Archive for the 'Rethinking Your Business' Category

What Does Business Redesign Really Mean?

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The phrase “business redesign” might have you quaking in your boots. After all, who wants to start all over again from scratch?

Ah. I think I can help by offering up a different definition for you to ponder.

Business redesign isn’t about tossing it all away and starting from scratch (unless you really, really want to do that).

Instead, I think of business reinvention as a process of rethinking your current business model and your own goals, and finding places that could use a redesign. Knowing why you’re reinventing your business is the first step in the process of transformation.

There are lots of places where you can rethink and transform your business: your marketing, your target audience, the services and products you sell, the way back-office administration happens, your technology, your scale (national versus local), your resource base, your business and personal goals. You can choose to remodel every single one of these items or pick the one that will give you the biggest bang for the buck.

Some business redesign stories…

One of my clients is a chiropractor and has been doing it for nearly 30 years. But as she gets older, its harder and harder to lift patients off the table and the work itself causes her back and shoulder pain. In addition she feels that she would like to reach a larger audience with her message of being in conscious choice about all aspects of your life and not just following what everyone else tells you to do or think. She will take everything she’s ever learned as a chiropractor and everything she’s been studying and living for the past 30 years and create a new business where she can teach and coach.

One client of mine is taking her existing locally-based business and making into a virtual business that she can conduct from anywhere in the world. This frees her up to travel with her husband and continue to have a business she loves.

Another client of mine stayed in the same industry but changed his service offerings. In the past he had offered sign design and installation to his local customers. Now he’s offering sign management on a national scale to large organizations with multiple locations throughout the USA. He’s taken all his knowledge, experience and connections and put them to work for a new, larger, and more lucrative target audience.

In all these business redesign stories you’ll see a common thread: as a small business owner, your goals, your values, your needs and your lifestyle can change. And you can redesign your business model to reflect these new dreams and move you towards the business and life you want.

You decide how, when and where to transform your business

Business redesign is what you make it. But it’s not making tiny tweaks here and there; it’s shaking up the whole business and marketing models and realigning them to your goals, values and needs.

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Category: Rethinking Your Business, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Finding Time to Think About Rethink and Redesign Your Business

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If you’re not busy, raise your hand.

Ha! I knew it!

Everyone is busy. Everyone has a full calendar and a full To Do list.

So where are you supposed to find time to think about the future of your business and how you will redesign it?

Of course you know that you have to find the time to think about the future of your business or it will sneak up on you and bite you in the butt.

A Calendar for Redesign Your Business Model

I can’t offer a miracle time-creator pill (wouldn’t that be cool?). But here’s how I carved out time to plan for my business redesign — maybe some of these tips will work for you.

  1. First I had to figure out the best time of day for me, the time when I’m thinking clearest and the time when I have energy and vitality. For me, that’s early in the morning.
  2. Next, I picked several one-hour time slots each week (8AM – 9AM) and booked an appointment with myself. No phones, no email, no hubby, no cats. I did this for a four-week period, two “self-appointments” per week for a total of 8 hours for the month. This time is used for brain-heavy thinking and planning.
  3. Then I figured out my most dreamy times, the times when my brain is shut off and my heart and intuition are open. 3PM is my mental down time.
  4. I scheduled 4 one-hour appointments in a month (once a week) to visit the lake and just sit for the hour from 3PM – 4PM. No cell phone, no laptop, no paper, no pen. Just me and the waves and the ducks. This time is used to sit quietly and just let whatever comes up to ripple to the surface of my consciousness. I figure if it’s important, I’ll remember it later and write it down, but I don’t want to stop the flow of energy by stopping to write down notes during this one hour “business meditation.”

It might take you a month or two to schedule these appointments with yourself. Just get them on your calendar.

Schedule Business RedesignMega Time

The final thing I did was schedule a business redesign weekend for myself, away from the house. I was lucky that I had a business trip planned so I extended my stay a few days so I could have three days of undivided attention to my business future.

I also used a mastermind group retreat weekend to focus on my business redesign and brainstorm it with my mastermind group colleagues. But you might find a willing friend who will let you stay in their guest room for a few nights and who will understand if you’re incommunicado for part of that time so you can spend quiet time rethink and redesign your business model.

A Question for You

How are you carving out time to devote to planning your next business move? What suggestions do you have for people who know they need to find time to think and dream about transforming their business, but also lead very busy lives? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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Compass Round-Up

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It’s been four days since we all left the beautiful Compass Workshop room and came back to our individual offices.

