Just call me a ‘Preneur

I feel a rant coming on – bear with me please.  I don’t do it often.  Indulge me and perhaps by then end I can even find something positive to add. 

To start off – I really, really, really dislike the word ‘entrepreneur’.

entrepreneur“Why?” you might ask.  “Aren’t you one? “

The answer is probably yes by some peoples’ definition and then by others’ it would be no. 

There are few words in our business lexicon that are more misused, argued over, or modified than the word entrepreneur.

With all the talk about entrepreneurship these days, you would think our generation invented it.  We did not.

The word entrepreneur was first coined in the eighteenth century by Richard Cantillon and later expanded upon by Joseph Schumpeter in his writing the Theory of Economic Development  in 1911 .  It first appeared in Webster’s dictionary in 1852 and it’s definition is actually very simple according to today’s Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary –

en·tre·pre·neur  (noun)

Date: 1852  Etymology: French, from Old French, from entreprendre to undertake

: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise

In today’s business literature, we now find a plethora of _____preneurs.

    • Intrapreneurs – entrepreneurial people inside an  enterprise
    • Co-preneurs – husband and wife entrepreneurial teams
    • Solo-preneurs – the me- myself- and I crowd
    • Mommy-preneurs – does being a Mommy make your business different?
    • Home-based-preneurs – does it matter where your office is?
    • Serial-preneurs – these folks just can’t seem to get enough…
    • Green-preneurs – these are the save the planet, eco-friendly folks
    • Social Venture-prenuers – the make a difference folks
    • Micro-prenuers – smaller scale ventures
    • Macro-preneurs – get out of my way I’m gonna be big!

et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

And then we have my personal favorite – the snob-preneur – those entrepreneurs who look at other classes of -preneurs and confidently state that the other group really is not an entrepreneur at all.  They do not count.  They are just a life-style business, or a non-profit, or a franchise, or a …..

You can find snob-preneurs everywhere.  I’ve had this debate with some of the top authors of best selling books on entrepreneurship (and no, I am not naming names) as well as with entrepreneurial advocates across every level of the continuum.  It is like entrepreneurship is some exclusive club and only certain people have the right to belong.

But going back to our simple definition, an entrepreneur is a person: one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.

It should not matter whether…

you own the company or work in it. 

you go it alone, partner with family, or grow your team to be a cast of thousands.

your office is in a corporate complex, your garage, your basement or your car.

your enterprise is structured to create wealth for shareholders, for yourself, to create greater value to society as a whole,  or any combination thereof.

Instead, let’s celebrate the “one” in the definition.  The person who see an opportunity, has the courage to pursue it despite the risks, and who through their passion and persistence creates something great – by their definition – not ours.

Perhaps, it’s time for a new word to encompass that.  Preferably one that is easier to spell. 

Got any ideas?

  Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Want More Opportunity? Be Strategic.

Who doesn’t want more opportunity? Here’s a simple idea for more and better opportunities – create a personal strategic plan for your business, career or job search and start with a Personal SWOT analysis. 

Image converted using ifftoanyWhat’s SWOT? The letters stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Businesses have used this tool for years.  Why not put it to work for you at a personal level to manage YOUR own growth?

Take out a piece of paper and draw lines so you have 4 equal quadrants. Label the top two: Strengths and Opportunities. Then mark the bottom two Weaknesses and Threats.

Start with your strengths – list as many as you can think of. Then move down the page and list all the things you wish you were better at.

Now look at what you have written as Strengths and in the Opportunity column list one potential opportunity that can come to you from each strength.

Now look at your Weaknesses. What could keep you from realizing these opportunities. Write it down and think about what you might do to keep your weaknesses from becoming threats to the opportunities you have listed. Write them down and take action.

Whether you are running a business, managing your career, or looking for a job, this simple strategy works.  Just give it a try. (Oh and don’t forget to look at your resume and make sure that all of your strengths show up in what your resume says about you!)

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Partnering – You Can’t Succeed Alone

“If the company with the best partners wins, how do you create great partnerships that last?”

