A Few Key Maxims

Marie Gleason CarmichaelMarie G. Carmichael was a pretty wise lady. She lived to see 100 Christmases and 17 Presidents. She loved politics too. I wonder what she would say if she heard the news today?

It’s hard to find a space in the media today that is not filled with incumbents, candidates and presumptive candidates sharing their message with “the people.”

Perhaps, like many of us, you are tired of it all; the repetition, the name calling, the bickering and worse. I know I am.

There are a couple of things you can do.

Option #1 – Turn it off.

Turn off the TV and the radio, advise the newspaper you are on vacation so please suspend delivery until election day, and avoid opening email, accessing Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any other form of social media.

Option #2 – If you think Option #1 is a bit too extreme.

Each time you hear a politician, newscaster, or other pundit continue to behave in a way that creates dissension instead of creating solutions, send them the gift of these words that my Grandma shared with me:

“Have your facts in your head before opening your mouth. ”

“Don’t complain about a problem, without offering its solution.”

“Pointing fingers does not solve anything, you have a brain and two good hands, use them to fix it.”

“Always remember, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Perhaps if our current and hopeful politicians hear this a few million times, they will get the message.

We can only hope.

Otherwise we may just have to go back to seriously considering Option #1.

Help! I’m chained to my desk!

We’ve all been there. Those times when we have so much to do that we’re just not sure how it will all get done.  Emails are pouring in.  Reports are due.  The phone won’t stop ringing.  New social media communication tools are pinging you from all sides.  A new crisis has just popped up and you have not finished dealing with the old one! Each forms a link in a chain that has you attached to your desk.   Continue reading

Success Tip: Taking the First Step

If you are like most entrepreneurs, you have BIG plans.  The success journey can be a long one and you are eager to take that first step.  The question is…which one should it be?  Like a toddler who is taking those first tentative steps, some will be met with words of encouragement and applause and others many have you landing on your backside with a thud.  Either way, if you don’t pull yourself up and step forward, you will never get anywhere.Continue reading

Look Back as you Move Forward

Microsoft Clip Art: automobiles,autos,cars,dashboards,driving,landscapes,mirrors,motor vehicles,photographs,rearview mirror,rearview mirrors,roads,steering wheels,transportation,travels,vehicles

As we come to the end of the year, now is a great time to look back in your rear view mirror as you prepare to accelerate into 2011. 

Whether you are planning your own career or planning for your business, a 360 degree view of where you have been and where you are going ensures a safer and more productive journey. 

Get ready and DRIVE.

D = Deliberate Direction

Being deliberate about what your desired destination is and the path you plan to take to get there is the first step in the process.  Map out your plan, set milestone markers along the way, and set aside time to insure that all the tools and resources you will need are in place. 

R = Review

Review the road you have traveled so far.  Were there times when you hit a pot hole or got stuck in a long detour?  Did others on the road you were traveling zoom by you? Without getting mired down in frustration, take an objective look at why and how these things happened.  What could you or your team have done differently to avoid these challenges.  Were there warning signs along the way that you might have missed or key turning points that could have been anticipated sooner?  By looking back at these experiences, we learn can learn from them.

I = Innovate

Innovation is the art of doing something in a new way to make it better.  When you looked back on your 2010 experiences, what were the things you wished you had done differently?  These are your innovation opportunities.  They may be new processes, new tools to take advantage of or changes to your business vehicle. Think like a master mechanic.  What can you tweak to get your business or your career firing on all cylinders?  Is there a supercharger that’s perfect for your goals?

V = Velocity

Merriam Webster defines velocity as:

1  a : quickness of motion : speed <the velocity of sound>

 b : rapidity of movement <[my horse’s] strong suit is grace & personal comeliness, rather than velocityMark Twain>

c : speed imparted to something <the power pitcher relies on velocity — Tony Scherman>

2 : the rate of change of position along a straight line with respect to time : the derivative of position with respect to time

3 a : rate of occurrence or action : rapidity <the velocity of historical change — R. J. Lifton>

 b : rate of turnover <the velocity of money>

Understanding how quickly you will or wish to move forward is key.  Did you have what you needed to propel yourself or your company forward this year?  Where can you find it? Are you or your business ready to support the growth you have planned for 2011?  By measuring our past velocity and the resources that it took to active that rate of change, we can estimate what we will need going forward and plan accordingly.

