Dear President Obama, since you asked…

November 10, 2010

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…”

(If you can not see the video, you can find it here on YouTube.)

Thank you for asking Mr. President, here is my list:

First and foremost, focus on the sectors that are proven job creators.

Research from the Kauffman Foundation shows that newly created and young companies are the primary drivers of job creation in the United States. Added to this, data from the Edward Lowe Foundation and their research on Second Stage Companies that shows that establishments with 10 – 100 employees and $1 million to $100 million in revenue have created the vast majority of the net new jobs over time.  (Take a look at the data at www.youreconomy.org)

So if you are looking for job growth, focus on providing early stage and second stage companies what they need – and the American people will get what they need – more jobs.

These businesses need access to capital to grow and to create jobs.

The fuel that drives job growth in these growth sectors is capital.  When there is a steady supply of capital, there is a steady supply of new jobs.  It is capital that funds innovation, that purchases resources for manufacturing and supplies the catalyst for future growth.

Where does the money come from?

The capital that fuels growth in  early stage and second stage businesses comes from the following areas – the life savings of the business owner (including IRA’s and 401K’s with penalties), credit cards of the business owner (personal or business issue), F&F (Friends and Family), Angel Investors, Private Equity/Venture Capital, SBA Loans, Traditional Lending, Public Equity Markets and most important of all CUSTOMERS. 

In addition, the capital for growth often comes from operational cut backs and efficiencies inside the business, and more often than many would think, a business owner that is forgoing a paycheck while working 60 – 70 hours a week to keep things growing until the cash flow problem gets fixed.  

So if we need capital to grow these businesses and create jobs here are some suggestions:

Life Savings and 401K’s

Forgive penalties on withdrawals from IRA’s, 401K’s, and the like made by business owners for the business or to feed their families while they personally went without wages to keep the business alive AND allow them to put the money back in when things get better again.

Credit Cards

Extend the protections in the CONSUMER CREDIT PROTECTION ACT to include credit cards and charge cards that are issued to a business IF the card is personally guaranteed by the individual card holder.  These “business cards” are actively marketed to small business owners yet do not carry the same protections as those issued to “consumers”.

Friends, Family, and Angels

After the business owner, the most common form of early stage capital infusion comes from friends, family and Angel investors.  Interestingly these are the same people that will be adversely affected if the Bush Tax cuts are not renewed AND these are often the same people that are paying the lion’s share of taxes already.  It is critically important the that Bush Tax Cuts be made permanent.  The goal should not be to have a few people pay more – the goal needs to be stimulate job growth so that more people can pay something!

Private Equity and Venture Capital

Private Equity and Venture Capital have played major roles in the growth spurts of high growth and high potential companies.  These American businesses and private investors invest in American businesses and can be a supercharger on our growth engine.  Lynn Tilton, chairman  and founder of Patriarch Partners, traveled to Washington with a plan to help companies and spur job growth based on a proven model that she uses in her own companies.  This process is so unique that the US Patent Office issued a patent for it.  (Click to view Lynn Tilton’s patent.)

Administrator Karen Mills and her team at the SBA are making real progress with the expansion of the SBIC program but wouldn’t it be great to have more leaders and investors involved in this effort to create a lasting solution? Perhaps it time to take another look at her proposed SME Rescue Loan Plan or perhaps give her a call.

Tax breaks for small businesses

Mr. President, you often speak of your support of tax breaks for small business. Any tax break that allows businesses of any size to reinvest in the business and create more jobs is a good thing.  BUT, it is important to remember the tax breaks only benefit companies that are making profits to pay taxes on.  Many of the companies that will grow and create jobs now and in the future are investing ahead of the curve and are not yet profitable.  For these companies, a tax break is an empty promise. 

Instead perhaps a good idea would be tax breaks, tax credits, or other incentives for private equity and angel investors to motivate more of them to get out of the “parking lot” they are currently in and put their money to work in businesses that are creating jobs.  The American people have invested in Wall Street Bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, and credits for energy efficient appliances.  Perhaps its time we invested in American investors who are putting their hard earned money into American businesses.

