Do you REALLY need a vision statement?

VisionMost companies have a vision statement somewhere on their website. However, how much effort do business leaders really put into their vision statement? Isn’t a vision statement just “fluff” and really not relevant for a company to grow and succeed?

A vision statement is sometimes very generic. It is in those instances, when the vision statement is indeed nothing more than fluff, probably created by the marketing department, without giving thought to the “raison d’être” of the business.

You want an example? Sure: ““Our vision is to develop, deploy, and manage a diverse set of scalable and strategic knowledge management tools to serve our customers, improving the possibility of overall satisfaction among our diverse customer profiles.” – YUCK. What the heck does it even mean?

By doing so, a huge opportunity is wasted. Without a very clear and concise vision statement, people may not even know what the company they work for, stands for.  “So what” – I hear you say. My people come to work, they do the job they get paid for, and all is swell. – Is it really? Are your people just motivated by the money you pay them, or are they excited to be part of your organisation?

One reason – and often in business very neglected – for people to come to work is the ability to participate and contribute to a higher cause.

Non governmental organizations (NGO’s) don’t pay very well. Neither does the (non-profit) church. Journalists, teachers, nurses, firemen and other every day heroes are not paid riches at all. Why do people still pursue those jobs? Because those jobs make them feel good about themselves. They contribute to a higher cause, and money suddenly plays a significantly lesser role.

I believe that this motivation is not limited to people in social functions, but applies across the board. Just ask yourself: do you really only work for money? You probably don’t. And neither are your employees. They work for recognition, for status, for pride.  If you can give them that in their job, then money itself is no longer so important.

Instead of paying more, try to give your employees other reasons to stay and to work at optimum performance: Rally them behind a higher cause. Find a high and lofty goal that you as an organization would want to achieve, and focus your internal communication towards this higher goal.

A great example of this can be found by looking at Apple’s history: In the early 80’s, Apple focused their organization to “fight for the control of computer technology against Big Blue (IBM)”. Have a look at their 1984 Super Bowl Commercial.  

Steve Jobs earlier introduced this fight against Big Blue during a keynote address in late 1983 “Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers, initially welcoming IBM with open arms, now fear an IBM dominated and controlled future. They are increasingly and desperately turning back to Apple as the only force that can ensure their future freedom

Strong words. But with such direction, wouldn’t you want to be part of a “movement” (rather than being a minion in an organization) to “help mankind break free from the shackles of a giant computer company controlling the world”? Ok – this may be exaggerating, but it does hit the point. So what if I pay you slightly less than your peers at Compaq, IBM, or other similar companies during this time? Wouldn’t you still rather “save mankind” or “built another box”?

So think about  it when you put together your vision statement. Make it clear, compelling and above all give your employees a reason why they work for the company beyond the monthly paycheck.

Your employees don’t want your money

Your payroll cost is probably one of the largest items in your P&L on a monthly basis. It is critical for the profitability of your business to keep the cost down, yet your employees seem to always request for another raise in their salary. Is money really the only thing in your employees mind?

More MoneyThe answer – unsurprisingly – is no. People are motivated by different things, and money is just one of those. As a matter of fact, it is not even money per se, but what comes along with it: The ability to buy better things, prestige, status. And having status is important for many or most people. For employees whose first job this is, they may have to justify to their parents how much salary they are getting. Married employees may be questioned by their spouses, and “buddies in bars” may boast about their take-home pay.

But it is not money by itself that people really want. What they really want, is to feel good. And money allows them to potentially achieve this objective. If I get more money than my neighbor in my job, I feel good about myself. If I can prove that I have sufficient income to afford a nice vacation, I again feel good. But “feeling good” isn’t purely and only driven by money, but often by status and recognition. Being recognized for a job well done compensates for slightly less salary. This recognition doesn’t have to be in the form of a raise. It can be a couple of extra days vacation, public recognition in a company event, permission to work from home or similar. In too many cases, managers don’t even say “thank you” or “well done” to employees for completing certain tasks, implicating that “they are just doing the job they are being paid for anyways.”There are many ways to provide people with sufficient motivation. Many of them – such as salary, promotions, titles – are extrinsic motivators. However, intrinsic motivators are much more powerful, and companies fail to acknowledge this.

Driven by intrinsic motivation, people want to do things because they want to do them, not because they are being paid for them. This requires people to be given the right tools for the job, sufficient freedom on how to get the job done, responsibility on making choices impacting the quality of the job – in short, allowing your employees to be self-guided, responsible peple capable of doing the job they are hired to do, and making them feel good about it. If people are proud of what they are doing and have been given sufficient training and the right tools, they will do the job well and with responsibility without continuously asking for more money.

