In his recent remarks on the October Jobs Report, President Obama said…
“I am open to any idea, any proposal, any way we can get the economy growing faster…”
In his recent remarks on the October Jobs Report, President Obama said…
“I am open to any idea, any proposal, any way we can get the economy growing faster…”
Each year in January, I try to plan my calendar to meet with friends in the first two weeks. I have a diverse group of friends ranging from entrepreneurs to folks from corporate America, from local community volunteers to national leaders, and from neighbors to old school chums.Continue reading
From time to time, I get involved in answering a tricky question. “What is this company worth?” Sometimes the question comes up when speaking to a business owner or executive who is truly trying to increase the value of their organization. At other times the question is raised from someone looking for investors or buyers. And then most importantly – I ask it myself when the buyer or investor might be me.Continue reading
When you are talking about economic impact, small business is a BIG deal. For two years I had the opportunity to serve as the CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and and on the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association. During that time. I sat and talked with many small business owners, toured their offices and factories, listened to their stories, and then traveled to the Arizona Capitol and to Washington D.C. to share those stories with Senators and Representatives. Continue reading
Often one of the most important lessons we learn as business owners, innovators, and leaders is how and when to ask for help.
In 2001, I was VP of Global Supplier Contracts at Avnet, Inc. a Fortune 500 global distributor of electronic components and computers.
I had an idea for a new kind of business and took the idea to Avnet Chairman and CEO, Roy Vallee. We discussed the potential benefits to the company and what I wanted to do to make it happen. He told me to “…take the idea and run with it. Take it as far as you can and come back to me if you need help.” There are 3 components to this advice:
1) develop new ideas;
2) plan and take action;
3) ask for help.
At the time, for me, #3 was the MOST important. Up to that point, I had done everything for the project on my own. To make it viable, I had to find the people and resources that I lacked and get them to be part of the solution. A year later, Avnet decided that the time was not right to proceed with the project. But I was not ready to give it up.
So, I took Roy’s advice and asked for help.
First I asked Avnet’s permission to take some of the ideas I had developed and create my own business. They said yes.
Then I looked for and found the best people and resources to partner with to build that business. They said yes too.
The result, CorePurpose, Inc. has been supporting other businesses in their journey along the growth path since July of 2002. Our whole business is built around having the right resources and knowing how to get help when you need it.”
For many of us, asking for help is not an easy thing to do. Many still believe that asking for help makes you appear weak or out of control. Contrary to this belief, asking for help at the right time and for the right reasons is NOT a sign of weakness, but rather can be a sign of confidence, strength and savvy resource management.
Few organizations or projects succeed without some form of assistance today – be it leadership, financial, supply chain, staffing, technology resources, or a myriad of other needs. Interestingly, the strategic process we go through in developing our program or project can also be a great process to follow when determining how to go about finding the right help at the right time.
Look at each step of your current strategic plan or program map. Identify the areas where the process or program can be strengthened through outside support or other partnerships. Look at each step of your process not only in light of how a strategic partner can benefit you but also how, by working together, the partner will benefit too.
Evaluate the things that you are doing that might be done as well as you are currently doing them or can be done even better by others.
Start by identifying outside resources for non core activities and then evaluate how you can better utilize your existing resources by redeploying them into core areas of strength or differentiation within your organization. Strategic partnerships like these are a resource investment for you and the partner. Be realistic in calculating the ROI for both parties.
Put together presentations you can make to potential strategic partners with a focus on how each of you will benefit from the partnership. Then build your target partner list and start scheduling the presentations.
Following this process, asking for help moves from sending out an ‘S.O.S.’ or distress call to proactively building relationships where both parties benefit. Now, you are not just asking someone to help you with a business challenge, you are offering to help them overcome one of theirs.
Look at your business on a regular basis to determine how by asking for help, you can make your business stronger, more cost efficient, or more financially sound. You’ll never know, until you ask!
Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…
If you passed me on the street, would you know my name? Would you call me by it? If you needed what I had to offer, would my company name be one that came to mind?
