Grammar Check: Proper Use of Commas

By Sharon Bohm

The Misunderstood CommaAlmost everyone knows that all sentences need to end in punctuation. It’s the punctuation within the sentences that causes confusion. The comma is the most used (and misused) punctuation. Here’s a brief summary of the most common uses of the comma.

Here’s a guide to the Proper Use of Commas

Comma use in a series

Always use a comma when listing items in a series. Example: I woke up, ate breakfast, and went to work. Although I have seen the comma before the conjunction omitted, in formal writing, it is still used.

Comma use with a conjunction and two independent clauses

An independent clause is one that can stand on its own. A conjunction (and, or, but) is needed when you connect two independent clauses. Example: I wanted to see the movie, but I arrived too late. Notice the comma comes before the conjunction not after.

Comma use with an introductory clause or phrase

When starting a sentence with an introductory clause or phrase (like this sentence), always use a comma. Example: Looking up at the clock, Jennifer noticed she was behind schedule. In cases where the clause has fewer than three words, it may be permissible to omit the comma. Example: Yesterday I went to the mall. I use a comma, but in a case like this, it is a stylistic choice.

Comma use with parenthetical phrases

A parenthetical phrase can be referred to as added information. This phrase can be removed from a sentence without changing its structure. Example: Mark, and his colleagues, came to the meeting. Taking out the phrase “and his colleagues” doesn’t change the sentence structure. Mark came to the meeting is a complete sentence.

Comma use with quotations

Always use a comma to set off a quotation. This is most commonly found in novels. Example: Susan asked, “Is this where the party is?”  The phrase “Susan asked” is not part of the quote. The comma comes before the quotation.

Comma use with coordinate adjectives

This may not come up as the others, but it is still important to know. A coordinate adjectives are multiple adjectives that describe the same noun. Example: The tall, pretty woman standing there is my friend.

These are just a few of the most uses of the comma. There are many more. If your head isn’t spinning enough about when to use the common, I will briefly discuss a couple of common instances not to use the comma.

Do not use a comma to separate two independent clauses

An independent clause can stand on its own as a complete sentence. Look at these two independent clauses. I bought a pair of pants. They were on sale. If you wanted to make these sentences into one, you must use a semi-colon. I bought a pair of pants; they were on sale. No comma.

Do not use a comma when there is a dependent and an independent clause

A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. Here is a variation on an example I previously used. Example: I wanted to see the movie but arrived too late. Notice the comma is omitted. The phrase “arrived too late” is not a complete sentence as it lacks a subject. Therefore, the comma is not used.

What grammar mistakes do you make or need clarification on? Please comment below…..

About the Author:

Sharon BohmSharon Bohm is a local freelance writer. She taught English Composition for the Maricopa Community College District for many years. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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The Power of a Good Marketing Plan

By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

A Marketing Plan is like a GPS

A Marketing Plan is like a GPS

Back in the day, before GPSs – I used to get lost in a strange city – Big Time! My worst experience was driving in circles for hours in Trenton, NJ, looking for a club where some friends were playing. It was night — couldn’t see a thing. I think we finally stopped at a pay phone and called the club to get directions. We couldn’t even tell them where we were! That was a long, long time ago and now living in Phoenix, I use the GPS on my smartphone when heading to an unfamiliar location.

Social Media – the New Unfamiliar Territory

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, blogging, oh my! Where do you start? How to I grow a following? Should I pay to advertise? Do I do just one network or all of them?

Without knowing the answers to these questions, you will be going around in circles, wasting time, money, effort, energy and you’ll not get the results you want. Then you’ll say, “Social media doesn’t work!” It doesn’t work because you failed to plan!

First you have to understand that selling and marketing are two different things. Marketing, advertising and promotions help make the phones ring so the salespeople can sell.

Online marketing – blogs, social media, e-newsletters drive leads and traffic to the website where the website can capture the leads. It’s then up to follow-up emails and the sales team to convert that lead into a sale.

An e-commerce site works differently. The online marketing efforts should lead the visitor to the product(s) that interests them.