Having a great product or service is not enough. In today’s world of competing technologies and services – the company with the best partners wins. But how do you create great partnerships that last? Partnerships that take your product or service and build it into solutions that make customers want to buy and investors want to invest?

Our partners are all around us.

They are the people and organizations that help us get from where we are – to where we want to be. Partners include our employees, our customers, our investors and the outside suppliers of goods and services we work with to make things happen.  Having spent two decades in the electronic distribution industry, I saw a lot of great products come and go. Some were wildly successful while others faded away. The companies that succeeded long-term understood that making their product accessible took partnerships with a broader network like distribution. At the same time, distributors with staying power understood that to build a lasting partnership, they had to add value to what the manufacturer had to offer. Pure transactional relationships don’t work in this world. The levels of investment and time horizons for payback are too long. For both parties to receive the maximum benefit – they have to commit for the long haul.

Are our perceptions of partnerships changing?

As I look around, I am amazed at how transactional we have become in our partnering relationships. A great example is the change in how we look at our employees. In my father’s generation – the partnership between employer and employee was often a lifetime commitment. Through good times and bad, you worked towards a common goal. You grew together. You helped each other. You were partners. You did not talk about it. You just did it. That’s the way it was. Today, we talk about employee satisfaction. We talk about growth and empowerment. We talk about strategy, teams, and commitment to a common goal. But when things get tough, do we stick together or part company. I don’t need to answer the question. The answer is all around us.

And the scariest part of this partnering shift is what it is teaching our next generation.

“There is no partnership. There is no commitment. Look out for yourself.”

If this is what we are teaching our future workforce through our example – we’ d all better watch out!

Successful partnerships are a lot like successful marriages.

My father worked for General Motors for over 40 years. He and my Mom will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on August 1st. It started me thinking. There is a connection here. 

Whether we’ re looking for a date or scanning the field for a business partner, we look around for the most attractive person we can find. The one that sparks our interest – answers a need – has what we want. In the beginning, it’s not hearts and flowers – just the basic laws of attraction. There is no commitment at this phase, just a lot of checking each other out. It’s superficial like an advertisement, a website, or a resume. We see what they want us to see. And, if we like what we see, we reach out to learn more.

The next step is the courting phase. Here we check each other out to determine the right fit. Courting is like dating. We’re getting to know each other as individuals. What we really want and what we really do. In the beginning everyone is on their best behavior. But as you start to spend time together away from the day to day
distractions, you start to get more comfortable and relax. That’s when you start to see the real person you are looking to partner with. In business we call this due diligence. We test the water comparing long term goals and how we like to do things. We match our values. We explore how we can help each other. We listen to what the other person says and we pay attention to what they aren’t saying. Just like when you’re dating, each side wants to look their best for the other person. Sometimes you need to look a little deeper to see the real partner underneath. When you like what you see – when your values match – then you are ready to commit.

Next you get engaged. It’s more than just setting a date. You are setting expectations, making promises, setting goals. As you get ready to take the plunge, you are mapping out the future of the partnership. What you will do. How you will do it. You learn to handle details and who does what best. You start to come together as a team. By the time you get to making it legal, the deal is done. The contract – whether a marriage license, a contract or a purchase order is simply confirmation of what you will set out to do together. Over the life of your relationship, you learn to work with each other, to compromise, and to adjust so that each person is getting what they need.

Like a marriage, lasting business partnerships are personal. They take thought, effort and personal attention to make them work. But most of all they require and open mind and a willingness to negotiate.

We negotiate with people, not companies.

Partnerships that last are built through a continuing series of negotiations. The relationships in the partnership are not based on the life of a contract – they last generations. This key is so simple we often miss it. Each new objective starts with a negotiation. As the partnership grows, we learn more about each other. We take that knowledge and use it to set new plans and higher goals based on each other’s strengths. 

Companies don’t negotiate – people do. Traditional styles of win-lose or win-win negotiations focus on the tally sheet between the contracting parties. Keeping score of ‘who got what’ does not make for a lasting marriage and it doesn’t work in lasting business partnerships either. To keep things working, we must develop a new form of relationship based negotiations. Each party looks at a longer horizon, acknowledging that there will always be conflict and compromise but always placing the health of the overall relationship as the highest priority. When we do this, we anticipate our partner’s needs and care enough to help them fill them. Each time we do so, the bond grows stronger, the partnership better, and we benefit. Not just today, but long into the future.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…
Joan Koerber-Walker

Welcome to the Board.

