Posts Tagged change agent

Small Business Reclaims Made in America as an Economic Virtue


For the last several years politicians have tagged the economic idea of Made in America as a protectionist philosophy. The truth is manufacturing at home and exporting to countries overseas improves the American economy. Net exports (over imports) is what the economy needs to grow. Although importing can produce cheaper goods and services, quality problems and service has declined as a result. For example, lead in toys and brake problems in automobiles have resulted in recalls. Foreign manufacturers have stolen American intellectual property. The list goes on.

One small business has defied the protectionist name calling and built a successful business producing digital radiology equipment. Radlink, Inc. is a California-based company with 22 employees manufacturing its product in the United States and selling to China, Latin America, and the Middle East (“Small and medium…,” 2011).

Radlink calls on Dr. Peter J. Julien, the director of thoracic imagining at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to provide expertise in reading x-rays and transmitting the results using the company’s state-of-the-art equipment. Thomas T. Hacking, Radlink’s chairman and chief executive officer, explained how Radlink’s digital equipment saves “time, money, and space,” (p. 772) while providing high-quality digital images needed for surgical accuracy (“Small and medium…,” 2011).

Small business is the engine for domestic manufacturing and Radlink sets an excellent example for other companies wanting to reclaim the Made in America economic virtue. Do you want your company to help lead the United States back to economic prosperity? Do you want to learn more?

References

Small and medium business technology alliance; SMBTA highlights an American small business success story. (2011). Investment Weekly News, 772. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/908910659?accountid=35812

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Attack Never Defend: An Entrepreneur’s Key to Success


Entrepreneurs do best in the face of uncertain conditions, but mature firms have a hard time with uncertain conditions because they plan for what is certain and has worked for them in the past. Entrepreneurs can succeed by doing what they do best and creating uncertain conditions for mature competitors.

ImproMed is one such company that has made “attack never defend” its mantra. Ron Detjen, ImproMed’s founder and president, says his company continues to grow and add employees because it keeps a competitive attitude. Detjen argues companies that go on the defensive can never grow as fast as companies that go on the offensive. Detjen encourages his employees to go on the offensive by finding something they excel at and keep working on it (Anonymous, 2011). What an excellent approach!

ImproMed is a company that helps veterinary practices deal with complex recordkeeping needs and has developed the world’s leader software products for both the business and medical needs of veterinary practices. ImproMed stresses a consultative approach for its employees is the key to its extraordinary growth (Anonymous, 2011).

A company that focuses on what its employees do well wins. Employees are critical to a small company because they are responsible for how the company performs. Encouraging employees to focus on strengths puts competitors at a distinct disadvantage because they do not know what to expect. A good entrepreneur works from his or her strengths and not weaknesses.

How does your company attack? I would love to hear your comments. If you want to know more about how you can design a way to attack using strengths you can learn more here.

References

Anonymous. (2011). 2011 Winners small business success stories Corporate Report Wisconsin, 26(7), 30-35. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/864104598?accountid=35812

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Small Business Needs Another Resurgence


Economic recovery depends on restoring middle class workers to the prominence they once had. Many large firms have moved operations overseas leaving holes in the market both from the absence of middle class jobs and tax revenues lost from large companies that moved overseas. The logical choice to fill these holes comes from small business. Small businesses quickly adapt to market voids and offer the creativity to fill holes, but small businesses grow into larger firms and lose their flexibility. Schumpeter (1975) coined the term “creative destruction” to describe when large firms falter and lose their adaptability to create. A blurred line exists about when “creative destruction” happens, but this condition is a normal part of the business cycle.

Most of the goods and services produced in the United States up to the mid-19th century came from small business. By 1914, firms with 500 or more employees accounted for about a third of the industrial workers with another third working in firms with 100 to 499 workers. Smaller firms developed market niches or supplied larger companies with 500 or more employees to compete in the markets until the mid-20th century (“The Limits of Small Business,” 1992).

From 1952 to 1979 the percentage of business receipts from small businesses plummeted from 52% to just 29%, but by the late 1970s and early 1980s the United States experienced a resurgence of small businesses. For example, out of 17 million businesses less than 10,000 firms employed more than 500 workers. By 1986 small firms produced 64% of the 10.5 million new jobs created (“The Limits of Small Business,” 1992). History repeats itself.

