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Business Owner Holiday Cheer and Goodwill

Spread Holiday Cheer and Goodwill Starting TODAY.
Now that we have settled in from Thanksgiving, are in the midst of Chanukah and approaching the Christmas holiday, I would like to share some thoughts about how I teach my clients to spread much needed business owner holiday cheer and goodwill this time of year.
Planning, launching, and growing your business is a never-ending grind.  We spend so much time focused on serving others, from our clients to employees, to vendors and suppliers that we often think of ourselves last.
This can have the effect of wearing ourselves down to the point where we crush our spirit, stop focusing on how to grow our business, and lose sight  of what we want to ultimately create to make the world a better place through our offerings.
Now is the perfect time to start focusing on ourselves.  Spend a little time every day to set aside some quality YOU time.  Spoil yourself. Buy yourself special gifts every so often, just because.
Take time out to completely unplug from the multitude of tasks required to run your business so you can recharge your batteries as you rekindle your passion and excitement for being on your own.
Get a manicure/pedicure, treat yourself to a massage. Go to the movies in the middle of the day. also, be sure to spend some much needed time thinking about creative solutions to grow your business.   The act of setting aside quiet alone time  to think in free-form mode is called visualization.
We ALL need quality time to ourselves, so why not make this Holiday Season the start of your practice of treating yourself to time alone, so you can experience the  much needed feel-good moments to rekindle your passions and your sense of personal mission for what you hope to accomplish in 2014 and the years ahead.
For you business owners that have employees, this holiday season spend considerable thought, time, and effort revisiting just HOW VALUABLE your people are.
They are NOT assets to be controlled, managed, reduced, outsourced, contracted, and taken advantage of the way so many employers treat them.
Your employees are people that have made commitments to your business.  They serve your customers.  They promote your business, sell your products and services.
So, use THIS holiday Season to make it your mission to rekindle your employees’ passion for committing to your business.
Build excitement!  Offer holiday parties with themes, just be sure to skip the alcohol.  As a matter of sensitivity, try not to be short-sighted and force Judeo-Christian themes on them.  Some employees that have grown up in other cultures and religions might get offended.  Rather, ask for volunteers to form a Team that plans a holiday party to be as inclusive as possible and have a real sense of purpose to foster greater morale.
Be sensitive, thoughtful, and CREATIVE.  Why not set up a team that decides what community activities and volunteer organizations your business can support?
Happy Holidays1
Have them build a program that you agreed to fund. Set aside a budget just for this program.  Launch the program this holiday season and commit to that social responsibility campaign for the ENTIRE year, from now through next year’s holiday season.
Don’t be a Scrooge!  Open those purse strings.  Give out holiday bonuses as rewards for their significant efforts all year long.  Rather than stock piling cash, be generous and give raises.  ‘Tis the season to award your people with promotions!
As we approach the end of the year it is the perfect time to create employee reviews with performance plans.
Start implementing 360-degree employee reviews. What!?  You don’t have formal reviews?  Well, now is THE PERFECT TIME to create them.
Have your employees review YOU and your MANAGEMENT TEAM.  Tie employee bonuses to serving your clients, and taking calculated risks to grow your business.  Reward them financially for coming up with creative solutions (even if those ideas are not implemented!)
Give them time off to be with family, allow them to set their own work schedules, let them bring their children to the office.  The only limit to how much holiday cheer and employee good will you can create is your own creativity.  But you MUST begin thinking what it takes to excite, encourage, reward and keep your people happy.   A happy workforce is an engaged workforce and engagement leads to profitability through higher employee productivity.
What have you been doing all your to thank you customers for keeping your business in business?  A holiday card or email just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Give them what they want and deserve.
Let them dictate the terms of how they engage with you.  Solicit their input by surveying them.  Ask them what your business is doing that they enjoy, what could you do better.  Make them the valued partners they already are.
Have them customize the offers you make to them.  Rewards them with meaningful gifts that matter to them….do NOT come up with some uncreative GIFT CARD or POINTS program that they don’t want and will NEVER use.
Let them determine your return policy.  Have them  tell you what promotional campaigns they would find valuable.
There is so much to be thankful for, even despite these challenging times.  By nourishing yourself and rekindling the excitement you felt when you first decided to launch your own business you can create enough good will and cheer to fuel continued success in 2014…and beyond.   Start with your employees and customers and build from there.
Happy Holidays from The Chazin Group!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach and Business Consultant.  Helping you unleash your full potential and plan, launch, and grow a wildly successful business.