HR improvement  without raising salariesAnd this is where companies, managers and HR organisations sometimes fall short. We forget that driving factors for doing a job well are not necessarily money and financial rewards, but status, recognition and pride. W. Edwards Deming said: “All anyone asks for is a chance to work with pride”. If you give your employees a chance to be proud of what they do (and ensure they get recognised accordingly), you might be able to convert extrinsic motivation (salary) into intrinsic motivation. Your employees and your CFO will thank you.

Think about this before your next appraisal meetings, and you will find many ways to motivate your employees while keeping salaries at reasonable levels.

 

Lessons from the Wordcup – Talent Development



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The road to winning the world cup in Brazil for te german soccer team started in June 2000. At that time Germany ended dead last in their group of the European Championship. 14 Years later Germany has the best soccer team in the world, and built the “world’s most successful soccer factory”. The secret to success: Talent Development.

Germany started a very comprehensive youth development program, requiring any club to hire full-time youth coaches. They built appropriate training grounds, established medial departments and initiated co-operations with schools. The German FA started a US$13 million per yar youth initiative, and now operates 366 youth centers in the country, which serves 25,000 kids.The program paid off in 2014 with a very talented and capable football team winning the world cup. The majority of the players in the world cup team are 25-years old or younger.

Mario Goetze, who scored the winning goal, is 22.  Thomas Mueller is 24, Neuer is 28, and one of the “older” players in the team (next to Miroslav Klose, the 36-year old striker, who had the most goals in world cup hstory).  So chances are, many of those players will still be around for the next worldcup. And with the german soccer factory in place, many more talented players are starting to emerge, creating a continuous stream of talent to secure Germany’s top spot in world soccer.

How do you nurture talent in your company? Do you have the equivalent of a “Youth Development Program” to ensure a continuous supply of talented people into your organization? Do you reach out to universities and schools to find potential in early stages, which you then develop or do you rely on external sources to find the people required to help you run and grow your business? While growing and fostering talent from within the organization can take years, the benefits are obvious. Talent from within requires no adaption to your company culture, you have ample time to assess their strengths and weaknesses over time and place them in the positions where they can really shine. Or replace them in early stages with other talented people, if they just cannot perform as expected.

All successful large companies (be it Google, Microsoft, SAP, or DaimlerChrysler or similar) have a very well-thought through internship program, which allows them to grab talent straight from university and mold such talent to become effective contributors and future leaders of the organization.

germanyweb16s-4-webYou may want to consider implementing your own talent development program to secure your internal supply of future company leaders, instead of merely relying on the outside world (potentially mainly people leaving your competitors) to fill important positions in your organisation. To create you own world-class winning team, start early and foster talent.

Oh, and by the way: Thomas Muller (24) has so far scored 10 goals in world-cups. By the time he is 36 (like Klose), he could have three more world cups under his belt, and easily beating Klose’s record. The german soccer team is just getting started…

 

GER – BRA 7:1 – and what it means for Success in Business

As everyone else on this planet for the last weeks, I have been watching the world-cup. Lucky for me, I spent the last couple of weeks in Germany, hence I was able to watch the semi-final during a reasonable time (i.e. 10 pm rather than 4 am). After having seen the host country not only defeated, but crushed, I then started to think about what lesson can be learnt from this game for business success. The answer: teamwork wins, not heroism.

I have seen it too many times: there are always players (in business as in sports), who think they are just very good (sometimes justified so), and thus believe they have a free pass at doing things.  This often goes at the expense of other members of the team, who then feel unappreciated, and as a result may not perform at the top of their respective game. They feel unfairly treated, as the hero may be able to get away with behaviour that would not be tolerated with other players. Result: disharmony in the team, and disengagement of the rest of the team.

Another problem with heroes is, that sometimes the rest of the team relies and depends on them. This is all good, for as long as the hero is around and plays his / her designated role. If the hero goes missing (in the case of Brazil: due to injury or yellow card), the rest of the team is lost. There are no back-ups, no alternatives, no substitutes that can just take over the ball and run with it. In such cases the strategy is built around a person (the hero), not around a working business model irrespective of the individual. And thus the whole business falls and rises with the individual.

