Monday

TaitBrands Annual online shopping survey reveals SA's festive wishes


The third annual survey has revealed that 92.4% of South Africa's connected shoppers will be doing their festive season shopping online this year. This is an increase of close to 5% from 2011.

RSA  increase in festive season shopping is in line with that of counterparts in the US. According to a Google Retail Survey released last month, US shoppers will be spending $900 on holiday shopping this year compared to $854 in 2011; with 80% of respondents indicating that they found going online as the most useful way to get information for holiday shopping.

Key results:
  • Growing number of shoppers planning to take to their iPads for online shopping this festive (17.9%); with majority opting for laptops (59.2%), followed by Desktop PCs at (49%)
  • 40.8% of shoppers have already started their festive season shopping, with 33.6% only planning to fill festive stockings during the first and second week of December
  • Tablets predicted to be the biggest seller this festive season (35.7%); followed by media items such as books, CDs, DVDs and games
  • Tablets still coveted gift for the second year in a row: Apple iPad still most wanted tablet (55%); followed by Samsung Galaxy Tablet (28%)
  • Samsung and Apple jostle for a spot on the Smartphone gifting wish list: 35.8% shoppers want iPhone 5; followed by 30.7% who want a Galaxy S3; whilst 19.6% want a BlackBerry 9900 
  • Jamie Oliver; Game of Thrones; Fifty Shades of Grey and JK Rowling battle it out as festive season literary favourites
  • Race still open for annually contested title for best-selling local book 
  • Of those buying toys for their kids, Lego is again the favourite

November sales up

The survey also reveals that just over 40% of South Africa's connected have already hit the e-Shelves to stock up on their festive season shopping with 33.6% of shoppers saying they intend to start their festive season shopping during the first and second weeks of December. "The trend to go shopping in November is congruous with Black Friday shopping in the late November, where shoppers officially kick off their festive season shopping in the US and more recently the UK," says Hillock. A study by IBM including 500 retailers reported that online Black Friday sales were up by 24.3% in 2011.

"We are certainly seeing more shoppers forgoing the busy rush of festive shopping malls for the convenience of online shopping. Last year the annual festive season shopping survey showed that only 13% of connected shoppers elected to hit the malls for their seasonal shopping, a number, which has decreased to 9.6% this year." 

However, this does not mean that South Africans are not excited about the festive season. "Festive cheer is certainly on the up, with only 7.6% of shoppers saying that they pretend that festive season happens in an alternative reality; this is compared to close to 14% of the respondents from the 2011 survey who had the same sentiment. This could be a sign of a fresh economic outlook or a bolstered disposal income for shoppers."

What's under the tree

Electronics are still the most coveted gift by shoppers with the craze spearheaded by tablets (34.6%); followed by eReaders (13.8%) and the DStv HD PVR Decoder (13.1%). When asked which tablets they would want as a gift, shoppers gave a resounding nod to the Apple Ipad (55.5%) which was followed by the Samsung's Galaxy Tablet at 28%. "However, the bestselling device on kalahari.com remains the gobii 7"colour eReader, which plays music and video and retails at an affordable R799 with a free R160 eBook voucher," adds Hillock. 

Smartphones are also much desired this festive season, with the iPhone 5 being picked by the majority of shoppers (35.8%) as the hottest item they could be gifted with. Not far behind on the wish list with 30.7% is the Samsung Galaxy III, which is followed by Blackberry's 9900 with 19.6% of respondents hoping to get one for Christmas. 

When asked what they thought would be the best sellers for the season, the majority of respondents thought this would be tablets (35.7%), followed 30.7% saying a variety of media items such as CD's ; DVDs; Games; and books, would top the sales list. 

Stocking Fillers

  • Books: This year the titles vying for best holiday reads are Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals, (37.9%); fantasy drama came in second with 27% of consumers hoping to add royal betrayals and drama to their reading list with the complete box set of Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin. One of the year's most talked about books, Fifty Shades of Grey, is in third place (21.2%) as a desired read for the holidays; whilst JK Rowling's follow-up out of Hogwarts, Casual Vacancy, comes in fourth place (18.9%) as the season's literary favourite. "The difference in this year's top book favourites is that there are few local authors competing for the top position compared to last year and 2010. The local Afrikaans children's book Storieman Omnibus 1 & 2 is doing well. However, what we are not seeing is an outright winner as we did in previous years, which was driven predominantly from the sports biography genre."
  • Toys: 25.4% of shoppers that will be buying toys for kids are opting for the timeless classic, Lego, for their children. Close to 10% of shoppers said they would buy the educational LeapPad 2 and only 6.2% of shoppers saying they would buy Barbie Dolls.
  • DVDs: Batman beats the other action-filled titles as the most coveted holiday season DVD with The Dark Knight Rises (36.4%); followed by the cool Ice Age 4 (25.8%). The crash of superheroes in The Avengers takes third position (22.7%) as a holiday favourite followed by Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man in fourth place (15.9%).
  • CDs: With a collection of artists such as Toya Delazy, Prime Circle, Rihanna and PSY Now 62 emerged as the most desired CD with 27.1% of respondents hoping to be gifted with the album. Las Vegas rockers, The Killers, come in second (22%) with their fourth studio offering Battle Born. Sweeping into colourful third position is Taylor Swift's Red (14.7%), followed by Indie Rockers Mumford and Sons with their album Babel at 13.7%. "We will be keeping a close eye on what bestselling album for the summer will be, as over a quarter of the respondents indicated that they had 'Other' albums in mind, as the sound track this festive season." 
  • Games: Action is the name of the game this year with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 emerging as the gaming favourite (24.7%), followed by Assassins Creed 3 at (24.2%). Kicking into third place as a contender is FIFA 13 with close to 20% of respondents scoring it as a favourite. 
  • Home and Away: When asked what type of home appliance they would most want for the festive season, respondents gave 31.5% for a coffee maker, followed by a 22.8% of respondents who wanted an ice cream maker followed by the biltong maker (10%) also voted in as firm favourite. Braaing equipment (22.6%), picnic and beach gear (21.3%) and camping gear (19%) also made the gift wish list in the tools and outdoor category.
    "We have run the annual shopping survey for the third consecutive year and know that some of the shoppers' predictions are spot on while some, especially at the height of the festive season, come as a surprise even to us. 

