Jan 06 2010

BUSINESS INTERNS ARE ALIVE AND WELL!

THINK OUTSIDE

                          

YOUR BRAIN!

 

                                                                                                                    

     Okay, you own and/or operate or manage a small business (or piece of a big one), or you’re a salesperson or an entrepreneur. That makes you a schizoid, right? I mean you have so much going on that even reading this is a sacrifice … but take heart!

     If you’re really serious about what you’re doing, you are also serious about exploring innovative approaches to today’s basic essentials: productivity, customer service, value-adding, and marketing efficiency. Whoa, there’s a couple of new ones there!

     Yup! Those last two essentials that snuck onto that list are the fruits of our egg-sucking economy. Until the going got tough, we never paid no never-mind to ideas like adding product and services value or to pulling out all the stops to maintain marketing impact while cutting marketing costs. They were token pursuits.

     But now we care. Now we’re here. And here means taking a fresh look at what you’re doing. Here’s just one example:

     Do you have any interns working for you? No, not the White House kind … BUSINESS interns. Why not? Have you actually approached your nearby community college or university campus (or even high schools for some situations) and pointblank asked how such an arrangement could be made? Why not?

     Perhaps you think there’s no room in your organization for a wet-behind-the-pierced-ears-tattooed dude? You may want to revisit that thinking. Interns in much of academia will work for free or minimum wage because they can earn course credits for on-the-job experience.

     Interns who perform well often turn out to be loyal, long-term, full time employees.

     Interns need a definitive plan and can sometimes require some extra hand-holding, but they are also typically eager to learn and anxious to please (especially when performance is grade-related!)

     Spare yourself the worry of excessive planning and what-ifs, and make some exploratory calls. If and when you uncover access to an internship program, THEN decide how, when, and where you can use some free or inexpensive project help. Many short-term projects, by the way, can turn into mutually-beneficial long-term assignments.

     The trade-off? Well, you or someone you can trust to provide role-model leadership will need to expend energy (and patience) with any intern(s) you take on, and the intern(s) may not provide what’s needed.

     But, then again, you could end up a major winner and that depends a great deal on your screening skills to start with. Formal programs offer the advantage of giving you recourse to the school if there’s any problem, and you’d probably only be required to provide periodic performance evaluations.

     The bottom line is to think outside your computer, outside your workspace, outside your organization — outside your brain — and start making better use of resources you may have been overlooking, whatever and whomever they are.

  

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  Hal@Businessworks.US   302.933.0116

  Open Minds Open Doors 

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  Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Dec 07 2009

KNOWLEDGE IS NOT POWER!

Product/Service Knowledge

                                                                                                    

Does Not A Sales Star Make!

                                                                                                

     What makes entrepreneurs and sales professionals successful is having the ability to go waaay beyond the point of just knowing about the products and services they represent.

     It takes a very rare “geek,” for example (e.g., Bill Gates, Steve Jobs), to be able to come up out of the techie hole and have a clear vision of everything else that surrounds her or him.

     I’m not suggesting the need to be an expert at everything, but to instead appreciate and value what’s there (in your market, in your industry, in your universe), and know when to call on (and how to manage) others’ skills.  

     This “failure shortcoming” is unfortunately not something that’s easily adjustable because it’s more a product of the system than of the individual. It is the single greatest failing of academia that students are rarely if ever taught how to use what they’ve been taught to know.

     While touching on our misguided educational system, I should add that the best college for successful business career preparation (besides the proverbial “school of hard knocks”) is the one that fosters student internship and cooperative education programs and/or real-life experience opportunities. A taste of reality always beats none.

It is the single greatest failing of academia that students are rarely if ever taught how to use what they’ve been taught to know.”

     Why should this matter? Having a single purpose and collective goals is one thing, but no business is successful that is run with closed-minded fantasy-land controls. Product / service knowledge is just one part of the success equation. Having the vision and organization skills to apply that knowledge is what counts.

     No sales professional has ever made it on having total command alone of her or his company product or service features. No one “buys” features. Buyers may justify their purchases by itemizing features, but what makes the sale are emotional triggers to benefits. Product and service knowledge can only serve as the launchpad for those triggers. 

     What are the answers? I believe they vary with each set of circumstances, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers … BUT:

     I CAN tell you that if you and your sales message have been heavily focused on what goes into a product or service and how it’s made, and you see all the guys down in the trenches (the scientist /technician / analyst types) smiling up at you and nodding agreement, you need to adjust what you’re communicating to the rest of the world!

     Like the dentist ads promoting mucosal blade inserts, which would only have a recognition factor and be a point of interest among other dentists, many businesses go down the tubes grasping for receptivity to jargon that only they and a handful of staff (and competitive!) “experts” understand.

     Real Business “Power”— the Power of entrepreneurial and sales success, comes not from merely knowing — comes from knowing who, how, when, and where to put the knowledge that you have to work.    

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May 02 2009

SMALL BUSINESS STIMULUS BUDGETING

“It Don’t Matter To Me!”

                                                                              

     That song title should be your answer (aside from the ungrammatical “don’t”) to any question about who’s to blame for this economy. All that matters in the end is what you are doing about it for your own business or professional practice.

     Whether you’re a doctor, a retailer, a small-size manufacturer, a distributor, agent, or service provider, it’s time to take a hard look at how you are dealing with your current spending plans. This, for example, is NOT the time to fold up the sales and customer service training rug and store it in the basement. Besides the fact that basement-stored rugs attract mold and mildew, there are better solutions.

     Check in with your local community college or adult education program for an inexpensive training option. Or, do it yourself! Or round-up a team of masters or doctoral students from a nearby university to put a program together for you.

     Many internship programs across the country award academic credits for firsthand real-life experiences. A combination of business and education or psychology majors should be able to package a good motivational training program for your business. Some training is better than no training!

     Just be sure you present such a program in the right light and discourage over-the-top expectations. Help your people to see such an occasion as an opportunity to foster idea exchanges and teamwork, instead of setting up training quality judgements. Point out that what they will get from any program is what they end up putting into it.

     Speaking of motivation, remember that small frequent rewards (like family entertainment arrangements and lunch invitations) are more meaningful in the overall scheme of things than high-priced permanent rewards (like salary/benefit increases).

     Look at ways to promote your business without having to bite the media advertising bullet that will undoubtedly break a tooth if not your wallet. www.BizBrag.com is a terrific free site to register with and post free news releases and newsy photos — every day if you like!

     People are selling everything under the sun on Twitter these days. Also for free. You need tenacious endurance to make Twitter work for you, but it will if you will. Didn’t tenacious endurance get you to where you are anyway? 

     Are you asking people in your family to help you with certain tasks that will help free up your time so you can be more focused on sales, for example? Maybe retired Uncle Harvey wouldn’t mind at all coming in a few times a week to do some light cleaning (in exchange for some sports tickets or a couple of dinners out) to help offset custodial service fees?

     Cover the tax-deductible cost of some business books for your college student son, daughter, neice, nephew, or cousin in exchange for some office, fieldwork or factory floor interns? Combine expenses with neighboring businesses? Shared transportation and shipping costs, even direct mail postage, advertising, clerical and website maintenance sharing are possible.

     Think it out. Tough it out. But stay focused in the process, and stimulate your OWN budget!    

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      . . . I’m open to your input anytime: Hal@TheWriterWorks.com (”Businessworks” in the subject line) or comment below. Thank you for visiting. Good night and God bless you! halalpiar  # # # 

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