The time has come for another resurgence to replace the void left by large firm that have migrated overseas and take the country back to its roots. Small business is in the right place because small business is closest to consumers and has the ability to adapt and create what consumers want and need. The resurgence takes time to gather steam to propel the United States economy out of the recession. Small business entrepreneurs can sense holes in the market and will rebuild what the market has lost to “creative destruction.”

Are you up for the challenge? Learn more.

References

The Limits of Small Business. (1992). Available from EBSCOhost lkh. (03633276). Retrieved Summer92, from Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=10129578&site=lrc-plus

Schumpeter, J. A. (Ed.). (1975). Creative destruction from capitalism, socialism and democracy. New York: Harper.

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Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur


The story of Tariq Farid provides some insight on the qualities one needs to become a successful entrepreneur. Tariq is a Pakistani American who emigrated to the United States at age 11 with his family. By the age of 17 Tariq owned a flower shop with the support and encouragement of his family. Two years later Tariq successfully operated four stores. Making a better experience for his customers thrust Tariq’s drive that led to him to create point of sale software for the floral industry. Tariq later founded and led NetSolace, Inc., which provides franchise management solution software. In 1999, Tariq’s thirst for starting new businesses propelled him to start Edible Arrangements®, a franchise organization providing fruit bouquets, which grew to over 1,100 stores worldwide (Crowley, 2012).

Tariq developed his leadership style from the values instilled by his family while growing up. These values included honesty, integrity, and passion. Tariq believed in preserving these values and always returns to these basic values. For example, Tariq responded to an interview explaining how his drive comes from keeping honest with the consumer and himself. Tariq said he believe a true entrepreneur has a focus not so much on making money, but on keeping a social consciousness and providing for long-term profitability. According to Tariq the successful entrepreneur strives to do better and take care of the customer. Passion is the main motivation of the true entrepreneur not making money (Crowley, 2012).

Another striking characteristic of the successful entrepreneur is to embrace change because people enjoy new and unique products. Tariq believes in rethinking everything to stay on cusp. Tariq likes to employ people who embrace new ideas and who serve as change agents to customize products to people’s evolving needs (Crowley, 2012).

One other idea Tariq’s parents instilled in him is to work hard and go after the American dream. Success does not come easy. A person must work hard to become successful. Tariq realized he must work hard to confront risks and overcome them. Successful entrepreneurs must pay their dues and embrace a willingness to make mistakes (Crowley, 2012).

In short, genuine entrepreneurs are ” leaders who lead with purpose, values, and integrity; leaders who build enduring organizations, motivate their employees to provide superior customer service, and create long-term value for shareholders” (Crowley, 2012; George & Sims, 2003, p. 3).  Tariq Farid provides an example of an authentic entrepreneurial leader. Do you have what it takes to become an authentic entrepreneurial leader? Do you want to learn more?

References

Crowley, K. (2012). CEO perspective: Entrepreneurship with a point of view. South Asian Journal of Global Business Research, 1(2), 177-182. doi: 10.1108/20454451211252714

George, W., & Sims, P. (2003). Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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Small Business Alliances: The Case of Lehman Trikes


During the height of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, Lehman Trikes formed a strategic alliance with Harley-Davidson. Lehman Trikes, a small publicly held company on the TSX Canadian  Venture Exchange, lead the industry in making three-wheeled motorcycles in Spearfish, South Dakota. Harley-Davidson announced it selected Lehman Trikes as its exclusive supplier of its Tri-glide three-wheel motorcycle. Before signing the alliance, Lehman made the three-wheeled motorcycles in the aftermarket. Harley legitimized the three-wheel motorcycle with its announcement bringing it into the established motorcycle market (Looney & Ryerson, 2011).

By the end of the summer of 2010, Harley-Davidson faced difficult times losing half its business. Harley-Davidson did not renew the agreement signed with Lehman Trikes. Harley kept the rights to the Tri-glide brand and granted no residual rights to Lehman Trikes, but in its original agreement clearly laid out its non-renewal rights and terms. Although Lehman feared Harley might not renew the contract, it understood the risks when it signed the original agreement (Looney & Ryerson, 2011).