    New categories including homeware, appliances and pets are doing exceptionally well and South Africans continue to take advantage of the wide range of products and cost-savings found online. 

    bizcommunity

  • 5Rooms

    Tuesday

    How France Built Inequality Into Its Cities and property market



    A year ago, I took a job as an English teacher in France. I was expecting to see the Old World. What I found instead was Val-de-Reuil, one of France’s New Towns. Val-de-Reuil was built from the ground up in the 1970s. At the time of construction, it was supposed to set the standard in urban planning.
    But things haven’t quite worked out that way. Today it’s one of the poorest cities in France. Rows of four and five-story, low-rent apartment complexes line the streets with balconies jutting out from their concrete facades. Val-de-Reuil has two middle schools, one high school, a movie theater and a shopping plaza like you might find in an American suburb. There is no discernible city center. The architecture of the buildings is modern, but not cutting edge and the city has a stark, uniform look to it. In a country that prides itself on history and tradition, Val-de-Reuil seems out of place – a town of boxy, geometric construction in the middle of the French countryside.
    •       •       •       •       •
    Val-de-Reuil is one of nine New Towns built in the 1960s and ‘70s to address overcrowding in France’s largest cities. The New Towns were also meant to be meticulously planned, self-sufficient communities in their own right. This was an appealing alternative to the tangled mess of the Paris suburbs, large areas of which had been overrun by towering blocks of low-income housing projects.

    But though the city was built to correct for the deficiencies of suburban sprawl, Val-de-Reuil has replicated many of the problems it was intended to solve. Its clunky government-subsidized housing looks a lot like the tenements that dot the landscape of the Paris suburbs, albeit on a smaller scale. And the similarities don’t end there. Both the New Town and the Paris suburbs, particularly to the north and east of the city, are plagued by a high rate of unemployment.

    So, what went wrong?
    To start, the city's concentration of low-income housing has created a weak tax base incapable of adequately supporting the local school system or funding much-needed infrastructure projects. Another problem is that many of the available jobs are not matched to the skill set of the local workforce. A number of big name pharmaceutical companies have laboratories in Val-de-Reuil, including Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi Pasteur. But most residents lack the education or technical training needed to qualify for the positions doled out by these employers.  An article published in 2008 in the French newspaper Paris-Normandie put it this way:
    On the one hand, a fleet of leading industries, on the other, a population missing out on its piece of the pie.
    The two middle schools I worked at are designated "priority education zones" (zones d’education prioritaire) or ZEP. ZEP schools are typically underperforming and have a high dropout rate. They receive additional funding as a result of their status, but my students still struggled to afford school supplies. Many of them came from families that had immigrated to France within one or two generations, and a number of them had been born in countries like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey. One 11-year old boy proudly told me he had French, Algerian and Turkish citizenship, then asked if I had ever been to Istanbul. "You should visit," he said. "It’s a beautiful city."
    •       •       •       •       •
    In Val-de-Reuil, tensions over immigration and nationality spill out into daily life. Immigration has long been a divisive issue in France, where immigrants must conform to a policy of "integration," which calls for assimilation into French society, in speech, dress, culture, and custom.

    Even second- and third-generation immigrants – people who were born in France – are routinely treated as "other." On my first day of work, an argument broke out between two students, a blonde-haired boy and a girl with olive skin and dark black hair. When the class was over, one of the teachers who had been in the room pulled me aside. "Did you hear what he said to her?" he asked, referring to the blonde-haired boy. I hadn’t. "He said: ‘go back to your own country, where you belong.'" Later I learned that the girl’s family was from Turkey, but that she had been born in France and had never left the country.
    Anger over perceived discrimination has become widespread among first-, second-, and third-generation immigrants in France. It has seeped into popular culture with movies like La Haine depicting the pent-up rage of immigrant youth confined to the Paris suburbs. It has also found expression in real life. In 2005, riots broke out in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois when two teenagers of foreign descent died while hiding from police in an electrical power station. Government officials promised to improve the quality of life for residents of the most run-down housing projects. But seven years later, not much has changed. This past summer violence erupted again in Amiens, a city in the North of France, when residents of the working-class suburbs clashed with police. Participants in both riots later cited government neglect and police brutality as driving factors behind the escalation of tensions.