E = Engage

OK, here we go.  You are ready to engage and get your business or your career in gear.  You know where you have been, where you are going, and what you need to get there on time.  So strap on your seatbelt, rev your engines and start your journey into 2011.  The road gets easier once you master the art of the DRIVE.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned….

  I’ll be sharing more tips to help you get ready for 2011 throughout the month of December.

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Author:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits, as well as into community leadership and through the halls of Washington D.C.   To learn more about the art of the DRIVE,  you can contact her  by clicking here.

 

 

Can we have it all?

Circle-of-Life_Woodall_Walk

Whether I am speaking to a packed ballroom or just exchanging ideas over a Diet Coke with a friend, the question “Can you have it all? A great career, a family, a sense of purpose?” is one that comes up a lot.  I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have MOST of them.  But, the the family, friends and mentors I have met along the way are helping me to figure it out.

Whether we are looking to get the best in our business or the best in our lives, we all have a series of choices that we have to make and a series of priorities we have to set.

Our values as people  and as organizations are the points on the compass that help us navigate the journey.  Luckily, there are people that we meet along the way that help us determine the points on our personal compass.  It may be just for an instant or it may be a partner that comes along on the journey – but either way – they share something with us that helps us set our direction.

This video shares to story of one of the people I met along my journey over 25 years ago.  What she said stayed with me.  It has helped in my business and my life, and her work graces the walls of my home to this very day. 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSArDJ3E28o]

 

So to answer the question – can you have it all?  I think the answer is YES, you can have it all in your business and your life IF you understand WHAT “having it all” means to you – AND you are willing to embrace the people, the ideas, and the value choices that are the markers along the path.  So pull out your compass, plot your path, and enjoy the journey.

Thanks for Stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

The Best Fertilizer of ALL…MONEY!

Growth Solution image c. CorePurpose All rights reserved

Whether you are talking about a plant, an animal or a business…if you starve it, you stunt its growth.  This is not a new concept. Any farmer can tell you that if any organism does not have the food and nutrients it needs, it can not grow.

It’s been said by many, from philosophers papers and economic treatise to Broadway Musicals and through the magic of Hollywood.  No matter how it is delivered the message is always the same.

“Money is like manure, of very little use except it be spread.”

Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

As an entrepreneur, an investor, and an executive throughout my career, I have seen it time and time again.  Great ideas, inventions, and opportunities are lost because we cash starve them to the point where we stunt their growth.  This results in the business, the opportunity, or the benefit of the potential innovation being lost.

This hit home to me Monday of last week when I was speaking with a group of entrepreneurs at Stealthmode Partners FastTrac® TechVenture™ class in Tempe, Arizona.  A young entrepreneur shared a great idea.  He was explaining what he needed money for and the first words out of his mouth were “to pay myself”.  I held up my hand – “Don’t say that,” I injected. “you won’t get funded.”

Mid week, I was at a board meeting.  Afterwards we were talking about yet another biotech company that was in danger of closing its doors.  It was not a new  story.  I had been hearing them all year.  And each time I did, I wondered if this was the company that would have brought out the drug, the new treatment, or the new solution to a problem that would someday directly affect the way we live.  But now, it wouldn’t.

Other conversations throughout the week were with friends in the investment community.  Over and over I heard the same thing.  “I’m parked.”  That’s investor shorthand for “I have money, but I’m not moving it.” 

The bloggers and the ‘experts’ keep writing posts and articles about bartering, collaborating, and bootstrapping.  Heck, I even wrote one myself.  But the harsh reality is that you can not launch or grow a business without cold, hard cash.  Look at it like this…

  • To Grow, you need talented people and they expect and deserve to be paid.  If you do not pay them, you do not keep them.
  • To sell a product you need inventory. And vendors eventually need to be paid.  As a matter of fact, try getting a credit line of any material value with a vendor if you don’t have money first.
  • Then there is research, product development, marketing, legal services, and sound financial advice.  These professionals devoted years of their lives to gain the knowledge and experience that allows them to do what they do.  And if you want to move quickly you need the most knowledgeable and the most talented.  And they rarely work for free.