Do you believe the alliance between Lehman Trikes and  Harley-Davidson met both companies’ goals? Do you believe the alliance had successful results? What benefits did the companies achieve because of the alliance? What risks did the companies face by signing the alliance? Did the alliance benefit Lehman Trikes, the smaller company? Do you believe Harley exercised its rights in a fair and transparent manner? Knowing that ending the agreement would limit its supply of the Tri-glide, did the strategy benefit Harley-Davidson? Did Lehman Trikes have a viable business model or could it have strengthened its model?

Let us know what you think? Do you want to know more about forming strategic alliances? Learn more.

References

Looney, D. C., & Ryerson, A. (2011). Lehman Trikes: A story within a story 17, 35-39. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ent&AN=69927663&site=ehost-live

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Business Culture: Groupthink vs. “Teamthink”


Gibb and Schwartz (1999) argued groupthink paralyzes companies creating a culture that dismisses all social issues as unsuitable for management consideration. Gibb on and Schwartz claimed the best employees in the future will not tolerate a stifling top-down culture because better educated and networked employees will demand more participation. Chen, Lawson, Gordon, and McIntosh (1996) argued good decisions come from leaders who encourage an open decision-making process. Maharaj (2008) argued strict adherence to rules masks open decision-making and evaluation of alternatives and corporate boards should seek diverse skills and avoid groupthink. A well-rounded board leads to improved decision-making that considers its members knowledge and skills instead of perpetuating the good old boys club.

Solomon (2006) challenged the idea that dissent is undesirable and rational deliberation and consensus results in group decision-making. Neck and Manz (1994) explained “teamthink” as an alternative to groupthink as characterized by highly cohesive and conforming groups. “Teamthink” offers encouragement of divergent views, open idea expression, recognizing threats and limitations, valuing unique members’ views, and discussion of doubts. Neck and Manz argued self-managing teams can promote these values to encourage better decision making.

I believe companies still encourage groupthink at top echelons of an organization, but promote “teamthink” at lower levels. I believe this allows an organization to create a double standard to preserve top-down management culture, while promoting improved production from lower levels. The idea is that ultimately “the buck stops here” at the C-level. Does this double standard help or hinder building trust to make the right decisions?

Gibb and Schwartz (1999) suggested without improved participation good employees will leave a company they do not trust and seek employment elsewhere where they can use their education and experience. What do you think? Please leave a comment with your thoughts. If you need help organizing your company more productively I encourage you to learn more.

References

Chen, Z., Lawson, R. B., Gordon, L. R., & McIntosh, B. (1996). Groupthink: Deciding with the leader and the devil. The Psychological Record, 46(4), 581-581. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/212668876?accountid=35812

Gibb, B., & Schwartz, P. (1999). When good companies do bad things. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Maharaj, R. (2008). Corporate governance, groupthink and bullies in the boardroom. International Journal of Disclosure and Governance, 5(1), 68-92. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/196323941?accountid=35812 http://linksource.ebsco.com/linking.aspx?genre=article&issn=17413591&volume=5&issue=1&date=2008-02-01&spage=68&title=International+Journal+of+Disclosure+and+Governance&atitle=Corporate+governance%2C+groupthink+and+bullies+in+the+boardroom&au=Maharaj%2C+Rookmin&isbn=&jtitle=International+Journal+of+Disclosure+and+Governance&btitle=

Neck, C. P., & Manz, C. C. (1994). From groupthink to teamthink: Toward the creation of constructive thought patterns in self-managing work teams. Human Relations, 47(8), 929-929. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/231490747?accountid=35812

Solomon, M. (2006). Groupthink versus the wisdom of crowds: The social epistemology of deliberation and dissent. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 44, 28-42. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/218152905?accountid=35812

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Lessons in Small Business Organizational Change


About 10 years ago the owner of Bimba Manufacturing Company located in Monee, Illinois decided to sell 90% of his stock to employees through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The company produced aluminum cylinders and had two classes of employees. These classes included the managers who made policies and workers who obeyed the policies and performed the work. Under the ESOP instead of workers just obeying the orders of the managers, the company formed cross-functional teams to address problems and improve quality. The teams decided to meet regularly with customers to consider their needs and improve working relations (Jones, 2004).

The ESOP plan changed the workforce orientation improving working relations, accentuating excellence, and leading to a high quality products. Each cross-functional team hired its own workers and socialized together creating a cooperative new culture in the company. Employees effectively relearned their jobs by actively listening and interacting with each other instead of focusing on managers and workers. Managers acted more like advisers and workers gained a more cooperative spirit. Because of this organizational change the company increased sales 70% and the workforce grew 59% (Jones, 2004).

