All the best "Seeds of Growth"

All the best "Seeds of Growth", principles that grow business, gathered from our own articles and from around the web. Just add water, plant properly, and grow your business.

Learning from the Best: George Washington

Learning from the Best: George Washington

I read a great article recently about George Washington. As I read about his amazing leadership characteristics it occurred to me that they are the same characteristics any entrepreneur or business leader needs to succeed. So, in honor of the celebration of Independence Day, here are a few leadership lessons from George Washington.

The article I read was based on a speech given by the author David McCullough at BYU. You can read the article here. here.

Age Though we have no control over our age, it is interesting to note that George Washington was 43 when he took command of the Continental Army. Because most pictures of him were done at an older age, we often think of him that way. He wasn't when he led the "rabble in arms" against the British.

Vision McCullough notes over and over that Washington was a man people wanted to follow--some of which I'm sure is due to the other characteristics noted here, but he also had a vision of "the glorious cause of America" was able to instill it in others.

On December 31, 1776 all the enlistments for the entire army were up. Every single soldier was free to go home on January 1, 1777. Most were planning to. Their families were suffering, they were suffering, they had done their part "for the cause" and were now planning to go take care of their own. Washington called the troops into formation and offered them all a $10 bonus (about a month's pay) if they would enlist for another six months. The drums rolled and Washington asked those willing to stay to take a step forward. Nobody did. He rode away and then turned and road back to them and said these words:

My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you can probably never do under any other circumstance.

The drums started rolling again and the men began stepping forward. Washington raised their vision beyond the suffering, lack of pay, and uncertainty to the "glorious cause."

Courage The first year of the war was a disaster for the Continental Army. They were soundly defeated in Brooklyn, and only through miraculous events managed to get 19,000 men and their horses and equipment across the East River in the dead of night to escape capture and complete defeat. As the army retreated across New Jersey its numbers were depleted by disease, desertion and defection. By the time he reached the Delaware, Washington had 3,000 men and they were all in miserable condition. Charles Wilson Peale, the famous artist, said he had never seen such miserable human beings in all his life.

Washington must have been overwhelmed. Cornwallis and his troops were headed for Philadelphia and it seemed unlikely anything could stop them. McCullough puts it this way:

Most everybody concluded that the war was over and we had lost. It was the only rational conclusion one could come to. There wasn't a chance. So Washington did what you sometimes have to do when everything is lost and all hop is gone. He attacked.

The result was a victory at Trenton and then at Princeton. According to McCullough it was "one of the most important turning points , not just in the history of the war, but in the history of our country and consequently, of the world."

Integrity Above all else, George Washington had integrity. According to McCullough:

Washington wasn’t chosen by his fellow members of the Continental Congress because he was a great military leader. He was chosen because they knew him; they knew the kind of man he was; they knew his character, his integrity.

At the conclusion of the war, George Washington could literally have been king, but he didn't pursue his own glory. What did he do? He turned back his command to Congress. When George III heard he might do this he said, “if he does, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Washington had a vision of what could be, the courage to pursue it boldly, and the integrity to be true to it no matter the cost or the temptation. As business owners our causes may not be as glorious or as history changing, but they never the less require the same characteristics to succeed.

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Is your company remarkable? Is that good?

Is your company remarkable? Is that good?

On the company the effect is like being assimilated into the Borg, but for users of their software it's like having a friend with a malignant brain tumor. You're going to have to say "goodbye" soon to an object of your affection.

I'm talking about the affect that Microsoft has on software when they purchase the company that makes it. Two cases that come to mind are PowerPoint and VirtualPC. Now there's another candidate, iView MediaPro. iView announced yesterday the assimilation. Maybe iView will be an exception. They have made remarkably great software for a decade or so. I love what they do.

Dang!

Being remarkable is important to a business. Make sure your business is on the right side of the "remarkable" scale.

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

Come to the Carnival this summer and win 12 free months of PromoterZ™!

Come to the Carnival this summer and win 12 free months of PromoterZ™!

What says summer more than traveling carnivals? Cotton candy, hot dogs, rides that go around and around until you puke! Does life get any better than that? I submit that it cannot!