In again other cases people try to be hero. They have seen successful heroes, and how they have been applauded (promoted). They believe, that rather than asking for help, they should try alone to fix a problem or find a solution. They want to be a hero, because they (falsely) believe that this would be in the best interest of the team (or the company). Instead of asking for help, or passing the ball, they just try to do it themselves, even if they may not be the best for the specific job, or may not have the relevant qualifications or training to do so. In the end, the team looses.

It is the role of the business leader or the coach to ensure that the team functions as a team, comprising out of a set of qualified and skilled players in individual roles, who work according to a system, rather than having a hero surrounded by helpers, who don’t know what to do in the event the hero is lost.

Brazil v Germany: Semi Final - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

In this case, Brazil had Neymar and Thiago Silva, but Germany had a team. And Germany won – deservedly.

Fire Your Customers – And Increase Your Profits

You’ve heard it over and over again: the customer is king. Just bend backwards and ensure that every single customer is 100% satisfied and serves as a reference, helping you grow your business. However, blindly following this rule can be a very wrong business strategy.

Instead, try to differentiate between customers, and only treat those customers exceptionally well that you want to keep. No, I am not advocating sending all your customers to the competition. But if you really look closely into your customer base, you will surely find some customers that are a pain in the back. You know, those customers that squeeze you for every possible discount, always want more than what you are prepared to give, and are extremely slow with payments. Those are what I consider the bottom 10 – 20% of your customer base.

In most of the cases the effort required to close a deal, to satisfy those customers and to subsequently collect the payment is significantly higher than with your average customer. And yes, the industry in which you are in obviously plays a role in determining whether a customer is worth keeping or not. What constitutes slow payment and difficult customer for one type of business could very well be an average customer for a different type of business or industry. Even within the same industry there are vast differences in the clients that you attract and keep.

The problem is that if you have too many of those slow paying and difficult customers who take most of your time, you don’t have enough time left to dedicate to you’re A-List of customers – those that do pay on time and are grateful for your business. You spend too much time dealing with customers who are not that profitable, and not enough time with those customers that really create value to your business.

Instead of treating all of your customers equally, you may want to consider to separate your customer base into 3 categories: A / B/ and C Customers.

How you distinguish between them may be arbitrary. You may want to categorize a customer as an A customer because he pays very promptly and you never have issues with payment. Or because the profit margin for specific customers is extremely high – compared to your other clients. Or because they are just very influential and very happy about your service, but you don’t make much money with them. Or all three – how you separate them is up to you.

What matters is that you try to convert those A-customers into raving fans. They should not be satisfied with your product, service and company, but rather extremely delighted and enthusiastic about your business. Having enthusiastic customers is indispensible if you want to continuously grow your business. Those customers act as brand ambassadors and will help you get a significant amount of new business through references.

On the other extreme you have C-Clients. Those are customers that for a variety of reasons you just don’t want to deal with. Those are the customers you may want to consider sending to the competition. This move will not only free up your time (so that you can spend more time with you’re A-Customers), but also allow you to take on more (i.e. other) customers which hopefully will turn out to be B or A-Customers, and thus increase the profitability of your business. In addition, by sending those customers to your competition you create additional work for your competitors with a client you know is not worth pursuing.  This keeps your competitors busy with non-value added work. I actually don’t mind if my competitor spends a lot of time dealing with a particular difficult client that takes up their time – I’d rather have them busy fighting for C-Clients than trying to convert my A-Customers.

In the middle of the scale you have B-Customers, which usually form the majority of your business clients. Those are the customers for which you might just want to continue what you are (hopefully) doing now. Treat them well, follow up, ensure you meet their expectations. You might even want to see if you can convert the one or other B-Customers into a raving fan A-Customer.

It is not a bad thing to tell C-Customers that you may not be able to help them moving forward. Ask yourself: if you would loose this specific customer, would it really be so bad for your business? If the answer is no, don’t be afraid to let them go.

11-June-2013: Brand Yourself, Present with Impact and Project Success

Increase your market value, get promoted and close more deals!

  • Do you want to build your own powerful brand like Anthony Robbins, Bernard Chandran or Tony Fernandez?
  • Would you like to present like Steve Jobs and impress your peers, superiors, prospects and customers with your outstanding presentation skills?
  • Do you know how to project instant success the moment you step into a room, by your looks alone? Would you like to learn the steps for creating a powerful first impression to anyone you meet?

Join us on 11th of June for this one-time event, bringing together top experts in the field of personal branding, public presentations and corporate grooming!

Powerful Presentation Skills

What can you learn from this workshop?