The Arrogance of "Know-it-all" Business Owners

Who Think They Know it ALL, Proves They Often DON’T (Know It All!)
Today’s post comes to you from a place of great personal PAIN for me.  I will share with you my lifelong love of my favorite NFL team and the business owner who thinks he knows it all…and proves he DOESN’T on a nearly daily basis.
But before I get to that, let me start by saying as a business coach and strategy consultant, I see the harmful impact that a business owner, leader or management team  who thinks she/he knows everything can have on their organization’s performance.  WE ALL HAVE BLIND SPOTS.  There are things we simply don ‘t (can’t) know, and are NOT an expert in.
For 20 years working in Corporate America and now in my work with business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-ups I have witnessed first-hand how business owners who refuse to admit they can benefit from the help of peers, co-workers, direct reports, suppliers, vendors, contractors AND THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS damage their organizations.
Which takes me to my Team…America’s Team…YES, the DALLAS COWBOYS!
I realize that just mentioning my life-long love for my team might alienate a LOT of people.  But I take you to the world of Jerry Jones, in an effort to prove to you how bad things happen to organizations led by people who refuse to admit they don’t know everything and could benefit from the expertise of others.
Jerry first made his millions in natural gas and oil.  He’s gotten rich on SPECULATION.  He bought my team in 1989 for $150 million and appointed himself the General Manager.  What qualifications did he possess?  Well, he DID play college football at Arkansas in the 1960s so I guess that could lead him to think of himself as a “Football Man.”
He initiated his team ownership by in effect firing a revered coach (Tom Landry) and in his place hired unproven college coach Jimmy Johnson thinking he would be able to control Jimmy.  He then placed his son Stephen (now VP of Operations) in a significant role DESPITE his son having ZERO qualifications proving nepotism beats on the job experience.
Long story short, the team traded their aging star Herschell Walker to  the Vikings who turned over to the Cowboys a large number of draft picks in the hope that Herschell Walker was the final piece their team needed to get to the Super Bowl (he wasn’t and they didn’t!)   Jimmy then used his college football coaching connections in Florida (he coached at the University of  Miami) to use those Viking draft picks to rebuild the team’s roster with future stars like Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.  The team  experienced immediate success by winning 3 of 4 Super Bowls from 1992-1995.  Jerry’s ego which was fueled by such rapid success led Jimmy to leave.  All that early success as owner and General Manager led Jerry to think he knew everything about NFL football success.
It was the delusion of his exceptional narcissism that led him to believe falsely that he had an understanding of what it took to achieve greatness.  He has refused to admit he was the beneficiary of many unprecedented events (a perfect storm.)  In the process he alienated Jimmy Johnson who eventually left Dallas.  Since Jimmy’s departure the team has suffered through a steady turn-over in head coaches, coaching staffs, and players that have collectively gotten the team (MY TEAM) a total of ONE playoff victory in SEVENTEEN YEARS.
Sure Jerry Jones has grown the team’s worth to $3 billion over the past two plus decades.   This just goes to prove that he is the consummate snake oil salesman…NOT an NFL General Manager.
To THIS day Jerry Jones refuses to admit that he and the team would benefit from him giving up his General Manager responsibilities.
The lessons learned to any business owner who wants their organization to succeed could not be any clearer.  None of us know everything.  Those who are mature enough to seek advice and counsel from others who have expertise often benefit from the additional insights provided.  By giving up control and tapping into others’ collective skills, well-adjusted leaders can spend time focusing on developing a long-term vision that they need, to grow their business.
In order to succeed, it takes great personal, professional and business maturity.  You have to willingly and actively seek others’ help in the areas you don’t possess expertise in, whether you are the head of a multinational corporation, a not-for-profit organization, a Government, or…an NFL team.
This is why I urge my clients to seek out coaches and mentors, and ask lots of questions as they are planning their business. Talk to other entrepreneurs and start-ups especially people in your own industry.  Talk to vendors, suppliers, contractors, potential customers and people who work in the industry.  Learn as much as you can.  And once you launch your business, KEEP SEEKING COUNSEL from the people that have the desire and expertise needed to help you.  Another good idea is to take a skills inventory or personal assessment, to determine areas that you are strong in as well as the areas that you might benefit from enlisting the help of others.
You can get my Entrepreneur Self-Assessment from my website.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach and Business Consultant.
Helping you unleash your full potential and plan, launch, and grow a wildly successful business.

