If investors aren’t satisfied with a company’s growth rate, they might try to replace the CEO. The incoming replacement typically has about eight weeks to figure out what’s wrong at the venture and how to fix it.
A quick turn onto a new path is desirable so that the company can grow faster and investors see the new executive as part of the solution. But that’s not always easy because the new chief inherits the people who were responsible for the old strategy. Those staffers may feel threatened by a new strategy and try to undermine it.
The new leader could replace them but at the risk of losing valuable talent. Instead, a CEO might be better off managing a process to help employees see the company’s future as he or she does. Then all the company’s oars are rowing in the same direction.
John M. Collard, chairman of Annapolis, Md.-based Strategic Management Partners, conceived of turning around a company company as a five-step process. His white paper that named each of steps in the title: ‘Management Change, Situation Analysis, Emergency Action, Business Restructuring, and Return to Normality‘.
Shane Buckley put his own spin on enacting dramatic change, by using seven steps, after becoming the CEO of Xirrus in the summer of 2012. As he explained in an interview last week, he saw that Xirrus, a commercial Wi-Fi firm, had a presence in schools and universities but needed to expand its markets and selectively outsource activities previously done in-house to lower costs.
“I changed our business and a key part of that was outsourcing many of the activities that Xirrus had done internally, such as manufacturing,” he said. “I knew that implementing this … would require a big cultural change.”
Buckley could have fired the employees, replacing them all with people who saw things his way. But he decided to bring in an outside management consultant, Judy Issokson of Issokson & Associates, to help him lead the process of changing Xirrus’s culture.
The following seven steps that Buckley took to change Xirrus’ strategy without replacing all its people could be of help to other firms.
1. Meeting with all employees
Buckley started off as CEO by meeting with people both inside and outside the company. “During the first six to eight weeks, I had a chance to figure out what was working and what needed to be fixed,” he says. “I met with all customers and partners. I also spent about 30 to 45 minutes with groups of six to eight employees to ask them what is happening.”
Listen to customers, employees, suppliers and industry experts to figure out the markets to target and capabilities the company needs to win.
2. Creating a safe zone to talk about the truth
People are naturally afraid when a new CEO arrives. Buckley hired Issokson to help dispel that fear. She created ground rules to help employees feel confident that they would be safe if they told her their true feelings about Xirrus.
Explained Buckley: “I was working with Judy to help us identify the barriers to getting Xirrus where we wanted to be. I realized that since [the company was] going to outsource activities like engineering that Xirrus had always done internally that the engineering staff might have different skill sets than what would be needed. But I wanted people to feel free to express their concerns” in a safe environment.
When a CEO’s vision depends on radical change in the company’s strategy, it’s a judgment call whether to keep most of the employees. If the decision is to work with current employees, the leader needs a way for them to replace their fear of change with enthusiastic buy-in to the CEO’s vision. A CEO who’s great at managing change can accomplish that. Otherwise, hire an experienced consultant (after checking references) who has done this for similar companies.
3. Getting ideas for future goals
Buckley wanted people in the company to articulate what they believed needed to be done. He met with his executive staff and the whole company, he said. Over four to six weeks people were asked, What do we need to do? What are our key objectives? He was not given the answers directly, though.
Hiring a consultant who’s good at managing a process leads staff to feel like they came up with the same goals for the company as you did. The key thing to remember is that if your people believe that the company is implementing their ideas, they will embrace those ideas much more enthusiastically than if the ideas are forced upon them.
4. Asking questions about key objectives
Issokson analysed the responses and presented her analysis of the top five priorities.
CEOs should react carefully to ideas proposed by their staff. If people feel that the CEO is taking pot shots at their ideas, they’ll turn into resentful sheep rather than enthusiastic problem solvers. So ask questions about the ideas proposed in a way that’s respectful and seeking greater understanding.
5. Allocating resources to the priorities
And after listening to the responses, Buckley decided which resources would be assigned to meet the key objectives and in which sequence. One priority was to make Xirrus a company that was easier for customers to do business with. “We decided how we would change the way we would bring in customers and how we would respond to their questions,” Buckley says.
Determine the urgent priorities and be sure they get the capital, people, technology and other resources needed to make them happen first. If the most important priorities are realised, the company will survive long enough to get additional resources for less mission-critical ones.
6. Sustaining momentum
When priorities are set and resources allocated accordingly, people wonder whether the company will follow through. To that end, leaders must model the behavior they want to elicit from employees. Said Buckley: “You have to be authentic. Leaders have to do more. People want to see that you are working harder than they are. And they ought to feel free to give the leader feedback and keep the momentum going.”
Remember, people are always watching the CEO. The ones who want to get ahead will do the things accordingly. If the CEO is working harder than they are, they will try to keep up or even exceed his or her efforts.