As I sit here reading the job reports and articles about our new Knowledge Based Economy and the coming Jobless Recovery, I can’t help but think that the reason we are not recovering the jobs that are so desperately needed and that more and more entrepreneurs are turning to less capital intensive service based businesses is simple.  All of us in the investment community, myself included, have been unwisely rationing the manure – I mean money.  There are some notable exceptions.  Lynn Tilton puts her money where her mouth is – into product based businesses that create local jobs.  And she is vocal about it.  But of late she is a definite exception to the rule.

In all the hullabaloo about healthcare, we seem to have overlooked that the funds coming out of our government to fund job creating research at places like NIH are slowing to a trickle.  NASA, a long time catalyst for the development of new product technologies, is facing crippling cuts.  Oh, and the  SBIR program, the life line for many start up technology based product companies, is again at risk.

And the banks will not be coming to the rescue where small and medium business is concerned based on the latest report from the Department of the Treasury as quoted here in an article by the NSBA.

If we want to get our economy on track, the answer always comes back to money.  We (not just Uncle Sam but you and me too)  need to take the ‘manure’ out of the bag and start spreading it around.  Not as handouts but as investments in companies that make and sell real products to real people.  That creates jobs.  People with jobs buy stuff and pay taxes.  Taxes fund education and other programs that allow us to maintain a viable work force and a strong economy.  Investing in things that were not real got us all into this mess.  Investing in things that ARE REAL will get us out of it.  I guess it’s time to pull out of the parking lot.  What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

FTC compliance information:  Joan Koerber-Walker serves or has served in a leadership capacity for the ASBA, NSBA, biotech companies that have benefited from SBIR and NIH programs, product based companies, and in entrepreneurial ventures in the for-profit and not-for-profit arena.  For more information view her LinkedIn Profile.

Got a Problem? Get Creative!

As entrepreneurs, business owners, employees, or just as people, we all face challenges.  And often those challenges involve the BIG M – money.  When it comes to growth, you need resources.  Money for marketing, for inventories, for systems, and oh yeah, groceries.

When I started my business in 2002, I went from the world of leveraging the corporate pocketbook to dipping into my own pocket – and let me tell you – it was NOT anywhere as deep.  It was a problem.  So I had to get creative.

  Here’s an example I shared with the Society of Women Engineers last month.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOgVdFqN53I]

There are lots of things we can do to find or develop the resources we need to help our businesses grow – even when times are tight. 

Here are a few ideas…

  • Talented Friends and Family may be just the thing you need to help you through a rough spot.  Don’t hit them up for cash.  Ask for a little help with something they are good at. (I’m not sure I would have survived in those early days without access to a talented IT Guy.  Lucky for me I was MARRIED to him.  🙂  Just remember – exchanging favors means that there is an equal balance in the relationship.  If you are all take and no give…you might end up with no friends to call on.
  • Barter –  True bartering is a much more formal exchange of products or services.  Sometime they are arranged one-on-one or they my occur through a more formal process using a Barter Exchange.  But just so you know, formal barter exchanges do get reported to the IRS via for 1099’s – so it is important to keep track.  You can learn more here.
  • Leverage existing resources in a creative way.  Think of a skill, some excess space,  or a  resource you might have that is more than what you need.  Instead of letting it sit unused, leverage it into something someone else can use in exchange for something that you might need.
  • Take your show on the road.  Get out there and talk to people.  It might be in free presentations to local groups and organizations or like I did on the speakers circuit.  Not comfortable speaking in front of a crowd?  Join your local Toastmasters group and tune up your skills.  Get to be good at delivering your message – you never know who might be in that audience.
  • Utilize Social MediaTwitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and many other tools can help you get your message out to potential  customers.  Compared to traditional advertising this is a much less expensive way to get the word out and the business in.  Most of the tools are free or close to it – but remember it is NOT free – you are simply choosing to invest your time instead of your dollars.  Watch for the return on investment or ROI just as you would if you were investing cash,

