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Complacency kills: how businesses can avoid self destruction

Businesses are struggling right now, but many are simply throwing their hands up. Take the time to analyze what is going on under the hood of your business, before it’s too late.

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Witnessing how a business can self destruct

Being in Commercial Real Estate, I get to see and interact with a lot of businesses, typically in the startup phase, or at their go/no go decision point. Unfortunately, because of this, I also get to see how a business can self destruct. In that spirit, I thought it would be useful to do a self-help for businesses check list with ten basic steps.

How to build a great company

  • Have a great plan.

This one is the most basic of them all. I mean draw it out not just in a business plan type format, but draw out everything. Communication channels, sales, and marketing channels, who key players are, etc. Create everything on paper and put it in the blueprint.  Without the blueprint and the set of directions, how are you going to know what the finished product will look like?

  • Accept interdependence.

Each department in your company cannot function independently. The accounting department can’t work without the marketing department, the marketing department can’t work without the mailroom, etc. No one division stands alone, and yes, that includes the leadership. All the departments are interrelated and cannot function independently.

  • Vocalize the vision.

Sometimes things change throughout the lifespan of a business. The vision is not one of those. You need to have laser-like focus to keep things together, however, as a custodian of the vision, it is just as important to be the bullhorn. Make sure all members can articulate the vision of the company. This will result in all members exerting the company values to other members and to the customer base.

  • Share responsibility.

If it’s no one’s fault, it’s everyone’s fault. It is up to every member to accept the responsibility not only for themselves, but for the department, the task, and the entire company. Likewise, the buck stops with each member because without shared responsibility for the company, the buck literally will stop.

  • All decisions support the mission.

Put your self-interest behind the company mission. Always. All decisions must be made for the best interest and for the good of the entire company, not just for the task at hand, or what your department is working on, or for the size of the bonus you may get at the end of the year. Don’t just be mission critical, that’s short sighted, be company critical for long term growth.

  • The money map.

Show me your budget and I’ll show you what your focus is. I know this one hurts, but it’s true – you spend resources on what you care about. You can literally draw a money map from start to finish and follow where the money goes, and what result you achieve. Now something about this you may want to reconsider: if the money is not being returned on your map, you should also be able to visibly see where the money is not going and therefore you should not expect money to be returned without investment. See how that works?

  • Be results driven.

Evaluate your results on a line item basis. If your results are lacking, determine why and make changes as soon as possible. Train other members to do the same. Mark, measure, repeat. You’ve heard it said that if it’s not measured, it doesn’t get done. It’s true. Draw timelines. Draw results. Expect results.

  • Revive to survive.

Get up and change seats! Never be afraid or set in stone that you can’t changes things up a bit. New blood is always good. Change the responsibilities and tasks around, find new strengths in others. Expect new leadership. Complacency kills. Switch things up sometimes.

  • Never shut an open book.

No mission is ever finished. As long as a company is in business, the book is still being written. No job is ever done. Keep it that way. Even after a successful endeavor, go back and try to figure out how to make it better. Never stop growing and seeking new business channels as long as they all point back to the vision of the company. An open book should ever be closed. Besides, it’s bad luck anyway.

  • Culture of accountability.

This sometimes gets lost among the day to day hustle and bustle. It’s vitally important to instill accountability measures and only accept accountability. If there is an area lacking in results, define the reason, accept no excuses. Hold people, the mission, and the entire company accountable for success. Help figure out why there is a deficiency and correct it.

The takeaway

By implementing these simple steps into your organization, every fiber of your culture will benefit and keep your business afloat. Complacency kills, and consistent grooming is a survival tactic. Take a look at your accountability, your methods, and your blueprints, and don’t just seek out weaknesses, attack them wholeheartedly.

With 16 years of industry experience, earning his CCIM designation in 2007, Smith has held various leadership positions from CCIM Chapter President, CCIM Institute Regional VP, to Partner at McFalls & Smith International Development. Today, Smith is a commercial sales expert at Prudential PenFed Realty's Commercial Division, an Advisory Board Member at the University of Baltimore's Merrick School of Business, and a Professor at the Professional Development Institute. Smith has educated hundreds of REALTORS, investors, and small business owners, helping them find success through Commercial Real Estate.

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Proven, clear-cut strategies to keep your company’s operations lean

(BUSINESS) Keeping your operations lean means more than saving money, it means accomplishing more in less time.

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The past two years have been challenging, not just economically, but also politically and socially as well. While it would be nice to think that things are looking up, in reality, the problems never end. Taking a minimalist approach to your business, AKA keeping it lean, can help you weather the future to be more successful.

Here are some tips to help you trim the fat without putting profits above people.

Automate processes

Artificial intelligence frees up human resources. AI can manage many routine elements of your business, giving your team time to focus on important tasks that can’t be delegated to machines. This challenges your top performers to function at higher levels, which can only benefit your business.

Consider remote working

Whether you rent or own your property, it’s expensive to keep an office open. As we learned in the pandemic, many jobs can be done just as effectively from home as the workplace. Going remote can save you money, even if you help your team outfit their home office for safety and efficiency.