7. Linking measurement systems to priorities
Lastly, the way people are measured must be consistent with those priorities. Buckley decided that if customer requests were to be truly valued, “we can’t keep measuring them just on whether they met their sales target. ” He added,
“We need to start tracking how satisfied customers are as well.”
Communicate clearly how the new strategy will affect staff recognition. Then change the measurement systems to line up. That will go a long way to getting staffers to make the company’s top priorities happen.
And Xirrus is planning an initial public offering next year, according to a March story in the Pacific Coast Business Times. Buckley claimed last week that Xirrus is thriving, growing 40 percent year over year, it added 70 people and seeking new markets with a new footprint.
“On a human capital level,” he says: “People are more engaged, they work together across functions, and the company is moving faster because trust has replaced fear.”
“Xirrus has executed a masterful expansion of the business since Shane Buckley joined,” wrote Steve Krausz, general partner for US Venture Partners, whose firm invested in Xirrus. “In my 29 years of venture investing, I have seen few companies go through such a successful transformation as Xirrus,” he says.
“Xirrus now has a complete product offering that has anticipated the explosive growth of mobility, video and cloud management of Wi-Fi services. The customers have responded with great enthusiasm as enhanced video and mobile services are being demanded by both consumers and enterprises at an ever accelerating pace.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include Steve Krausz’s comments. His title was later corrected to reflect his role solely as a venture capitalist whose firm invested in Xirrus. Also, Xirrus CEO Shane Buckley’s comments have been updated to indicate that only one area was outsourced: manufacturing.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
The Importance Of Being Organised For Your Start-up
If you are not convinced that it is an important aspect of owning a start-up, read on for reasons why being organised is important for your start-up.
So, you have decided to create a start-up. This is great news, especially if you have solid plans in place and have attainable business goals. However, if you are somewhat of a tidsoptimist or are disorganised, then your start-up could be something of a nightmare to begin with.
Being organised does not have to be difficult or take up too much time. But if you are not convinced that it is an important aspect of owning a start-up, read on for reasons why being organised is important for your start-up.
Schedules are crucial
Established business people understand how a schedule can significantly contribute to business success. You do not have to be at an executive level in order to follow an executive schedule, and setting one up for your start-up can work wonders for how your business grows.
You should take time on the weekends to plan out your week, writing down all obligations, meetings and tasks that you have to finish. Seeing your week written down in front of you will help you to stay on task and will make it easier for you to complete them on time.
Having a schedule is important, as you are the leader of your start-up and you need to stay organised and set an example for any staff you have.
It saves you time
Being organised saves you from rushing around, searching through paperwork to find that one invoice or bank statement. You can use business processing solutions to help you to capture and collect forms, as well as outsourced document collection to save you from having to chase clients for forms and documents.
You should invest in having a well-structured filing system, both in the office and digitally. Use neatly organised folders with clear and relevant names on them for all of your documents, bills and emails. By doing this, you can free up hours of the day to work on important tasks, such as drumming up more business through a new and exciting marketing strategy. You will also be setting an example for your team by having an organised office and computer.
Procrastination can be toxic
When tasks get put off due to disorganisation or procrastination, everyone fails. Not only will you feel bad for not completing a task on time but your clients and possible business partners will see you as unreliable, which is hugely damaging to any start-up. Many instances of procrastination can be linked to not being an organised business.
This is one of the major reasons why organisation in a start-up is essential. You will spend less time procrastinating and more time achieving goals and completing client tasks. Spend time every day organising your digital folders and your physical folders before you start working. This will ensure that there are no distractions throughout the day and you can complete all the important tasks on time and within budget.
Organisation keeps your employees on track
You cannot expect your employees to stick to their schedules and stay organised if the person at the top doesn’t do the same. As the leader of your start-up, you need to set an example for your staff, which means that you have to be the most organised person in the company. While it is important to ensure your employees follow suit, try not to be too overbearing about how they choose to organise their days.
By keeping your company organised, you will be better able to keep your employees on track, making it easier for them to finish tasks on time. This is because they will not be spending time searching for important documents that have been filed in the wrong folder (or not even filed at all) but rather focusing on completing tasks and building your profit as a company.
You can improve customer service
By using organisation techniques, such as document processing solutions and an outsourced document collection service, you will be able to improve customer service. Problems with organisation can lead to a drop in customer service, which is highly detrimental to any start-up. Customer satisfaction is key to any return business, which is why you need to be organised.
If you have a poor billing system or are constantly losing invoices and important documents, soon your clients will move on to greener pastures (and more organised businesses). If you implement a strategy to become more organised, you will find your customer service improving. This will lead not only to return clients but to new business, as word-of-mouth travels about your professionalism and efficiency.