One of the questions I get frequently is “How can I get chosen to serve on a Board of Directors?”  There seems to be a caché attached to these positions, and since I have served, and continue to serve on multiple Boards of Directors and Boards of Advisors, sooner or later the question comes up.

At Parenting AZ BenefitThere are many types of boards.  They range from those in the non-profit world, to community associations, industry associations, government agencies, private companies, and public companies.  And in each case the role is a little different.  But, the one commonality across the continuum is that the role of the board member is about service.

Boards look for individuals who believe in the organization’s mission and can help move it towards it’s goals through a combination of Time, Treasury, and Talent.

So, where do you fit?  It might be helpful to look at each of these different types of organizations and the associated board roles so that you can see what type of service is expected of a quality board member and then you can look at your own skill set and see if board service might be for you.


Advisory Boards exist in both the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds.  In this case, board members are chosen specifically for their expertise.  Here TALENT and experience is the main determining factor.  Advisory Boards come in all shapes and sizes for advisory of government agencies, to start ups, to scientific organizations. 

The major difference between Advisory Board positions and the other board roles discussed here ties to the concept of Fiduciary Responsibility.   In the case of advisors, your role is to observe, council, influence, and to provide knowledge, contacts, or input.  Conversely, in the role of Director or Trustee, you have the additional legal obligations to oversee and hold in trust and support not only the mission of the organization but to also protect it’s real and intangible assets, including oversight with legal compliance.  This is known as fiduciary responsibility.

Directors and Trustees

Non-Profits: Charitable Organizations, Community Organizations and Agencies look for board members that meet the specific needs of the organization in addition to fiduciary responsibilities.  Financial compensation (paying for board service) is fairly uncommon, and often prohibited by the organization’s by-laws.  But don’t be surprised to find that board members are expected to contribute generously of both time and or talent as well as cold, hard cash to support the organization through either sponsorship, donations, or rolling up your sleeves and doing real work to move the mission forward.  In these organizations, the public and the employees are the primary stakeholders board members are expected to safeguard and support.

Membership Based Associations can be either for profit and not for profit.  But in both cases, the board has a new constituency to look out for – the members.  Often board members are elected by the membership and from the membership of the association.  As an association board member, expect to be asked  to be very visible and engaged in the activities within your membership community. 

Start Up Companies, Privately Held Firms, and Public Companies.  As we move onto the for profit arena, all of the fiduciary obligations apply – but you have a new set of stakeholders you must satisfy – the investors.  At this level, board members get paid.  Compensation comes in the form of cash, equity or a combination of the two.  Just remember, people expect more from you when they are paying you.  Be prepared to deliver.  The larger the organization, the more compensation is normally involved, but with that also comes more responsibility, more meetings, more committee work, and more people you ultimately have to keep happy.  Once you get to the highest levels, shareholders look to the board to safeguard their interests AND be responsible for ultimate company performance.  At one time, being on the board of companies like General Motors, Lehman Brothers, or a major bank were envied positions.  Would you want to be one of those directors today?

Still interested? 

As you can see, board service can be a lot or hard work and responsibility.  The key to being invited or elected to a board is to reshape your thinking.  Board service is not just standing up and graciously accepting applause from the crowd at a fundraiser or being seen as a leader at public events or in the media.  It’s about making a contribution of your time, treasury and talent. 

Take a look at the various organizations in your community.  What do you have to contribute?  How can you help them?

Get involved, start volunteering, share ideas, show them what you can do. 

When you make a difference – you won’t have to ask to be involved at a higher leadership level.

They will ask you!

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


Creative Excellence

This weekend, it has been hard to go anywhere without hearing talk about the life and death of Michael Jackson. While driving in the car listening to KTAR yesterday I heard two radio personalities, who had met, him recapping his life.  They told a story that all of us can take heed of – whether you are a Michael Jackson fan or not.