Promoting innovation

Innovation is my personal passion.  My definition of innovation is simple.  Innovation is doing something in a new way that makes life better.  Just as we as business owners, investors and innovators need to focus on changes that make things better – we need you to do the same in Washington.  This includes:

  • Reversing the provision in the Healthcare Bill that will require all businesses to file a 1099 for EVERY supplier over $600.   At a time when you need us to run faster, you are tying our ankles together with red tape.  I know that Congress is the team that needs to fix this problem – but could you whisper in their ear?
  • Cut down on the red tape in general.  From an ever growing list of regulations on how we get things done to a multitude of forms in triplicate or worse when we do business with government agencies, it is getting harder to do business when we need it to get easier. 
  • Work with Congress to fully support the SBIR program on an ongoing basis instead of continually placing Band-Aid on it to keep it going.  According to the NSBA,  “small R&D companies employ 38 percent of all scientists and engineers in America. This is more than all U.S. universities and more than all large businesses. Furthermore, these small companies produce five times as many patents per dollar as large companies and 20 times as many as universities—and more small-business innovations are commercialized. Yet small companies receive only 4.3 percent of the federal government’s R&D dollars. The SBIR program provides more than half of this amount.”  Here’s a suggested innovation – set a permanent requirement to allocate government innovation contacts and  SBIR awards to small business based on the proportionate share of innovators they employ.  If we generate results like these at just over 4%, just imagine what would happen if we had almost 40^% to work with. 
  • Create a fast track program for new technologies and innovations moving from Phase I to Phase II contracts with government agencies.   With today’s backlog, some very promising companies and the technologies they have created could disappear due to delays that in some cases have been more than a year.
  • Drive innovation within the US Patent Office to take the costs out of what we need to do to protect American innovation.  Many small businesses can not afford the cost, time and expense as it is.  And for many of them, a patent is a of little value since most small businesses can not afford the cost to defend it.  (Small business patents are being violated on a regular basis and the response from big business is “sue me” when they well know that the small business could never afford to go the distance or carry the burden hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in legal fees.)

So Mr. President, you asked for suggestions.  These are mine.  I don’t know if you will ever see them, but I truly hope that someone on your team is listening.  We’re all in this together after all.

Sincerely,

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

About the author:

Joan Koerber-Walker, MBA is a small business owner and an angel investor who makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona.  As a blogger she has personally interviewed Lynn Tilton on several occasions and has personally worked with Patriarch Partners and its portfolio companies and seen the results of what the Patriarch process can do first hand.  In addition she is a past CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and  a past member of the board of trustees for the National Small Business Association. During that time she met with and shared ideas with hundreds of small businesses and second stage companies on key issues including health care, workforce development, regulation, taxation, and access to capital.  She currently serves the small business community as a volunteer ambassador for SCORE in Phoenix, Arizona, as chairman of the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation and as co-chair of the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences (AZEC10) which will gather together over 300 entrepreneurs, small business owners and investors together to share ideas, connect, and hit the “reset” button on their businesses on November 17, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.

To contact Joan Koerber-Walker, click here.


Talk of the Town – 2010 will be MY Year

January 9, 2010

j0426527[1]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.

By reaching out, reconnecting, asking questions, and listening, I get a really good cross section of what is happening and what is on people’s minds.  It also gives me a pretty good feel for what to expect in the year to come.

It probably comes as no surprise that, when I did this is January of 2009, there were lots of rumblings of rough weather ahead.  People where battening down the hatches and preparing to hold on to investments, jobs, and businesses by sheer will.  Folks that I talked to did not know what to expect – but one thing was pretty consistent… they we not expecting it to be good.

Yet, this year, there is a different feeling in the conversations.  I don’t know  what it is  – the stars in alignment, something in the water, or just the impact of moving into a new decade, but once again a message is emerging from all of these conversations – a common statement and theme that  I am hearing from others…

2010 will be MY year!