Creating a Great Organizational Culture

The Power of a Great Organizational Culture
In my work as a business consultant I invest a tremendous amount of time and effort providing executive coaching to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners.
It is often a challenge explaining how critically important it is to establish a winning organizational culture for lasting competitive advantage.
The concept of “culture” can seem nebulous, poorly defined, and difficult to quantify from an ROI perspective.
However, culture and the many benefits that organizations receive from creating and maintaining a great culture or competitive advantage in the markets they compete in make it an invaluable asset for those that know how to create one.
Organizations like Microsoft, Apple, Google, LinkedIn all gain tremendous benefit from creating a great organizational culture and winning workplace.
Well, what then is “CULTURE?”  Simply stated, culture ids the PERSONALITY of the company.
By becoming known as a great place to work, your company can and will gain many benefits in terms of access to the best employee talent.  Not only will the best and brightest employees flock to your front door for a chance to join your workforce, but the brightest stars in your organization will stay with you through the good times and bad.
When you build a winning culture vendors, suppliers, and business partners all will be eager to work with you and your brand (“buzz”) the reputation will make you the organization that your customers will all want to buy from again and again and again.  Having a world-class culture gives you built in economies of scale, increases your efficiencies, and delivers lasting competitive all from the act of creating a world-class organization with a winning culture.
Ask yourself what makes certain companies like Tom’s Shoes, Disney, Marvel, Starbucks, Marriott, Virgin Airlines, Southwest Airlines, etc. GREAT places to work!
The answer is, they ALL build everything they do with their employees best interests at the heart of everything they do, and their customers are a close second.
Here are some best practices that you can implement immediately to build a great culture:
You, your founders/business partners MUST define your own values and beliefs.  This is especially critical for entrepreneurs and start-ups just starting out with their new business.
Spend time discussing what you want your legacy to be.  What do you want to leave behind when all is said and done as a lasting contribution to the greater good.
Assign someone whose primary (ideally ONLY) responsibility is to maintain your world-class culture.  They must be empowered to do everything necessary to keep your culture as a world-class competitive advantage.  Create a culture initiative, or list of all the strategic actions required to build and maintain that culture.  Set aside budget to fund the creation and maintenance of culture.
Define, articulate a compelling VISION and MISSION statement.   Here are working definitions of BOTH provided by Bruce D. Johnson so you can better understand (and articulate) the differences between them:
 Your Vision statement explains what you want to be/become.
It’s entirely aspirational.  Your vision should inspire the hearts of people who work for you and engage with you.
Ex. Norfolk Southern logistics company: “Be the safest, most customer-focused and most successful transportation company in the world.”
Define what your organization does and does not do, and who you do it for.
Ex. U.S. Tennis Association: “Promote and develop the growth of tennis.”
Mission statements drive everything your organization does.  They should be simple, direct, and operative.
List all of the qualities that you want your ideal employees to have.  Define the types of people that you want to work with (and don’t) in terms of suppliers, contractors, vendors, and service providers.
Once you define your organizational culture, you MUST communicate it by stating your organizational values everywhere, from your job descriptions, to your website, employee orientation handbook, as well as your social media, press releases, and website.
Treat your employees like your MOST valuable resources.
It is critical that you develop the programs needed to reward, recognize, empower, challenge, train, coach, mentor, and compensate your employees.
A company MUST care about the culture and work very hard to build it and maintain it.    The good news is, if you care enough about your culture  you WILL have a GREAT place to work!
Leadership sets the tone.  your leadership team must embody the spirit of your culture and convey the company’s culture to all they interact with, inside and outside of the organization.
Need help in gaining a clearer understanding of the importance of CULTURE?
Check out this video in which Tony Hsieh of Zappos explains what makes a business a truly great place to work.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach and Business Consultant.
Helping you unleash your full potential and plan, launch, and grow a wildly successful business.