Thriller cover

The story went like this…

During the production of Thriller, Jackson’s sixth album and the best-selling album of all time,  Jackson had just finished recording the ninth and final song.  The record’s producer, Quincy Jones, reportedly asked Michael this question.

Of all the songs, which  are your least favorite three?

Jackson told him three songs and Quincy Jones replied –

“Let’s re-do them. ”

and they did.  That album made recording history.  In today’s age of iTunes and downloads, it is unlikely it will ever lose its place as the top selling album of all time.

What an incredibly valuable lesson.  How often have we embarked on a project and judged it finished without taking one last objective look at what we have created.  Do we make the time to move forward towards creative perfection?

I think, the next time I have an important project finished, I will remember this story and follow Quincy Jones’ advice. 

How about you?

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


Are we there yet… Focus on the Four P’s.

June is a favorite month for happenings like big weddings, local golf tournaments, and vacation car trips. What do all of these things have in common? They’re fun, of course, but equally important, making them the best they can be calls for the four P’s – Planning, Partnering, Patience, and Persistence.

PlanningIt's @Shannon_KB and her husband Sean

Getting ready for a big event takes planning. Who will be there? What will we need? Where will we go? When will we do it? The ubiquitous who, what, where and when are the essence of any plan. It allows us to map out a journey, plan an event, or set a new goal for our business. When we start to plan, we are setting goals for achievement and budgets that establish our limits. Each is important if we are to make the project succeed in the long run. Our goals allow us to stretch, taking a vision or dream and concretely establishing steps that will make it come true.

In planning a big summer wedding, the process begins long before the big day. We set the date, reserve a place for the reception and start to spread the word to family and friends. They’ll want to join you. We decide who will be in the wedding party; choose gowns and tuxes, order flowers and interview photographers. Hundreds of details, large and small have to be considered from what the menu will be to how many guests we will invite. Our budget, as the event boundary, will come into play as we make these decisions. The number of guests and type of reception we have is a function of the costs of the options we choose multiplied by the number of guests. According to the research done by The Wedding Report (www.costofwedding.com), on average, couples getting married in my neighborhood will spend $54,940.00 for their wedding. And, this does not even include cost for a honeymoon, engagement ring! (You can put in your Zip Code to see what people around you are spending.) Add these in, plus the cost of a bridal consultant or wedding planner, if you want professional help, and the cost could reach $72,845.00! When you are looking at this size of an investment, planning within the boundaries of a budget becomes very important.

But it is not just weddings. Even simpler events like a family car trip or a hike through your local state park needs to be planned out. How long will you be gone? What do you need to take along – what resources will you need to make this special time with family or friends most enjoyable and free from problems. Plan it out. Like anyone who’s ever taken a long car trip with a child can attest, sooner or later, the question arises. “Are we there yet?” If you have not planned out where you are going and how you will get there, you will never have the answer.


Ever heard of a BHAG? Pronounced bee-hag, it is shorthand for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Tackling a big goal can seem daunting especially if you are trying to do it all on your own. Partnering is the key to pulling off a really big success. A great example of this is the holiday celebration that has become a hallmark of our community, the Festival of Lights. What started as a promotional device to draw potential customers into the Foothills, has become a holiday tradition that draws people from all over the valley. But when development was ended and the developers were through, there was a big problem. How would it continue? Who put up and take down all the lights? Who would pay for it? This tradition might have been lost if not for a group of community residents and businesses that came together in partnership to keep the Festival of Lights burning bright. Today, the Festival of Lights is a year round community partnership including the Kick-Off Party, the Mile of a Million Lights Display on Chandler Blvd., the Hay Rides on December Saturdays, the Golf Tournament and Wine-Tasting Event in June – are all the efforts of community member volunteers dedicated in keeping the tradition alive. Neighbors and businesses throughout the Ahwatukee Foothills area to come together in the spirit of fun and partnership as they support a common goal. These partnerships continue through the year and create great business and community connections.


