’ successes and setbacks that can give you a sense of where your company may be heading. It is almost like taking a look into the future when hearing about where other executives are in their journey.

 

CEO Groups Can Provide Support, a Sense of Belonging, and a Little Bit of Fun

Joining one of the Enterprise Center’s three CEO groups can give the support that many executives need – even if it is once a month. These peer groups can not only be substantive in that they allow for professional support but also can spark humor, fun, and a sense of belonging to a group that can help in what can only be described as one of the more challenging positions in business.

Are you interested in joining one of our CEO Groups? Check out the programs page on our website and register now.

 

A Quick Guide to Presenting

Whether you are a first-time speaker or someone who does this regularly, presenting can be nerve-wracking and stress inducing. The old advice of “picture them in their underwear” does little to allay fears and nothing to improve your speaking skills. Instead, we offer a quick review of things to do before and during your next big presentation. Don’t worry, you’ve got this!

Be Prepared

No matter what the topic of your presentation is, be prepared. Have your presentation deck organized, technology all set, and handouts ready to go. Know your content inside and out to the point that you don’t even need to look at your slides. Go deep into your research so if questions are asked you will have the answers.

That takes us to the next way that you should be prepared – know your audience. Take a serious look at who your audience is and why they are coming to your presentation. What are their needs and what do they hope to get out of it? Obviously, a presentation to a group of CEOs will be dramatically different than one to first-time clients.

 

Start Strong

There is nothing worse for an audience member than hearing a speaker drone on from the start to the end of a presentation without showing passion or a love for what they are discussing. For this reason, start your presentation off strong. We live in a world of immediate gratification and constant entertainment. Start your presentation off with a bang and get their attention from the very start. Start by connecting with the audience through a story, an engaging slide, or information that they may not have heard before.

Keep It Simple and Straightforward

Most people in the business world have limited time as it is, so stick to a core message. It may help to tell the audience what the three main things are that you want them to take away from your presentation. Tell them upfront what you plan on talking about and then get to it. Try not to take a detour and chat about irrelevant information.

Be Personable

Smile, make eye contact, and speak naturally. These are three things you can do to relate to the audience and be personable. This can build rapport and actually make you less nervous.

A Word About Slides

Many great orators use slides, while others just talk. If you are going to use slides to complement your presentation, Guy Kawasaki of Apple suggests that slideshows should:

  • Contain no more than 10 slides;
  • Last no more than 20 minutes; and
  • Use a font size of no smaller than 30-point.

Giving a presentation doesn’t need to be unnerving. Following these simple steps can get you on the path to giving professional presentations. Need more information on being confident when presenting? Check out our seminar on “Presenting with Confidence” with Jim Ognibene on May 28 from 6-9pm.

 

Getting Real about Goal Setting

Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson

 

At the end of every fiscal year, do you find that you are just short of the goals that you so neatly created months ago? Or do you find that your business team took a left turn and went way off course and have not revisited the goals since the last time they created them? These are two extremely common problems when creating goals for your business.

Every business owner knows that creating and sticking to goals are what drive a business. Without goals, it’s difficult to identify ways you can grow, develop, and move toward continued success. Sometimes, however, when it comes to goal setting, it is easier to take a look at the mistakes that are common rather than the other way around.

Let’s take a look at a common personal goal that thousands of us make every New Year’s Eve and see how we can make it better. Many of us make it a goal or resolution to lose weight every year. While this is a wonderful goal that more of us should attempt, there is something wrong with the goal. Do you know what the mistake is?

The goal of losing weight is too broad. Most business owners make similar mistakes. Goals should be: achievable, measurable, and specific. Let’s rewrite the weight loss goal and see how we can improve it.

How about we change it to, “I will lose 15 pounds within three months.” Or, “I will lose at least two inches off my waist.” Or, “I will be down a dress size,” in the same time frame. Each of these is measurable, achievable, and specific.

