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Washington D.C. office market benefits from migration from the suburbs · Industries | Virginia Business

Washington D.C. office market benefits from migration from the suburbs · Industries | Virginia Business | Client-GoHiRise |
The District of Columbia has seen growth in leasing due to businesses and associations relocating from the suburbs to downtown Washington, D.C. The trend comes despite negative absorption (when more companies are downsizing or subleasing space than expanding and adding space) and high office vacancies in other areas of the overall region.
JLL reports that over the past 24 months, there has been more than 300,000 square feet of new leasing activity in the District as a result of tenants from Maryland and Virginia migrating into the city.
“The migration of suburban tenants into the District and robust expansion activity among startups and high-technology companies helped fill a gap in an otherwise tepid demand environment during the third quarter,” Scott Homa, senior vice president research at JLL, said in a statement.
While creative industries such as digital media, software engineering, advertising and consumer technology represent a relatively small portion of the metro D.C. tenant base, Homa said incremental growth – primarily concentrated downtown – helped offset contractions within the region’s core industries of legal services and government contracting.
Doug Mueller, a senior vice president at JLL, noted that the migration is heavily populated by associations, technology companies and professional services firms. “The quality and location of office space with easy access to mass transit, abundant amenities and housing options also has a visible and tangible impact on attracting and retaining top talent,” he said in a statement.
According to JLL’s Office Insight report for the third quarter, since the start of 2014, a total of 21,200 private-sector office jobs have been added to the metro D.C. economy. Although substantial declines in federal payrolls continue to offset the private sector growth, regional unemployment (5.4 percent) remains significantly below the national average (6.1 percent).
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A Refresher on Storytelling 101

A Refresher on Storytelling 101 | Client-GoHiRise |
At bedtime, I tell stories to my godchildren, Anna and Noah, when their parents invite me to care for them. Their capacity for stories amazes me. They beg for “just one more” and then “just one more.” It seems we are wired to enjoy a well-told story.

And as we grow up, we do not lose our thirst for stories. I work with future leaders at Stanford to help them develop compelling stories that achieve their management goals — and I’ve developed a seven-part formula for storytelling success in presentations and business meetings.

Parachute in, don’t preamble. The best storytellers draw us immediately into the action. They capture our attention and set the tone for a unique audience experience. Avoid opening with “I’d like to tell you a story about a time when I learned…” Instead, drop us into the action and draw the lesson out later.

Choose first and final words carefully. We never get a second chance to make a good first impression. One needn’t memorize the story, but great leaders know the first and final words cold … and can deliver them without hesitation. Take advantage of the impact of a powerful opening and conclusion.

Follow the “Goldilocks” theory of details. Give us “just the right amount.” If you give too many details, we get lost, or worse, bored. If you don’t give us enough detail, we may lack the context to grasp the story fully or to see ourselves inside your tale. If possible, test out your story with a few friends who have a similar background to your audience; let them help you discern the right level of detail.

Focus your delivery on “one person with one thought.” When speaking to a group, focus on one person at a time, for four to seven seconds. As you tell your story, try to connect with each individual if possible. Don’t wash your eye contact over the crowd like a lighthouse, but actually connect with individuals. Consider even “casting” a member of the audience as a character in your story as you tell it.

Consider the power of poetry. Use fewer words to carry more meaning. My high school English teacher, Mr. Wessling, used the analogy of the “magic grain truck” to educate us about poetry. He said “imagine if a magic truck allowed a farmer to haul seven times the amount of grain that a normal truck usually holds?” (Can you tell I grew up in Kansas?) We developed a long list of benefits such a truck would provide: fewer trips, less fuel, more free time, etc. Then he concluded: “Well boys that’s what poetry is. Using just a few carefully chosen and arranged words to carry much more meaning than their usual weight.” That imagery from over three decades ago reminds me of the power of poetry.

Use silence for impact and emphasis. When a composer writes the score for a symphony she places a rest in the music when silence is called for. That rest is as much a part of the music as the notes. Silence is a powerful and underutilized storytelling tool. Matt May elaborates on this point in his recent HBR post. Intentional silence draws emphasis to what was just said or what is about to come – and allows others to contribute their own interpretations.