Patience is a virtue. But then, I never claimed to virtuous. Yep, that was me, the annoying child in the back seat who was asking “are we there yet” every five miles or so. And, if you asked my family and friends, they would tell you some things never change! When we are working towards a big goal, it is often hard to be patient. We can see the end result in our mind. We are excited about it. We want to get there. NOW! But, the old saying is also true that good things happen to those who wait. When we have a project, event or goal we are working towards, things take time. We need that time to follow through on all the little steps, to pass the mile markers that will get us to where we are ultimately going to be. So reach down and find the patience. Don’t give up or get discouraged about how long it is taking. Before you know it the big day will arrive.


At last we reach the end of our list. Last, but not least, is the power of persistence. My grandmother often told me the dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. (Yes, I have seen this quote attributed to everyone from May Smith to Vince Lombardi – but I’m quoting my Grandma here.) 

Persistence is the quality in us that keeps us going toward our end goal. When we take on that big hairy audacious goal, there are times along the way when things don’t go as we planned. Maybe we get a flat tire on that car trip or the hotel we’ve chosen for that special get away is sold out. If we’re planning a wedding, we might get discouraged when friends and family are not being as cooperative as we would like. As we laid out our plans, there might have been so many things we had to do along the way that it just doesn’t seem worth it. At other times, as we are moving along our path, obstacles get in our way and make it seem too hard to keep going.

One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill. He said “success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” As we plan our big summer activity, we need to keep moving forward, over and around the little failures or bumps in the road.

Flexibility is the key to success. Making small adjustments can help us to reach the end goal if we just stick with it. When things get a bit hairy, keep in mind what about your plan or goal got you excited in the first place. Reach down and find the enthusiasm that got you started on this path in the beginning and use it to fuel your power of persistence to follow it through to the end.

We’re here!

Finally, we’ve arrived. Following our four P’s – planning, partnering, patience and persistence, we reach the end of our journey. Now comes the best part – to enjoy arriving at our destination. When I got married, many years ago, we had a big wedding – lots of guests, lots of details, thousands of last minute things to keep track of. We planned and budgeted. We partnered with great people. It took us over a year to pull it off and we over came little obstacles with persistence and enthusiasm. But, by the end, I was so wrapped up in making sure that everything was perfect that I was making myself crazy.

I almost lost sight of what was really important – the celebration of the new life we were starting together. Lucky for me, my husband Chris is a much smarter person that I am. He didn’t lecture me or tell me what I was missing. Through his actions, he reminded me – pulling me onto the dance floor, visiting with friends, and of course, smearing wedding cake ALL over my face. And, being the calm, collected, rational person I am, I retaliated in spades! It’s hard to take things too seriously when you have just had a food fight in front of hundreds of people! So while you focus on the end goal, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Use the four P’s to help you along the way, enjoy the ride, and CELEBRATE when you have arrived.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

-Joan Koerber-Walker

To quote or not to quote – That is the question.

First and foremost – I am not a social media expert.  Not even close! I’m just a business person trying to learn how to communicate across an evolving medium.   Lucky for me, I am surrounded by people who know a lot more about it than I do.  I won’t call them experts.  They’d shoot me if I did.  You see, social media is changing too fast .  No one is really an expert.  Some just know more than others and have been at it longer.

I got some good pointers from Twitter friends this weekend. 

The first was from Tyler Hurst. 

A Bit of Books from my personal collection


I obviously over did it Saturday night.

The second was from an article posted by Brian Solis about authenticity and authority in social media.  A Soliloquy: The Language of Social Media by Brian Solis (@BrianSolis)

I loved Brian’s article and sent it out as a RT.  The feedback I’ve been getting back all day is that  authenticity should be the goal every time.

Now, I tweet quite a bit, and across multiple profiles as you can see on this page.  My personal profile description is ‘an eclectic mix of ideas’ while the other four are focused on innovation, leadership, growth, and business success.

So perhaps I should take another look  at those quotes I tweeted…

image joankw “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~  Dr. Seuss

Hmmm.  Perhaps I need to think a bit more about what I am doing?