There are few things more powerful than a name. It links to our actions, our reputation and to the history of who we are. In days of old, continuation of the family name was a key goal of lord and serf alike. It was all they had to guarantee they would be remembered after they were gone. Today, both individuals and companies focus on a name as a brand, hoping to link what they stand for and what they do to the name they carry.
Many companies have recognized the power of the sharing of names between employees and customers. Last week I had lunch at the Macaroni Grill. Our server came over to the table and introduced himself, saying “Hello, my name is David” as he pulled out a crayon and scrawled his name right on the table. He went on to welcome us, ask what we would like and assure us that he wanted us to have a good time today and to call for him by NAME if we needed anything at all. Other businesses, including Sam’s Club and Safeway have taken the practice one step further. Each employee has a name tag which allows us to call them by name. They use technology and our name on membership cards to thank us by name for coming to their store. The Safeway at Chandler and 40th Street has been where I do my weekly shopping since we moved to the Valley of the Sun in 1992. Through familiarity and the regular exchange of names, we have come to know each other.
Al is always available with a smile to help me find a special ingredient or item. Linda has been ringing up my orders for years. If I see her behind one of the registers, that is the direction my cart veers – even if the line is shorter on row over. Steven is often there to help me take my overloaded basked to the car and fills me in on the things he has been doing or how his family is getting along.
Within a short drive from my home, there are six supermarkets within a very small radius, including another Safeway. They all have coupons, bargains and specials. But I always go back to the same one. Not because it is closest or cheapest, but because we are on a first name basis and I know that I can get what I need there. It is not just store policy, or a marketing gimmick. It’s a connection.
When I launched my own business in 2002, I had to answer a lot of questions. The most important being…what was our reason for being in business? This broke down further to… what would we offer, who we would serve and how we best serve them.?
My personal passion was innovation, doing something in a new way to make life better for the people who matter. Helping other organizations create innovative ways to achieve their business goals became the central focus of our company – our core purpose.
When I started to research possible names, it all came back to who and what we were. We had a strong, motivating drive to our core purpose. We helped others discover and capitalize on their core purpose in innovative ways. We became CorePurpose, Inc.
Today, companies come to us to help them refocus, to grow, to make the most of what they have, or find the things they need to realize their own core purpose. We get calls from around the country and around the world asking about what we do and how we do it.
Our name and our reputation brings customers to our door. The work we do brings them back. ~ Joan Koerber-Walker
If you do not know, there is a simple test. Ask the question! Most people will be happy to tell you what they think and are pleased to be asked. You might be surprised what you hear. What your customers tell you is what they perceive your purpose and value to be.
What they think of when they hear your name matters the most. Their perception of your business and the value it brings when linked to your name becomes your brand. If you like what you hear, maximize the message in the marketplace. If you are not hearing what you want – you may have some work to do.
Just as a business brand links your name to what the markets perceives you to be, you have a personal brand that links your name to how those around you see you. What you do and how you do it becomes tied to your name. Your personal brand may change depending where you are. In my case, when I am around the school or at the hockey rink, I am well known as Chris Walker or Nick Walker’s Mom. My brand is directly linked to theirs. My claim to fame is directly linked to what they do and who they know. In the business and philanthropic community, my brand is more closely linked to the personal values I exhibit in my work with customers, organizations I volunteer with, or associations I belong to. In the case of my personal brand, what they see is what I get. What I do becomes what my personal brand is perceived to be.
Ask yourself – what is my personal brand? Ask your friends. You might be surprised by what you hear. If you like the answers you get, build on it. If you don’t like the answers, get to work.
So, do you know my name? Will I know yours? Whether you look at this question personally or in terms of your business, the answer may be one of the most important ones you ever hear.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…
Recently, I had an opportunity to share ideas with a group of legislators, educators, and business leaders on the role of the entrepreneur – now and in the future. Any time you get a group together, getting agreement can be a real challenge. But on one area we had unanimous agreement – Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity in both the private and public sectors will be a significant driver out of our current situation and for long term economic growth in the years to come.
More and more Americans are starting or running their own businesses –
There are a number of factors driving a change in how many of us view work today. In the last five years, during both the up cycle and our current down cycle, many workers left traditional jobs in corporations and explored new alternatives.