And it’s taken me four days to get my head and heart around what really happened at the Compass Workshop, to process the entire weekend and find my own gems.

After spending Friday through Sunday with a group of self-employed small business owners, I’m more convinced than ever of a few truths:

  1. It’s hugely valuable to take time away from your home and office to deeply focus on your business. Our lives are so busy that we often get only fragments of time to think big thoughts about our businesses. You have got to carve out an entire day or an entire weekend so you can really focus.
  2. Amazing things can happen when you surround yourself with a group of like-minded self-employed people who brainstorm with you, help you solve problems and generate new ideas. This support is immeasurable and the results are astounding. When ideas and problems are circling, circling, circling inside your head – STOP trying to do it alone. The very act of describing your problem or verbalizing your dream to other people helps to create significant clarity. The masterminding and brainstorming springboard ideas one on top of another, giving you two things: choices and hope.
  3. It’s necessary to have a tool that allows you to get everything out of your head and onto paper. I created the Compass Blueprint as such a focusing tool and all the participants remarked how seeing problems, solutions, ideas and areas for exploration right in front of their eyes was a opportunity for immense clarity. I don’t care if you use mind maps, lists, journals, vision boards, or whatever works for you. Do what you must to get it out of your head and on to paper.
  4. Environment matters. At the Compass Workshop we were surrounded by a stunningly beautiful room with wooden floors and ceiling, huge windows and natural daylight. We were also surrounded by the loving staff at Pendle Hill, a peaceful 24-acre Quaker center for contemplation. At the beginning of the Compass Workshop, Pendle Hill staff introduced us to the facility and said, “We know you are here to do important and meaningful work. Let us take care of you this weekend. Let us take care of the food and the rooms. Let us hold you in the light, so you can do what you came to do.” Let’s face it: this workshop would have never been the same if it had been held at a Hilton or a Sheraton hotel. Choose your environments wisely, both your retreat environments and your everyday office environment.
  5. People are everything. We had an extraordinary group of self-employed small business owners at the Compass Workshop this past weekend. Their willingness to explore, to be vulnerable, and to share deeply with each other was awe-inspiring to witness.
  6. And finally, patience and preparation pay off. I’ve been working on the design for the Compass Workshop for nearly a year, reading 45 books, hundreds of articles and ebooks, and watching videos. Many a time, in my impatience, I wanted to “just get it finished.” But I trusted my mind and my intuition to know when the class design was truly complete. When it came to delivering the Compass content this weekend, it was effortless. Surprisingly, I wasn’t exhausted – even teaching for two days straight, and sitting around the fireplace each night for several more hours talking about business and life. Looking back, the only reason I can see for why I wasn’t utterly exhausted was because I felt completely prepared and I knew deep inside myself that I had created a great program. Don’t rush yourself in order to “get it done.” Trust your inner compass to tell you when you’re truly finished with a plan or a project.

So, that’s my experience of the Compass Workshop as the teacher and creator of it. Throughout the weekend, participants mirrored these observations about community, environment, brainstorming, and the need to get away from everyday life so we can think and dream.

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Category: Rethinking Your Business

Learning to Tolerate the Ambiguity

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When rethinking your business, you’re sometimes in a state of “not knowingness.” Questions swirl in your head:

  • What do I want to become?
  • What’s next for my business?
  • What do my customers want?
  • What’s the right path to take to reach my goals?

NOT having answers to these questions can make you feel restless, uncertain, and even fearful. But this state of not-knowingness is an important part of the cycle of business transformation, reinvention, and growth. Instead of jumping in to choose an answer — any answer — try finding comfort in this ambiguity.

Here’s why…

Sitting in the mystery of not-knowingness is a state of grace, a chance to ask all the important questions, a chance to reexamine your values and your personal goals as they relate to your business.

It also allows all sorts of creative ideas to percolate to the surface. If you jump into creating a definitive plan because you can’t stand to be in the not-knowingness, you’ll miss the opportunity for incredible options to come to your awareness.

People who can tolerate uncertainty can also tolerate risk better. Being calm and staying centered when you don’t know the answers to the big questions helps you develop other important skills, like dealing with chaos and conflict.

Here’s the trick…

The trick is deciphering whether you’re staying in not-knowingness because you haven’t explored all the creative opportunities yet, or whether you’re staying in not-knowingness because it means you don’t have to make a decision. You stay in not-knowingness because it’s safe there and you get stuck there for a long, long time.