Keep ahead of the curve
As a start-up, you likely have a lot of competition in your industry. This means that you need to stay organised in order to keep ahead of the curve. By being more organised, you will be able to meet client briefs on time and keep to your schedule. Organisation is important for your start-up because it saves you time, stops you from procrastinating and keeps your employees on track. With improved customer service due to your efficiency, you will soon find your business growing in leaps and bounds.
Want To Jump-Start Your Ecommerce Business? Try A Pop-up Shop
The first thing you need to know: A pop-up isn’t about stocking shelves and hoping people browse. It’s about attaining a ‘wow!’ status.
Facebook talked a good game about its 3-D virtual-reality headset, Oculus Go, during the platform’s annual development conference, F8. Still, the social media behemoth knew that words alone couldn’t make anyone but early adopters fork over the dough.
Consequently, Mark Zuckerberg’s team made a bold, radical departure by opening an Oculus pop-up shop to showcase the company’s newest technology.
Interestingly, the Oculus pop-up was arranged, Foot Locker store-style, to give browsers the opportunity to try the device rather than instantly buy it. Sure, eMarketer predicts ecommerce will exceed the $4 trillion mark by 2020; but, as a Retail Dive survey showed, nearly two-thirds of consumers remain leery of this consumer channel. They want to physically experience merch before handing over their hard-earned cash.
Hence, Facebook gambled, not on its core platform but on the expectation that die-hard, wannabe Facebook and VR fanatics would share their experiences on social platforms, bringing awareness, hype and, eventually, sales, to an emerging product.
Not surprisingly, that was, and is, one smart bet.
We’ve come a long way, baby, but smell-o-vision still isn’t available
What makes a temporary pop-up store such a powerful differentiator? In a nutshell, it’s tactile products. Forget that people are buying stuff online; they still appreciate a solid in-person demo. Plus, a well-managed pop-up is an intriguing prospect: No basic retailer can match the energy, intensity or uniqueness of a fleeting pop-up that’s literally here today, gone tomorrow.
Besides, pop-ups make odd or brow-furrowing products easier to understand. For example: A beeswax alternative to Saran Wrap? It’s tough to envision that product’s inherent value unless you see it in action and get answers to your questions, face to face from an expert.
Ultimately, pop-up stores raise brand awareness and generate loyalty. At the same time, they aren’t the place to make sales – they’re marketing events engaging brand loyalists who love the company’s message and want to interact. Sure, new influencers are bound to stumble upon pop-ups, too, but the truest emotional connections come from people already knowledgeable about the product line.
For example, a Harry’s pop-up shop’s purpose wouldn’t be to introduce guys to its razors. How many would care? Even more important, why would they switch? The pop-up, instead, would be to magnify Harry’s branding by creating an experience for people curious about why they should use its products.
An ideal Harry’s pop-up would offer haircuts, shaves, hipster drinks and other memorable experiences. After getting the best shaves of their lives, super-fans would head online and do some organic referral work to spread the brand’s message.
In response, people who trust those influencers would head out to the pop-up sooner rather than later, worried they’d miss the fleeting chance to see the fuss. Their actions would be all-too-human, according to Shopify: Individuals routinely flock to scarce, novel opportunities. The reason: FOMO is a powerful force.
Eager to get started on your own pop-up adventure? One that gets tongues wagging and fingers swiping? Before you pitch a pop-up tent on the corner green next week, pull in the reins. Pop-up shops require some serious forethought and planning.
1. Choose a location that caters to your audience
When our company put up The Nest pop-up to showcase many of our clients’ brands, we picked a place where our target personas hung out: Abbot Kinney Boulevard, in Venice, Calif. It’s known nationally as one of the country’s most expensive retail streets, putting us in front of the sophisticated, high-end community our brands serve.
After picking the locale, we used the pop-up to highlight a series of rotating brands. At the same time, we kept the atmosphere fun by serving healthy vegan popsicles, playing great music and consistently engaging with visitors. The idea was to create a complete experience from beginning to end, catering solely to the people we wanted to impress.
Your pop-up should be similarly based on your ideal visitors’ profile, whether that might mean a twentysomething socialite or a hip baby boomer. When you know your audience, you can arrange a locale that fits. From that point, you should create landing pages and send emails to your hottest buyers. Take advantage of organic shares and ad-targeting, along with Facebook event-creation and retargeting. Your goal? Pack your launch party (and every day thereafter) with eager faces.
2. Ditch anything that doesn’t elicit a “wow!”
Say it with me: “experiential.” That’s the pop-up mantra. Your only job is to provide a huge, memorable experience. Forget about stocking shelves and hoping people browse – this isn’t How to Run a Lame Mall Kiosk 101.
