SoapBox: Atlanta Growth, Next Gen and Income Disparity

soap boxImpressive growth agenda from Hala Moddelmog, CEO and President of the Metro Atlanta Chamber in her recent Buckhead Club appearance. It’s exciting to think about what we can accomplish as a business community, and that these three things are high on the radar of many leaders here.

Fair warning though – her Atlanta boosterism (a centuries old tradition here) and soapbox stands have activated mine!

There are five hot areas of world growth for jobs and GDP; Atlanta is carving a big swath in all of them.

 
• Fintech – 70% of the world’s credit transactions have ATL back-office handlers
• Cyber Security – 25% of the world’s is here, and we’re partnering with the best in Israel
• Mobility – it is not too much to say our fair city is North America’s capital
• Health IT – again, the capital, with 225 start ups trying solutions for this highly disrupted sector
• Film and TV – #3 in the country, #5 in the world. Crazy number of studios being built and at capacity before they open their doors!

Our job as business leaders is to encourage businesses at all stages of growth that are in or supporting these sectors.

Next Gen (they don’t like to be called millennials) are already 50% of our workforce, and will be 75% soon.

For those of you who have been kvetching about them, I’d like to say, with all due love and respect – get over it! We want them!

There is a general drive among this age group (roughly 19-35 years old) to want to fix problems. Aren’t there plenty of those? Don’t we want to do everything we can to unleash the talent and energy of our next generation?

Atlanta’s leadership wants them to move here and feed our tech industries, buy their homes, raise their children. The Metro Chamber put on a great effort at South by Southwest this year to raise awareness of all we have to offer and get this upcoming generation of leaders to Choose ATL.

Finally – and here’s the real soapbox…

Atlanta is recognized all over the world for its social justice history, and is the headquarters of many world famous institutions working to better the lot of humankind. We are also a leader in income disparity. A person born in poverty here has a 3-4% chance of moving up. Here, in the city that’s consistently recognized as one of the best to do business in. We know that low pay can generate higher profit, but, as Hala pointed out, that’s short-sighted. We need skilled, healthy workers who can focus on their work, not worry about a roof over their heads. Ultimately, for our businesses to thrive, they need a thriving economy. And a thriving economy needs a well-functioning society.

The owners I work with want to be contributors to both their communities and their bottom lines. It can be a supportive circle that truly lifts all boats. I am thrilled to see the Metro Chamber speaking out and working to address the costs of great income disparity to us all.

Posted in: Multi Generation Workforce, SoapBox

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Get Your Marketing House in Order Now!

For a lot of my clients right now, sales is not the issue, but I’m a believer in getting ahead of the curve. Figure out what’s working, get on the same page with the whole team, inspire everyone to cement client loyalty and identify new prospects! And give your team the tools they need.

The first place most people go at this point is to design a great website or something to hand to people, but those are actually the last things you should do. I once worked in marketing for a company that created a brilliant, yes, brilliant, radio advertisement. The funny script was delivered by Dick Cavett, a very wry, late-night comedian. And famous. The commercial made me laugh out loud as I was driving home. Six months later, we did a survey (that’s how it was in the prehistoric times before data mining and Google stats).

78% remembered the commercial and were positive about it.

Less than 20% remembered who the commercial was for.

This is what happens when you don’t take the time to clarify who your target market is and what they need to hear so they’ll reach out to you. Wasted time and (a lot of) money and energy.

marketing planWant to use sales time effectively and efficiently throughout your organization? As a leadership team, get on the same page about these 4 points – then share!!

  • Who is your best client? Where are they? How do they think and what do they want? (We call this the demographic, geographic and psychographic.) Is your team’s answer clear enough that you can make a list of names that fit? Can everyone in your company describe and, most important, recognize that profile?
  • What makes you unique? What do you do to meet the needs and wants of that demo/geo/psychographic profile that is better than all your competitors?
  • How do you deliver excellence every time? What steps do you take? Does everyone in the company know the five stages a customer experiences from the moment they decide to buy until they write the check? (And decide to come back for more or refer their friends!)
  • What do you promise they will get or experience?

You can answer the 4-part Marketing Strategy question as part of the EOS® process by downloading our powerful 2-page business plan (the Vision Traction Organizer™).

Let me know if you want some help getting every one of your leaders and employees crystal clear and on the same page about how to help you bring in more customers!

Schedule a complimentary 90 Minute Session with Lynda Martin and learn more about how implementing EOS® in your business can help you get traction!