Unlike a verbal strategy, which can be forgotten or misunderstood, a written document is “living” and can be referred to, modified and executed. ~Social Media Examiner

Start with the Marketing Plan

Get out a piece of paper and answer these questions:

  1. Who's your target market?Who is your target market? Clearly define your target market’s persona. Clearly describe them – age, gender, likes, dislikes, etc. Put yourself in their shoes.
  2. What your main goals and objectives? Is it to build a following? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Do you want to get on the first page of Google search? Is it to sell products or services?
  3. Content Marketing: What are you going to blog about? What would be of interest to my target market? What kind of content written by others are you going to share? How are you going go get people to read your blog?
  4. What’s your strategy for each of the social media networks? Each network “drives” differently. Each has its own culture and dos and don’ts. What works on Twitter doesn’t work on LinkedIn.
  5. Call-To-Action ButtonsWhat’s your call-to-action? How are you going to capture the leads on your website? An e-newsletter? A free download? A coupon?
  6. How are you going to convert the leads to sales? How often are you going to send a newsletter? What about a drip system? Do you need marketing automation? Is there such a thing as too many leads?
  7. Then you need the tactical plan. If you have a team helping you, who’s going to do what? What are you going to post when, where and when? How often will you post on each of the network? You can post on Twitter up 10-15 times a day because it goes so fast. On Facebook it would be 10-15 posts a week.
  8. Focus on the networks that are bringing traffic to your site.Last and as important is measuring, monitoring and reporting. Which networks are driving the most traffic to your site? What types of posts are getting the most engagement (likes, shares, comments)? You must check this every month! Then you adjust the strategic and tactical plans accordingly. If you’re getting more traffic from Pinterest than Facebook, then focus more time on Pinterest. You’re not going to ignore Facebook, but you’ll spend more time on the network that’s showing the most engagement. All the major networks offer analytics and insights. These are huge! They provide data about your fans and followers that is invaluable.

You need to learn how to use each of these tools — the networks as well as 3rd party tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite to help you save time and automate a lot of the social media tasks. But you still have to be social! You can automate a lot of the media, but you can’t automate the social.

Get help with your Marketing Plan

Getting an outsider to help brings in an objective viewpoint and helps with brainstorming. Someone who does marketing for a  living has a creative “marketing mind” as with someone who’s done it for years in the past, like a SCORE mentor. They can help tremendously.

As business owners, we are too close to our business. Hey, it’s our baby! It’s not easy to look and think objectively when it comes to marketing and promotions.

Schedule a free mentoring session with a SCORE mentor.

Check out the upcoming SCORE seminars on social media and content marketing.

About the Author:

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping small to mid-sized business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. As with anything in business, using the right tools in the right way and at the right time are critical parts to your success. Learn from someone who’s known the Internet since it’s infancy. Official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix College. Social media training – 1-on-1 or for groups. WordPress sites and blogs. http://azsocialmediawiz.com 602-738-1700. You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google+. Giselle will be teaching regular seminars for Greater Phoenix SCORE. Join SCORE’s newsletter list to be informed of the classes.

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3 Keys to Ensuring that You’re Learning From the Right Expert

By Tracie Rollins with Infusionsoft

3 Keys to Ensuring that You’re Learning From the Right ExpertYour small business isn’t immune to the shifting tides of technology and the need for continuous improvement. To stay competitive in your industry, you must continue to learn and apply newfound knowledge to your business and to your life.

Learning can seem like an overwhelming task on your to-do list, especially if you have to weed through a queue of self-proclaimed experts who have great ideas, but don’t necessarily have the experience to back up their proclamation. I’ve spent decades relying on subject matter experts to help me develop courses because they have accurate in-depth knowledge in one or two specific areas. A short meeting often provides great insight into the topic and at least two or three additional references for further research.

Finding the Right Subject Matter Experts

Sifting through a list of experts takes time, but not as much as you think. In the old days, finding the right source meant that you’d have to ask around the office, visit a university or open the Yellow Pages and let your fingers do the walking. Once you found experts with the right credentials, you’d have to schedule a face-to-face meeting to talk to them so that they could step you through the process and show you the ropes.

