Category Archives: Business Processes

Surprise Attack

How do effective CEOs handle sudden, acute business problems?

One Form of Acute Pain

It seemed to come outta nowhere. And when it arrived, POW! It brought with it almost debilitating pain. A reasonable person would quickly conclude that a specialist was needed. And the challenge was that each specialist had a different opinion on how to address the pain.

I’m describing a recent back injury that I suffered, but I could just as easily be describing one of your acute business problems.  What do they have in common?

  • The problem is virtually unforeseen, appearing suddenly.
  • It hits you like a ton of bricks.
  • Your initial response is to be frozen in place.
  • Because it is unexpected and not previously experienced, you’re pretty sure you need the help of an expert, a specialist.
  • There are many and varied experts to consult,
  • each with their own approach to eliminating the pain.

What to do?
Whom to trust?

Consider the back injury first. If you have a medical doctor, a general practitioner, whom you trust implicitly, he/she would be a good one to consult. A small investment upfront with a trusted advisor who will guide you to the path that returns you to good health seems like a reasonable decision.

Now consider your acute business problem. Who is your “general practitioner”? Whom do you trust implicitly? Start with that person.

I chose to short circuit the process and went directly to a “specialist”. In so doing, I lengthened my recovery. Although I don’t heal as quickly as I did as a twenty something, I will heal – in spite of the false start. But can you say the same for your business? If the surprise attack is vicious enough, you may not have time for a do-over. Get the trusted advice from your generalist as a first step.

I did not conceive this message with the thought of a shameless plug as the wrap-up. But I really would be doing you a disservice not to offer more specific guidance on finding that trusted advisor. Two obvious choices are: a fellow CEO, and a qualified business generalist.

I Love You, but…

CEOs cannot lose focus on customer service

Love is a many splendored thing

I love you.  Strange title for a business blog, isn’t it?  But it’s true, assuming that you’re a business owner.  Here’s what motivated me to make that declaration.

A couple days ago I went to hell and back.  You’ve been there.  I called the help line at a major corporation because of a small glitch in the operation of my new mobile phone.  This particular visit to hell took almost two hours of my not unlimited time.  I will spare you the details because you’ve been there.  I’d rather talk about love anyway.

I love business owners and that’s why I’ve devoted the past thirteen years to working with them.  Privately owned businesses tend to serve customers well and to get things accomplished quickly.  Many entrepreneurs started their own business precisely because they could not find the quality of service that they craved.

A customer service process that works is a thing of beauty.  A dysfunctional process will suck any beauty out of both customer and company.

So my love for you is conditional.  You might get big faster than you can control.  Or you might get complacent.  Or you might turn catatonic under the stress of sustaining your own business.

Next time you visit the hell that I have described here, I want you to pledge anew that you will not let your company slide into customer service dysfunction.  Promise?

Great CEOs Don’t Overlook the Nuggets

CEO Training by the SBTDC

CEO Trainer

I participate in leading a program for business owners that is offered by the Delaware Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC).  The participants meet once a week for three hours over a six week period.  During that time they become engaged in a thoughtful analysis of their business and of their plan for that business.  The SBTDC calls this their Business Development Network.

This program covers the fundamentals of running and ultimately exiting a successful business.  While I was listening to Carla Holland (shown in photo) launch another six-week series recently, I made a list of the basic concepts she discussed in that first session.  They are listed below. Continue reading

Robot or Athlete?

Many CEO soft skills require practice, just like dancing

Which one is the professional?

You lead a business and, in that role, you employ many natural skills.  However, the job probably requires some skills that don’t come so naturally to you, but which you can hone through practice.  But what does this have to do with the photo displayed here? Continue reading

Bringing It All Together

Recommended reading for any CEO

Handbook

What’s the most difficult job in the world?  Raise that question the next time you gather socially with friends.  Bet you get a lot of discussion.

Recommended reading for any CEO

How-To Book

The job of CEO should be at least a finalist in the discussion.  Any CEO job, large or small, presents the challenge of bringing many things together.  I’ve been reminded of this recently in my readings of The CEO Code by David Rohlander and The Alignment Factor by Allen E. Fishman.  Rohlander attempts to encompass the responsibilities of the CEO by organizing them into three broad categories: communication, execution, and operations.  Fishman’s categories are commitment, communication, culture, and collaboration.

If you are the owner and CEO of a small to midsize business, you have an appreciation of the breadth of skills required to build and sustain a successful enterprise.  More likely than not, you understand the magnetic pull of the daily urgent demands that would keep you from maintaining the long view – from developing your key employees – from identifying future opportunities and threats.  Each author takes a slightly different approach to defining the job and inviting action on the part of the reader.  Rohlander has provided what might be considered an abbreviated handbook on the role of CEO.  Fishman has focused on the strategies and actions that provide alignment of people throughout the organization.  Both works deserve your attention.

First (& Second) Impressions

An Airline CEO has physical and human assets employed to attract and keep customers

Captive Customers

As the leader of your business, you’re concerned about first impressions.  You want to put your best foot forward in early encounters with any new or returning customer.  So you’re concerned about those early touches – your website; how your staff answers the phone; how your automated answering system represents your company; and how your sales people present themselves in that first customer meeting.

Not all CEOs put proper emphasis on this best practice.  Not long ago Continue reading

Unique Job, Lonely Role

CEO accountabilities are unique within the enterprise

A CEO

As CEO, or business owner, or company president, you occupy a unique and a lonely position. Not surprisingly, your job description is a one-of-a-kind, whether you have actually written it or not. You are accountable for certain high level responsibilities, because only you can perform them. It is these responsibilities that should be your guide to priorities, to how you spend your company time.

Here are the universal accountabilities for someone running a private business, regardless of the size of that business. Continue reading