Should Your Goals Be Rigid or Flexible?

Should Your Goals Be Rigid or Flexible?

Featured, Focus, Planning

Set goalsThere are two ways to approach your goals: You can be flexible, and let the next steps evolve as you work toward your objective, or you can be rigid, and set specific actions to take. To decide which approach you should use, ask yourself how difficult your goal will be to achieve, how invested you are in achieving it, and what else you have on your plate. In situations where your goal is relatively simple and you’re highly motivated to achieve it, a flexible approach typically works best. In situations where the change required is difficult and you feel less engaged, lay out a firm sequence of steps. And be mindful of your track record. If you struggle with follow-through, or you find that there are simply too many priorities competing for your attention, you’ll need a rigid approach to pursuing your goal.

The Algorithm Is Not Everything

The Algorithm Is Not Everything

Featured, Improvement, Planning

trendsThere is a lot of talk about big data. How you can use it to improve your business. The insights it gives you about your customers. There can be too much emphasis on algorithms and data.

Amazon recently found out that you can’t always live by the data. They created their entire business around using algorithms to figure out what their customers want. Recently they hit a wall as their original shows proved not to appeal to viewers or critics and several producers came out and stated that the company had no idea what they were doing.

Take a look at the greatest companies. They were founded by entrepreneurs who followed their gut feelings, and used that with data to build the business. Look at the fall of major corporations and the Wall Street banking crisis, The disasters were all created by MBAs focusing on data. Data is an important part of planning, but it is not the end all and be all. Remember, your customers are ruled by emotions, not data.

To find out how The Modern Observer Group can help you with your plans, contact us here.

Stay Away From The Race To The Bottom

Stay Away From The Race To The Bottom

Customer, Featured, Planning

It can happen in any industry. One company decides to lower their prices. Then another decides to match or beat them. Then a third. Before you know it, the companies are locked in a race to the bottom to see who can offer the lowest price. By lowering the price, the company hopes to bring in new customers. There are several problems with this theory though.

  • Customer loyalty: Customers that jump on to the lowest are not loyal customers. Studies with coupons have shown that customers whose main focus is price will jump to another product if that price is lower. Customers that are drawn in by low prices are difficult and expensive to keep.
  • Quality: There is only so much you can cut prices before it affects the quality of your product or service. That loss in quality will chase away your existing customers, even as the price brings in new ones.
  • It’s tough to climb back up: Once customers get used to paying a lower or discounted price it becomes difficult to get them to pay higher prices for the same product or service. Walmart found this out when they tried to raise prices. They faced an exodus of customers who went elsewhere in search of lower prices.

Stay out of the race to the bottom. Compete on quality or compete on results. Competing on price is a minefield.

The Business Coach Advantage

The Business Coach Advantage

Improvement, Leadership, Personal Growth, Planning, Process

business coachWhy should you have a business coach? Every athlete and every top performer uses a coach to bring out their best. Michael Jordan is widely considered to be the best basketball player ever. He has often credited his college basketball coach with turning him from a good player to a great one.  As a business person, you present yourself to your clients as a superstar. If Michael Jordan relied on his coach to get him to the top, shouldn’t you have a business coach of your own.

A business coach is somebody who helps you move from where you are to where you want to be, and does so by solely focusing on your goals. You’ll never really know what you’re capable of until there’s someone to push you outside your comfort zone. If you’re questioning what a coach can do for you, here are some reasons to get one

Gain an outside perspective: Brainstorming is a great tool but when you brainstorm with the same set of notions, you come up with the same ideas. A coach brings an outside perspective to the mix. By including ideas from other industries and coming in without preconceived notions, a coach brings your brainstorming to the next level. At the same time, that new perspective provides an opportunity for you to see the forest for the trees and take a look at the big picture even though you spend your days dealing with day-to-day details.

Bounce Ideas: A coach will listen to your ideas and bring expertise to allow those ideas to be evaluated and improved upon.

Guidance: A coach will make you focus on the big picture and your long-term strategies. Whether it is operations, marketing, or personal growth, your coach will help you develop plans to achieve your goals.

  • Accountability: A coach will keep you on track. Just like an athletic coach keeps a player training and improving, a business coach will keep you on track following your business plan, marketing plan and keep you growing.
  • If you want to grow and achieve your goals, a coach is what you need to step up your game.

Contact The Modern Observer Group to find out what a coach can do for you.

5 Tips For Achieving Your Goals

5 Tips For Achieving Your Goals

Featured, Focus, Improvement, Planning

ChecklistFocus is one of the key elements in building your success. A major part of that focus is having goals to focus on. Your goals provide you with both something to focus on and a way to measure your progress as you move forward. To get you started, here are five tips for setting and achieving goals to better aid your endeavors.

Be Specific and Set A Deadline: Vague goals are unattainable.  While the goal of “bringing in more sales” is an admirable, it is also lacking specificity.  Your goals need to be realistic and measurable, which means you need to be specific about your objectives.  How many sales are you aiming for? How do you intend to bring in more sales?  What specific steps do you need to do to accomplish this?  Once you establish specific goals, you need to assign them deadlines in order to ensure you see them through.

Develop A Plan Of Action: Even with specific goals, you still need to have a plan for achieving them.  Goals are a lot like trips — you cannot expect to reach your destination if you do not know what route to take.  For goals, that means creating an outline or punch list that breaks down your goals into bite-sized, manageable steps easily integrated into your daily work life.