This process was extremely laborious, and while nothing beats a good recommendation, the internet has certainly changed the landscape for experts across the globe. Finding the right one is easier than ever when you follow these three tips:

  1. Be Specific—If you’re looking to improve marketing in your small business start by narrowing down your topic to something less broad. Instead of trying to earn a degree in marketing, narrow down your focus to topics like developing better copy, demand generation techniques or efficient ways of email marketing. Narrowing down your topic before you search helps you find the best person or company to answer your questions.
  2. Search—Search both inside and outside of your network. Recommendations are great, but having the same knowledge as your peer group keeps you average.  Use the internet to find companies and influencers. Then, review their website for articles, products, services, authorship, patents and blogs to see where they’re going, instead of where they’ve been. You want to learn from experts who are progressing in their field of expertise.
  3. Verify—Once you’ve found a few good candidates, take some time to review their credentials on sites like LinkedIn to determine if they have the experience to back up their claims. Use sites like Amazon to read reviews on their published works and search for customer reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp.

Once you’ve identified a few good subject matter experts, subscribe to their mailing list and start engaging and learning from them. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars and often times can start with free or low price point offers before upgrading to premium training and coaching. Often times, a little more knowledge helps you understand the basics and provide the right amount of information to take the next step in improving the success of your business.
If you’re looking to improve your email marketing skillset, join Infusionsoft and Amy Birk for the Ninja Marketing Challenge. This free learning series will help you build your email list, send the right message at the right time and craft amazing content that converts.

You can also meet with an expert at Greater Phoenix SCORE for free! Click here to search for the right mentor (expert)!

About the Author:

Tracie Rollins of InfusionsoftTracie Rollins has focused her professional efforts on bridging the gap between knowledge and performance. She applies over 18 years of experience to marketing strategy, research, and development of content that educates, influences and improves the lives of others. She believes that education provides knowledge, knowledge drives actions, and actions change the world.

As the Content Strategy Manager at Infusionsoft, Tracie Rollins helps small businesses succeed by developing e-learning and authoring content for small business consumption and application.

As an entrepreneur, Tracie has appeared on KTVK’s Good Morning Arizona show, and has been featured in the Institute for Industrial Engineering magazine, Woman’s World, Arizona Republic and multiple local publications. She and her husband, Lonny help small business stand out amongst the competition with The Rollins Advantage, LLC. You can connect with Tracie online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

 

How to Really get Known as an Expert in Your Field: Write for LinkedIn

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Don’t get stuck in the Past: 4 tips to Modernize your Website

By Erik Wong, GoDaddy

You’ve climbed mountains to make it this far. Your small business’s doors have opened and business is starting to pick up. There was so much to do, so many details to align, to get to this point. With that many moving parts, things can get lost in the shuffle. In your balancing act, you’ve managed to set aside some time to create a simple, informational website about your business to supplement your brick-and-mortar location. It would never win a Webby award, but that’s OK! It’s done, it’s live, and that makes it one less thing you need to focus on.

Or is it?

Don’t get stuck in the Past: 4 tips to Modernize your WebsiteIn this age of ever-evolving content, your website needs to stay with the curve. Nobody wants to be the person with the website that looks like it was made in 2004. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but you should definitely be aware of newer trends and how they drive more traffic to your site. Remember, the more online traffic to your site, the more foot traffic your brick-and-mortar gets. And if you happen to sell products or services online, well that’s a no-brainer!

First impressions matter.

Your home page will be the first impression many people get of your business. Many reputable companies employ basic home pages with only a little content. Studies show that simple design increases SEO ranking as well as customer traffic, as more people are drawn into a site that is not a cluttered mess. Keep your home page simple yet appealing; don’t try to tell a customer everything at one time. This handily leads into our next tip:

Keep up with the latest design trends.

Web designers love to play with the latest design trends and tips. According to Forbes magazine, big trends for 2014 are simple, yet responsive designs. Flashy HTML sites might have been all the rage in 2001, but the technology for designing sites has since improved tenfold. Take advantage of these new technologies to keep your site dynamic and current. But hey, who has time to peruse the tech magazines for nonsense like this? Well… we do. Check out the GoDaddy Garage to stay in touch with popular design options.

Show some love for mobile viewers.

Did you know that nearly 50 percent of all local business searches take place on mobile devices? A business without a mobile site is therefore potentially missing out on half of its traffic! Don’t believe me? Take a gander at these astonishing statistics and then tell me it’s not important. Due to the sheer popularity of mobile browsing, most web design platforms offer some sort of mobile translation or standalone designer specifically for mobile sites.