    I saw the same sense of disillusionment in my own students. Halfway through the year, I asked my fifth-graders what they thought the main differences were between the U.S. and France. I expected them to talk about things they’d seen on TV and in movies, and for the most part they did. But one of my students, a 12-year old boy of Algerian-descent brought up the subject of race. "You’re lucky that you live in the U.S.," he said. "Don’t you like living in France?" I asked. "No," he replied with grim certainty. "People are racist here. They take one look and decide they don’t like you."
    •       •       •       •       •
    Val-de-Reuil isn’t a typical French town. To dismiss the city as an anomaly, however, would be a mistake. Val-de-Reuil embodies a central irony of French urban planning policy. City planners have built up isolated urban enclaves, like the Paris suburbs and the New Towns, which keep the country’s immigrant population separate from the rest of society, at the same time that the government calls for integration. In recent years, planners have invested energy and resources into redeveloping these socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, but France’s foreign-born population continues to face social exclusion.  
    Going forward, French politicians will either embrace a more inclusive vision of French nationality or cling to unrealistic hopes for integration. It’s unclear which course of action will win out. For now, however, support for integration remains widespread. In 2010, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the forced deportation of the country’s Roma, or gypsy, population after labeling them illegal immigrants. And, amidst controversy over freedom of expression, a law banning women from wearing the burqa in public went into effect the following year. Yet despite attempts to create a more uniform society, immigrants and French citizens of foreign descent are changing social and cultural norms. This is happening even in places like Rouen, a city twenty minutes away from Val-de-Reuil, with winding cobblestone streets, a soaring cathedral and cafes around every corner.

    One day while walking through Rouen, I heard people shouting. I turned and saw ten or twelve men getting out of their cars at a red light. They were dancing, yelling and singing – weaving wildly through the maze of traffic as passersby looked on in disbelief. In one of the cars, I saw a woman wearing a wedding dress. In the car behind her, a girl was standing out of the open sunroof, her face partially covered by a white headscarf. As the light turned green and the car lurched forward, she raised the Algerian flag in the air and began to wave it high above her head.
    Contact us at www.willemtait.com for more info

    New Business Ideas for the Budding Entrepreneur


    Many employees going through the day-to-day grind of their unsatisfying work dream of being entrepreneurs, to finally have that business epiphany on how to entwine their ideas together into a profitable business model. For most individuals, however, that dream is just that and nothing more, and many ideas are left half-baked and abandoned, never to be visited upon again. How did today’s successful entrepreneurs manage get their foot out of the door and risk it all to build successful enterprises? How did they gain the business acumen necessary to sniff out and follow an idea, and build upon it? Legendary investor Jim Rogers, who retired at 37, once traveled the world by motorcycle and Mercedes in search of business ideas. Steve Jobs once worked out of his parents’ garage building the future of computing. Do you, as a potential small business owner, have what it takes to search for that perfect idea and preach it to the world? Here are some things to consider about yourself:
    • Do you dream of financial independence, to be free from corporate strings and monthly salaries, to be in total control of your monthly income?
    • Do you read up on market trends, and stay up to date on recent developments?
    • Are you willing to travel to far-off lands far outside your established comfort zone, in order to research potential markets?
    • Do you have enough cash in the bank to meet your expenses, in unpaid months?
    • Do you have enough cash to invest in a new business?
    • Is your family supportive of your decision to pursue your dream?
    • Will your family time be impacted by your new venture?
    An old saying tells us that you can never be truly motivated to pursue your next goal until you quit your current, comfortable job. With comfort often comes decreased motivation and drive, which will not help you move to the next level. While financial security is important, with it comes apathy and with that, years pass, straight into your retirement. Of course, you should have a well-planned idea of where you’re headed before you quit your job, but once you do, don’t look back.
    Look forward and start looking for ways to implement your ideas. While certainly no one expects you to follow in Jim Roger’s globetrotting footsteps, here are some places where you can start digging for ideas:

    • BRIC Markets. Brazil, Russia, India and China are widely forecast to become the economic powerhouses of the 21st century. China has already become the second largest economy in the world. Many of the companies in the these nations, especially small businesses, operate in highly competitive environments that weed out the losers practically overnight. Many of these ideas, such as China and India’s ultra-budget auto businesses, have market potential in the West but have yet to be tapped effectively. Read up on foreign businesses to gain insight on what businesses work universally.
    • Build a global business network. It’s the 21st century, so there’s no excuse to not take full advantage of the Internet and social networking to build your business contacts across the globe as far as you can.
    • Read, read, read! Although this requires actively weeding out the hype from the facts, business magazines and websites can still be valuable sources of business ideas.
    • Market Currents. Even if you are not an active stock trader or investor, following the stock market on a daily basis can educate you on the state of commodities (a crucial factor in many businesses), the state of world markets, world currencies and profitable sectors and businesses. Stock investing is also good practice for picking profitable ventures.
    • Untapped Markets. New businesses often produce a product that a market has no need for, simply because its a cheap and easy solution, pray and throw it into a crowded market where it is swallowed up whole. Tread where others have not.
    • Patented Products. We can’t all be inventors, but if you are, patenting your product will immediately erect high barriers for your competition.
    • Existing Companies. Research companies, both good and bad, and see the choices that have driven them to the top or sunk them to the bottom.
    • Investing Partners. While it may certainly be a gung-ho move to go at it alone, you may be better off finding several business partners who can share insights and capital, and who can keep you in line. However, pick carefully. As with any group effort, the decision making process gets complicated exponentially with each additional partner.
    • Market Research. Conducting your own market research to thoroughly analyze local and global markets can help gauge the probability of your idea’s success.
    In the end, the most important thing is your determination and willingness to take a leap of faith. You can spend all your life dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur, then regret not taking the chance when you were younger, or you can spot that fleeting idea, hold onto it, and make it happen.