Review Goals: Check your goals periodically. What have you done to achieve them? Talk this over with other people. If your goal is to be accomplished by a team, review it with them.  Reviewing goals allows everyone to get on the same page as their follow team members, which helps employees work more efficiently.

Incorporate Goals Into Life: Attaining your goals is a process, one that is reached gradually.  They will not fall into your lap already realized.  Instead, you must find ways to blend your everyday workload with strategies and tactics designed to achieve your goals in a concerted effort that simultaneously advances progress on your goals and improves your productivity.

Be Prepared For Changes: Life throws you curveballs.  You must accept that, because part of reaching your goals means being ready for those curveballs, being able to acclimate and being prepared to adjust your plan of action on the fly.  Goals are rarely, if ever, reached without a hitch.  Besides, adaptability is crucial in the business world.

Use Plans to Focus Yourself, Not Test Yourself

Use Plans to Focus Yourself, Not Test Yourself

Featured, Focus, Planning, Process

Planning out your week can help you navigate life gracefully — but overplanning your day-to-day tasks can make you neurotic and stressed. The best way to reap the benefits of daily and weekly planning is to take a more relaxed approach, and to understand the role spontaneity should play in your plans. Here’s how:

  • Be intentional but flexible. Decide in advance where you want to end up, but accept that your route may change along the way.
  • Redefine a 100% score. For most people, a great day is when they accomplish 60–70% of their goals. Think about a “perfect” day as one where you made the best choices possible, not one where you finished everything.
  • Don’t think of your plans as a test. If your self-worth depends on how accurately you implement your plans, you’re on shaky ground. Life is meant to be lived, not just “done.”
Tighten Up Your Sales Pitch

Tighten Up Your Sales Pitch

Communication, Featured, Planning

When preparing a sales pitch, you may be inclined to continually add elements to entice the customer. This can result in a cluttered, unfocused pitch, and prospective buyers may feel overwhelmed by choices. Don’t give your audience a choose-your-own adventure. Instead, focus on the one thing you believe they will gain. So instead of adding more ideas, try subtracting. Take out three (or more) pitch points until you are down to one core idea. Remove anything that may feel peripheral. Structure your presentation around that one point and continue to return to it throughout. You don’t want to attract customers with a long list of disparate options. Seduce them with a single, compelling idea.

  • Write It Out: Writing out your sales pitch can help you envision all your ideas and make sure you’re not missing any key points. Outlining ideas to follow can help keep your presentation concise and on track.
  • Tell a Story: Once you have all the points of your pitch, you can create a story. Real-life examples can mean a lot more to your customers than simply telling them the numbers.
  • Know Your Audience: Tailor your pitch to your audience and be mindful of their interests.
What Does Free Really Cost?

What Does Free Really Cost?

Evaluate, Featured, Planning

giftAn educational group unveiled a proposal to provide free preschool for every child in the United States. The cost of the program is $200 billion initially and then $20 billion per year. My first thought upon hearing this was, “that’s not really free is it?” If something costs $200 billion, that money has to come from somewhere. That got me thinking about what free really costs.

Many of us use free services provided by Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc. We also know that these free services are paid for by advertisers. n return for the free service, we have given up a lot of information including geographic, demographic, and psychographic information. We have given away so much information on these free services that they can tell us where we are, who who our relatives are, and what we will be doing a week from Tuesday.

In the case of the education program mentioned above, the proposal looks to the federal government to pay the cost. Of course that means the government will pay for it with our tax dollars, which ultimately means we are paying for this free service. I was at a meeting that talked about free services that state government offered. The programs are paid for by the utility companies, who collect a fee from us on every bill to cover the cost. Again, we are paying for the free service.

We all like free, but pay attention to how the free program is being paid for. You may find the cost is more than you bargained for.

Draw a Picture of Your Business Model

Draw a Picture of Your Business Model

Evaluate, Featured, Focus, Planning

CoachingGrowing companies face a predictable problem: Over time, the business becomes too complex for its own good. To untangle this complexity, forget over-engineered PowerPoint presentations or lengthy reports. Turn to pen and paper, and draw a picture of your business model. What does it look like at its most basic level? Make clear in your drawing what really matters to the business. Focus on the key outcomes, whether they’re in-store sales or revenue from secondary products. Then think through and write down what causes those things to happen. With this picture in front of your team, dive into the implications for what the organization should be focusing on — and, more important, what it could stop doing. If a unit can’t clearly show a link between what they do every day and the outcomes they hope to drive, resolve to eliminate it. The simplicity of a hand-drawn model can also help to separate out responsibilities, streamline communication, and determine decisions more quickly.

Maintain Your Entrepreneurial Passion by Being Flexible

Maintain Your Entrepreneurial Passion by Being Flexible

Attitude and Mindset, Featured, Planning

flexabilityMost of us think of entrepreneurs as passionate professionals who have a “fire in their belly.” But it’s hard to maintain that level of dedication no matter how passionate you are, and research has shown that entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm for their projects can fade over time.

One way to prevent this is to avoid sticking to a plan. While a plan is important, you must be flexible enough to change the plan along the way. Strictly adhering to your business plan is a recipe for disengagement. You need to be flexible and agile as you learn more about your product, your customers, and the market. As you gain more insight and more information you will also encounter unexpected obstacles. Flexibility allows you to change course while staying true to the ultimate goal of your plan. This isn’t just good for your business; it keeps you excited about your project as you continue to evolve it. 

By changing and refining your ideas, you can make significant progress and build your confidence. Rather than feeling misunderstood by the outside world, you will gain a sense of control over events as they unfold, which will counter any decrease in passion over time.