3 Traits of Successful CEO’s

How do you know if you have what it takes to be a successful CEO? You’re going to have to show your employees that you’re committed to helping the company succeed in the long run, and you’ll need to know how to be transparent with them. This article provides 3 traits of successful CEO’s: transparency, long term vision, and empathy.

Why CEOs need to be transparent

A new type of leadership is emerging that sees transparency as a competitive advantage. While some CEOs worry about being vulnerable to competitors or concerned about their public image, there are many reasons why leaders should be transparent. Communicating honestly and openly helps build trust with employees and clients, which drives innovation. If you have nothing to hide then why hide it? Instead of fearing transparency, embrace it; your company will be stronger for it.

The importance of a long-term vision

Entrepreneurs tend to be focused on their product or service—and that’s a good thing. But it’s also important to think about your company’s long-term vision. The best entrepreneurs share two common traits: they have a strong mission and they make communication with their customers easy. When building a startup, it can be easy to get caught up in day-to-day issues. However, if you want to grow your business into something sustainable, you need to take a step back from time to time and look at where you want your business to go. Having a clear mission statement will help guide you through decision making down the road.

What are the best ways to empathize with employees?

A successful leader is not just aware of their own feelings but also makes an effort to understand those around them. A highly empathetic person can put themselves in someone else’s shoes easily. However, to be able to do that at work a person needs to build trust with their executives and their employees. In order for that trust to flourish they need to show vulnerability while keeping in mind how they will be perceived by others if they say something or ask for something. It’s important to realize that empathy isn’t about feeling sorry for people; it is about understanding what they are going through so you can help them improve their situation.

Conclusion

Being a successful CEO is an art form. There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to managing other people. However, there are certain traits that separate good CEOs from bad ones. Today we’ve looked at three important ones: transparency, long term vision, and empathy. Are you a good CEO? If so, what sets you apart from others? What do you do to be a better leader? If not, how can you start building those traits into your leadership style?

To continue the discussion, book a call with me here: https://calendly.com/claude-blanc/chemistrycall

Getting Things Done By Learning One New Habit

At Alcoa, a gigantic company that produces aluminum, a new CEO was faced with turning the company around years ago and decided that improving safety was the answer. Wall Street, ever conservative in its approach to change, reacted to this unconventional approach by punishing the stock.

Can you predict what happened?

CEO Paul O’Neill had decided to change what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, calls a “keystone habit.” This he defines as a habit that is so important that by changing it, one sets up a chain reaction that affects everything else one is doing. Companies and people both have habits, also called routines.

These things happen without our even thinking about it. Consider your routine when you get to work in the morning—showering, dressing, eating, coffee, driving, checking email, etc.

It can be an hour before you even make a conscious decision.

A small win can lead to big changes

If you struggle to finish tasks, it is probably because you have habits that are not helping you. Such as checking your email every five minutes. What you need is a keystone habit that will give you a small win, Duhigg explains. That little boost will keep paying off in other ways.

Exercise, for example, is a positive keystone habit. At Alcoa, the keystone habit that the CEO wanted to instill was to put safety first.

His goal: Zero accidents. He told his workers that he wanted Alcoa to be “the safest company in America.” Pretty ambitious, but not impossible.

Focusing everyone around this directive worked. It created a ripple effect where other positive changes followed, such as employees and managers working together to redesign processes to ensure worker safety. In a year, the company’s profits rocketed and, when he retired 13 years later O’Neill had raised the company’s income by 400 percent.

Just trying harder is the definition of insanity

How does this relate to getting things done? Most of us are highly distracted and have trouble staying on task. We tell ourselves we just need to try harder, but that doesn’t work.

A more fundamental change is necessary.

The main obstacles to productivity, in my opinion, are:

  • The inability to focus
  • Not identifying one’s mission and thus getting lost in the weeds

They are related, of course. Many business owners make the mistake of starting too many things and not finishing any. It’s tough to bring ideas to port.

A simple test that can change the way you approach your business

Here’s how to get on the right track. First, identify your mission. Then make a habit of checking everything you do against it:

Is it aligned with my mission?

If not, don’t do it.

Is it mission-critical?

If not, delegate or outsource.

If it meets the test, then: Make a note, but then schedule time to work on it. Ask yourself when you want it done by. Write down the steps and then do them.

Want more mission-critical tips? I tell a story elsewhere on this blog about an Iraq ship commander and how this worked for him. Learn five tips for staying mission-critical.

Do you have trouble distinguishing mission critical tasks and struggle to get things done? CHB can help you overcome these obstacles. Contact Claude today.