    Sunday

    7 Motivational Techniques for Entrepreneurs



    As an entrepreneur, it is easy to lose your way, to lose steam as motivation wanes. Failed products and poor sales can crush your spirit, and the loss of support from family and friends can cause you to doubt yourself. What are some ways entrepreneurs can keep up their spirits and persevere in today’s cutthroat business environment?


    Time is on Your Side
    Just as financial advisers tell young investors, “Time is on your side.” When you’re young, you can take higher risks, such as buying up high-risk stocks and waiting a decade before selling. The same applies to small businesses. If you’re young and able, you have the luxury of failing and being able to pick yourself back up. You’re able to take risks that older businessmen simply can’t afford to take.


    Don’t Look Before You Leap
    Fear is a great motivational tool. If you want to start up a business, quit your day job. Transfer your life savings to a trusted family member, then tell them to withhold it from you. Once you’ve removed all your safety nets, you’re ready to leap. The greatest entrepreneurs have risen from desperation – and you’ll never truly feel desperate unless you lose your monthly income and access to your savings.

    The Glass is Always Half Full
    There’s simply no point in viewing the glass as half empty. Pessimists should not be entrepreneurs – they should try to make a living shorting stocks instead. A great motivational tool is to always look at the bright side – a cliche, for sure – but also one of the most important qualities of a motivated manager. Perhaps you botched a product release, and a competitor flattened you. It’s only a big deal if you didn’t learn anything from the costly lesson. It was worthwhile if you’re able to perform a thorough autopsy of your dead product to understand why it failed. Your product didn’t fail – rather, you were given an opportunity to see weaknesses which you couldn’t see earlier.

    Relax!
    Sometimes you just need to take a time out and relax. Put the world on pause, and put on your favorite CD. Go out for a cup of coffee, get a massage, and let your worries melt away for the day. Rushed and stressed managers often make terrible decisions. Taking a day off and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the workplace can help you come back to work with a fresh perspective on the current situation. Encourage your co-workers to take breaks, or hold meetings in outdoor, casual environments.

    Reevaluate your Priorities
    Sometimes our personal and professional lives get so fragmented that we lose sight of what’s important, and become creatures of habit and routine, rather than passion and motivation. Think of your mind as a hard drive desperately in need of defragmentation, where disassembled volumes are scattered carelessly about rather incoherent volumes. Meditation, exercises and prayer – depending on your personal preferences – can help center your spirit and allow you to see what’s truly important in your life.

    Connect with Loved Ones
    Our personal connections with family and friends are often sacrificed in the name of our careers. Reconnecting with friends and family can put us back in our place, motivating us to either try harder or to relax more. You might be earning a lot of money, but if you’ve become so alienated from the important people in your life, is all that cash worth it? It’s doubtful that you can stay motivated if no one is there to share your success.

    Other Sources of Motivation
    The key to staying motivated is simple – stay positive. Inspect yourself from time to time and ask yourself if you’re truly happy, and can stay positive. If you can’t, it’s time for a change.

    How To Discover Your Perfect Value Proposition


    So, I’ve been preaching this one pretty hard for a bunch of years and see no end in sight, because it’s just that important.


    Find a way to differentiate your business, one that matters to somebody, or you’ll be forever doomed to compete on price.
    Get really, really clear about the single-minded point of difference that some narrowly defined ideal client cannot live without and you’ve got the secret to marketing success. Seems pretty simple, right – then why do people fight it so?
    I’ll tell you why, because to be unique, you have to actually be different and that scares the heck out of most business owners.
    But let me tell you the most important lesson I’ve learned in all my years of owning a business – your customers and prospects want you to be different, they require you to be different.
    If you want to succeed in business you have one job – find a way to propose that you are completely different in a way that a market wants and values, exploit that difference in every word that you compose and watch your profits soar.
    This is the essence of the elusive marketing strategy so many companies long for.
    Okay, enough preaching let me teach you a simple process I’ve used for many years that often helps business owners nail the core difference and value proposition that matters most.

    Identify your ideal client

    The first step is to identify your ideal client. I wrote about The Secret to Finding Highly Profitable Clients here. You know you have an ideal client in mind when you can ponder how great life would be if you have a dozen or so more just like them.
    Create a list of six to eight of your current ideal clients and commit to sitting down with face to face or over the phone for about fifteen minutes. You are going to conduct an interview of sorts that may lead to some fabulous revelations.