The blog world has a few traveling carnivals of their own and over the next few months we've been asked to host several. We haven't figured out how to deliver cotton candy online yet, but to make it interesting we're going to include a chance to win--remember the baseball throw, the ring toss, and the shooting gallery? So step right up Ladies and Gentleman! A winner at every carnival!

Here's how it works. Each time we host a carnival (see schedule below) we will choose a visitor to win 12 free months of PromoterZ™ service ($600 value). To participate, click on this link and then come to the carnival. We'll announce the PromoterZ™ winner along with the posts chosen to be in the carnival.

Don't know what a blog carnival is? It's like a traveling roadshow. The host chooses what they consider to be the best posts of the week from the blogs that submit posts and include a few editorial remarks. For the reader it is a great way to see the latest and greatest without having to hit every blog. For bloggers, it is a good way to increase exposure. Here are the Carnivals we've been asked to host:

Carnival of Entrepreneurship July 6th
Carnival of Business July 24th
Carnival of Marketing August 6th and 13th

Don't forget to sign up and submit your posts. Bring your friends and remember it is BYOCF.

Promoterz is the hands-free, word-of-mouth marketing service that takes care of the details so you can focus on business. Learn more

This Growing Business is Sweet

This Growing Business is Sweet
Remarkable is the key here. These native american kids are remarkable in and of themselves. Their product follows suit. They have figured out government issues, food serving issues, product, marketing, web sales. Wow!

Their web site is pretty weak but they make up for that with a remarkable product and a 14 year old CEO. They are Lickity Split Chocolate Studio, LLC located in the southeast corner of Utah. Through attending an economic development conference and getting to know the right person (U.S. Senator Bob Bennett) they were set on track to land a major contract with a billion dollar company. Can they pull it off? "Of course we can we are only limited by our imagination" states their CEO (yeah, he's really only 14).

The company is managed by native american kids who discussed, brain-stormed, developed technology and a marketing plan that has brought them success. Now they can afford to buy the movie tickets that they wanted which was the motivation to start the business.

You work hard to make sure your customers are happy. Don't waste happy customers. How easy is it for your customers to share with their friends? Learn more

The Power of Staying in Touch

The Power of Staying in Touch

In the cluttered marketplace we compete in, I don't think the power (and necessity) of staying in touch can be overemphasized. I learned the lesson again last week--thankfully in a good way. It had been a while since I had heard from one of our clients at PromoterZ and so I sent him an email and invited him to go to lunch. We had a nice chat, I asked for feedback on our service and he had a few suggestions (I'm happy to note that we followed through on them). I ran a new idea we're working on past him. He liked the idea and agreed to let us test it with his customers. Then he mentioned that their franchising operation is taking off (looking for a good franchise opportunity? Check out Entrees Made Easy) and there might be an opportunity for me to tell some of their new franchisees about PromoterZ. Turns out the timing was perfect, and I'm scheduled to present to some of their new franchisees next week on how to turn customers into promoters.

So what did I get for my $30? Our product, PromoterZ, is now better thanks to his feedback, we have a place to test our new concept (more on that in future posts), and I have the opportunity to tell new franchise owners how much PromoterZ has helped Entrees Made Easy. Where else could I have got that kind of return on my money? Thanks Brandon!

They say it costs 5 to 10 times more to sell to new customers than it does to sell more to current customers, and yet what percent of our effort is spent looking for new customers vs. pleasing and staying in touch with our current customers? I was able to take Brandon to lunch, but that is not always geographically possible. A phone call works great. It can be as simple as, "how are things going?" Use technology where you can. Without exception, each time we send out our newsletter we get one or two phone calls from customers--they had been meaning to call but never got around to it until the newsletter arrived in their inbox. Here are a few other ideas:

• Send 1st timer customers a special thank you
• Send birthday greetings
• Send a newsletter
• Send Holiday greetings (Did you know today is Chocolate Eclair Day?)
• Send thank you notes

Finding new customers is tough and expensive. Once you've got a customer, hold on to them by staying in touch. I can guarantee you if you don't, somebody else will.

Find your happy customers and put a megaphone in their hand. Learn more

Seeds from the blogworld
We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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