Systemize Your Business This Year

Could this be you?

You’re a star developer whose mission is to create a game-changing software platform. You start to grow by selling some apps you’ve developed, and you hire junior level developers. 

Your bookkeeping becomes more complicated with employees and a payroll. You’re a smart person and you know you can handle it. Your networking brings you more accounts.

So far so good.

Life Gets Complicated

Tax time is a nightmare because you have so much to learn. A tax law change consumes your time and you stop going to conferences for a few months, but you plan to have it under control soon. Your bookkeeping workload is exploding, because, thankfully, business keeps coming in. You promote your best employee to manage the projects and people you no longer have time for. Your spouse and children complain that you are never home.

When you get back to developing, you discover nothing has been done the way you had planned. You didn’t standardize the process, because you assumed everyone would understand what you wanted. To keep the staff busy, your senior developer has taken on a slew of small projects that aren’t even related to the core business.

Worst of all, progress on your big idea has stopped. Your best person is too busy managing the day-to-day and you don’t have time either. Tasks are being duplicated, and other things are not getting done at all because you have no systems set up.

Many organizations, large or small, wait too long to systemize their operations. This hurts the bottom line as well as morale.

A major corporation will often wait until it starts having serious problems before digging into the job of centralizing and standardizing its many departments, who are typically duplicating efforts across those departments, resulting in bottlenecks and slowdowns.

By the time management tackles this, it’s become painful and costly to change. But the price of not changing is even higher, so it must be done.

It also happens to startups with as few as one person. That overworked person, as in my example above, tends to wear too many hats and try to accomplish too many things that aren’t mission critical.

Money is tight, and it seems less expensive to do everything in-house. But it’s actually not.

Not Investing in Your Business Is An Expensive Short Term Strategy 

When the owner above looked at the first half of the year, he realized, to his horror, that he’d made 20 percent less during tax time. He had skipped conferences where he had previously made valuable contacts, nor was he following up with less recent contacts, who had moved on.

If you are the best person to be drumming up business, you should be out on the front lines, but not all the time. Not so much that the mission—in this case, developing software—is being run by employees who don’t have the knowledge or training to manage it. 

In this case, the owner needed to manage the team, or else train and delegate it carefully. Some of the lead generation could have been handled by a salesperson or marketing, leaving him to close the deals. And there’s no question he does not need to be handling payroll or taxes. 

The owner has made what I call the “critical mistakes” of business owners, which I warn audiences about because they are so common and they do so much damage:

  • Suffer from “it’s easier to do it myself” syndrome.
  • Don’t understand the importance of systemizing and what that really means.

Both of these can only be successful in the short-term, but eventually, you will burn out or be unable to expand because you are just doing too much. Heed my advice and invest in your business by hiring and delegating to specialists, and systemize your operations in any way you can.

The longer you wait, the harder it will be. You value your autonomy in the beginning, but full autonomy has a price. Being a lone wolf is inefficient. Remember the reason why you started the company in the first place.

A clear mission and vision will guide you.

Have you felt out of control of your own organization because you’re trying to do it all? Comment or contact us directly at CHB Associates to learn more about systemizing.

8 Critical Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hanging Up Your Shingle

It surprises me to realize, that often when I begin working with a new client, he or she has never thought about the following things:

  1. What are your core values?
  2. What is your core focus?
  3. What is your 10-year target?
  4. What is your marketing strategy?
  5. What is your three-year picture?
  6. What is your one-year plan?
  7. What are your quarterly short time goals?
  8. What are your issues?

If you are going to succeed in business, you must have a plan and a strategy that includes goals and targets. And your values, I believe, are the most important thing because they are what will keep you on track when you are tempted to go in a different direction.

I offer coaching and business development consulting for all size businesses. If you think you could benefit from a free consultation, give me a call today.

Do Not Sell Yourself Short: Pricing Strategies

As we end the year, let’s assess the profitability of your business. Many new (and existing) business owners price their services below market to bring in business. As operating costs increase, however, you find yourself with a growing business–but not growing profits. What should be done? Should you raise prices?

Your current clients who made your success possible have put a value on your services – the value that you initially set for them. So, if you raise your prices by 20 to 40 percent, at par with your competitor’s rates, your customers may think, “Wow, that’s expensive!” But if you don’t raise prices, you may regret it. Here’s why.

Low prices are a problem

When you price yourself considerably lower than your competitors, your services are viewed as being “cheap,” regardless of their true value. This leads to three significant problems:

  1. Customers often equate a discounted service with low quality.
  2. Your ability to invest money in your business to allow you to provide new services and more value to your customers is limited.
  3. You are missing out on high profit clients.