    Ask them these questions

    Once you have your client’s attention pose some variation of the following questions.
    A word of caution here, you’re not looking for scientific data here, you’re looking themes and stories that offer clues to what really does make your firm unique. In most cases you will need to use follow-up statements such as – “Okay, we provide great service, that’s awesome, but tell me a story about a time we did.”
    1. Why did you hire us/buy from us in the first place? (Here you are looking for clues to what helped them decide to buy, what build trust, what resonated in your marketing and sales processes.)
    2. What’s one thing we do that you love the most? (Stick to one thing and help them get as specific as possible)
    3. What’s one thing we do that others don’t? (Again one thing – this may sound a lot like the second question, but what you are really trying to do here is get some industry comparison going – you might get some stories of how others have failed them in the past and there offer some interesting opportunities.)
    4. If you were to refer us what would you say? (This is your chance to have them describe what you do best as though they were telling a friend. This point of view can be very powerful and this answer might actually turn into a testimonial. In many cases that’s precisely what I’ve done with answers to this question.)
    5. Can you tell me about three other companies that you love? (This question does a couple of things. It allows you to better understand what they think best of class looks like and why and it helps you build a list of potential strategic partners. Think about it, your shared client thinks you both rock!)
    6. Bonus: If you can pull this off, have them conduct an online search and simply ask them to type the phrase they would enter if you were no longer around and they needed to replace what you do for them. (I like to try to have them physically do this. It’s amazing what you learn from watching what people really do to find things online. Experience tells me you might not be optimizing your content for the same terms your prospects are looking for.)

    Work with themes that matter

    From your interviews you should have some rich themes to work with. Don’t underestimate the power of simple things. Quite often your clients value the little things you do that are special. Resist the temptation to dismiss them as unimportant enough to use as your core point of difference.
    I once worked with a remodeling contractor that felt their superior craftsmanship was the key and while their clients acknowledged this they admitted that it was an expectation because the company was also higher priced than most. What they didn’t expect was how thoroughly their people cleaned up the job site every day. That idea was unique and using it in all of their marketing created a dramatic shift in strategy and sales. John Jantsch

    Wednesday

    5 Steps to Developing an Innovative Solution to a Problem



    In today’s marketplace, the practice of innovation isn’t just about creating new products. It’s about discovering completely new markets that meet previously unknown and therefore untapped customer needs. And in the age of Internet commerce, the act of innovation becomes an even greater challenge, awash in a sea of new ideas. Therefore the drive toward selecting and executing the right ideas and bringing them to market before your competitors takes on an urgency that has been previously unknown, yet is sure to increase in the rapidity of its scale in the years ahead.
    As a result, the driving forces behind innovation – previously technology and control of quality and cost – have shifted away from issues of efficiency and are now solely focused on the creativity and growth of the organization toward a future state of competitiveness.
    A perfect example can be seen in the process of mobile payment via smartphone. Mobile payment has provided the ultimate in convenience to shoppers by preventing them from having to carry around credit cards and other means of payment. Though it has yet to become the norm for many businesses, mobile payment’s proliferation among startups is evidence of the desire to reach consumers through expediency and ease of use.

    Five Steps to an Innovative Solution

    Regardless of the size and scope of your organization, customer-centered companies looking to innovate for the modern consumer might consider the following approach:

    1. Figure out the problem you’re trying to solve

    As with just about any first step, this one is crucial. Make sure you’re trying to solve the right problem and don’t try to provide a fix for something that isn’t a priority in the eyes of your consumer. Do this by asking the right questions and observing, either in focus groups or by evaluating competitive companies, products and their customers. Asking simple questions like ‘what does XYZ company do better than us?’ or ‘what’s missing from our product or service that would make it better?’ can go a long way towards defining your direction at this stage.

    2. Analyze the problem

    In this stage, you want to turn the problem upside down and inside out, extracting every variable and value that causes it (and remedies it). Focus on how often the problem occurs, how severe it is, potential causes, and what if any special circumstances impact it. Another primary focus should be on the timeframe of the problem. How long has it been occurring? Has it been getting worse with time and, if not, are there factors that could cause it to do so in the future?

    3. Classify the decision criteria

    Clearly defining the desires that lead to purchase intent, here you want to identify any and every decision that factors into the decision making process. Which of these criteria is most important? Will the decision be based solely on existing standards or are there any unique values that can be used

    4. Come up with more than one solution

    There is no substitute for variety and the goal at this stage is to not leave a more valuable solution on the table. Therefore, don’t stop at the first solution you come up with. Instead, evaluate any alternative scenarios as objectively as possible, assessing the pros and cons of each to ensure that the solution you’re pursuing is the most competitive and thereby profitable one.

    5. Pick the best solution

    After you’ve evaluated all the options and values gleaned from steps one through four, you have to choose the most customer-centric solution to move forward with, developing a base of support within your organization and preparing for any internal or external contingencies. businessdictionary.

    Corporate Entrepreneurship and its Importance in Large Companies


    Though its definition is somewhat contentious, the concept of corporate entrepreneurship is generally believed to refer to the development of new ideas and opportunities within large or established businesses, directly leading to the improvement of organizational profitability and an enhancement of competitive position or the strategic renewal of an existing business.

    Within that system, the notion of innovation is at the very core of corporate entrepreneurship – the two inseparably bound together and responsible for driving calculated and beneficial risk-taking. Taking it one step further, corporate entrepreneurship may even significantly alter the balance of competition within an industry or create entirely new industries through this act of internal innovation.
    Why should established organizations consider corporate entrepreneurship?

    Corporate entrepreneurship is especially crucial for large companies, enabling these organizations – that are traditionally averse to risk-taking – to innovate, driving leaders and teams toward an increased level of corporate enterprising. In addition to the obvious benefits obtained through innovation, this approach also provides the organizational benefit of setting the stage for leadership continuity.