 

Posted in: Marketing, Planning

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Give More, Get More – Employee Motivation at its Best

In the past few weeks I’ve heard a lot from Boomers and Gen X about how hard it is to manage the upcoming generations. And, yes, there are now 2 younger generations in the workforce – Gen Y (the millennials) and Gen Z (mostly interns right now).

In an interview a couple of years ago, Jack Welch observed that a common goal, a higher purpose, will make your company an exciting place to work and give younger employees a reason to work with you. You’ll also get “discretionary effort” – that is, that little bit of extra creativity, focus, energy that makes all the difference.

Once you know where you’re going, tell them how you’re going to get there, and make sure they know what behaviors are expected of them.  Then if you see them doing what you want, let them know! It’s not a secret!

“Create role models,” Welch advised. “If you see millennials grabbing onto an idea and doing what you like to see, blow the horn, cue the band, and shine a spotlight on it.”

To get crystal clear about your vision, your expectations, and who needs to be on your team to get there, you couldn’t ask for a more effective set up tools than the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS). Contact me to learn more; if EOS resonates with you, I’ll give you 90 minutes of my time to explain the process in detail, then you can decide from there how you’ll implement it!

Contact me

 

Posted in: Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce

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Jump the Leadership Chasm

shutterstock_155633888Greg had a big people problem – well, person problem. He had built his engineering firm from 3 people to 35 with the help of a good friend’s son. Justin was hired to sell and market – and boy did he! A typical millennial, he was excited to work events where he found customers and great connections. Greg was the closer. Back at the office Justin pivoted to automate the delivery of customer-ready documents. When a different kind of project came through the door, he found an app to manage work flow so his engineers could stay focused on design and specs, then, back out the door again to beat the bushes for more business. Greg and Justin were twin whirlwinds in almost perfect sync.

Then the business grew. Great, right?

If you’ve been there, you know what happened next. Greg needed Justin to focus on what he was hired for – a marketing plan, a sales plan. Justin agreed, but thought Greg’s approach was a little old-fashioned. They hired other people to manage operations and projects. Justin continued to attend events and be great at networking. No plan surfaced. Greg’s frustration met Justin’s “different ideas” about how to plan, but it was hard for them to tell exactly where the breakdown was. The friendship began to deteriorate. Employees got conflicting direction.

Enter the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS). As the leadership team used the Accountability Chart™ to clarify roles they would need to grow to the next level, Justin realized he didn’t want to let go of operations… or sales… or being Greg’s go-to for everything.

Greg:  “We had a conversation that had been brewing for a year. It cleared the air. The next step was painful for all of us.”

Justin:  “Lynda helped us gain the clarity we needed to go our separate ways. I’m grateful that it came to light in a way that kept our relationship whole.”

And now? Someone who loves to market and manage sales has taken over that seat. The team feels more productive and the company is 2 months ahead of its sales targets. Justin continued in a non-leadership role, finishing a couple of projects he was working on while the whole team activated their networks to help him find another company in more of a start-up mode. Justin is thinking that he can make a good living helping companies during those critical first five years – “not everyone thrives with that kind of crazy, but I do!”, he says.

Use the discipline of an accountability chart to define the seats you need for you to get what you want out of your firm in the next year. To learn how, call or write me. I’ll give you 90 minutes of my time so you can see how EOS can help you get the right people in the right seats to attain your vision!

Contact me

 

Posted in: Business Coaching, Leadership, Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce, Planning

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It’s So Hard To Find & Keep Good People

As unemployment rates have gone down, this complaint has become more common.  Whether it’s tied to a feeling that the younger generation doesn’t fit the workplace (see previous post) or the anguish of watching a great hire crash and burn, getting and keeping great people for your company is usually one of the top frustrations we hear about from business owners.  I’m sorry to say that it may not be economic conditions or the educational system – it may be you… The good news is, this is a huge issue in most companies so you’re not alone – and it can be fixed!

Okay, how?

It's Magic!Take a deep breath that includes a lot of patience – you’re going to need it. One big answer is Process.  Then Structure. I know – boring. Not magic.

Well, let me take that back! It is magic!

Having a process to recruit, hire, and develop employees will force you and your leadership team to get clear about what’s working and what isn’t. Included in that process is a speech about your company values – your real, we-reek-of-them, they-are-core-to-who-we-are, values. Try to scare potential employees off! If they don’t love your values, they won’t love working with you and you won’t get what you want out of them. The magic comes from being on the same page and not having to fight about what is important.