Can low prices drive clients away? If you need surgery, would you look for the cheapest surgeon? Probably not. To get the best level of service, you pay the high-end of the range. In a professional service business, you are sought after because of your knowledge or talent in a certain area. Your prices should, and must, reflect that talent at the outset of every relationship with each client.

Here are some things to consider when setting your prices, be it now or from the beginning.

  1. Do your research. Check out your competition, especially those who are most successful. What do they charge and why are you different? Be prepared to answer that question for your customers and potential customers.
  2. Know your costs. You need to set prices in such a way that you make the profit you want and need. Proper pricing can help you ensure the long-term health of your business.
  3. Do not discount. If the value of your services is $5,000, why would you offer it for $4,000? Is it less valuable to this client than it is to others? If so, let’s find more of those clients who find it more valuable. After all, you’re a professional, not a discount shop.
  4. As a general rule do not bill by the hour. There are few professions in which hours provide a good measure of value. Additionally, with hourly billing the more experienced you become, the more efficient you are, the less money you make! The client doesn’t care if it took you 50 hours or 50 minutes to design their marketing piece. As long as they receive a terrific design, it holds the same value to them.

How to raise prices

At first, leave your current clients alone. Instead, resolve not to accept any new business below your newly established higher price. Publish new contracts, price sheets or rate cards and stick to them. Once you start receiving business at your new price level, you will feel your service is worth the higher value that these new clients have assigned to it.

Once you establish the new pricing with your new clients, then return to your old clients. Have a face-to-face meeting with them, preferably, and review with them the value of the services you deliver. Let them know that you have researched your competitors and found that you are offering more value for less money. Also, let them know you are billing new clients at the higher price level. Then, raise their prices with an effective date two to four months in the future. This gives you a chance to finish current projects or services at the present price while allowing them time to adjust their expectations and budgeting for future projects or services. If it’s worthwhile to you offer them the chance to pre-pay now for future projects or services at their current low rate. This gives you the certainty of their future business as well as cash in your pocket today!

Setting your services at market value will secure client loyalty and respect, allow you to invest in and grow your business, and improve your profit margins. If you, as the business owner, do not value your own products or services, you cannot expect your clients to value them either. Do not settle for less than you’re worth!

Focusing on Customer Retention in a Slow Economy

In today’s struggling economy, consumers aren’t the only ones tightening their belts. With shoppers spending less on non-essential items and socking more into savings, businesses across the country are feeling the effects of the widespread penny pinching. The good news? As a business owner, you can do more than just sit by and watch profits dwindle.

Although this may not be the ideal time to acquire new customers, you can help compensate for sagging sales by shifting your focus to customer retention. By catering to your loyal base of existing customers, you can help increase average order size and repeat business, eliminating the need to slash the prices of your product or serving offerings.

Below are some time-tested, cost-effective tips for retaining customers in a recessed economy:

Make strategic use of cross-sells. Offering related products at low to moderate price points is an excellent way to encourage impulse purchases and increase order totals. It also helps to educate the customer on the diversity of your inventory.

Offer a special promotion. In these tight economic times, customers are much more likely to complete the sale if they feel like they’re getting a great value. A VIP customer discount not only boosts revenue, it also makes your loyal patrons feel appreciated, a surefire strategy for ensuring repeat purchases.

Maintain “non-salesy” communications. Even if you’re not offering a discount or promo, staying in contact with customers via newsletters, product tips, and holiday well wishes goes a long way toward instilling a sense of camaraderie and loyalty. Businesses that function as service and solution providers as well as sellers gain more trust and credibility in the eyes of consumers.

Offer relevant tips. Within a few days of your customer’s purchase, send a follow-up email with care and maintenance suggestions for their product. You can also pepper the correspondence with suggestions for related accessories.

Request feedback. Give customers the opportunity to put in their two cents by sending a brief survey, offering a discount or gift certificate to compensate for their time. Not only will you reap the rewards of valuable market knowledge, you can include tasteful up-sells to encourage sales.

Create a community. Provide your loyal customers with an exclusive, members-only forum for sharing product feedback, questions, and suggestions. The interactive dialogue will foster repeat visits, increasing the chances of repeat orders.

Offer prepackaged gift sets. By bundling best-selling items into collections, you can provide customers with an easier shopping experience while boosting average order value.While a struggling economy is never good for business, it does provide a unique opportunity to forge more profitable relationships with existing customers. By showing your appreciation for their loyalty, you could very well earn lifelong customers who will stick with you through thick, thin, and recession.