~ Build your personal brand and increase your market value
~ Stand out from the crowd and create impact
~ Present like a Rock-star and close the deal
~ Master stage presence like Steve Jobs
~ 7 Tips to instantly kill Stage Fright forever!
~ Corporate grooming: Dress for Success in Business
~ The 1 simple trick to instantly connect with any audience
~ Learn from 3 domain experts – take home instant improvements!

Prepare to get promoted, close more deals than ever before, and become the centre of attention anywhere you go!

Check out our Facebook Event page to see who of your friends is going!

More info:

[1] What is “Distinguish Speakers Series” [DSS] Workshop?
~ DSS Workshop are scheduled periodically, based on availability of special invited speakers.
~ Speakers, Trainers & Business Coaches are experts in their field, and are carefully selected to provide a unique seminar experience
~ All DSS Workshop are open to public, unless otherwise specified.
~ Fees are chargeable according to the workshop’s programme.

[2] Current title for DSS Workshop:
“Brand Yourself, Present with Impact, Project Success”
Presented by: Mr. Irwin Cheong, Mr. Harald Weinbrecht and Miss. Rachel Sua.

[3] Date, Time, Venue & Price:
Date ~ 11.06.2013 [Tuesday]
Time ~ 8:30am – 5:00pm
Venue ~ InCube8, 1Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur

Price ~ RM850 Normal standard [early bird RM650, register by 31st May, 2013.
Price for students at RM300 / per student
Note: Prices are inclusive of 2 tea-breaks & 1 lunch

[4] Who should attend this workshop?
~ CEOs, Business managers, Entrepreneurs, Senior management, Mid management, Marketeers, Marketing managers, Sales directors, Sales executives, People who wants to learn how to brand themselves, Anyone wanting to significantly improve their presentation skills.

[5] Registration:  http://ceoexclusive.eventbrite.com

For more information, kindly write to ceo@ceoexclusive.com or call HOTLINE No.: +6019-3333 273.

Kindly click ‘GOING’ at this Facebook invite, to access information of new updates and Event Brite registration, when it is made available.

Be prepared to be TRANSFORMED!

Click here to get to our facebook page and learn more about this event

 

09-May-2013 Creative Funding For Your Business

HOW TO CREATIVELY FINANCE YOUR BUSINESS

What an exciting event – and what a great crowd! We talked about the numerous ways on how you can creatively find funds for your business from various sources. Some possibilities include government grants, vendor financing, bootstrapping, barter trade and venture capital financing. I tried to use my (very limited) knowledge of Bahasa Malaysia, which the attendees thought was very funny.

All in all another great event, thanks and a big shout out to all people attending!

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Missed the event? Would you like to get the slides? Get them here :

[download file=”http://www.haraldweinbrecht.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Finance-Your-Business-Workshop-Material.pdf” title=”Funding Your Business – From Incorporation to IPO”]

 Finance Your Business – Workshop Material

Getting Investors to Invest in Your Tech Startup

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Having a great idea is one thing. Having the money required to transform your business plan from concept to commercialization and to move your company from startup to IPO – that’s a completely different matter altogether.

Many people do have great ideas but fail to grasp that others may not share their enthusiasm, sometimes simply because they don’t understand what you are trying to achieve. In order to convince other people – specifically Angel Investors and VC’s – to invest into your business, you need to be able to understand exactly what those people are looking for when evaluating a business.

Too many technopreneurs fall in love with their idea and expect everyone else to immediately “get it”, once they start talking about their business. They sometimes forget one simple yet very important point about business: the only reason for a commercial business to exist is to make profit. And any investor in your business will want to see how you can create profit, and by doing so ensure a healthy return on investment for them. So if Angel Investors and VC’s are interested in your company you need to remember that your presentation should be focused on how you can make money for them, and not how great the technology is behind your business idea.

With this in mind here are 8 important messages you want to convey when meeting with a potential investor:

    1. What is your business all about? Investors usually have a very short attention span. You need to be able to convey the essence of your business idea to them (and anyone else you meet for that matter) within 1-2 minutes.This is where the elevator pitch comes in.The elevator pitch has its origins in the idea of meeting the CEO of the customer you are targeting while stepping into an elevator of a high-rise office building in the ground floor, and using this opportunity to convince him to invest in your company while riding the elevator up to his office – presumably on a high floor in this office building.

      If you can’t convince someone within 2 minutes that your business may be worth investing in or at least interesting enough to listen further, then you won’t be able to do so in 45 minutes either.