Know your AIM. Who is your Audience, what is your Intent, and what is your Message? Using this simple framework from Mary Munter and Lynn Russell’s book Guide to Presentations assures that the message is clear, captures the audience, and motivates your desired action.

A leader who deploys these seven strategies will deliver a more artful and meaningful story.

Here are two examples. Recently the noted author Jeffrey Kluger appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers to plug his new book on narcissism. He effectively uses these seven principles to deliver two concise stories in less than five minutes. One story is about his interaction with astronaut Jim Lovell while writing Apollo 13, and his second story is about meeting President Clinton in the oval office. In both short examples he provides just enough detail for us to grasp the setting. While many of us have never been in the oval office, Jeff makes it easy for us to imagine what it felt like and see why the President’s actions had such an impact on him.

For an example of storytelling within a presentation, I’d suggest looking at Mark Bezos’s 2011 TED Talk: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter. Bezos tells a powerful story, complete with props, in three minutes. In particular his choice of final words, “Save the shoes” serves as a concise and poetic summary of his message. He also chose very deliberately which details of the fire to share, and what to ignore. We know the homeowner is outside, under an umbrella and barefoot; but we don’t know the street name or style of home that is ablaze. Bezos provides only what we need for the story’s point to be made.

Stories can be compelling and entertaining. Stories can teach and influence. Stories make our messages memorable. Use these seven strategies to hone and polish your storytelling skills, and achieve the results you seek as a leader and communicator.
Idris Grant's insight:

For entrepreneurs and small business owners alike, the importance of being able to communicate effectively, powerfully is a key ingredient to business success.  And being humans, we most connect with - stories.  Read on to see how storytelling and business communication make for a powerful cocktail.

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Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are | HBR Blog Network

Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are | HBR Blog Network | Client-GoHiRise |
We’re all just so “busy” these days. “Slammed” in fact. “Buried.” Desperately “trying to keep our heads above water.” While these common responses to “How are you?” seem like they’re lifted from the Worst Case Scenario Handbook, there seems to be a constant exchange, even a a one-upping, of just how much we have on our plates when we communicate about our work.

My favorite “busy” humble-brag was that of a potential client who apologized for lack of communication due to a “week-long fire drill.” What does that even mean? Does this mean there were fake fires, but not real ones, all week? Does calling it a “drill” mean that everything is okay? Is your business in flames? Should I call someone?

Then there was the date I had with a fellow who was so busy “crashing on deadlines” that he asked me to “just make a reservation somewhere” for him. I was floored.

So much of this is about out-doing each other. To say that “I’m busier than you are” means I’m more important, or that my time is more valuable, or that I am “winning” at some never-finished rat race to Inbox Zero. (Inbox Zero is another absurd contest to tackle at another time.) What you’re trying to say with these responses is: I’m busier, more in-demand, more successful.

Here’s the thing: it’s harming how we communicate, connect, and interact. Everyone is busy, in different sorts of ways. Maybe you have lots of clients, or are starting a new business, or are taking care of a newborn. The point is this: with limited time and unlimited demands on that time, it’s easy to fill your plate with activities constantly. But this doesn’t mean that you should.

To assume that being “busy” (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is cool, or brag-worthy, or tweetable, is ridiculous. By lobbing these brags, endlessly puffing our shoulders about how “up to my neck” we are, we’re missing out on important connections with family and friends, as well as personal time. In addition to having entire conversations about how busy we are, we fail to share feelings with friends and family, ask about important matters, and realize that the “busy” is something that can be put on hold for a little while.

I am not trying to belittle anyone’s work-load in the slightest. But in using it as a one-upping mechanism, we’re failing to connect in a very substantial way. And we’re making the problem worse: When everyone around us is “slammed,” it’s easy to feel guilty if we’re not slaving away on a never-ending treadmill of toil. By trying to compete about it, we’re only adding to that pool of water everyone seems to be constantly “treading” in. And all this complaining is having serious effects on our mental health.

And yet we continue to use long hours as a sort of macho badge of honor.

We need to work smart, not (just) hard.