Ditto for structure.  Talk to everyone about your vision every quarter.  Where are you going? How do you plan to get there?  What do you expect from them to achieve that vision?  Define roles and accountabilities, give every person a number to hit.  Now expectations are clear.  Energy is unleashed.  Those who don’t have the capacity or desire for their roles will flush out.  You probably won’t even have to fire them (very few leaders can stand firing people). Your best people will thrive. Your dreams will thrive. It really is magic.

Remember the deep breath? The patience? Implementing structure and process consistently is where the patience comes in. It takes guts, and determination, and persistence. But you’re an entrepreneur, so you have that. You might not have time to learn the best ways to implement, you may need help staying with it, keeping it consistent.

There’s a great book, Traction that gives you a simple, complete set of tools to take away 80% of the frustration called people. Download the first chapter here.

You’ll be joining 2200 other business owners who have found renewed joy in growing their companies.

 

 

Posted in: Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce, Structure

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“This Younger Generation Is Going To The Dogs!”

hieroglyphicsThat’s a quote from a bit of graffiti Napoleon’s soldiers found while excavating in Egypt.

The graffiti was from 800 B.C.

There were other comments on that wall – the younger generation apparently didn’t respect their elders, had no work ethic, and were not following tradition

Sound familiar?

We hear a lot now about what a challenge it is to manage those self-indulgent millennials in the work force.  And from millennials about how difficult it is to communicate with those workaholic boomers, or me-generation Xers.  My mother used to tell me that every generation faces its own challenges, and gets equipped for those challenges out of necessity.  In the process we pick up traits from the way we are taught, the social atmosphere, and the big events that shape our world.  And yet, at the heart of it all, every individual wants some version of happiness, some way to fulfill their drive and dreams.  Find a way to channel that into how you’re building your company and you’ll have incredibly productive, creative employees who will realize their dreams while they’re helping you realize yours.

To make this possible, get very very real about your values and the roles that people are held accountable for.  Then ask good questions, and listen carefully.  This is where the common ground between generations can be found.  Individual strengths and weaknesses, filtered through the traits that get identified with “those younger (or older!) people” can be used to build a team with the strength of multiple perspectives.  Yes, generalization about millennials make them sound like grade school children run amok.  Get closer.  Listen.  Many in this generation have strong community values, and will lend all their creativity and energy to an endeavor they feel part of.  Watch them light up when they actually hear clearly from you as a leader where you’re trying to go.

Last week there was a great article about Mic – “a media site created by and for millennials” – if you’re struggling with how to integrate millennials into your workforce, take time to read about their perspective and look for how their strengths can help you.

Want to know how to get the best out of your employees, and give your best too?

Contact me for a free 90 minute consultation.

Posted in: Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce

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A Clear Money Path

shutterstock_253235890-smWhen Craig started his engineering firm, it was just him and Angie. Three years later, there were thirty people working for him. Craig describes himself as “an entrepreneur with an engineering degree” – it is his vision and salesmanship that has sparked the firm’s growth. With that growth has come the need to make decisions based on more data than what he can find in his hip pocket. He needed a clear view of the how money affected the path of his growth.

“I was used to making decisions about hiring and equipment purchases and marketing based on my ‘feel’ for how our cash was flowing. I’m used to functioning that way, but it did make me anxious, even though I was always pretty good at guessing right.

Then I started using a budget and cash flow projection tool. It was hard at first, and I really wanted to hand it off to someone else – anyone else! It’s a little embarrassing that it took me two years to really get the hang of it. I’m so glad my controller was patient!

The best thing is the freedom I feel!

This year, I did the projections and brought them to our annual planning meeting. We were able to use them to test our ideas against financial reality and do ‘what-ifs’ about market changes and hiring. Our controller feels like she has guidance and support and isn’t always having to be the bad guy when we say we need something. I feel in control of the growth, and, although I’m submitting to a discipline that I used to hate, well, did I mention the freedom from worry?”

The tool Craig used is available here.

Get with your controller or bookkeeper to help you fill in the numbers, then make a copy and use it to play what if about your growth plans. Many a company has strangled over cash flow even when highly profitable. Don’t let that happen to you!

Want expert guidance and advice as your business grows? Contact me for a free 90-minute consultation.

 

 

 

Posted in: Financial Management, Planning

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Is There a Hole in Your Cash Bucket?

hole in your cash bucket?Ever looked at your profitable income statement and wondered why there isn’t that much money in your bank account? You’re not alone – and many a profitable business has struggled to survive because they couldn’t manage cash well.

One step is to have a budget and cash flow projection tool.