In some cases, what they found was more rewarding than their former jobs and they will not be going back to the corporate world again. They have opened consulting practices, restaurants, retail establishments and on-line businesses to name a few.
Others will return to more tradition employment as the current job cycle corrects itself.
Additionally, population demographics are changing. In 2010, over one half of the world population will be over 50 years old and the average life expectance in the U.S. will be approaching 100! People will be healthier, more active, and less likely to retire, but will want the flexibility of non traditional jobs. A new entrepreneurial or self employed life style is very attractive to many of the people embarking on their ‘second 50 years’. In many cases, ”Boomers” have or have access to the resources and key factors for starting or growing a business – education, talent, experience, and the drive to create something new and different. .
Are you a “-preneur”?
An entrepreneur is someone who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for turning an idea into a business venture while an intrapreneur is a person who does the same thing within a large corporation. In both cases, you take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable organization or finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. The prefix before the “-preneur” simply shows where you are in the organization when you are driving change and growth. When at the helm of my own company – I am an entrepreneur. When working with clients – they have the ultimate responsibility and my job is to help them as the entrepreneur or intrapreneur. I like to think that as a “-preneur” you can make things happen – no matter what the structure of the organization you are in.
Is being entrepreneurial enough?
Not if you want your business prosper over time! The purpose and values of an organization are the next KEY to growth.
Defining the core purpose of an organization is actually the process of centering in on what you really care about – what you are really good at – and in the area where these activities come together – what you can do that creates a degree of value that people will pay you for. This is your core purpose or the primary reason that you are in business. If all of your strategy, goals and activities are focused only on what satisfies each of these three criteria, there is a much higher probability for success. Conversely, activities that do not fall in these areas are opportunities for outsourcing or partnerships.
The basic premise is to do what you do best and for the rest – partner with whoever is best at it. This defines WHAT you do as a company. The next key factor is HOW you will accomplish it. This is where values come into play. An organization’s values define how they do things. We always talk about how a company does something but the reality is that it’s the people inside that make things happen.
People’s values determine how they do things. How they act. How hard they work. How creative they will be. If you can match the values of your organization to the values of the people who are in it (or come into it), you’ve got a winner. When people share the same values, they don’t have to be motivated. They already are motivated. They find new ways of doing things. They focus on the customers. They make things happen because they believe in what they are doing.
Are you ready to grow…
Be sure that growth fits in with your core purpose and values. Very often we see an opportunity to grow and we jump into it before we take the time to fully evaluate what it means to our business in the long term. Growth for growth’s sake can be very dangerous. Companies that grow too fast can lose their focus, confuse their employees or adversely affect the quality their customers have come to expect. In the most extreme cases they can even run out of cash and without cash everything stops. Here are a couple of questions every company should ask themselves as they move towards growth:
The best advice…
Find something you can get really excited about. Starting any new business – or growing an existing one – is hard work and few pay off right away. You need to really care about what you are doing. It keeps you energized and enthusiastic when things get tough.
Once your business is established, use your passion, your purpose, and your values as a guide. Find employees and partners that share your passions and values. Together you can’t help but grow!
Thanks for stopping by…
Have you fallen lately? Been knocked off your feet? Are you facing a challenge through no fault of your own? Is it tempting to feel sorry for yourself, to think that times are too hard, to just give up?
My old friend and mentor Don Sweet sent me this video last week. It really struck a chord and got me thinking.
After you’ve watched this video – its hard to be negative or give up. Few face challenges on a daily basis that are anything like this. If Nick Vujicic can get back up and finish strong – how can we ever stop trying with the challenges we face.
We’ve seen this week that dreams can come true. Just look at how the world has embraced Susan Boyle, a woman who lives in a little Scottish village, definitely does not look like the typical ‘superstar’ and unlike Madonna – Susan’s never even been kissed. But she pursued her dream of being a singer. Her dream took her to Britain’s Got Talent…that took her to You Tube where close to 20 MILLION people have watched her WOW the judges and touch our hearts with her incredible voice, and now she takes the next steps and gets ready to take her place on a larger stage. See the newest videos on Today for more.