Business owners should do the same thing when creating sales goals or any other kind of goal depending upon your field or industry. Each goal should be narrow in scope, have a time frame, and have a way to measure whether the goal has been reached.

Many business leaders use the SMART business model for goal setting. What are your biggest mistakes when setting goals? Do you get overwhelmed with the scope of a project? Do you make the goals too broad? There are a million mistakes that can be made. If you need help, you may want to attend one of our seminars on Setting and Achieving Transformative Goals.

 

Assembling a Great Management Team

If you have seen the Marvel Avengers franchise’s latest installment, End Game, (and, let’s face it, millions of you have seen it) then you know what a powerful, efficient, and productive team looks like. Your business team may not have Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk or any of the other members of the Avengers, but you probably have just as diverse a group that you are trying to mold into a great management team. Let’s take a look at some of the methods and qualities you will want to encourage in your management team.

Focus on Roles

One of the first things a small or medium-sized business owner may want to do is to define which positions are needed for a business to thrive. Make it a goal to hire with those specific needs in mind. Each person should have a particular specialty instead of just a general business resume. Look for someone who will fill a particular need and add a little something extra to your team, like fitting the pieces of the jigsaw together. Just like each member of the Avengers has special gifts or powers, your management team should be stacked with people who have something unique or specialized about them as well.

Excellent Communication

For a team to work well together, there should be multiple channels of communication, depending upon the project or work being done. For example, team members should be able to communicate on an informal level on channels such as Slack, or in more formal ways such as during presentations, client meetings, or emails. Look for team members who possess excellent communication skills and, if you are lucky, you may find people who communicate so well that they can intrinsically coordinate with other team members and anticipate needs.

Goal Seekers

Management teams should always be striving toward a goal, whether it is long-term or short-term. Arrange regular check-ins and meetings to determine whether goals are being met or if they need to be adjusted in any way. This will go hand-in-hand with communication between your team members.

 

Build Rapport

Teams don’t just come together and work seamlessly in unison. It takes time and nurturing for teams to hit their stride – even Captain America and Iron Man haven’t always seen eye-to-eye! Create a culture in your office where team members can get to know one another on different levels. Help them celebrate successes and milestones together, either business or personal. And when there is a failure, talk about it as a team without laying blame on any one person’s feet. The culture you create can help your team grow and learn together. If you are lucky, they will support each other to take calculated risks or get creative when the need arises.

Want to know more about building a great management team one that will rival the Avengers (ok not really)? Consider attending some of our seminars such as, “What Do You Need for a Management Team to Be Successful?”

Common HR Traps and Managing Employees Effectively

The modern role of a Human Resources Manager is to recruit, interview, and hire employees, ensure the happiness and wellbeing of the employees in the office environment, ensure compliance with labor laws and employment standards, among other assorted responsibilities. It is a big job trying to advocate for each individual in the office, as well as trying to balance employee satisfaction with meeting the goals, objectives, and overall standards of the company, but someone’s got to do it. Due to the difficulties of this job, there are common HR traps which some businesses may experience. Here are just a few, as well as tips on how to avoid or resolve them:

 

  • Not Being Familiar with Employment Laws – As the HR rep, you should familiarize yourself with the proper procedures of hiring, maintaining, and terminating employees. If not, your company may be sued for improper or unlawful termination. Brainstorm clever interview questions that have to do with the job itself for which you are hiring, as well as a list of do’s and don’ts for your managers to follow during the interview process. These practices will help to ensure that you hire the best candidate for the position, and that you will be protected when it comes time to terminate.
  • A Lack of an Onboarding Process – Onboarding means that a new employee is properly oriented with the office and that managers and employees are ready to welcome the new hire to the team. Nothing sends off a bad signal like an unacquainted, new employee who walks into an empty or quiet office on their first day, particularly when the manager or other essential personnel is absent upon the newbie’s arrival. A good practice is to make sure the manager is in the office before the new hire arrives, in order to greet and familiarize them with the workplace and environment. Current employees should also be informed of the new hire’s arrival and should invite him/her out to lunch to make them feel welcome and like a valued team member.
  • Insufficient Training Periods – One of the most important, yet overlooked aspects of growing and expanding businesses is the need for continuous training. This is particularly common among smaller businesses because of the constant influx of new tasks and jobs. Combine that with the short history of the company, and you may end up with a recipe for disaster. These tasks are new to the company, meaning that people will have little-no knowledge of how to complete them. That’s where training comes into play. It is essential to train employees thoroughly, so they get a better grasp of their respective job duties, and, when the time comes, they can train someone else.