Just because you clocked 15 hours at your office, with likely dry eyeballs and a complete lack of focus, doesn’t mean you’ve accomplished things in a smart way. Many people have written or spoken about this. Typically, you have 90-120 minutes before you devolve into internet fodder or social media. If you’re putting in 15 straight hours at your desk, without breaks, how good is your output? How much time are you wasting?

The distinction between working hard versus smart has hit me as an entrepreneur. In high school and college I was always that girl who read all the assigned reading (and no, I was not giving you my study guide). I created outlines, outlines of outlines, and then flashcards. One of my greatest lessons as a businessperson has been to throw out that skill set. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be diligent or that you should half-heartedly execute, but rather, that it’s crucial to know what you have to do as opposed to everything you could do. It’s about being strategic.

For once, I’d like to hear someone brag about their excellent time management skills, rather than complain about how much they can’t get done. Maybe we could learn something from each other.

In fact, I’ll start — here are three tactics I’ve been using to work smarter:

Constrain the time. The more I constrain my time, the more focused and productive I feel, and the less I waste time on low-priority work. If you can only afford to spend 45 minutes on a certain project, then only spend 45 minutes on it — and move on, even if it isn’t perfect.

Use a scheduler. If you’re really up to your neck, it’s very easy to find a scheduler, virtual or otherwise, to help put things on your calendar. Sometimes it’s a matter of freeing up that time used for coordinating plans to actually doing them. Zirtual is a great answer to this. As is the DIY scheduler Doodle.

Cut the fat. Once I cut out superfluous meetings that were not: fun, productive, leading to new business, or really had something wonderful in it for me professional or otherwise, that plate emptied a little bit. (Here’s a tool for figuring out what to cut.)

Yes, we all have some strange need to out-misery each other. Acknowledging that is a first step. But next time you speak to a friend and want to lament about how busy you are, ask yourself why. Try steering the conversation away from a complain-off. With some practice you might find yourself actually feeling less “buried” (or at least feeling less of a need to say it all the time).

And maybe that’s something worth bragging about.
Idris Grant's insight:

A refreshingly candid request by savvy businesswoman Meredith Finerman on eliminating the habit of complaining about being "busy."

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Ten Signs It’s Time to Expand Your Office Space | Real Estate > Commercial & Residential Property from

As a successful small business owner, you may soon find yourself in the enviable position of outgrowing your current office space. Staying put in a cramped office is not a solution. A smart business owner knows when it's time to trade up and move somewhere with more breathing room.

Here are 10 sure-fire signs that it's time to move or expand your office:

People are sitting on top of one another. Face it: your employees need their space, especially if being on the telephone all day is part of their job. Nobody wants to listen to every conversation his or her neighbor makes, which can be very distracting while trying to do other work.
The break room is “standing room only.” If your on-site lunchroom or break room is always full, employees may start going elsewhere for their breaks, which can mean extended lunch hours. Remember that happy employees are productive employees, so don’t scrimp when it comes to providing them with adequate space in which to recharge.
Workstations are cramped. If your employees practically have their computers sitting on their laps (and they're not laptops), it's time for roomier office space. People need to feel physically comfortable to do their jobs effectively.
The conference room is now an office. Stashing a few employees in the conference room is a convenient, short-term solution to office overcrowding. But it's also a red flag for any business owner, indicating that it's time for a more permanent solution to your space issues.
Idris Grant's insight:

Knowing when it's time to make that move into more office space can make or break a growing company.  Here are a few indicators that reveal it may be time to make the move.

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4 Surprising Secrets to Work-Life Balance

A new book reveals surprising research about how to maintain work life balance.
Idris Grant's insight:

As a small business owner, your venture can sometimes overtake your life.  Here are a few suggestions from entrepreneur Dave Kerpen on how to achieve work life balance.

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3 Small Business Culture Mistakes - Project Eve

3 Small Business Culture Mistakes - Project Eve | Client-GoHiRise |
The culture of an organization is often tied very closely to its success. And yet, it has been my experience that most small businesses are not very good at “that culture thing.” If you ask the owners of small businesses about the ...