JKWgrowth “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” ~ Dr. Seuss

So taking a page from Dr. Seuss – I looked around my twitterverse to see what I could see.  Since the twitterverse is huge, I took a note from the Beatles and got a little help from my friends… by looking at what they do.


@MarkIsMusing is one of the tweeters I have followed from day one.  Yes, he tweets everyday stuff, but when he starts musing he’ll treat the 26,000+ people who follow him to a string of quotes he is ‘musing’ about.  He also has a great newsletter and a blog I now subscribe to. Plus he splits his time between Calgary and Maui AND remodels his own bathroom.  What’s not to like?


 @StartupPro is a friend and favorite.  No quotes from Marty Zwilling.  An entrepreneur and investor, he’s a blogger who posts every day!  Not only does his blog have a great following but he has almost twice Mark’s Twitter following with nary a quotation in sight.  Great content, predictability (count on a new blog post EVERY morning), and sharing business insights is his secret to success.

image@WBAustin is a running news stream of ideas and articles.  It works for him and his close to 100,000 followers.  Bill’s wife @KatheeSue handles the local beat with @EVLIving while chatting with friends as KatheeSue.

image@Hardaway (Francine Hardaway) Co-founder, Stealthmode Partners, helping entrepreneurs succeed.  I won’t be showing her ‘recycled quotes’ she rarely if ever does that. Her tweets are as authentic as they get as she reports on her life, ideas, and activities throughout the day.  As my friend and mentor, she always tries to keep me out of trouble.  Sometimes I even listen. 

image @Amilya (Amilya Antonetti) an award winning entrepreneur,Green Pioneer Bestselling Author, Media Personality, Advocate and Mom is a conversationalist on Twitter.  She loves to twitter chat with @TomVMorris who is one of the best.  I’ve never had the pleasure of tweeting with Dr. Morris on Twitter, but I love to read his occasional quotes from the great philosophers as well as his own insightful quips.  Who knows, maybe some day.  ;o) 

The funny thing is, Twitter asks “What are YOU doing?”  When I was pulling those quotes – I WAS reading  Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.  It’s the tall skinny volume in my bookshelf between Norton’s Anthology of Poetry and The Holy Bible.    I love books and read a lot more than I tweet.  The picture above is of the bookshelf my playroom that stands next to the pool cues.  My library/office is filled with business books, and in my bedroom closet, hundreds of novels.  (I may have more novels than Amilya has shoes!)

imageJKWleadership My Favorite Leadership Books – Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss~ Read it to your kids… Read it for yourself.

I had pulled that book out after a long day of struggling through business plans, financial models, and other stuff that the Twitterati would probably find a bit boring – not to mention, the stuff is all under NDA and I can’t talk about it anyway.  And why, you might ask, did I make such a switch in reading material just then.  Simple. I saw the quote on Twitter from Robert Baines that read:

imagescreamingeagle1 “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.” ~ Dr. Seuss. 

It reminded me of just what I needed to clear my brain.

image “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!” ~ Dr. Seuss

So, as my friend Amilya says, “it’s time to ‘noodle.” 

Here’s my lesson learned this weekend.  If authenticity is important,  then you just have to be who you are.  I am just what my personal profile says… an eclectic mix.  Not to say that I can’t learn to be better.  I’ll follow Tyler’s advice and perhaps use some more of my own quotes more frequently rather than quoting someone else.  Francine and Marty have encouraged me to write/blog more.  (Francine even told me that my writing has improved.  But that’s for you to decide.)  I’ll keep reading and sharing the articles, news stories, and bits that I think have value because that is what I authentically do.  Share things of value with others is what I do everyday. I’ll chat more, broadcast less,  AND – I’ll try to mix it up a bit more so as not to be annoying.  Oh, and I am suspending my auto link for @joankw from Seesmic to Facebook.  According to my husband, my in-laws have hidden me because I send out too much stuff!