Keep up with search engine expectations.

Your business will take a long time to grow by just word of mouth. You need to get your name out there, and fast. Get your billboard up on the search engine highway by adhering to the visibility expectations of the major search engines. Recently, search engine juggernaut Google announced that they will be incorporating both social media presence AND HTTPS security in their algorithm. That means getting social and secure can help you rank higher in search engine results. And that’s good for business.

About the Author

Eirk WongErik Wong is a small business/tech consultant for GoDaddy and a freelance pop-culture writer. He has written a regular column for a current events blog, and his commentary has been featured on realclearpolitics.com. Connect with Erik on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

 

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Realistic Goals in Social Media

By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

I’ve been reading one of the latest books on social media, “A World Gone Social” by Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt. I highly recommend it for those of you who are still trying to figure out this newfangled marketing and those of you who are used to the old-fashioned or as the authors put it, “Industrial-Age” marketing.

One big discussion question is What is the return on investment (ROI) in social media?

Answer: There is no set way to determine that. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. What are your goals and objectives?

Another questions is How do you sell on social media?

Realistic Social Media Goals for businessesAnswer: You really don’t. The big brands can do it, but they’ve built up their following and they’re working hand-in-hand with the networks in advertising and ways to get those impulse buyers to “buy now” and get them before they change their minds. It takes a solid plan, a hefty advertising budget and a staff.

Social media is a tool to accomplish several goals:

  1. Drive traffic to your website
  2. Become known as an expert in your field
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO) / getting on the first page of Google search
  4. Social amplification – getting folks to share your content with their friends
  5. Increase awareness and exposure
  6. Lead generation – it’s up to your site to capture the leads and then up to you to nurture them into sales.
  7. Reduced marketing costs – these are all free billboards – but if you don’t know how to use them properly, you need to invest in training. You may also need to invest in graphic designer to create quality graphics or a videographer to create quality videos.

A solid marketing plan is also key. Defining goals, your target market and the strategy you’re going to use to reach your goals.

So what are realistic goals in social media?

Again, it depends. The answer will vary depending on if you’re business to business or business (B2B) to consumer (B2C), your industry, your current customer base. If you’re starting from scratch, your goals may look something like this:

Following:

  • Facebook: 30 “Likes” – after 30 likes you get insights from your Facebook fans on your business page – you get demographics: age, gender and location; you can also see what posts got the most engagement.
  • LinkedIn: 50 connections on your personal/professional profiles along with a complete profile makes you an “All-Star” and you’ll come up higher in searches
  • Twitter: 100 followers – after 100 followers you can analyze them with SocialBro and get demographics like what time zones your followers are in and when’s the best time to tweet? You can also use SocialBro in combination with HootSuite to schedule out posts and tweets. Here’s a video to show you how that works.
  • Google+: 100+ active followers — you are engaging with each other — liking, sharing, commenting — you will be rewarded by Google by improving your search results ranking by 14 spaces! The more active you are on Google+, the faster Google will index links posted as “Public” in the Google search engine! You cannot ignore Google+!

It takes a lot of time and effort to build a following.

If you put in 90 minutes a day for 1 month, you should reach those goals. Once you’re following is built, it builds momentum and each “milestone” should become your next set of goals. As long as you keep feeding them content that they like, your following will grow and that social amplification will kick in.

Sites statics and analytics can provide another set of goals.

  • Page views – the more often you blog and share it on social media, the more traffic you will drive to your site. This should increase if you consistently put out good content.
  • Referral sources – knowing which networks are driving more traffic to your site is crucial in setting your strategy and tactics for the next months. Increasing the number of referrers from either of the networks is your next goal.
  • Most popular posts – tell you what type of content is most popular with visitors to your site. Keep feeding them and they will keep coming!

Register for the social media seminarIf all this seems overwhelming and totally foreign to you, then you need to attend my social media seminar that I’m giving on 10/28 for Greater Phoenix SCORE at the North Mountain Business Alliance in North Phoenix. Only $25 and I’ll be covering branding along with an overview of the major social networks: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Pinterest as well as blogging, hashtags and trends!