In today’s world, many are opting to completely shutter office doors, but you may be able to save money by using less space or renting out some of your office space.

Review your systems to find the fat

As your business grows (or downsizes), your systems need to change to fit how you work. Are there places where you can save money? If you’re ordering more, you may be able to ask vendors for discounts. Look for ways to bring down costs.

Talk to your team about where their workflow suffers and find solutions. An annual review through your budget with an eye on saving money can help you find those wasted dollars.

Find the balance

Operating lean doesn’t mean just saving money. It can also mean that you look at your time when deciding to pay for services. The point is to be as efficient as possible with your resources and systems, while maintaining customer service and safety. When you operate in a lean way, it sets your business up for success.

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A well-crafted rejection email will save both your brand and your time

(BUSINESS) Job hunting is exhausting on both sides, and rejection sucks, but crafting a genuine, helpful rejection email can help ease the process for everyone.

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Woman sitting at computer with fingers steepled, awaiting a rejection email or any response from HR at all.

Nobody likes to hear “no” for an answer when applying for jobs. But even fewer people like to be left in the dark, wondering what happened.

On the employer side, taking on a new hire is a time-consuming process. And like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get when you put out ads for a position. So once you find the right person for the role, it’s tempting to move along without further ado.

Benn Rosales, the CEO and co-founder of American Genius, offers an example of why that is a very bad call.

Imagine a hypothetical candidate for a job opening at Coca Cola – someone who’s particularly interested in the job, because they grew up as a big Coke fan. If they get no response to their application at all, despite being qualified and sending follow-up emails, their personal opinion of the brand is sure to sour.

“Do you know how much effort and dollars advertising and marketing spent to make [them] a fan over all of those years, and this is how it ends?” Rosales explains. This person has come away from their experience thinking “Bleep you, I’ll have tea.”

To avoid this issue, crafting a warm and helpful rejection email is the perfect place to start. If you need inspiration, the hiring consultants at Dover recently compiled a list of 36 top-quality rejection emails, taken from companies that know how to say “no” gracefully: Apple, Facebook, Google, NPR, and more.

Here’s a few takeaways from that list to keep in mind when constructing a rejection email of your own…

Include details about their resume to show they were duly considered. This shows candidates that their time, interests, and experience are all valued, particularly with candidates who came close to making the cut or have a lot of future promise.

Keep their information on file, and let them know this rejection only means “not right now.” That way, next time you need to make a hire, you will have a handy list of people to call who you know have an interest in working for you and relevant skills.

Provide some feedback, such as common reasons why applicants may not succeed in your particular application process.

And be nice! A lack of courtesy can ruin a person’s impression of your brand, whether they are a customer or not. Keep in mind, that impression can be blasted on social media as well. If your rejections are alienating, you’re sabotaging your business.

Any good business owner knows how much the details matter.

Incorporating an empathetic rejection process is an often-overlooked opportunity to humanize your business and build a positive relationship with your community, particularly when impersonal online applications have become the norm.

And if nothing else, this simple courtesy will prevent your inbox from filling up with circle-backs and follow-up emails once you’ve made your decision.

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Business News

Ageism: How to properly combat this discrimination in the workplace

(BUSINESS) Ageism is still being fought by many companies, how can this new issue be resolved before it becomes more of a problem?

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Ageism void

Workers over the age of 55 represent the fasting growing sector in labor. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 25% of the labor force will be over age 55 by 2024. A 2018 AARP survey found that over 60% of the respondents reported age discrimination in their workplace. The figure is even higher among older women, minorities, and unemployed seniors. Age discrimination is a problem for many.

Unfortunately, age discrimination lawsuits aren’t uncommon. We have covered cases for Jewel Food Stores, Inc., Novo Nordisk, Inc., AT&T, and iTutorGroup, all alleging age or disability discrimination in some form or fashion. This could be from using vocabulary such as “tenured,” hiring a younger employee instead of promoting a well-season veteran, or pressuring older employees with extra responsibilities in order to get them to resign or retire early.

How can your organization create an age-inclusive workforce?

It is difficult to prove age discrimination but fighting a lawsuit against it could be expensive. Rather than worrying about getting sued for age discrimination, consider your own business and whether your culture creates a workplace that welcomes older workers.

  1. Check your job descriptions and hiring practices to eliminate graduation dates and birthdates. Focus on worker’s skills, not youthful attributes, such as “fresh graduate” or “digital native.” Feature workers of all ages in your branding and marketing.
  2. Include age diversity training for your managers and employees, especially those that hire or work in recruiting.
  3. Support legislative reforms that protect older workers. Use your experience to create content for your website.

Changing the culture of your workplace to include older workers will benefit you in many ways. Older workers bring experience and ideas to the table that younger employees don’t have. Having mixed-age teams encourages creativity. There are many ways to support older workers and to be inclusive in your workplace.

What steps are you taking in your organization to reduce ageism in your workplace?

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