Although when first starting a business an owner can design a hierarchical organization for expedience, the firm stands to improve performance by reconsidering the organizational form. In my experience, hierarchical organizations in a small business can stymie the growth of the organization. I have personally experienced the difference and realized the benefits of redesigning the organizational form.

A more nimble team orientation can improve performance and cross-functional communication. The organization can respond better to the companies’ customers and better address their needs. The case of Bimba Manufacturing offers a good lesson in organizational change designed to improve worker and customer relations.

Have you reconsidered the organizational design in your firm? I would like to hear your ideas about changes that can benefit the organizational design in your firm. If you need help I urge you to act now and we can start to help you. Learn more.

References

Jones, G. R. (2004). Organizational theory, design, and change (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

 

 

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Snake in the Grass Syndrome: Small Business Channel Partners


Often small businesses build relations with various suppliers and channel partners only to later find the relation is not as strong as first thought. The small business entrepreneur needs to protect against interruption occurring in the supply chain and make sure that everyone involved is on the same page.

I have had the unfortunate experience of working with a channel partner only to find later the channel partner only had its own interests in mind. I found the channel partner did not share a common vision and did not want to genuinely build a lasting relation. After working hard to build a good relation, the channel partner let the company down by not performing up to expectations. I call this the “snake in the grass” syndrome.

Because of this experience, I encourage small business entrepreneurs not to put all their eggs in one basket. As much as an owner likes a particular channel partner, competition is good and promotes efficiency. An interruption in the supply chain can have devastating effects on the small business. Consider what would happen if a missing link exists in the supply chain. Finding a new channel partner at the last minute is not easy and could harm the quality of the product or the service provided to customers. I suggest finding at least three suppliers for every slot in the supply chain to avoid last-minute problems.

Another step a small business entrepreneur can take is to make at least an annual evaluation of all channel partners in the supply chain. A business is only as strong as the weakest link in its supply chain so it pays to remove weak channel partners and replace them with stronger ones. I suggest developing a formal written evaluation form and think about what is important to the business.

Do you have a procedure to evaluation channel partners in your supply chain? I want to hear your thoughts? If you want to know more about how to remove the “snake in the grass” I urge to get help now. Learn more.

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David and Goliath: The Dyson story


The Dyson vacuum cleaner story is an interesting case study about a man taking on the established vacuum cleaner industry by believing in a superior product. Dyson believed in making the world better through ingenuity and took on the giants. Dyson took on the role of the consummate protagonist (Carruthers, 2007).

Dyson grew up in a family in which he had little direction and he developed a distaste for conventional institutions. Dyson’s parents knew of his rebellious side and wanted him to take up teaching, become a doctor, or become a professional. Dyson gained an understanding of industrial product design through the art school he attended in London (Carruthers, 2007). Entrepreneurs typically have a disdain for the way conventional businesses do things and have it in their DNA to reject conventional wisdom. Rebellion is an integral part of the entrepreneur’s mold.

Entranced with the idea of improving the vacuum cleaner, Dyson began his adventure by stripping down the Hoover Junior to understand its poor performance. Dyson introduced the cyclone and clamber in developing his prototype. At first, Dyson had no fear, but balked when low-income, a big overdraft occurred, and he faced the uncertainty. Dyson experienced several brushes with bankruptcy (Carruthers, 2007). Entrepreneurs have to learn how to deal with their fear and overcome it by moving on. Keeping an eye on the opportunity trumps the original fear, but the entrepreneur faces failure each time he encounters a hurdle and has to deal with it in a positive way. Risk-taking is scary even to the most accomplished entrepreneur.

Jeremy Frey had mentored Dyson and provided the original funding for his venture. Dyson met Frey at college, and the millionaire and founder of Rotork served as an innovative person with whom he could identify. Dyson spent three years working on thousands of  prototypes and testing them. Dyson found industry unwilling to accept or license his ideas, but Japan did eventually license the Apex and G-Force products. Dyson relied on inventing and marketing himself instead of the conventions of big business and its marketing tricks (Carruthers, 2007). Entrepreneurs are bold people who reject established mediums and want to improve on them, but fighting with the enemy has its risks.