 

    1.  What is the problem you are trying to solve? Before you embark on explaining the intricate detail of your Tech Startup you need to ensure your counterpart understand the problem you are trying to solve. The bigger the problem, the more important your potential solution and the more exciting your business proposition. Don’t assume everyone understands the problem as well as you do, and don’t cut short on this part. Make your audience and your potential investor understand how big the problem is, make them feel the pain of the problem and get them really interested in what you can do to solve the problem.

 

    1. What is the solution that you offer? Now you can expand on how exactly you plan to solve the problem you have just explained in detail. Try not to go into too much technical detail unless your counterpart is as technically savvy as you are (and most probably they are not). Investors usually don’t want to know the exact programming language, database or API’s you use to solve a specific problem. They just need to be convinced that you know what you are doing, and if you are able to keep it simple, you come across more confident – which is potentially more important than coming across as a tech geek.

 

    1. Why are you the best team for this job? Once you explained the problem and the solution you may want to give the potential investor more background about yourself and your team. VC’s invest in people more than they do in a technical solution, and they really would like to know what you bring to the table with respect to experience and expertise that should convince them to part with their money and invest in your business. If you have started a few companies before that made money and were sold at a healthy profit – now would be a very good time to mention this and give examples.

 

    1. How big is the market? Here the usual principle applies: the bigger, the better. Investors would like to know that the potential target market is big enough to build a sizeable business that can create the returns investors are looking for. Don’t necessarily limit your target market to your local environment, but think big and see how you can create an offering that might be attractive to a larger audience.

 

    1. Who is the competition? An answer like “we are so unique, we have no competition” is not the answer you want to give. If there is no competition to provide a solution to a bigger problem, then you most probably don’t have a viable business. Remember that competition can come in many forms and variety. Air Asia build their business plan not competing with other airlines, but competing with busses and all other travel means. Your competition can and will come not only from companies doing exactly the same as what you might propose, but from related industries.

 

    1. How will you make money? Investors like to see that you have thought through your revenue model in detail, and understand how you will commercialize and monetize your business idea. Having many fans, customers or visitors will get you started, but only profits will make you rich.

 

    1. What do you want from the investor? You need to have a fairly clear idea what your expectations are from the Angel Investor or VC. Do you just need money to fund your regional or global expansion? Are you looking for subject matter expertise to complement your existing board? Do you need access to networks and potential partners, or do you need a strategic partner providing guidance in your growth?

 
There you have it – 8 questions that angel investors and venture capitalists will ask you for before investing into your business. If you can answer those questions in a convincing manner, then you have significantly increased your chances of securing funding and getting your investor on board.

 

 

21-March-2013 Brand Like A Rockstar

Learn how to “Brand Like A Rockstar”, and join us at D’Balcony for a CEO Meeting on Thursday, March 21st.  

This is an exclusive event for CEO’s and Business owners brought by CEOxclusive.

“ceoXcel” is a platform for business leaders to meet, share & learn from each other. With the success of “Meeting of Minds” held in other countries within Asia Pacific, we are now having this in Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia.

Come meet & mingle with business leaders, self-made millionaires, top corporate executives, and chief executives from various industries.

This meeting is facilitated by the management team of ceoXcel. Each meeting promises a series of interesting and insightful learning for all members.

Participation is BY INVITATION ONLY, in D’Balcony, Publika, Solaris Dutamas  from 4-6 pm
For more information, kindly write to us at ceo@ceoexclusive.com or see our Facebook event 

HW
Kindly contact us, if you need more information:

Write to ceo@ceoexclusive.com or register here

Harald Weinbrecht Business Coach

09-March-2013 Perfecting Your Pitch

Another fantastic event with a superb audience! We spent a day at Cyberjaya, talking about how to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalists. We had lots of fun discussing various forms of investors, and how best to present yourself and your company. The Topic “How much is your Startup worth” struck a somber note with some of the members in the audience – many couldn’t believe how investors go about valuing a startup. All-in-all: a great day with a great audience!

What the participants said after the workshop: 

  • “Harald is able to make a very complex exercise look easy and les intimidating especially for less experienced pitchers / presenters”
  • “Very beneficial – especially for start-ups!”
  • “Good presentation due to proven experience”
  • “It is very informative and practical”
  • “Do it more often! We love you, Harald!!”
  • “Very beneficial, now I understand how much my company would be worth, and how to pitch”
  • “Its a useful workshop for those who want to start their business and get more sales”
  • “I would love to recommend the speaker to my network or even organize a training session with him”
  • “This has helped me to to have a better understanding on how to conduct my business more efficiently. Everything has been very informative”
  • “Very educational – 2 day workshop please !”

 

Some pictures of the event:

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