 

 

Don’t let your company be subject to common HR pitfalls and traps. The HR manager is on the front lines of the company, fighting with both the employees’ and the company’s ideals in mind. If you’ve experienced problems with your HR department, it might be time to consider formalizing it. This not only helps you hire and retain better employees, but you also build a positive reputation for your business.

Incorporating U.S. Military Leadership Techniques into your Business’ Success Strategy

It’s no secret that the military produces great leaders, and this has been proven, not only in the field, but in the office as well. Many successful businesses are led by individuals with some form of military background. For example, Verizon’s Chairman and CEO, Lowell McAdam, was in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps. for six years. Aside from discipline and obedience training as a results of boot camp, the military teaches you various skills and techniques that translate from victories on the battlefield to success in the boardroom. Here are just a few:

 

  • Proper and Clean Attire – The military enforces a strict dress code down to shined shoes. Dressing sharp ‒ that is, well-fitting, professional clothes and coordinated outfits ‒ creates a sense of confidence, which is important in decision making and leading. Confidence is the key to making tough decisions and being sure about them, versus hesitation no matter which way you look at the situation.
  • Becoming a People Person – First and foremost, the military teaches you to care for your team, and a strong team is founded on diversity. A diverse group of people means that each member has unique experiences, which may provide special skills, talent, or thought processes down the road in order to achieve goals or objectives.
  • “Be, Know, Do”– Taken from the U.S. Army Manual of the same name, this is all about knowing how to do a job or perform a task. When giving instructions, orders, or just telling someone what to do job-wise, you yourself should know the ins and outs of the task itself. Lead by example and show them how to do it correctly, and they will follow suit.

 

 

The military mass-produces great leaders who can adapt and confidently lead their team into battle. The ability to adapt is important because once they’re out of the military, they can take what they’ve learned and modify it for an appropriate job setting, and achieve a level of success which might otherwise not be attainable.

Common Mistakes of Start Ups

According to Forbes Magazine, 9 out of 10 start ups fails! Other studies, such as the Harvard Business Study, are more optimistic in stating that only 50 percent fail in the first year. They all agree, however, that making it past five years is a milestones that may mean you are solid enough to survive the horrible stats about start up survival. What are the stumbling blocks that make new businesses so risky? Well, honestly the list could go on forever, but here are a few of the more common mistakes of starting your own business:

 

  • Cash Problems – One of the largest mistakes new owners have in launching a successful small business is the cash issue. Running out of cash can have many causes including not understanding the market, losing investors, pricing problems, or financing issues.
  • Motivation – Starting a new company is possibly one of the most time-consuming and stressful events for any human being. Keeping the motivation going can be difficult, especially if key leadership dwindles or is also not motivated.
  • Product Problems – Many new companies rely on one or two services or products. If one of those fails, so does the company. New businesses need to broaden their offerings and target larger audiences to stay afloat.
  • Lack of Support – New businesses need employees and leadership personnel that are versatile and can handle many roles at once. Young companies many times do not have the cash flow to hire such individuals.
  • Failure to Handle Feedback – In our society and social media-crazed land, feedback on poor job performance is almost instantaneous. With numerous review sites, your company can be ruined with negative reviews or the inability to react swiftly to feedback from clients and employees.

 

There are numerous reasons why good companies go under. Continue to read our blog as we follow these reasons over the next few months.

Time Management Tips

Tick, Tick, Tick. . . 