    In a simpler view, corporate entrepreneurship can also be considered a means of organizational renewal. For in addition to its focus on innovation, there also exists an equal drive toward venturing. These two work in unison as the company undertakes innovations across the entire organizational spectrum, from product and process to technology and administration. In addition, venturing is a primary component in the process, pushing larger companies to enhance their overall competitiveness in the marketplace by taking bigger risks. Examples of these risks, as seen in a large-scale organization, may include: redefinition of the business concept, reorganization, and the introduction of system-wide changes for innovation.

    Setting up the corporate entrepreneurship environment

    In modern business, one of the primary tasks of the business leader is to foster an environment in which entrepreneurial thinking is encouraged and readily takes places. Promoting this culture by freely encouraging creativity (and thereby innovation), business leaders motivated toward corporate entrepreneurship must continuously strive to exude and build trust, embracing the risk to fail and inspiring those around them to take similar calculated risks.

    But there is more to an environment of corporate entrepreneurship than simply inciting inspiration. It also relies heavily on a system of continuous analysis and feedback, potentially including the following two steps:

    Step 1

    Set a broad direction for achievement, reevaluating it periodically for any new information that may have surfaced in regard to changes in the business environment, including competitive products and markets in which the firm is operating. Constant evaluation is essential at this stage as even the most finely-tuned direction can still lead to catastrophic failure if the approach is no longer working.
    Step 2

    Reinforce efforts across the entire organization that coincide with the current plan for achievement. The task of a leader or senior manager is often that of the analyst, continuously promoting strategy while making adjustments based on their beliefs related to organizational goals and the feedback they receive from business units. As these business units continue to experiment with existing products and services, as well as innovate and develop new ones, senior executives can magnify the stated goals to reinforce those business unit initiatives and thereby achieve the highest degree of success. - businessdictionary

    Sunday

    Friday

    Too Many Business Objectives Are Worse Than None At All


    This time of year many businesses turn to planning as a way to determine the path for the upcoming year. It’s a great practice and one that I support without hesitation.

    Taking stock of where you are now and how you intend to move towards the vision for your business as you see it down the road is something that you must do to create positive change and growth.

    While the task of annual planning is a necessary one, it’s also one that is fraught with challenges.

    The best strategic planning focuses on carving our priorities for the year. The challenge with this is that many organizations see it as a time to create a giant wish list or to do list.

    In my experience most small businesses can only focus on a handful of priorities or objectives at any given time and the key is leave more out of your plan for the year than you leave in.

    The focus of your planning is to identify your top three objectives and commit to taking massive action on making them happen. When you think small numbers you can think big ideas and that’s how you move in the direction of real growth.

    An objective is a priority

    Calling something one of your primary annual objectives makes it a priority and that status must be affirmed, communicated, acted upon and held up for all to view throughout the year.

    Create themed communications, events and education that keep the focus on your stated objectives.

    Every objective requires a goal

    Once you establish your objectives for the year figure out how you plan to measure your progress. Set goals, no more than one or two, for each objective and make your act of measurement and reporting on your progress as transparent as possible.

    Build internal dashboards, report in to all hands meetings and plan to adjust your goals and actions in real-time. Let’s face it, a goal, while meaningful, is often a guess. Feed the data often and analyze what it means when it’s real.

    Goals require new habits and behavior

    Once you have the objectives defined and goals attached the hard work stars. Here’s something that I know about goals. It’s fine to state a goal, but most of what we do in life is dictated by our habits.

    If you want to make real and lasting change towards the attainment of a goal, particularly a goal that stretches your current reality, you must adopt a corresponding set of new habits.

    Look at your goals and objectives and ask yourself what has to change.

    Do you need to delegate more, hire someone, fire someone, create focus days, have more meetings, have fewer meetings, start working out, stop saying yes, start charging more, get up earlier, get home earlier or just sit for a very long time while you reconnect with why you do what you do?

    Once you can identify habits that are in the way you can start to address the organizational and personal behavior that must change in order to move in the direction of your goals and objectives. Don’t take this step lightly, it’s the key to success.

    While planning like this often is seen as an annual event, and I don’t want to discourage that notion, it’s really an every day, every week, every month, every quarter kind of thing that must stay top of mind and inform every decision you make minute by minute. 
    John Jantsch

    Tuesday

    The 3 Secrets to Finding Highly Profitable Clients


    Most people view marketing and selling like this.

    You target a market segment, tell them what you have to offer, maybe work in a little solution selling and hope they choose you.

    Or

    You target a market segment, respond to RFPs and hope they choose your price.

    Either way, what you're building is a recipe for low prices and even lower profits.

    See, the secret to high profits is to take price out of the equation to a large extent by offering some unique and desirable element that can't be compared.

    The problem with solution selling and responding to RFPs is that both of these approaches basically make every business look the same so price is the primary issue.

    The secret to creating consistently high profits is to understand how to choose your clients and not the other way around.

    Yes, you need to select exactly whom you intend to work with and let your unique way of doing business illustrate your premium pricing value proposition.

    Now, when I say choose your clients I'm don't mean making a list of clients you want to work with or that you think would be nice names in your portfolio.

    What I'm referring to is the intentional act of identifying the characteristics of an ideal client and going after only prospects that fit that profile. Taking this approach allows you to significantly increase the likelihood that you will only work with clients that appreciate your unique approach and expect paying you what that's worth.