The culture of an organization is often tied very closely to its success. And yet, it has been my experience that most small businesses are not very good at “that culture thing.” If you ask the owners of small businesses about the culture of their organization, many give you a blank look. Others tend to respond with the description of their personal approach: “I run my business based on good customer service.” Or, they just shrug and say, “I have good people and they work hard. We are small and don’t have a lot of time to think about things like culture. That is for big business, not us.”


Unfortunately, these small businessmen and women are failing to use a highly effective tool that can increase productivity, reduce turnover, build loyalty and actually improve customer service. While they may look at each of these issues individually, they often don’t connect the dots to realize that each of these areas can be improved by improving the culture of the organization.


In fact, the first mistake made by small business leaders is the assumption that they don’t have a culture. That is probably the reason for the blank stares. Yet, the truth is that every organization has a culture. Most often, it happens accidentally. It is not unusual that culture exists without any recognition by the owner. This results in the owner making decisions without understanding how or why that decision will resonate, be adopted or ignored.


The second culture mistake I see frequently is that the owner believes the “culture is X” while at the employee level, the “culture is Y.” The passion of a small businessperson leads him or her to believe that everybody is committed to a specific culture. It is common to get very different answers about the culture of the organization depending on whom you ask. For example, many small business people truly believe they have a culture that is supportive of their work force, and are shocked to discover the belief is often wrong.


For example, I recently spoke with a law firm partner who could not understand why so many good female attorneys left the firm. After listening for a while, I learned the firm was looking for the answer by conducting exit interviews. They got such disparate reasons; they decided there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. However, when I started probing about the culture of the firm as it related to female attorneys, the light seemed to come on. I suggested the firm needed to begin examining the organization’s culture for the answer rather than relying solely on exit interviews to answer their questions.


The third mistake is a belief that culture cannot be proactively developed or changed in a small business. This is interesting since many would argue culture is most important in small teams where there is close daily interaction over a long period of time. Interestingly, small business owners are willing to spend a lot of time and money on changing computer systems, web pages, and suppliers but seem unwilling to spend even a little time on producing the culture that could enhance their success.


How can culture be changed in a small business? Like all change, it begins with awareness, followed by a commitment to change and then undertaking the effort needed to create the desired culture. Communication is the key. Find out what your culture is by discussing it openly. If that sounds scary, ask a consultant for help. Then, develop and adopt a plan for changing the culture. Communicate it clearly and make it a priority. Finally, recognize that, as with every aspect of business, things change constantly, including culture. Keep asking and keep communicating. Small business owners need to work just as hard at cultural excellence as they do in every other aspect of their business.

Idris Grant's insight:

Interesting article exploring three common mistakes businesses can make when thinking about culture.

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Burbs Beware: Office Jobs Moving Back to D.C. | Bacon's Rebellion

Burbs Beware: Office Jobs Moving Back to D.C. | Bacon's Rebellion | Client-GoHiRise |

Not only are Millennials migrating to the Washington metropolitan region’s urban core, it seems that businesses are, too, in a reversal of the decades-long trend of businesses moving out of the central city to outlying counties.

Vacancy rates have risen in Washington, D.C., due to the contraction of legal services and government contracting tied to federal government spending. But according to commercial real estate firm JLL, private-sector tenants from Maryland and Washington accounted for 300,000 square feet of new leasing activity in the District. Reports Virginia Business magazine:

Doug Mueller, a senior vice president at JLL, noted that the migration is heavily populated by associations, technology companies and professional services firms. “The quality and location of office space with easy access to mass transit, abundant amenities and housing options also has a visible and tangible impact on attracting and retaining top talent,” he said in a statement.

According to JLL’s Office Insight report for the third quarter, since the start of 2014, a total of 21,200 private-sector office jobs have been added to the metro D.C. economy.

In an office market with tens of millions of square feet of space, 300,000 square feet is a rounding error. What’s significant is not the volume of space being occupied — although 21,200 office jobs is nothing to sneeze at — but the trend: jobs migrating back to the urban core. For decades, Virginia enjoyed a huge competitive advantage over the District with its dysfunctional government, poverty, crime and decaying neighborhoods. Now, despite bad schools, high taxes and expensive real estate, D.C. has something that educated Millennials and the businesses that employ them are looking for — walkable urbanism.

