Tips and Articles

Category: Strategy Published on Sep 17 2015

I was recently reminded of a planning retreat I attended in the 90’s. At the time I worked as assistant controller for a small business. Our task was to envision a future for the company. We were encouraged to be creative and think out of the box. We were told that no idea was too outrageous; we were to share them all.


Category: Strategy Published on Jul 28 2015

When I was studying to become a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) my strategy was two pronged. First, was to attend a CMA review course with a pre-set itinerary and instructors with whom I could interact. Second, was to create an intensive study schedule that included studying for 20 – 24 hours each week in addition to attending class. In order to accomplish this, I created a strategy where I would work intensely for 45 minutes and follow it by a 15 minute break. This permitted me to stay fresh and focused for 8 – 10 hours at a stretch. This strategy worked well for me and I accomplished my goal of earning my certification and receiving a top score with just six months of preparation.

Here are a few things I learned from this endeavor.


Category: Internal Brand Published on Jul 23 2015

Like the majority of students, I had plenty of friends, but I was never part of the “in” group. In my day, the popular group consisted of cheerleaders, football players (who dated the cheerleaders), class president (who was usually a football player), etc. You get my drift. And like most kids, I thought that I would give anything to be popular.


Category: People Published on Jul 16 2015

I have worked at some pretty rotten places during my career. I like to think that I was there to gather first-hand experience and some wonderful stories on the types of behavior that are exhibited in unhealthy cultures.

One of my favorite stories is about a prior employer who locked up the office supplies. Originally they were kept on a shelf and all employees were empowered to take a pen or a box of staples when they needed them. And then one day, the owner of the company decided that we were going through too many pens. Maintenance workers were brought in to build a secure closet. The executive secretary then moved all of the office supplies into this closet and locked them up. She was the holder of the only key.


Category: Strategy Published on Jun 30 2015

“Sit up straight!” How often did your mother say that to you? I know I heard it at least 1,000 times while I was growing up.

Well, it turns out that Mom may have been on to something. A study by Maarten Bos and Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School discovered that people using small devices like an iPhone were 47% less likely than someone using a desktop computer to get up and try to find out why a researcher had not returned within a specified period of time. In fact, for those who did take action, the length of time that elapsed before taking action lengthened as the size of the device shrank.


Category: Internal Brand Published on Jun 24 2015

If you read much business literature at all, it’s easy to become confused about some of the basic building blocks of business. I’m referring specifically to the mission and vision statements.


Why are they confusing?


Category: Bottom Line Published on Jun 16 2015

In the 1996 movie, Jerry Maguire, there is a scene where the two main characters scream at each other: “Show! Me! The! Money!” This is a key scene and a rite of passage for Jerry Maguire. In small business, show me the money is also a key concept.


Category: Strategy Published on Jun 09 2015

I love this sign! How often are we so wrapped up in trying to get somewhere quickly that we forget that we have choices? We can do a complete, safe stop at the stop sign or continue on. Yes, there is a penalty for not stopping. But too often, when we receive that penalty we blame someone or something else. If that idiot driver hadn’t slowed me down… If my boss wasn’t so mean about lateness… If…well, you get the idea.


In small business, we do the same things and need this same reminder. In general small business owners are:


Category: Internal Brand Published on Jun 02 2015

When I was in fourth grade, I clearly remember the principal coming into my classroom and writing the word ‘assume’ on the chalkboard. He then went on to explain that when we assume, we make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.


What prompted a school principal to use the word ass in front of a bunch of fourth graders I’ll never know. But I do know he quickly had our attention and the experience was memorable.


I’ve been doing a great deal of talking and writing about things like values, mission statements, vision statements, operating guidelines, strategies, tactics, etc. What I just realized is that I have ‘assumed’ that everyone knows the ultimate pay off for investing time in these activities. And in doing so, I have… well, you can finish that sentence for yourself.


Here’s the point. The reason for doing all of these activities is to influence behavior. Specifically to align behavior and motivate everyone to do all the same stuff for the same reasons.


Category: Strategy Published on May 26 2015

If you are like most small business owners, you have more ideas than you can possibly implement. So how can you tell the difference between:

 - An idea that will take your business where you want to go, and

 - A shiny bauble (a distraction that looks like an opportunity)?