    Here is a three-step approach that works for me.

    1) The #1 Unmet Need

    The first step is to figure out who has a problem you can solve and what their goals are for solving this problem. I know we all think everyone needs what we do, but the key to finding ideal clients is to also find prospects that are in flux, have the desire to make a change and are open to a disruptive approach.

    You must find that demographic, help them define their goals and speak to their greatest unmet need.

    2) The Crucial Behavior

    Once you identify the larger pool of prospects that have the need, it's time to turn your attention to a narrower subset that has demonstrated a behavior that can give real clues to their willingness to respond to your unique approach.

    This element is harder to define because you won't discover it on a direct mail list of selected fields. But, when you understand it, you'll have the tool to unlocking this approach in ways that will make you incredibly smart and confident about zeroing in on ideal clients.

    Let me give you an example that might apply to any service type business.

    I found long ago that there are three behaviors that stand out as crucial markers for an ideal client. It almost doesn't matter what industry, if one of these three characteristics is apparent I can charge ahead with confidence that I want that client.

    We've identified these behaviors with names to give us common language to refer to.

    Movers ? Movers are people who care about their industry almost as much as they do about their business. They have a need to serve and realize that by improving the overall health or impression of their industry, they win as well.

    These people serve on industry and association trade group boards and committees and always look for ways to improve their business.

    Educators ? Educators teach as an approach to selling and business development. They hold classes, create content that educates and are often found leading discussions and presentations both related and unrelated to their core business.

    No surprise, this behavior responds very well to an inbound, content based, educational approach in kind.

    Skeptics ? This last group might seem odd, but the one thing I've discovered about skeptics is that sometimes they are as open to anyone for a truly new approach. What they've grown skeptical of is that everyone is saying the same thing and no one is delivering results.

    Sometimes the only way to uncover skeptics is through networking, but this group may indeed to very open to a disruptive approach.

    3) The Ideal Client Sketch

    The last piece of the puzzle is to write out a thorough sketch of this ideal client that includes the demographics, the #1 unmet need, goals and central behavior that allows you to pinpoint your hottest prospect.

    From this three-step approach you should be able to create a hot list of real prospects that your marketing and selling efforts can take specific aim on knowing that your efforts, when successful, will lead to a profitable client.

    Monday

    How an Entrepreneur Imagines the World


    Lots of business owners are not what one would call entrepreneurs. In fact, many are simply people that happen to "own" a job that pays the bills.

    Don’t get me wrong, these are good people, really good people, but calling them entrepreneurs sort of muddies the distinction.

    So what is the difference? What are the character traits that one possesses or actions that one endeavors that qualifies them for this often misused label?

    I’ve been asked this question repeatedly and until now not come up with a distinction that captured it adequately.

    That is until I found myself in the kitchen with my wife.

    I think describing the very different ways that my wife and I approach cooking can best capture the difference between how an entrepreneur and the rest of normal civilization view the world.

    My wife enters the kitchen, cleans up any lingering messes, imagines a meal, looks up a recipe, acquires the ingredients, carefully measures, mixes and serves the meal all the while cleaning up as she goes. This is, of course, a perfectly logical approach to eating and entertaining.

    I, on the other hand, enter the kitchen, figure out what we have on the shelves, ponder combinations of things I like, decide how these things could be combined to make what I hypothesize would be something good to eat, taste, test, add, mix, add more, revel in the odd discoveries, pivot based on what I learn and whisk what seems reasonable onto the plate of anyone I can convince to eat. And, somehow every single pot and pan available gets pressed into service and dirtied.

    My wife imagines a future meal based on what she knows and I imagine a future meal based on what I discover as I go, and that I think is as clear a distinction of the entrepreneurial mindset as I can illustrate.

    Entrepreneurs don’t learn by thinking, they learn by doing.

    According to Ned Hallowell, M.D., Ed.D., a child and adult psychiatrist, New York Times bestselling author and leading authority in the field of ADHD.

    Hallowell will tell you that an extremely high number of entrepreneurs share many of the same traits as the ADHD patients he has treated over the years. The primary difference is that they’ve been able to channel what is, for some, a debilitation into an asset.

    Hallowell’s research and treatment of persons with ADHD is shedding entirely new light on the power of this trait.

    In the words of Dr. Hallowell, “In my opinion, ADHD is a terrible term. As I see it, ADHD is neither a disorder, nor is there a deficit of attention. I see ADHD as a trait, not a disability.”

    And there, perhaps, you have it – entrepreneurship is a trait, that unmet, untended or unleashed could be considered by some a disability – or you could imagine a world where you discover only by doing. 
    John Jantsch

    15 Minutes a Day: Create a Culture of Accountability


    It’s great to have a plan. Even better to charge out and begin to execute the plan. But, to keep your plan alive day in and day out, you’ve got to have a routine that holds everyone accountable for all things big and small.

    To keep commitment high and reinforce a culture based on your objectives you need to install a systematic approach to meetings that allows people to be heard, get help, pose ideas, participate, learn, grow, move projects forward, and stay connected.

    This will include annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily planned sessions designed to accomplish specific tasks.

    I can almost hear some collective groaning coming from my readers, but trust me on this. If you do this right, you’ll wonder how you ever succeeded without it. You may find that more gets done in terms of actual work and real team building in a month using this system than at any time in your business.