Dyson decided rather than to license his work to produce the product himself. Self-manufacturing the products, obligated Dyson to raise capital by borrowing against his property putting his family at risk. Dyson decided to take this path and export directly to the to the United States (Carruthers, 2007). This experience shows entrepreneurs have to look danger square in the eye and have the confidence to deal with it.

The last challenge for Dyson is to bring the product to the United States, the world’s largest market, where he must beat Hoover, Amway, and Black and Decker. Although Dyson set up manufacturing in Asia, he must confront the Big Three on their own turf in the United States. To bring the product to the United States, Dyson has to distastefully import the product from Asia and play by the rules. Dyson successfully captured enough of the United States market, but faced intense competitive pressure from his rivals. Hoover infringed on Dyson’s patent rights and Dyson filed suit to protect his business. Despite the challenge, Dyson wins the battle and confirms his success (Carruthers, 2007). Entrepreneurs often want to create the rules they play by, but sometimes have to conform to win the larger battle. The Dyson story shows how entrepreneurs can persist and improve existing products. David beat Goliath!

What have you learned from the Dyson story? Please let us know your thoughts. If you need help getting started I urge you to seek our help now. Learn more.

References

Carruthers, I. (2007). Chapter 5: The Entrepreneur’s Story Great brand stories Dyson: The domestic engineer: How Dyson changed the meaning of cleaning (pp. 85-99). London: Marshall Cavendish Limited.

 

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Entrepreneurs Connect Where Others Fear to Tread


Entrepreneurs have the unique ability to connect with consumers and find out what they need. Big companies usually brand their products and use already proven models to produce profitable lines of business. These companies do little to connect with the consumers they aim to serve once they find a working model, but the entrepreneur is in a unique position to see what works for consumers and what does not. The entrepreneur continually reaches out to consumers to note changes and find ways to serve them (Rae, 2004).

Bruder (2010) offered several accounts of entrepreneurs who wanted to reach out to consumers and develop their stories to personalize their products and show consumers why they benefit them. Bruder explained such accounts humanize the products to customers and show them why their products will solve their problems. Big companies often overlook the human touch and personal connection with consumers. Rae (2005) developed a model showing entrepreneurs learn their businesses from contact with consumers through personal and social connections, recognizing opportunities from cultural exchanges, and engaging with consumers. Entrepreneurs have more intricate relations with consumers and can better address their needs by learning and gaining experience from such dealings.

Thilmany and Loughlin (2010) suggested entrepreneurs should never stop learning and finding ways to improve their products. Experience with consumers helps the entrepreneur understand flaws in the competition and shows commitment to solving problems consumers face with existing products. Conversely, big businesses work their model until it matures and starts to falter before exploring flaws giving the entrepreneur an edge because of the closeness to the consumer.

Rae (2004) explained savvy entrepreneurs should spend more time working on the business than in the business. Opportunities come from learning what works and what does not. Working on the business spreads and minimizes risk, attracts and retains employees, and improves developing innovations. Working on the business helps build customer relations, develop managers and teams, and develop new markets.

Do you as a small business owner go where others fear to tread? Please let us know your thoughts, or if you want help I encourage you to contact us now to learn more.

References

Bruder, J. (2010). Turning business owners into stars of their own stories, New York Times, pp. B.8-B.8. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/757765326?accountid=35812http://linksource.ebsco.com/linking.aspx?genre=article&issn=03624331&volume=&issue=&date=2010-10-14&spage=B.8&title=New+York+Times&atitle=Turning+Business+Owners+Into+Stars+of+Their+Own+Stories%3A+%5BBusiness%2FFinancial+Desk%5D&au=Bruder%2C+Jessica&isbn=&jtitle=New+York+Times&btitle=

Rae, D. (2004). Practical theories from entrepreneurs’ stories: Discursive approaches to entrepreneurial learning. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 11(2), 195-202. doi: 10.1108/14626000410537137

Rae, D. (2005). Entrepreneurial learning: A narrative-based conceptual model. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 12(3), 323-335. doi: 10.1108/14626000510612259

Thilmany, J., & Loughlin, S. (2010). Taking care of business: Entrepreneurs share their success stories. Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology, 44(6), 472-473. doi: 2229159061; 56859991; 68217; BMIT; 21142509; INODBMIT0006941046

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