How to Choose a Business Partner

How to Choose The Right Business Partner For You

There are two approaches that you can take when deciding whether or not someone would make an ideal business partner for you to join forces with.
Unfortunately, while both strategies are required I find that many entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business people almost always fail to factor in BOTH considerations.
#1 Find the ideal match to compliment your skills.
The first approach you must take is to determine which skills you are best at (ex. sales, marketing , operations, etc.) then find a short list of folks whose own skills compliment yours by having strengths in those areas you lack the needed background, experience, and skills in.
For example, if you are socially oriented (extroverted) and you love  to interact with others but you hate doing detail-oriented work (such as data analysis and conducting research), then those are the exact skills that you want to be looking for in your ideal business partner(s.)  Many people fail at this because they naturally seek out potential partners that they “get along” with. Most often this means they connect with folks who share their background and experience.
The cold hard truth is, no one has experience in every facet of running a business.  Therefore,  you and your partner(s) should collectively have experience in all of the following functional areas that are required to plan, launch, and grow a successful business because you need to have a well-defined division of labor by splitting up the duties required.
– Sales
– Marketing (Advertising, PR, Sales Promotions)
– Communications
– Customer Care
– Product Development
– Financials
– Operations
– Market Research
– Human Resources/People management
#2: Find others whose values, beliefs, and work ethic matches your own.
You want (need) to be able to work with people that share your passions, interests, morals, values, and beliefs as well as your entrepreneurial “spirit.”   Some strategies that you can and should utilize in order to determine who might be an ideal “fit” for you as a business partner include:
– The both of you should write your own profiles and share those them with each other.
– You and any potential partners should develop a list of all the things you each want to accomplish professionally.  This list must include all of the reasons why you want to go out on your own and start a business.
– You also should develop a complete list of all the resources you each bring to the table.  These resources must include:  financial contributions you both can make, skills, your background, professional training, certifications, organization memberships and affiliations, work experience, personal and professional networks of key contacts, any clients you maintained from your previous jobs.
This comprehensive list of assets will be of critical importance as you determine which potential partners and you share the deepest, broadest collection of assets to be leveraged for the good of your business.
Ask those people closest to you who you trust the most for personal referrals of people whose skills compliment yours and whose values and beliefs most closely align with yours.
Both of you should write down what you want your (business) legacy to be when all is said and done.  Any person you consider partnering in should know what it is that you hope to leave behind/contribute to the greater good (society) as a result of planning and launching your own business.
You and your partners should therefore have skills that compliment one another.  Your strengths should match their weaknesses, and vise versa.   Your values and beliefs have to be in perfect harmony with each other, in order for you to be able to get through all of the initial emotional hurdles we all face in planning, launching, and growing a business.
Lastly, get your commitments down in writing.  Have a business attorney develop a formal partnership agreement that stipulates all of the following:
How much capital you will contribute. your credit rating, work experiences, and capital you can allocate.  Do you both have people willing to co-sign?  Do you both have a small inner circle of business advisers.   Ideally you should both have  completed a formal personality assessment tool such as Myers-Briggs, Birkman, DISC, etc. and share the findings from those assessments so you have the best possible appreciation for, and understanding of, your partners’ values, beliefs, background, experiences, hopes, and skills.
Some other criteria you can apply in your search for the ideal business partner:
– You should genuinely like each other and get along.
– You should have the same vision and mission
– You should be physically located in the same place.
– You should be able to pick each other up when you are both feeling down.
These are just a few guidelines.  Here are some additional resources for you to use in determining how to conduct an effective business partner search.
  * How to find the perfect business partner on
  * How to find the right business partner on WikiHow
  * How do I find a business partner on Inc.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Business Coach. Helping you to plan, launch, and grow your business.