For instance, when Target set up CityTarget, its Chicago Millennium Park pop-up, the store wasn’t like a typical suburban big box store: Instead, it offered commuters special CityTarget coffee and a few tchotchkes. One morning, CityTarget even set up a spin class. Another day, kids created CityTarget-logo-ed kites from scratch. Its final event? A launch for the full-store version of CityTarget for VIGs, or “very important guests.”
To attain “wow” status, map out every second of the pop-up flow (from the amplified, hyped launch party to the fireworks-inducing last moment). Keep the momentum going with live day events: Workshops, speakers and guest appearances keep the days hopping. Oh, and don’t forget to have a dedicated iPad to capture visitors’ emails and send instant welcome drips.
3. Follow up after the pop-up becomes a memory
Pop-ups are temporary, but impressions are lasting if you re-engage your guests. The Nest lasted three months, and it wasn’t a profitable up-front endeavour. However, we set out to monetise it later by treating it as a marketing exercise to broaden our clients’ brand scopes and widths. By following up, we ultimately made money down the line.
Of course, some pop-ups buck this trend. Toms Shoes is a great example: It started as a fleeting project and ended up becoming a permanent hangout spot in Abbot Kinney. People hang out, work, drink coffee and occasionally buy Toms merch. Still, don’t rely on an immediate profit. The Marc Jacobs pop-up dedicated to its Daisy fragrance sure didn’t. To the contrary, it allowed people to use “social currency” in the form of #MJDaisyChain on Instagram and Twitter.
The way to make money is by taking the valuable connections you make and turning them into evangelists. Reach out via email and thank those who shared social photos. Then, send out coupons to anyone who missed your pop-up.
You don’t have to be Facebook or Target to get significant foot traffic and loyalist love from a pop-up store. All you need is the right location, a solid planning team and a strong after-event marketing plan. Now get out there and make some brag-worthy experiences for your target audience.
Read next: 3 Types Of Ecommerce Business Models
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
5 Actionable Tips For Novice Entrepreneurs To Skyrocket Their Business
Just follow these tips and your business will certainly go a long way.
Trying to curate a listicle of suggestions that can be given to any newcomer in the entrepreneurial world is really a task. Even if there are already more than five or ten pointers in the list, they don’t seem to be enough. Myriad of changes can occur in a businessman’s journey from a startup to an entrepreneur. Still, here are some effective tips for you to get a strong foundation on which you can build a flourishing organization.
Just mix and match these ideas with your own thoughts. Finally, you will be able to overcome the obstacles that will come in your path of becoming a successful businessman.
1. Build a culture of learning around you
The businessmen who’ve already established themselves, understand that there will be loopholes in their knowledge and expertise. They never cultivate the feeling of self-content. Rather, they make sure to alleviate with a perfect commitment towards learning.
So, if you want to earn the same reputation and degree of stability in business, you must follow in their footsteps. One of the best approaches to do that could be investing in professional development training for the entire company. Try to make the most out of the resources around you like industry publications, professional network and so on.
2. Co-operate with reliable partners
New business owners should never hesitate to choose who they want to work with or hire. If you are one amongst them, aim for a variation in your stakeholders and clients across different levels.
Wait! You are not supposed to look for a racial and gender diversity. Rather, it is all about a miscellany of experiences and backgrounds. You must work with reliable people.
3. Be constantly focused
You might be eager to grab every opportunity that you come across. Well, that’s not something you should be doing as a new entry in the business world. Be careful and always make sure that you are not losing track. If you end up juggling hundreds of ventures during the initial period, it will spread you thin. Finally, you will lose your efficacy and productiveness. Make a rule to deal with one thing perfectly rather than trying to manage twenty things poorly.
Wait! It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take up new projects. Of course, you must. All you need to take care of is the number of new works in your hand shouldn’t exceed your capability to accomplish them perfectly.
Related: 21 Steps To Start-Up Success
4. Work with a budget-friendly approach
Remember, you’ve started with a new thought amid millions of other ideas which are going strong for years. It is important for you to act strategically and smartly, especially when it comes to financing. You must create a business proposal which includes all the startup costs and expenses. However, make sure that you are not taking the first step with redundant expenses.
You must be clear with the idea of when it is the right time to throw the towel. Too much cash outflow can even cause bankruptcy. Before you open the doors to a new business, generating financial goals is a great idea. If you follow this tip, you will certainly be benefited.
5. Welcome failure with open hands
Of course, you’ve not gone into the business while expecting to fail, yet failure is a fact of life and every single one of us must bear it. There is no way to combat this reality.
In such a scenario, you must do what the biggest business tycoons have already done for years. Take every failure as a desired learning opportunity. It is pivotal to understand that setbacks bring a positive energy to fight back with a new enthusiasm. If everything goes on perfectly, you will not get a chance to learn something new and have new experiences. So, failure is important, make sure you to embrace it.
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