Does your work day slip between your fingers and make you wonder where the time went by the time you reach closing time? If so, you may need to re-think your time management skills. Learning how to manage your time can be difficult and take some time to learn but here are some expert tips that can get you started.

  • Maintain a Calendar – Carry your schedule with you at all times. This may mean using an online scheduler and project management tool. Be sure to refer to the calendar regularly throughout the day and keep track of how long regular activities take. This may seem tedious but will give you a better idea of how long certain activities will regularly take. You will then be able to plan your time better in the future.
  • Plan Every Morning – Many business leaders emphasize that what keeps them on track all day is a 30 minute review every morning of what the goals are for the day and week, maybe even the month. Having those goals in mind before you start meetings or rushing from activities to activity can keep you focused.
  • Know How to Delegate – Having a trusted employee who can handle some of your daily duties can mean you can attend to more important duties. Someone who can field your email and phone calls as well as prioritizing them can help you stay on task all day long.
  • Eliminate Distractions – Start paying attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Eliminate those distractions by closing your door or doing work in a separate area. Or set aside a certain time of day when you are free.
  • Start Early – While it might be nice to sleep in or have a lazy coffee, getting an early start is the hallmark of leaders who have time management mastered.

 

Organization Skills for Business Leaders

One characteristic of exceptional leadership (that many times is overlooked) is the organization skills of that leader. Sure, we have all had a great boss whose desk is a mess or can’t seem to keep meetings straight, but for every one of those types of leaders there are leaders who have their business lives organized. Here are a few tips for business leaders to maintain organization.

  • Planning – There never seems to be enough time in the day for business leaders. That is why planning is a critical part of being organized and taking advantage of every moments to get things done. Many leaders believe that using one calendar for the entire office can help keep things organized. Google Calendar and other online options can keep everyone on the same page and reduce overbooking a day.
  • Office Management – Many businesses have a designated person who keeps the office organized. For example, when the copier breaks down or the clients are running late, an employee should be a point person that can keep things running smoothly even in the absence of the owners or management.
  • Goals – While it is a great idea to have a planning calendar, often managers and owners can get bogged down by the day-to-day activities and not keep the ultimate goal in mind. Organized business leaders have regular meetings with key members of the team or office staff to check in on goals and see whet the progress is for each goal. Be sure to set both realistic as well as long and short term goals. Prioritize them according to your company’s needs.
  • Clean Things Up – At the end of each long work day it is tempting to leave for home and relax with your family. Take an extra ten minutes to tidy your desk and prep for the next day’s meetings or activities. You won’t believe how good it feels to come in the next day with a start on the day already.

Communication: Best Business Practices

Communication is the life of any company whether it is communicating with employees or clients. Business leaders are expected to be able to effectively and clearly communicate with stakeholders, customers and employees. While many business leaders have found their own unique skill of communicating through years of practice, there are some common strategies that they all seem to master. Let’s take a look at the best practices of communicating skills. 

  • Be Clear – If an employee leaves a staff meeting not quite sure what you mean then you are not being clear enough in your speech. When speaking and giving directives to employees give clear and precise points. Many successful business leaders find that being repetitive about goals, work habits, and projects can help employees understand what they need to accomplish.
  • Be Approachable – As a business leader, you want clients, employees and business partners to feel that they can come to you for clarification about an issue without feeling like they are in trouble or bothering you. Be open and understand that clarification can only mean that they are trying to give you what you are asking for.
  • Use Many Communication Formats – While it may seem that everyone is on technology these days, communication should come in all different forms from: emails, inter-office communication, newsletters, phone calls and in-person visits. Different personalities respond better to varying forms of communication.
  • Be Present and Timely – When clients, employees or others need to talk with you, be present with them instead of trying to juggle multiple activities at once. In addition to being present, respond in a timely to questions or issues whether it is via email or in person.
  • Listen and Ask – One of the most important parts of communicating is not talking, but rather listening and asking questions to find out the heart of the matter.