As a make my way around the community, I meet with lots of Arizonans. People who are looking for new jobs, who are struggling to meet payroll, or are facing other challenges in their lives or in their businesses. But what gives me hope is the resilience and determination I hear when we sit down and talk. Whether it’s over the phone for in a local coffee shop, I hear stories of people working together to make a difference, sharing ideas, asking questions, and finding answers and solutions to challenges. Here are just a few examples:
So, the next time life knock you down, pick yourself up. Think of the inspiration of a Nick Vujicic or a Susan Boyle. Find a dream – and some friends and colleagues to partner with – and go for it!
– Joan Koerber-Walker
Today was a very good day on Wall Street. Dow Leaps 497 Points as U.S. Lays Out Bank Rescue Plan (NY Times) Some say we may have seen the bottom. Some say not. This week will be an important one as we watch each day how the markets respond to the actions of both the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury.
The actions of these two organizations, one independent of Congress and the other tied to it, are working together to stabilize our economy and to bring liquidly back to the market. As we have all heard, this is not just a Wall Street issue. It’s hit Main Street hard. Large Businesses, Small Businesses, Student Loans, Mortgages, and Consumer Credit have all been affected. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has not felt the pinch in one way or another.
The big questions for now are “What’s Being Done?” and “What does it all mean? There are reams of articles that try to answer these questions, written by folk’s much closer to the issue and lots smarter than me. Instead of trying to analyze it again, I have pulled together 4 videos that together help put “What’s Being Done” into perspective. In the first video (INSERTED ABOVE) Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke explains how we can keep history from repeating itself. In the second video (see links below) he talks about what the Fed has done and is continuing to do. In the third and fourth videos, Treasury Secretary Geithner explains his plan and Treasury’s actions to get things back on track.
Three More Videos to Watch:
Fed Chairman Bernanke on Financial Crisis
Part one of Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner discusses his plan to help clear bank balance sheets of their toxic assets.
Geithner Pushes Bank Rescue Plan, Part 2
It’s the fact that , finally, there are detailed plans and that both the Treasury and the Fed are tacking action, that is driving market confidence – and prices up.
So, you may be wondering – is this the answer. Truthfully, no one knows. But for the first time, in a long time, we are starting to see a turn in market confidence – and THAT is a very good thing.
– Joan Koerber-Walker
If you have been following this blog over the past few months, you know that there have been some big changes since December and there are lots of exciting games in play.
On a personal note, my son Chris returned from Canada in December where he had been playing in the BCHL. I wondered for a moment if my days as a hockey mom were over. The next thing I knew, Chris was rejoining his former team, the Phoenix Polar Bears, as they skated their way to another Western Division Championship, made USA Hockey history when they locked in an Eighth Straight National Championship berth, and this weekend won the WSHL Thorne Cup Trophy. The National Championships are the last weekend in March. Stay Tuned.
On a business note, I left ASBA at the end of my contract in December 2008 to explore new opportunities and devote more time to my duties as a board member and treasurer for Ribomed Biotechnologies, Inc. As my journey progressed, I have seen some incredible companies, found some incredible opportunities, pursued a ‘really cool deal’, made some great new contacts in the world of business, been actively raising capital, and learned a lot along the way!
My ‘really cool deal’ was an exciting roller coaster ride.
Oh, no! you might be thinking, All that work and it did not happen. Well, of course it was disappointing to lose the deal, but learning what I did alone the way is a BIG Win.
Here is what I learned:
1. If you have a solid deal with good fundamentals – there is money out there to fund it. AND, YOU CAN GET IT!
2. There are lots of people committed to making a positive impact on our economy right now. Not just politicians and big bankers, but entrepreneurs all over the country and the world, making connections, starting new projects, sharing connections, and making a positive impact – daily!
3. People want and need to hear POSTIVE business messages right now. That’s why over 1,000 people like you are reading this blog. And that’s why I make the time to write it.
4. That I may have lost this ‘really cool deal’ but a better opportunity is waiting just around the corner. You may not win every game, but with each new game and each new play, you have the opportunity for a break-away goal. Stay tuned…