Next question: Is this trend unique in Virginia to the Washington metropolitan region or is it occurring in Hampton Roads, Richmond and the smaller metros as well?


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Getting People to Believe in Something They Can’t Yet Imagine | HBR Blog Network

Getting People to Believe in Something They Can’t Yet Imagine | HBR Blog Network | Client-GoHiRise |
What would you do if you had a working prototype of a revolutionary tablet computer that was receiving rave reviews well before Apple came out with its iPad? Cancel further funding for the project in favor of developing an updated version of an existing company product? In hindsight that seems crazy, but it’s exactly what Microsoft did with its prototype “Courier” tablet.

Similar fates often befall innovations within large companies. It is not enough to come up with next great idea. To turn that idea into a reality you have to influence people and gain their support. You must do that in the face of vast forces arrayed against innovation within an established organization, which include inertia, resistance to change, fear of failure, financial disincentives, and the tendency of people and organizations to favor what has worked in the past. Then there’s what might be the biggest hurdle of all, people’s inability to envision something that is truly different.

Gaining support for an idea for which people have no point of reference is a huge challenge for innovators. It is hard to win over someone who cannot see what you see. Traditional influencing theory — as expounded, for example, by Robert Cialdini in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion — offers “invoking authority” as a way to persuade others to support things that are new to them. If you are a recognized expert in the field, your audience may trust that you know what you are talking about even if they don’t exactly understand it themselves. Often, however, truly groundbreaking innovation comes from people that do not yet have a track record of success. What then?

We have been conducting a series of interviews with individuals who have successfully championed innovation in large organizations and traditional settings, overcoming resistance and inertia within those organizations, in order to identify the commonalities in their efforts. Our research suggests that these influencing approaches offer innovators a possibility of success:

UNDER THE RADAR: Incremental improvement which can be readily understood is not considered nearly as threatening as groundbreaking innovation. So in some cases the best course of action is to present what you’re doing as simply building on current practice, keeping the truly innovative aspects hidden under the radar until it is so far along, and showing sufficient promise, as to make it impossible to shut down.  George Petsching, who led the incubation of the Courier tablet at Microsoft, told us that he attributes its demise to the research team’s product plans being “leaked” to the media. That gave the project a much higher profile, leading many at Microsoft to try to become part of it — which may have played into then CEO Steve Ballmer’s decision to abandon the project in favor of devoting resources to improving existing product lines. It hadn’t stayed under the radar.

When Instinet launched the first electronic trading system for automated buying and selling of securities in 1983 it introduced the system to brokers and exchanges as an incremental improvement rather than as the transformative innovation that it turned out to be, former Executive Vice President David Manns told us. Manns described the approach as “getting to breakthrough innovation indirectly by letting the end users get comfortable incrementally until you have achieved a critical mass that cannot be reversed.”

DEMONSTRATION: It is difficult for people who have never experienced the benefits of a particular innovation to recognize its value. That is why a demonstration can have a far greater impact in terms of gaining support than data or studies showing why the innovation makes sense. Gary Starkweather, the inventor of the Xerox 9700, the high-speed laser printer that revolutionized the printing industry, initially had to work on it his spare time behind a black curtain because his superiors thought it was a silly idea. After he threatened to leave for IBM, Starkweather was transferred to Xerox’s newly opened Palo Alto Research Center, where he did get the resources to build a prototype. But Xerox management remained skeptical — it was only after Starkweather was able to demonstrate the superiority of his prototype in a competition pitting it against incremental product innovations that management thought were more promising that he began to break through the resistance.

PILOT PROJECT: Another of the major methods of persuasion outlined by Robert Cialdini is the “principle of consistency.” That is, once we have taken an action, we experience personal and social pressure to behave consistently with it. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision. This principle can be applied to gain support for an innovative idea. When additional support or resources are needed to develop your innovation, and simply keeping your work under the radar will not suffice,  proposing an innovation as research or as a pilot project that does not require a major commitment can garner support. Once managers have committed to the research or pilot project, it becomes difficult for them not to support the implementation that naturally follows from its success.