The first time I heard it expressed by a friend with such confidence that I felt it too, I thought – ‘Wow, good for you.’  Then I heard it again – this time by a business owner – “This will be OUR year”.  And then again from an entrepreneur, then a scientist, then a developer, then a non profit leader, and so on.  The words were slightly different each time, but the theme kept repeating over and over again.  2010 was going to be the year when they made a break through, grew their business, did something new, made a difference.

So, will 2010 be YOUR year? 

We all have the chance to make 2010 our year.  Here are a few things you might want to put to work for you.

1.  Write down your goals and put them somewhere where you see them every day.  A series of small goals that build on one another are better that one great big one.  That way, as you achieve each small goal or milestone, the sense of accomplishment gives you more incentive and energy to tackle the next one.

2.  Gather Great People Around You.  Whether you call them a team, a posse, a workgroup or just friends, surround yourself  with people who share your values AND your goals. By working together – things happen faster.  The shared experiences of your team can also help you avoid pitfalls and mistakes that might shift you off course.

3.  Focus in on the things that will make the biggest impact.  It is too easy to be distracted by little things that can keep you from doing the important ones.  Take the time to understand how you are most productive and then work with others to delegate or off load non core activities.  Paying someone else to do the time consuming nuisance projects can save BIG money in the long run or free you up for more impactful or productive activities.

4. Use Processes and Systems to Your Advantage.  The best businesses, projects, and ideas are those you can replicate over and over again.  Figure out what works best, get it down on paper and integrate it into HOW you get things done.  By creating repeatable systems or processes, you save time, save money and often by analyzing the system – continue to improve it.

Never forget that “2010 will be MY year”. 

Stay positive and positive things happen.  Don’t let anyone tell you differently. 

Make 2010 your year.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker


Valuing a Company

October 18, 2009

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.

Years ago, in business school, I had great professors at the W.P. Carey School of Business.  They taught me the science of financial valuation and how to look at the opportunities  and systematic business risks that lie buried behind the balance sheet.  There where times in the learning process when I might have cursed my teachers for being so exacting, but the lessons they taught combined with the insights I gained from my fellow students were worth more than a pot of gold.

Measuring a company’s value falls into 3 categories

What it has – it’s assets

Assets can be real and tangible.  We all know about these: property, plants, and equipment plus firm contracts and money in the bank.  We can see it, touch it, count it up.  Other assets are intangible.  We know that there is some level of value, but measurement is often subtle, involving an estimation of the worth.  This can be a patent, a trademark, or a customer or prospect list that in and of it self has no hard value, but when put to good use can be converted to tangible assets in the future, 

What it lacks or  owes – It’s liabilities

On the other side of the equation are the liabilities.  Some are easy to measure and take the form of debt, contractual obligations, or other factors that reduce the company’s assets.  But there are other more intangible liabilities to factor in like adverse economic conditions, holes in the team, or a lack in organizational bandwidth – you know – too much to do and not enough resources to do it with.

What It promises – Its brand as an organization

And most important of all, I look at what the company promises to its people, its customers, its partners and its investors through its brand as an organization, PLUS  its ABILITY to keep those promises.

We all make promises, and most up us do everything in our power to keep them.  The question I focus on most closely is can the company turn promise into reality with its unique combination of assets and liabilities. 

  • Does it have a clear and simple plan that the team can follow to keep the promises it makes? Are there clearly defined goals, strategies, tactics? Are there clear measurement milestones along the way?
  • Does it have a culture that supports its team in achieving shared objectives.  It’s sad but true.  Objectives and goals that are not shared by the team are rarely achieved.
  • Does it have the resources to give to that team so that they can execute on the plan? And if not – does it have the ability to get them?
  • Does it use its assets wisely?  Is it investing in its people and its product to take and hold a leadership position in its markets  in the future?
  • Does it look at its customers, supply chain, and investors as collaborative partners and treat them accordingly?
  • Is leadership committed to keeping the promises it makes to the team, the partners, the customers, and the investors.
  • Does every member of the team share that commitment?