If you can’t make that one, I’ll be holding a seminar with SCORE each month. Coming up:

Content Marketing, WordPress & Blogging: How To Get On The First Page of Google

Friday November 14, 2014 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM MST
The Google search engine is looking for fresh, relevant content written for the human reader. That is content marketing, aka blogging. We will cover blogging platforms, designing your blog, how to blog, what to blog about, how often to blog, video blogs, promoting your blog, capturing leads, and statistics/analytics.

The Right Way to Use LinkedIn to Promote Your Business

Tuesday December 9, 2014 from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM MST
LinkedIn is the “Facebook for Professionals” and it’s not just an online resume! It’s your virtual Rolodex! Are you using it properly?
You need a solid marketing plan before you jump in and part of that is defining your target market – a SCORE mentor can help you with that for free! Click here to schedule a mentoring session.

About the Author:

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping small to mid-sized business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. As with anything in business, using the right tools in the right way and at the right time are critical parts to your success. Learn from someone who’s known the Internet since it’s infancy. Official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix College. Social media training – 1-on-1 or for groups. WordPress sites and blogs. http://azsocialmediawiz.com 602-738-1700. You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

 

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SCORE Success Story: Prime Realty Group LLC

SCORE Business Success StoryCompany: Prime Realty Group LLC

Owner: Elise Sarmiento

Type of Business: Real Estate Investments

SCORE Mentor: Tom Loegering

SCORE Services:

  • Business Plan Development
  • Business Plan Review
  • Business Start-up
  • Home-based Business
  • Management
  • Real Estate
  • Office Admin/Mgmt
  • Real Estate Investment

SCORE’s Role:

I was very lucky to meet Tom Loegering in April, 2012. Although I was trained as a professional (veterinarian), Tom provided me with much-needed guidance in focusing on key parameters that are critical to balancing one’s life:

  • Personal
  • Financial
  • Family
  • Physical
  • Community
  • Spiritual

His message was simple —

Learn to control yourself in these key aspects of life and you can accomplish almost anything to which you set your mind.

Focus on Your Target MarketBy applying these principles, I found that much of the clutter and distraction that challenged me nearly every day, gradually became mitigated. I found that I was increasingly able to direct my energy and focus toward greater creativity and development of novel ideas.

The path, although simple, was not easy at first. I discovered very quickly that I needed to approach each of these life aspects in steps much like a business plan. Tom taught me to write down a plan for achieving each goal including the small and very personal ones. By putting each plan on a timeline, I gradually began to get my life under control. Then an interesting thing happened — I began to notice that a strong sense of peace began to enter my life as I achieved more and more of my goals. The peace and sense of personal control that came into my life began to clear my mind and I found that I had increasingly more energy and drive to be creative and to accomplish new goals.

Since meeting Tom, I have become licensed in real estate and am pursuing a career in locating multifamily properties that yield high cash-on-cash returns for investors. I also am a Realtor in single family residential properties with Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living in Scottsdale, AZ. Of course, I still work as a veterinarian, but now I find that I can provide a much higher level of care for my patients because I think more clearly and am much more efficient!

I feel that the sky is the limit, and I can’t wait to achieve sufficient financial wealth to allow me to establish a scholarship fund that will help others achieve peace and balance in life through education, self-discipline, and perseverance.


Many would-be entrepreneurs are wondering how to balance a day-job, family and a start-up company. A SCORE mentor can provide the guidance needed to manage everything and help you be successful – and it’s free! Click here to schedule a free meeting. We are located at several locations around the Phoenix Valley.

Is your business a SCORE story? Contact your mentor to get the success form and we’ll feature your story!

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Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners: Can you Think like a CEO?

Leadership: Think like a CEOTechnically, if you own your own business, you are a CEO – Chief Executive Officer. You don’t need full corporation status to think like a CEO – it’s all about leadership.

What essential skill separates the small business owner from the Fortune 500 CEO?  It is the ability to make big plans with confidence.

When making big plans such as: acquiring a distressed competitor, hiring managers, or buying an expensive piece of equipment, knowing the answer to the following three questions will separate you from the rest of the field.

  • How much more business do I need to break-even on the new expense?
  • How fast can I grow my sales to exceed my new break-even point?
  • How can I know I won’t run out of cash?

When you have the ability to quickly answer these three questions when making your plans, fear evaporates and you enter a whole new era that will shape the future of your company.