For example, after demonstrating that his high-speed laser printer prototype outperformed the alternatives, Starkweather still faced internal resistance in bringing it to market. He and his boss came up with the idea of grafting lasers onto older, excess inventory printers, turning them into working laser printers at minimal cost, and offering them for free to several good customers to test. The response to these first laser printers was overwhelmingly positive, spawning a multi-billion dollar business for Xerox.

INEVITABILITY: When an industry is changing rapidly, it opens the door to obtaining support for an innovative idea that, in a more stable business environment, management might not consider. Particularly when coupled with one of the above techniques, such as under the radar or the pilot project, it can be effective to argue that since change is inevitable the organization ought to get ahead of it.  The choice then becomes either support the proposal now and exert control over how the business evolves, or be forced to accept changes later on others’ terms.

Colin Foster described to us how, in 2008, when he was the head of online and internal communications at drug-maker Novartis, he was able to overcome strong resistance to employing social media to engage customers. The company’s lawyers and its top management, to the extent they understood social media, opposed its use because of their inability to control the content. So Foster arranged a meeting with the company’s president, bringing along an expert from IBM to explain social media. At the start of the meeting Foster opened his computer and typed “Novartis” into a Twitter search, stating “We’ll get back to this later.” About an hour later, as the meeting was ending, Foster turned back to his computer. Over 600 tweets mentioning Novartis had been generated, all without any participation from the company. The president seemed to suddenly recognize that the company was going to be the subject of social media conversation regardless of what it did, and directed Foster to form a high-level team to examine how the company should use social media.

The more successful an organization, the more likely it will continue to do what has made it successful in the past and resist breakthrough innovations. Leaders can, and often do, try to make corporate cultures more receptive to innovation. However, providing innovators with the influencing tools needed to gain support for their ideas within the prevailing corporate culture, whatever that culture may be, will likely have a greater impact.
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Advantages to Leasing Your Office Space | Real Estate > Commercial & Residential Property from

For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, the question of whether to buy property or to lease office space can be a confusing issue. If you ask a professional real estate broker, he or she will probably tell you that it depends on the particular situation. The truth is, when it comes to this important business decision, there really is no “one size fits all” solution.

Of course, if you are lacking sufficient capital to purchase a commercial building, then the decision becomes an easy one. But leasing may be the smartest move anyway: Statistics show that most new business owners start out by leasing office space, and many business consultants advise leasing your work space until you get on your feet and your business starts operating in the black.

Some advantages to leasing your business property:
Flexibility. One obvious advantage to leasing property is the flexibility it provides. When the lease is up, you can easily relocate to another office that better suits the needs of your business and your budget.
Fewer responsibilities. The property manager or landlord is the one responsible for maintenance, security, remodeling, and other management issues.
Deductible payments. If the arrangement is a true lease (and the Internal Revenue Service agrees it is), then lease payments are deductible as operating expenses.
No mortgage. Not being locked into a mortgage loan allows you to free up cash and put it where it is needed. This is especially helpful for new business owners.
Idris Grant's insight:

When contemplating buying vs. leasing office space, the decision can sometimes be a daunting one for small business owners.  Here are some of the advantages to taking a leasing path.

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Why 'Capacity' Is the Key to Success in 2015

About this time of year (the strategic planning season), a lot of business leaders get hung up trying to anticipate the future. Weirdly enough, such a preoccupation almost always ends up producing strategic plans guaranteed to generate dismal results.

Why? Because it's not events that will shape your future next year--it's how your business reacts to those events. No matter how prescient you are, you will still have to marshal the right response to future events when they occur. Let me put it this way: Twenty-twenty forward vision is no guarantee of future success.

What will the market do next year? What will my competitors do next year? How will the economy fare? What new technological or legislative or social events will impact our industry in the next 12 months? These and the thousand other questions that everyone uses to start the strategic planning process are perfectly well and good as just that--starting points. The mistake comes in how you respond to the answers.

Usually, company leaders respond to anticipated future events by detailing specific actions their organization will take. So far, so good. Most company leaders are intelligent people, so those questions--and the answers you come up with--are usually tenable, reasonable, sensible.