So, is this the right strategy?  Well, we’ll see. There was a great quote this weekend by Victoria Holt – my favorite author during my teen years.  (No laughing – love, adventure, suspense AND a happy ending.  What’s not to like.  I still own every single one of her books in paperback.)

image“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” Victoria Holt (1906-1993) British writer (via @successsecret) AKA: Mike Hanes (@MikeHanes)


Thanks for stopping by – and reading to the end.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Credits:  Photo – Joan Koerber-Walker – If you don’t believe me, you can come check in my play room.  Tweets – as of this writing at 5:48 PM (pacific) on June 14,2009 – everything shown here was visible via the public feeds on Twitter.

Five Strategies to Grow Your Business

We are moving into the the peak days of the Summer.  While there’s lots of talk of ‘green shoots’ appearing on the economic horizon, as business people we know that often things slow down in the Summer heat.   

So what better time to focus in on some tips and tricks to keep your business growing even during the lazy days of Summer. 

Grass Clipart

Growth Strategy #1 – Call a customer today

Call a customer you have not talked to for a while and ask how things are going.  Find out what can you and your company do to support them in achieving their goals. It is a great way to get MORE business.

They already know you and trust you. Having done business with you before, they may need what you have again.  Even if they don’t have a requirement today, they’ll remember that you checked in and offered to help them.

Growth Strategy #2 – Look at your Company from Your Customer’s Perspective.

So often we talk about all the great things our company can do rather that focus on what our customer wants or needs. Empathy is a great tool for building business.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are your challenges?  What would help you achieve your goals? What do you need? Then – put your marketing hat on and communicate with current and potential customers. Demonstrate that you understand what THEY need and show them how your products and services can help THEM satisfy their needs and meet their goals.

Growth Strategy #3 – Share information or opportunity

A great way to exceed your goals is to do something to help your customer exceed theirs.  Send them a great article you have read. Nominate them for an award.  Share a business tip that has worked for you.  Refer a customer to them.  When you do, they just might return the favor and you both win!

Growth Strategy #4 – Get up from your desk. Get out of your office!

To stimulate your business, make time to get up, get out, and move around.  If you are managing a team – go over to where they are working. Join in conversations – ask for their ideas. They are closest to the work and the customers and have information you need.  If you are the person responsible for creating sales – go out to one of the many networking opportunities that abound in your community. Talk to others – ask them what they are doing to stimulate their business – share good ideas that are working for you.

Yes, I know – gas is expensive and time is money – but choosing to stay back closed in at the office can be the decision that makes you miss out on great opportunities.
So get up from your desk – get out of the office – and go find one.

Growth Strategy #5 – Work Smarter

We’ve all heard the saying “Work smarter not harder”.   In tough times as well as good ones, how you do things is as important as what you do.  To give yourself and your company and extra advantage, ask yourself these questions:

Am I making the most of the resources I have already invested in?

Is there a different way to do what I am doing that is more efficient or could get better results?  

Is Ease of Doing Business a mantra in my company.  Do our processes make it easier for our customers to work with us and for our team to get the job done?

Being proactive and focusing on growth can keep your business from falling into the Summer slump.  These are some of the things that I’m doing in our business.  Try them.  You can put these ideas to work in yours too.  So come on, let’s get growing. 

Thanks for stopping by – Stay Tuned…

– Joan Koerber-Walker 

Grass Clipart


Collaboration Drives Growth

I have long believed that working together with others has an amazing effect on growth.  My experiences this week have reaffirmed it. 

j0433027[1]The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “collaborate” like this:

  1. : to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
  2. : to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one’s country and especially an occupying force  (OK this one probably does not apply to our discussion here.)
  3. : to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected

To me the definition is simpler.

Collaboration is people helping people to reach new heights.

Six months ago, I started actively using Twitter, and as my understanding of the power of this collaborative tool grew, I used it more.  Today I have five different profiles in Twitter, each one for a specific collaborative purpose.

Through Twitter I developed online friendships with Marty Zwilling (@StartUpPro) and Zane Safrit (@ZaneSafrit).  This gave me an opportunity to collaborate with them in sharing ideas on entrepreneurship and growth, two of my personal passions.   Each offered the opportunity to work with them in different ways and as it turned out they both wanted to do so on Wednesday June 10th.