Build a Business Website People Love to Visit

Create an Awesome Small Business Website People WANT to Visit.
It’s the gateway to your business…it’s open 24 x 7 x365…and it represents everything you have to offer.
It’s your website, and it likely is failing you in MANY ways.
I have noticed a very disturbing trend for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses when it comes to their website.   They do not understand how to design a site that is engaging, easy to use/navigate, relevant to the firm’s ideal customers, and refreshed to remain interesting so visitors to their website want to keep coming back.
Fear not small business owner.  Your business website can be fixed.  Just follow these guidelines and you will have a world-class website in NO time.
1. Understand what your website will be used for:  Is your website going to be used for education, to entertain, or to generate sales.  Understanding what your website’s primary purpose is, will help you to understand how to design it for the maximum benefit of your website visitors.
2. Get your top customers involved.   Want to understand what your customers want from your website?  Ask them!   Have them involved in the content creation for your business website, and certainly involve them in the design by having a select few of your ideal customers (five to ten will do just fine) be involved in testing of your website.  Have them try to navigate around, see if the content is appealing to them.  Can they find what they are looking for in TWO clicks, or less?  If not, they won’t bother struggling to find what they need.  They will simply leave your website…and likely won’t come back.
3.  Update your content constantly.  While you won’t need to continuously update all the content on your site, one of the major factors in how relevant your site is when it comes to Google and search is whether you are updating your site’s content.  Information you can add/update on a regular basis include events, trade shows and conferences you attend, link your site to your blog and write a blog post every 1-2 weeks, provide links to partners, resources, case studies, white papers, industry research, and useful resources.
4. Video is King.   Be sure to create a videos section with 2-3 minute videos of you and your partners talking on various topics related to your core business offerings.  Google looks VERY favorably on video being included on your site.  They own YouTube, after all and it’s the second most popular search engine for a reason.   People LOVE watching videos!
5. Links to Partners Matter.  By including external links to your partner’s websites and having them link back to your site, Google will also look favorably upon your site and consider it to be more relevant than competitors that do not have links.  Understand though that your partners must be reputable firms that have an established following.
6. Embed All your pages with analytics.  Go to and enter the link for every one of the pages of your site.   Google will create custom code for each page of your site.  You will need to embed that Google generated code onto each page of your website.   Doing so will enable you to track the traffic that comes to your site.
7. Pay attention to the Analytics. Spend time analyzing what the traffic figures tell you.  Bounce rate is the percent of folks that come to your site and leave right away.  How many people are coming to your site for the first time. Having a high bounce rate or high number of first time visitors will tell you people don’t like what they see when they get to your site and/or they do not come back.  You should also know where people are coming to your site from?  Are they arriving from searches, your social media pages, partner sites, or elsewhere?  Knowing WHERE visitors are coming from when they get to your website REALLY matters.   You will want/need to know how long they spend on your site (in time and number of pages viewed.)   Additional insights include: where visitors live (cities, countries, and regions of the world), and the language they are searching in.
8.  How does your site rank?  There are many free services that you can use to determine how effective your site is.  Some tools/resources include websites like, and  These sites look at your website and come up with a diagnostic report of how effective your website is.  go ahead and try doing this.   The results might just amaze you.
9. Quick hits to make a site sticky.  Have your telephone number and email prominently displayed on EVERY page, make sure your contact us page works, allow people to post comments, and have icons for your social media accounts displayed on the top of every page.  Have a very sharp logo professionally designed on the top-left hand corner of your site.   You want to have a LOT of white space (think Apple) with effect color contrast, easy to read text font and all critical information above the fold (at the top of the screen.)   Architect your site so it can be displayed with maximum visual impact on all three platforms (mobile, tablet, and laptop/PC.)
10. Brand your business on your website.  Make sure that your website’s branding perfectly matches your print materials, and your social media pages.
11. Blog, blog, blog.   In real estate it’s all about LOCATION. In building a strong online presence through your website, be sure to have a blog nested withing your site.  A platform like WordPress creates a bridge between your website and your blog so you can easily drive traffic back and forth between your site and your blog.
12. Re-design your website at regular intervals.  An acceptable time frame to re-design your site is every one to two years.  Certain factors may necessitate a more frequent update cycle, such as major new markets you enter, new products and services offered, new target markets pursued, any mergers, acquisitions, and/or partnerships your firm goes through.
13. Content is king.  I know, I know, I already said Video is king.  Sure, videos DO matter and the total content placed on your site is critically important!  How do you know WHAT content matters most to your site’s visitors?   In order to place relevant text, pictures, photographs, charts, etc. that people care about, you MUST spend time on Google adwords to learn the two to three keyword search terms that people search for every month that are relevant to your business/organization.   Once you figure out the search terms people are searching for most frequently, make sure you use those terms on as many of your pages as you can.   Not only does the content on your pages make a huge difference to your site’s overall relevance, but there is something equally important you never see ON your website and that is called “meta data.”
14. Information about information is “Meta data.”   Meta data are the descriptions (50-250 words) that you use to describe what is on your pages. Be sure to use all of the most critically important (relevant) terms to describe what is on your page.
Well, there you have it.   My list of best practices you should implement on your website, in order to create a world-class site that your best customers, employees, partners, members of the media, and potential investors will all WANT to visit.  The goal is to have the people that you want to visit your website visit time and time again, to learn more about you, your business, and what you’re up to.
How many of these best practices do you implement with your business website?
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach

Invest in Your Business Planning, Not Running Your Business

Are you so busy running your business, you can’t find time to work on your business planning and GROW your business?
It’s the classic dilemma faced by nearly ALL start-ups and small business owners everywhere.
Business owners get so consumed with running every aspect of their business because they don’t have enough staff or the resources (money) to delegate by hiring others, that they don’t have time to focus on GROWING their business by investing sufficient effort in business planning.   Thus, the vicious cycle of investing more and more effort working in their business leads to diminished returns in growing their business.
This is where I spend the most time coaching my business clients, by introducing them to the critical notion of getting OUT of the day-to-day tasks associated with running their business, so they can set aside invaluable time to invest in their strategic business planning.
If this sounds a LOT like the challenges you face, here are some useful tips for how you can begin to shift your focus from working IN your business, to working ON growing your business.

We start by my administering a self-assessment / skills inventory tool I created, so we can identify and focus on all their core competencies…the things they do really well and LOVE doing.  By extension, we are also able to determine the type of busy work that they are better off outsourcing to those folks that specialize in these services.
We outsource EVERYTHING else!   as their business consultant, I introduce them to other folks who take over their administrative tasks (I find them a virtual administrative assistant), get them a bookkeeper, find them freelance talent for copy-writing, social media, and graphic design and in effect outsource every single non-core competency that wastes their time.

Carve out a predetermined amount of time EVERY DAY that you go to your quiet ALONE place and think about your business. not the mundane tasks, or day to day headaches but the BIG PICTURE stuff.  What initiatives would you undertake, if money were no object and your resources were infinite?

Think about the average income you generate on a “per hour” basis.  How much do you charge per hour for your services, or how much do you charge per product when you break down how much time it takes you to make a product.
However you set up the formula, you have to have an understanding of, and appreciation for, every hour you invest NOT selling is an opportunity cost for the most valuable resource there is…TIME.
There are formal partnership you can form with shared ownership and financial commitments, as well as informal partnerships (more akin to working relationships) that can be sought with vendors, suppliers, contractors, service providers.  By forming both types of relationships, you can off-load your work, split tasks, focus on what you love doing and are best at, maximize your time investment, and pull out of the minutiae of running your business to focus on planning the future of your business.
This is a really important requirement for clients that I coach that are just starting out.   They are so intent on forming their business that asking them to think about their legacy is often a challenge.
But by thinking of what you want to leave behind, and setting up mile markers with benchmarks for achieving everything you set out to accomplish, you will know when it is time to step away from the business to focus on the next chapter of your life.
By committing this to writing, you will define your legacy in such a way that you can document your desired organizational culture, the values you want your organization to represent type of people you want to work with, the ideal employees to achieve success with you, clients you wish to land and serve, the type of social corporate responsibility and contributions you want to make to your community and society.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Coach