    First off, have everyone in the organization sketch out their near term plans. The projects they need or intend to get done in the 30, 60, and 90 days based on your overall marketing or business plan. This should be an ongoing moving process and will be one of the tools used in your meeting system.

    Daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly

    Every organization, depending upon the number of employees and other logistics, will have slightly differing needs, but the basic framework should look something like this:

    Quarterly meetings – These meetings should be used to give “state of the business updates” that will likely include financial data and reporting on goals and objectives for the year.

    One of the ways that many organizations reinforce core values is to choose a quarterly theme that relates to one of your stated core values and plan activities and initiatives that highlight the chosen value. I’ll go into more detail about this specific tactic in a subsequent chapter on culture.

    These meetings should be fun and celebrate achievements, milestones and accomplishments that may fall outside the realm of work.

    Monthly meetings – These meetings may include financial and milestone reporting, but should also include teaching.

    One of my favorite ways to include teaching in the monthly meeting is to select a member of the staff, regardless of department, and charge them with leading a session about their department or function’s specific initiatives, goals and achievements.

    This can be a fun way to “get to know accounting” or “showcase the new advertising campaign.”

    Weekly functional meetings – It gets a little trickier once you start breaking meetings down to functional teams or departments. This is where organizations with flat structures (everyone reports to one boss) start to choke. If you’re the boss and you manage everyone in the organization, this tactic will reveal why you can’t continue this practice.

    The good news is that this process and the project planning process I wrote about recently are how you start to create a management structure in your organization where perhaps none existed previously.

    In fact, many organizations find that the sheer act of planning creates its own logical team organization structure based on who can be and is responsible for projects.

    The focus of the weekly meeting is project movement. If you have a very small staff this may be a weekly staff meeting, but the focus is still to get updates on projects. If you have a very organization you may logically conduct these in small groups around projects.

    Some mid-sized organizations hold weekly all hands meetings in addition to functional staff meetings in an effort to highlight their most important initiatives.

    VML, a digital marketing agency located in Kansas City, holds an all staff meeting every Tuesday morning with the primary purpose of highlighting the organization’s community, non-profit and charitable activities. The brief meeting is also frequently used as a way to recognize staff members who exemplified core values during the coarse of the week.

    Daily functional huddle

    The concept of the daily huddle has been used in large business for years and has had a huge impact on organizations such as Ritz Carlton, Johnson & Johnson and 3M. Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habitsdid a great deal to popularize the notion in small business circles. Harnish contends that this was one of Rockefeller’s core concepts used while building Standard Oil.

    While some may view this tactic purely in terms of efficiency I think it’s one of the greatest ways to build team commitment and spirit and once again reinforce purpose. -
    John Jantsch

    Saturday

    My Ten Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season



    Woke up this morning and the first think my wife said was: “Christmas Shopping day!” The first thing I was thinking was mmmm... F%$#k – how am I going to get out of this. Had a quick cup of coffee and then used google, like always, typed in “stress free Christmas” and got the following great article.

    ---------
    Sure, you love the holiday season--but just not so much of it! This year, you're hoping to cut the crazy out of Christmas: to trim the celebration back to one that is sustainable and calm.
    Question is, just how do you do less--and enjoy it more--during the Christmas holiday season?
    If you're aiming to simplify Christmas, take time to ponder ways to cut stress, save money and tame over-the-top traditions. Setting simplicity strategies in place early will keep you from being swept up in holiday madness.
    Get armed! Try these ten simple strategies to calm holiday chaos and rein in the seasonal overkill this year.

    10 Simplicity Strategies

    Prune the to-do list. Ask, “If I don’t do this, what will happen?” Aim to knock down the list of chores to the rock-bottom necessity.
    Cut the gift list. Rein in gift exchanges that have been outgrown or lost their meaning. Limit gifts to children only, draw names, or organize a gift exchange.
    Wrap as you go. Who needs to spend Christmas Eve catching up on wrapping chores? Sticky notes will help you keep track of gift contents.
    Buy, don’t bake. Turn your back on the oven this year. Supermarkets, bakeries and the freezer department of the discount warehouse are a great source for delicious, pre-baked holiday treats.
    Call, don’t send cards. Reach out and touch someone … the easy way. Online greeting cards are easy, inexpensive and fun to send. No more lines at the post office!
    Scale back d├ęcor. Substitute a simple door wreath for outdoor lighting, a tabletop tree for the over-the-top tannenbaum. Focusing holiday decor on the Big Three--front door, tree and focal point--can bring a festive feel to the house without day-long decorating sessions.
    Cut the clean-a-thon.Focus cleaning attention on kitchen and public rooms; private areas can slide til season’s end. Better to schedule deep-cleaning chores like carpet cleaning until after the wear-and-tear of the holiday season.
    Downsize dishwashing.Hand-washing fine china is nobody’s idea of a good time, so move to everyday stoneware. Simpler still: paper plates!
    Finger food, not feast. A smorgasboard of tasty tidbits is easier on the cook and kinder to the waistline than a sit-down dinner. Share the work by hosting pot-luck events.
    Stay home! Cuddling down close to the hearth beats holiday travel any day. A holiday "stay-cation" allows for evening drives to see the lights, family camp-outs in front of the Christmas tree, and evenings spent with carols and popcorn. Fun!