So where's the problem? It lies in the next part--when it's time to execute those planned actions. You discover (too late) that you simply don't have the capacity to do so.

This "capacity deficit" can be caused by any, some, or all of three factors:

1. Time

What the cool kids these days call "bandwidth"--as in, "I don't have the bandwidth to do this"--everyone else calls "time." Business leaders often write strategic plans in blissful denial of the fact that almost everything contained in them is additive to schedules that are already filled to capacity. Result? When it comes time to implement, there's simply not time to do so.

2. Ability

Even when you allow for the additive impact of strategic plans (by adding head count, or dropping other initiatives that aren't producing positive results), consideration is rarely given as to whether your team has the skills required to effectively implement the plan.

Note that this doesn't necessarily imply that the team isn't competent. It's often the case that the skills, knowledge, and experience required to effectively implement a new strategic plan are simply different from those required previously, and there's no guarantee your existing team possesses those new skills.

3. Fit

This is where I see even the strongest plans fail--even in the hands of a very strong team. Place a Visionary plan in the hands of a Processor team, for example, or a Processor-generated plan in the hands of an Operator team, and you have a recipe for ineffective implementation.

So before you call "cut and print" on next year's strategic plan, ask yourself this one vital question: Can your team actually execute it? Have you considered time, ability, and fit?
Idris Grant's insight:

Les McKeonwn warns business owners that it isn't events alone that will shape your business' future next year, but how your business reacts to these events is what really matters.  Having the right reaction (or response) to situations trumps vision. 

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At Last: A Barrage Of Good News About Entrepreneurs

At Last: A Barrage Of Good News About Entrepreneurs | Client-GoHiRise |

There’s no mistaking it: Small business owners are psyched about the future. Many are hiring. They’re getting financing. They’re feeling confident.

Pretty much every survey I’ve received  about entrepreneurs the past few weeks underlines the uptick in their overall mojo. Take the National Small Business Association’s 2014 Mid-Year Economic Report. It found that:

  • Seventy-two percent of owners are confident about their firms’ futures, up from 66% six months ago
  • Seventy-two percent of small-business owners said they had adequate access to financing, up from 70 percent six months ago and 65 percent a year ago.
  • Nearly half of small business owners said they had increased employees’ compensation in the last six months
  • Layoffs are fading: The number of small-business owners who reduced their workforce in the last 12 months was 19 percent—a nearly six-year low.

There were some troublesome findings: 46 percent of owners worry about getting socked by inflation in the next six months—up from 41 percent six months ago. And, not surprisingly, 55% of respondents said economic uncertainty is the top challenge to the growth of their businesses. Perhaps flux is the new normal.

Meanwhile there were some other encouraging findings in recent research:

  • Among middle market firms, executives are enthusiastic about their ability to secure capital and complete a transaction before the end of 2014, according to new research commissioned by accounting, tax and advisory firm CohnReznick LLP. The survey found that nearly 20% of middle-market companies expect to engage in a liquidity or capital formation event over the next six months. That could translate into hiring.
  • Freelancers are thriving. Nearly 90% of workers affiliated with the 250,000 member Freelancers Union say they wouldn’t return to traditional work if they had the choice, according to research the nonprofit released in July. This sentiment is especially true for millennials.

There are plenty of obstacles to running a small business, and I’ve reported on many of them, especially in the years since 2008. It’s great to see some good news for a change.

If you’ve been waiting out plans to expand your business, don’t wait too long. Conditions could change. You don’t want to miss this moment.

Idris Grant's insight:

Economic trends for entrepreneurs appear to be gaining positive momentum in several key areas.

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The Five: Tips on designing creative office space at low cost

The Five: Tips on designing creative office space at low cost | Client-GoHiRise |
Ted Kollaja talked to staff writer Hanah Cho about five tips on designing low-budget, creative spaces for small businesses.
Idris Grant's insight:

Great tips on building creative spaces on a low-budget.  Here are the highlights:

  1. Focus on your people
  2. Maximize space use
  3. Set a realistic schedule
  4. Think outside the box
  5. .Hire a good designer

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