If your strength is not the reconciliation of balance sheets and P&Ls to bank statements, and sometimes it feels like your accountant and controller are speaking a foreign language, it can feel as if one of your most important assets is hovering just out of your control.

Many of my clients have found this simple (not easy!) spreadsheet to be a way to get their arms around the details of their cash flow. The process of understanding it gives them sometimes shocking insights into how their business works and how the money is managed.

For Robert, a financial manager with excellent financial skills, it was a revelation.

“Maybe it took someone who’s not a professional numbers person to get simple enough to help us get the big picture – but this is incredible. For the first time (it’s embarrassing to admit) I have a long term view of how the cash in my business flows.”

Now he’s expanding through acquisition and hiring with great confidence because he has a tool that pulls together all the intricacies of expanding income, payroll costs, equipment purchases and bonuses.

As an EOS® Implementer it’s my job to help my client’s identify the holes in their buckets and help them fill it. My cash flow projection tool came out of my frustration for clients who couldn’t get the information they needed to figure out the impact of their decisions on their cash. It has had such an impact on every client I’ve given it to that I wanted to share.

Here’s a picture of it:

Download your budget worksheet

A pretty standard P&L budget. The magic is in the cash adjustments at the bottom, and the formulas. This allows leaders to look out a year, and to play “what if” with market, hiring and purchase decisions.

If you want the spreadsheet with the formulas and simple instructions for using it, click here.

Helping good business people get control of their business is my passion. That’s how my clients can live the lives they dreamed of when they took the risk of entrepreneurship!

Lynda

P.S. I’m a big fan of a folk singer named Odetta. Here’s the video of her singing at Carnegie Hall with Harry Belafonte. The song? “There’s a Hole in the Bucket!”

It made me laugh – haven’t we all had conversations like this in our business life? No time to watch the video, read the lyrics. You’ll get the idea. But seriously, who can pass up such great singers having such fun?

Posted in: Financial Management, Planning

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Take Care of Your Money

Take care of your money – isn’t that more motivating than “financial management”?

business money managementYou’re busy. There’s a client issue to solve. You’ve got to follow-up with that potential client you met yesterday. Your employees, even your leaders, are clamoring for attention. There’s money in the bank. Your accountant is good. Income statements and spread sheets are time consuming and require focused attention – maybe tomorrow evening you’ll have some time, or maybe next week.

I know.

It doesn’t always feel productive to work on the financial minutae.

And it’s complicated.

Here’s my advice:  If you haven’t done so already, figure out:

  • Where is my profit is coming from? (by client, by product, by service type)
  • How do my cash flow and that bottom line on my income statement relate?
  • How do my budget and cash flow projections for the year compare to reality each month?

Do those 3 things.  Get as simple as you can!

It’s not easy, and can take a year or two to really get in shape. Be patient.

Keep asking yourself, your team, your accountant, how you can most simply answer those two questions. Get it on your scorecard.

Over time, you’ll gain perspective on one of the two most important things your business stands on (the other one is people).

I know, from my own businesses and from helping my clients through this process, that when you can answer these 3 questions– annually, quarterly, monthly, even weekly:

  • You will build your “ability to predict” muscle as a business
  • Profitability will increase
  • Your team can make spending decisions wisely
  • Peace of mind will free leadership mind
  • A sense of control will return

That’s a lot of return on your investment of attention, time and energy. And the best thing is that once you’ve got the system in place, your money worries become much less of a distraction.

 

 

Posted in: Business Coaching, Planning

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Go Climb a Tree

shutterstock_145817480-300Our 5-year-old neighbor has fallen in love with the tree in her front yard. Mercifully for her mother’s peace of mind, it is not too tall. Watching her this weekend, we reminisced. My own favorite tree around the age of 10, until we moved 5 years later, was a weeping willow. High above the roofs, I would watch the storms rolling towards us across the Minnesota prairie, or on quieter days, sit still above the storms of junior high social life.

In EOS®, we talk about a team cutting its way through a forest. If someone doesn’t get up in a tree to guide the action, the team can easily burn through lots of fuel and time cutting a zigzag when they could be heading straight towards their goal.

When was the last time you climbed a tree above your business?

As momentum grows for 2016’s business goals, be sure you’re not zigging when you mean to be going straight. It can be hard to take the time and focus away from those all-important clients, that essential networking, but you will reap the benefits all year.

Besides, it can be surprisingly fun! Like the view and the wind at the top of a willow on the prairie.

Don’t want to be up the tree by yourself? Create a team that helps you lose the zigzag!  

Learn from the experience of over 2000 successful entrepreneurs.

Posted in: Business Coaching, Planning

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