The Time Money Continuum

To be very clear, there is great value in being able to go to the experts to get the products and services that you need and PAY for them.  Very often this will move you faster.  They do what they do best while you are out doing what YOU do best.  There is a time/money continuum.  You can invest your dollars to get things done and often get it done FASTER than if you go the Do it Yourself or DIY route.  But, if you do not have the money, some creativity, a bit of elbow grease, and a network of talented friends can make a BIG difference. 

So if you’ve got a problem, get creative.  You just may find you have “created” your solution.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Get Your Business on the Fast Track to Success

As I make my way around the business and investment communities, too often I see and hear examples  of businesses that have terrific potential but just need a boost to turn potential into reality.  More often than not, what they need MOST is a plan to move from concept to commercial success.

Getting Your Business on the Fast Track to Success Takes…

Capital

I can’t recall a conversation with an entrepreneur where the subject of money or Capital has not come up.  It usually goes something like this…

“If we had the money we could…”

“If you invest in our company we will…”

“We would have hit our goals if we had the capital for …”

Yet when I ask to see the business plan and the other information that is REQUIRED for access to capital by almost any bank or investor, the conversation suddenly goes a different direction. 

So hint #1 – If you need CAPITAL to Fast Track your business, you need a SOLID plan to demonstrate that you know how to not just grow your business, but also how to PAY BACK the investor or bank.

You need that thought process in place and you need it written down so others can see it.

Cognition

The next step in the process is the cognitive step.  Cognition is the process of perceiving, thinking, reasoning and analyzing.  This forms the foundation of ANY plan.

As my friend Francine Hardaway says:

“It’s not enough to know just  technology or science. To be successful, you need to understand the business behind it. “

Here in Arizona, a great example of a tool to move your business forward is a program for business plan training that  includes the FastTrac® programs of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation of Kansas City, cosponsored locally by Stealthmode Partners.

Ed  Nusbaum of Stealthmode Partners

Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Partners

Phillip Blackerby, M.P.Aff. 

 

 

 

FastTrac

You can find the

 Arizona Winter 2010 Schedule here!

 

Some of the areas this program covers include: How do you generate interest? How much is it worth? How do you profit from it? How do you sustain ongoing growth? How do you get the needed financing?   That’s where FastTrac® TechVenture™ makes a difference.   Here’s what Francine had to share…

“Just as you thrive on the frontier of technology and life sciences, we operate on the cutting edge of business and entrepreneurship. During FastTrac TechVenture, this knowledge is shared with you. Learn how to determine the best way to apply it to your situation to produce a product, build your company, and fulfill your vision.

This program will be offered by Stealthmode Partners under the auspices of the City of Tempe, and best of all, thanks to the City of Tempe, Arizona, the course is free to Tempe based companies or other local companies who commit to create jobs fro Tempe residents(except for the cost of materials $150) . Begins March 8 at 5:30 PM. Register at http://www.tempeft.com

Collaboration

Last but not least – you need to get others on board.  Collaboration is key to fast tracking ANY business.  Whether it it effectively building high performance teams inside your business, or finding other businesses or community resources to partner with, NO ONE succeeds alone.    When it comes to moving a business along the growth path you have to collaborate to get things done.  Don’t just take my word for it … ask ANY successful entrepreneur.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Resource Links:

http://www.fasttrac.org/

http://arizonaft.com

 

Free – Isn’t

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to Lon Safko, co-author of the Social Media Bible speak to a group of counselors from SCORE and the SBDC as a prelude to Greater Phoenix SCORE’s Social Media Event this January 14th and 15th.

During his presentation, Lon kept emphasizing the reasons, excellent ones BTW, that businesses need to pay attention to and utilize social media.  And repeatedly he punctuated his message with a continuing theme…Oh Yes!  It’s FREE!

But is it?Continue reading