Marty offered the opportunity to work with him on his popular imageblog – Startup Professionals Musings as a guest author.  The goal was to add a little of the woman’s perspective on entrepreneurship and to have a little fun.  Together we published “Women Entrepreneurs – Running the Race in High Heels”.  Since all entrepreneurs are different and all women are definitely not the same, I added a little extra collaborative energy and asked two friends (Francine Hardaway (@hardaway) and Amilya Antonetti (@Amilya) if I could use them as as examples in the post.


Zane has a popular show on Blog Talk imageRadio.  As we got to know each other, we thought it would be fun to do a broadcast together.  We put our heads together to see what the audience might enjoy and scheduled the show for Wednesday June 10th.  This link will take you to the 1 hour replay of the show.  We had a blast exploring ideas about entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, and strategies for building solutions.  And we’re planning to do it again in the future.


So does collaboration bring results?    The more I collaborate, the more people I can connect with, converse with, and hopefully engage with so that together we can reach new heights.  It seems to be working all around.  Each of my Twitter profiles has different audiences and different messages – but they are all growing and making their way up the lists.  (At least in my little corner of the world.)

There are so many opportunities to collaborate happening all around us.  I am lucky enough to get to touch a wide variety of them.

Working with an incredible network of talented executives at CorePurpose.

Working with RiboMed Biotechnologies to help Dr. Hanna and the team develop the resources they will you to launch new diagnostic technologies and products for early cancer detection.

Working with inspiring entrepreneurs like Francine Hardaway and the team at OTEF to produce the 4th Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference on November 12, 2009 in Phoenix. (We need sponsors -if your market is entrepreneurs – give me a shout!  All of the proceeds help at risk populations develop their own business ideas.)

Engaging in new discussions every day with companies that are launching innovative new products and services.  (Those are still secrets but they are really cool deals and you will hear more about them soon. )

Watching my friends @LonSafko, @StevenGroves, and @AmandaVega work together as The Social Media Bible is gaining popularity nationwide.

And learning the ins and outs from my friends at Metro Studios on  how to navigate, promote and collaborate in the new online marketing world.  It’s always productive when I collaborate with Clay (@CSMetro), Lisa (@LisaJMetro) and all the @MetroStudios folks.  (They’ve been my partner for years!)

I’m looking for that next great opportunity to help a company grow.  I know it’s out there.  That is why I keep collaboration as a key strategy on the top of my to-do list every day.  Put COLLABORATION on the top of YOUR to-do list and watch the magic happen.

Thanks for stopping by…Stay tuned.

-Joan Koerber-Walker

Twenty-four years ago today

I married Chris Walker on June 8, 1985.  Now for some that may seem like a long time ago, but to me it feels like yesterday.  

weddingThere were some that probably wondered about us.  We’re very different people in some ways. But where it really counts, we’re a lot alike.  We share the same values, the same love for family, and most of all, over the years we’ve learned to work together to build something we both believe in, a great family of our own.

We both came from families of five kids and were blessed with great parents.  If you think 24 years is impressive, both my parent’s and Chris’ will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year in August!

I was talking to some friends over the weekend about marriages. 

No everyone has been as lucky as I have in picking partners.  And that is what it has to be, a partnership.  Just as in in business, picking the right partner makes all the difference.  No partnership or marriage is always neat and easy.  Family GradSometimes things get messy.  But every time changes came, whether it’s packing up at a moment’s notice so that I could take on a challenging new opportunity on the other side of the country far from family and friends, doing it again a few years later for another one, carrying the extra load at home with the kids while I worked and went to grad school, putting up with the ridiculous hours I tend to work when I get caught up in a project, or  supporting my decision to leave the corporate world and take the leap into starting my own business, his answer was always the same.  “If that’s what you want to do – go for it.”

Together, we’ve raised two great kids and built built a life where we can pursue very different interests while celebrating each other’s successes.  Most importantly of all –  at the end of the day, we have someone we love to share it all with.

I’ve heard it said that hindsight is 20/20.  Well looking back, I have to say, for me, picking Chris Walker to be my partner was a great decision.  Wouldn’t you?

Thanks for stopping by… Stay Tuned

– Joan Koerber-Walker