If you are you constantly thinking of new ideas to grow your business, but struggle with how to know which ideas you should pursue, and which ideas you can afford to pursue, the upcoming, hands-on workshop “Think and Act Like a Fortune 500 CEO When Growing Your Small Business Into A Successful Company” presented by Steve Meisenheimer of The Effective Leader, is for you. (Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, 3-5 pm in Ahwatukee.)

This is not a financial workshop.  Your skills in all four areas (sales, marketing, operations and finance) are equally tested when answering these three challenging questions.

Core Concepts

Audience members learn exactly what it takes to make big the decisions that will grow their companies in the most efficient and profitable way possible.  They experience, hands on, the actual process of thinking through the plans identified in #1 above.  They will then learn to quickly produce the answer to question #2 while monitoring the critical nature of question #3.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone who leads an organization, or wishes to be in a leadership role, will benefit and enjoy this workshop.  It is well suited for all levels of leadership skill. Aspiring leaders will get an expanded view of what leaders must do, and how to do it, to be successful.  Experienced leaders will learn new techniques and activities to further improve their skills, their effectiveness, and their influence.

Requirements

The workshop includes extensive audience interaction with our planning tool.  Attendees will need to come with a laptop that can read a Microsoft Excel file, or be willing to look on with another.  iPads will not work with the tool.

About Steve Meisenheimer

Steve MeisenheimerMeisenheimer has owned nine companies in his career. Like most business owners, he spent much of it learning about leadership through trial and error. This was a risky way to learn when the futures and fortunes of his employees, investors, and many other stakeholders counted on his leadership.  Business audiences who want to learn the practices, and achieve the results, of the most effective leaders appreciate his content and motivational style.  After being at the helm of his own companies for 28 years, Meisenheimer now owns a company called The Effective Leader, which trains  business  owners  to  become business leaders.  He also speaks   professionally,  has  written  three  books  and  enjoys teaching others to succeed in the great game of business.

 

 

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7 Essential Skill Sets for Business Success

by George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

7 Essential Skill Sets for Business Success Everything is changing at such a dizzying pace that it is hard to keep up.  Whether you are an entrepreneur running an existing business or starting a business,  know that the pace of change has accelerated.  Although we have always had to deal with change, its magnitude, speed and depth is unlike anything we have had to fact heretofore.  All indications are this change proposition will continue to accelerate in the years ahead.  Anticipating and adapting to these changes faster than your competitors will help ensure your success.

Are you in a rut?  Are you thinking and operating the way you always have, or are you facing the future with a new vitality and resolve.  As the external environment changes, your thinking and strategies need to change as well.  For many of us that means acquiring new skills.  You need to engage change proactively, making the necessary business changes to maintain competitive advantage.  If you are in the process of developing your start-up business plan, you will need to be aware of the changes taking place within your business specialty.  You will need to anticipate how your customer expectations are changing so you are not caught “flat footed”.

Ram Charan, a noted management consultant and author, has identified seven interrelated learnable skills that separate the performers from non-performers:

  1. Pinpoint external changes and trends quickly and accurately.
  2. Use this information to position your business and to re-position your thinking.  This process has to happen quickly enough to be effective because of the pace of change.  This means aligning your actions with today’s realities.
  3. Quickly and accurately identify the changing needs of your customers and meet these needs better than your competitors.  You need to be quicker and more nimble in recognizing changing customer requirements.
  4. Set goals and laser sharp priorities.  Select the right set of goals, make them achievable, and get everyone involved.  Goals need to be stated clearly, be measureable and communicated effectively and often.
  5. Evaluate your key staff and determine whether they are high achievers, flexible, willing to adapt to new realities, have a positive can-do attitude and are team players.
  6. Develop in yourself and team leaders the ability to be “coaches” rather than “bosses”.  Bosses tell people what to do.  Coaches ask questions and together with their people work on goals, priorities and solutions to problems.
  7. As an entrepreneur you need to possess the following attributes:  integrity, character, ambition, drive, tenacity, “people skills”, communication skills, psychological openness, realism and an insatiable appetite for learning.

Success on a sustained basis in this world of change depends on your cultivating and practicing these seven skills sets.

About the Author:

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.

 

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