The Value of the COMPANY

When I am done with the measuring, I add it all up.  What I then have is a valuation of the company in a form that they rarely teach in business school.  A clearer picture of whether the company can keep its organizational promise and create value as well as what it may to make that happen, and what I can do to help along the way.

Because, at the end of the day, the true value of any company is in the promises it makes, and its ability to keep them.

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


Small Business…BIG Impact

September 25, 2009

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. 

Retreats at the Edward Lowe Foundation in Cassopolis, Michigan and visits to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City where times to exchange ideas with economic developers from around the country on how to make a difference in our local communities as well as at the national level.

What I learned, I shared in the pages of BizAZ Magazine, on our blog, and with ANY audience that would listen.  To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times, they were a changing.  Here are some clips from one of those talks from October of 2007…

Joan Koerber-Walker on Small Busness and Economic Recovery

Let’s look at the facts from the most recent

SBA Office of Advocacy Report

In the United States, small firms with less that 500 employees:

  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
  • Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years. 
  • Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic
    product (GDP). 
  • Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers). 
  • Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises. 
  • Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced  30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
  • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

Source: SBA office of Advocacy,  U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census and International Trade Admin.; Advocacy-funded research by Kathryn Kobe, 2007  and CHI Research, 2003 ; U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Where will recovery REALLY come from?

Today, economists and business experts are saying that “the recession is over and we are beginning our gradual climb out.”  Assuming that Wall Street and the financial markets don’t implode again, they are probably right.  But if we want to speed up the recovery process, we need  to shift our thinking and economic support more to what can we do DIRECTLY to give small businesses the resources that they need to grow.  That is where the real net job growth will come from.  Until  we get our unemployment problem solved, we don’t get our consumer confidence problem resolved.  If no one is buying – there is no recovery.   It’s that simple.

We need jobs to get the economy growing again and that means we need to supply the resources SMALL Businesses need to create jobs.  Current programs to provide training and loans for ‘bankable’ businesses are being provided at a variety of levels.  But the sad truth is that many high growth potential small businesses are not not bankable by today’s standards.  The economic conditions of the last year have hit their balance sheets too hard. 

The graph below shows where job growth actually came from in the period from 2005 to 2007.  Stage One firms are those with less than 10 employees.  Stage Two is 10- 99 employees, Stage Three is 100 – 499, and Stage Four is BIG Business 500+ employees.  What you are looking at is a national snapshot, but you can look at your state, country or MSA also at YourEconomy.org.

image

It’s time for something new

If we want to jump start the economy and get on the road to real recovery, maybe its time for a new type of economic stimulus.  Instead of investing in programs to train small business on how to grow – lets create new programs to allow them the access to capital they need to actually do it.  The old ways are not working very well – and in the words of the last election – IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker


Asking for Help…

September 1, 2009

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.”

Applying the Lesson

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.

Develop new ideas

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.

Plan and Take Action

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.

Asking for help.

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.

So, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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…

Joan Koerber-Walker


Do you know my name?

August 25, 2009

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?

clip_image002[4]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.

Our name connects us to others.

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.

What’s in a name?

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

What about your business? What does your name say about you? What do people think of when they hear it?

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…

Joan Koerber-Walker


A Time for Growth – the era of the entrepreneur

August 3, 2009

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 –

j0439328[1]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…

j0439318[1]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:

  1. Does the new product, location or service fit into what we have defined as our core purpose?
  2. Do we have the operational and financial resources to support the levels of quality and service our customers have come to expect from us?
  3. What should we be measuring each step of the way through the growth process to ensure we are continuing to move in the right direction?
  4. Who are the partners we work with who can help us with this growth and how can they help us? What are they best at?

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…

Joan Koerber-Walker

 


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