Things, life, business – they don’t just fall into place. We have to manage things to make what we want happen. Three of our small business experts give some quick advice on how to:
- manage your meetings so that you don’t waste time,
- manage your marketing so that you pay only for what you need, and
- manage your money by cutting costs on export sales.
The goal is to move your business forward by solving a core problem for your core people — and that takes management.
Manage your meetings so that you don’t waste time
In “How to Successfully Manage a Meeting and Track Deadlines,” John Mariotti gives us three things that every meeting needs as well as a simple plan for making sure that “stuff” gets done afterwards. When it comes to a meeting, words get their values from the actions that follow. What did you promise in that meeting (assignment)? When did you promise it (deadline)? Did you get it done (follow-through)?
We meet to accomplish specific things and not just run the clock down, but how do you help members of your team see the big picture about their impact in the meeting and in the company? And how do can you motivate them to make the most of their time? John says, “One of the most effective ways to create the appropriate sense of urgency for making and meeting commitments agreed upon in meetings is to calculate the monetary value of delays.”
I used this technique for years (it doesn’t work on everyone, but it worked on me and it worked on my team). As a manager of a nonprofit, I found it helped each team member to understand the value of our training sessions and our meetings, and motivated staff to show up on time.
Manage your marketing so that you pay only for what you need
Maybe you don’t need to hire a marketing expert (and maybe you do). In “6 Reasons You Don’t Need a Full-Time Marketing Person,” Ivana Taylor lays out the benefits of not having a marketer on staff. Ultimately, it’s a matter of logistics: Should this person be an employee or an independent advisor, and why? Ivana says, “Believe me when I tell you that unless you’ve made the decision that you are in the marketing business, you don’t need a full time marketing person.” And if you decide to employ a full-time marketer, then work with a contractor first, because “working with advisers before you hire full-time employees will help you make better hiring decisions.” This way you will know what to expect and be able to set realistic and effective standards.
So what about your business? How is your marketing? According to Ivana, “Most small businesses fall into these two categories; one with a marketing system and one without.” Where do you fall?
Manage your money by cutting costs on export sales
Laurel Delaney, in “8 Ways to Cut Costs on Export Sales,” gives six quick tips to help you build up your export business including “selling to new countries or territories.” But mostly Laurel shares eight ways to lower your export costs so that there’s strategy behind each action instead of a panic response based on your fears about the economy. She says, “If you use a price-reduction strategy merely as a knee-jerk reaction to a rough economic climate, it won’t work over the long haul. You must develop an export action plan that supports a process.”
Laurel suggests that you focus on:
- Production location—“Shift your production to a nation with lower costs.”
- Payment methods—Ask your bank for the terms you need.
- Transportation expenses—Ask questions to discover better options.
- Internet communication—“Communicate constantly…to stay front and center with your customer base and your all-around fans.”
Keep this in mind: Whether you’re an exporter, online, local shop or service based, business is business, and focusing on these areas can help any small business strategically manage costs.
Success is in the details, so pay attention, make a plan and put it to work as soon as possible.
How about just forget the meetings totally and see how the business runs without them. Just give it a try. Most meeting are just a waste of time.
Did that before–it didn’t quite work (once I stopped doing everything myself… 🙂 ) but I agree “Most meeting are just a waste of time” but not all of them. I like the mini-meetings, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes depending on the focus. Just feeling like I still need to get some consistent feedback from the team.
Thanks Wilson, because I am challenged to continue to keep it short (as possible) and sweet.
Great book…”Death by Meetings,” by Patrick Lencioni.
Well I hope it’s working out for you, here’s a tip from one of my favorite blogs that also might help http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/you_still_want_meetings_heres_how_to_make_them_useful.php
My favorite point: “Celebrate, shut up, and do something (Ryan).” Thanks Wilson.
RE article by Ryan: http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/you_still_want_meetings_heres_how_to_make_them_useful.php
Hi Danny, Didn’t realize that “Death by Meetings” was a leadership fable. I’ll check it out.