If you can never come up with answers to the big questions or you resist making a decision on those answers, you’re stuck. And the best way I know to get unstuck is a two-step process:

  1. Deciding to decide – make a commitment that you’re going to do serious work on the not-knowingness and that you will choose from among the options you come up with.
  2. Get together with trusted friends and colleagues, tell them the big questions for which you don’t yet have an answer, and brainstorm together some possible ideas.

Learning to be okay with ambiguity and not-knowingness can be a great springboard for the future of your business. This moment holds immense possibility for you to explore. But if you’re resisting the exploration or the making of decisions and taking action, get some help and support in the process.

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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Bigger Audience, New Service: Doreen Amatelli’s Business Redesign Story

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Meet Doreen Amatelli, who is right on the verge of launching her redesigned business. I spoke with Doreen about her journey to rethink and reinvent her business and how she plans to take it in a different direction.

She started her first business as a career coach in 2004. She says, “It fit my lifestyle, it was very flexible, it allowed me to work at home and out of the corporate rat race. So I thought that was exactly what I wanted.”

She built her coaching business into a successful, full-time practice. “I did have a thriving practice where I was having my ideal clients come to me very focused on their career development and career aspirations, initially. But then they’d get laid off and our coaching went from being very strategic and open ended and adventure-filled, to very tactical. Clients would say ‘That’s great that I have all these dreams but I really need to get a job by next week.'”

What’s Next?

Within four years of starting her business, Doreen started to think, What’s next for me and my business? She says, “There is a little bit more of me that I wanted to give. I’m in my early 40s and I feel I want to say something: I want to be more informative. I want to share the tools and information I’ve learned over the years with more people. And that’s where my redesign started.”

Because of the changing needs of her clients and her own changing needs, Doreen started to explore new possibilities. She was still 100% committed to personal development topics, but as she puts it, “It’s just the model in which I deliver the services that is changing for me.”

She knew what she didn’t want, but wasn’t sure what she did want. It was a confusing time for her and she did a lot of journaling and working with her own coach to sort through the issues. “I just felt confused and I felt kind of lost — like there was a little bit of a grieving process in there for me. Here’s that dream that I thought I finally found and basically told the world about it, and now I’m not wanting to do that dream business anymore.”

Her Redesign Journey

In her journey through the business redesign phases, she came to realize that she loved when she worked with clients who were open to exploring themselves and what they wanted. Experience had taught Doreen a way to guide them through this process. She also discovered that she loved to teach most of all. “There are tried and true practices that have worked for my clients — and have worked for me, too — why not share that? I wanted a business model where I could impart that knowledge on a regular basis and provide those guidelines and tools to people on more of a massive scale than just one-on-one.”

It took her six months to find clarity on the services she’d offer and her exact target audience. Now she’s positioning herself as a workshop and seminar leader, offering workshops within corporations, and to the public through associations and groups.

Is her redesign process over? “I wouldn’t say I’m finalized, not ready to Put the Pen Down yet. It’s still a work in progress. I’m pursuing my dream but with a lot more experience and realism behind it. My feet are on the ground even though I can see the dream out there that I’m still committed to.”

Is she giving up coaching? Not exactly. She’s taking everything she’s learned as a coach and taking it up a notch. She says, “It’s almost like I gave myself a promotion.”

How About You?

Got a business redesign story? Share it in the comments! I’d love to hear about your journey.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Rethinking Your Business

What Will Make Your Clients Really Angry?

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Joyce is one of my “reinvent your business” clients who likes to take things to the edge, fall off the edge, and either soar or splat.

We were discussing all the different aspects of her business model that she could reinvent: her target audience, her product/service offerings, her delivery model, her marketing model, etc. But we kept focusing our thoughts on “What does the client want?” Hey, it’s a great question — but it was limiting the discussion.

So I asked Joyce, “What could you do that would make your clients really, really angry?” She is a business consultant to medium-sized businesses, and they have certain expectations of her even if she is a solo entrepreneur.

Asking this odd question can generate great ideas.  Here are some of Joyce’s answers:

  1. Double our prices
  2. Reduce our quality
  3. Take a longer time to deliver our services
  4. Take a week to answer emails and phone calls
  5. Show up at their office in a clown suit (or with clown-like answers)

By asking this question, Joyce was able to see which pieces of her business model were most important to her customers — and which were not:

  • No where did she mention HOW she delivered her products and services.
  • No where did she mention WHO delivered her products and services.

So these were two great starting places to consider reinventing in her business model.

Bingo! Asking this outrageous question opened her eyes to places where she could transform.

Question For You: If you were to ask yourself this outrageous question, what answers would come up for you? Share your comments here!

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Category: Rethinking Your Business
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