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I loved the movie Up, as did many.  And, of course, one of the enduring images was of Dug the dog noticing squirrels.

I can relate.

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I had a great discussion this morning who was struggling with where to invest in new technology.  She’s a confessed “late adopter” of technical goodies, so it’s all a bit daunting where to start.

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I was reading a discussion this morning.  It was started by a fellow who’s a member of an organization of 1.2 million people, and was expressing frustration around how slow it moves – he was asking if it could be brought into the 21st century.

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I work with a lot of business owners who are struggling with this tepid market – in particular, how to grow their revenue and market share. Depending on your customers and market, here are some ideas which might just get things moving again:

  • Adjust pricing: Many pricing decisions may have been made in a much different market, and your current levels may be either too low or too high. If prices are too high, they’ll drive customers away. If too low, you’ll be giving away your profit and the ability to invest in other areas.Ask yourself: If you were just starting now, how would you set pricing for the current market? Don’t assume that a tough economy means that customers and competitors always exert downward pressure: You may still find those opportunities to be rewarded for providing unique and compelling value.
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I ran across a very nice blog post today from Johny Booker: 5 Simple Ways to Improve Profit Margins.

And they are indeed simple.  This is business basics, folks, not fancy magic.

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In hard times, what do most people do?

Our first thought is to become very conservative. Don’t spend money, don’t take risks, just keep plugging away and working hard until things get better.

Read more on my Workbloom blog»


When we read compelling stories of leaders in business, in politics and in society, most of the emphasis is placed on what the person has accomplished and achieved. It’s all about how they’ve affected others.

That’s not the source of leadership, though. True leadership begins on the inside – what I like to characterize as the five Cs.

Read the rest in my column in the Northern Colorado Business Report»

Carl Dierschow
Small Fish Business Coaching
Fort Collins, Colorado

As we kick off 2011, it’s a great time to take advantage of the sense of renewal that comes with this yearly cycle. Sure, it’s artificial. There’s not much that actually changes just because we’ve changed the year to a new number.

Then again, your customers and employees are a part of the larger society. Read the rest of this entry »

I was reading an article today about common mistakes people make when writing business plans. It wasn’t bad, but it reinforced my assertion that there’s different kinds of business plans. The ones the article referred to were for getting funding, and they expected to be on the order of 30+ pages.

Fine, I suppose, but you’re never going to USE it.

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I heard about a very interesting idea tested by the owners of a rest home in Düsseldorf, Germany.  Worried about Alzheimer’s patients who would wander off, and not wanting to make the home feel like a prison, they simply placed a fake bus stop outside.  As they expected, disoriented patients would calmly wait at the bus stop for the never-to-arrive transport, where personnel could find them and bring them back inside in a friendly and inviting way.

Here’s a great summary, and a pointer to the RadioLab podcast where I first heard about this.

What’s interesting to me is that this is working with peoples’ tendencies rather than against them.  Usually we try to keep people from doing what we don’t want them to do, which of course is a losing battle.  People are creative.

Instead, this is a wonderful example of figuring out how to work with what people want to do.  Alzheimer’s patients aren’t so worried about escaping, they’re worried about returning home or returning to familiarity.  This bus stop helps them to find something which is familiar and comforting – a step toward returning home.  So their anxiety dissipates.

Let’s relate this to other businesses.  The idea is that we want to service customers by working with what they naturally want to do rather than against it.

Suppose I own a cell phone shop, struggling to compete against the big names in an industry that’s increasingly become a commodity.  But as a small business owner, I have some freedom to think creatively about how I find customers.

When do people look to enter a new phone contract?

  • When they’re buying their first cell phone (not too many of those anymore!)
  • When their current phone breaks
  • When the battery gives out
  • When they’re buying the kid’s first phone
  • When they’re wondering if they can really replace a computer with a cell phone for everyday use

And the crucial question:  Where do people go when they’re in these situations? I don’t mean just the phone vendors that they might evaluate.  Where do they have discussions?  What other products are they buying at the same time?

What would happen if the kid’s first cell phone was bundled with the school supplies that a parent is likely to buy at around middle school age?  What if links were made from buying a new battery to actually replacing the phone?

Let’s work with our customers, rather than trying to convince them to buy something that they’re not interested in right now.

Carl Dierschow
Small Fish Business Coaching Fort Collins, CO USA

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