Inc Magazine held its Growco conference April 6 -8, 2011. I attended — and the speakers were excellent. So I picked out 10 quotes to make you think harder about your own business and where it’s headed:
- “Instead of being ‘heads down’ we should be ‘heads up’ so we can spot trends” This is according to Josh Linkner, the Founder of ePrize, a venture capitalist, and now bestselling author of Disciplined Dreaming. If you don’t stop and look around you, you miss the big picture – and you can’t look ahead. Are you taking time to look “up” in your day?
- “I have no good ideas. I ‘steal’ them from my staff.” Said by Duane Jebbett, CEO of Rowmark, a plastics maker from Ohio. The point here is NOT about taking credit for your employees’ ideas. It’s actually the opposite — it means to empower your staff to think and solve problems on their own. So, are you encouraging your employees to come up with good ideas? And do you adopt their ideas, or do you ignore them because they are not your own, as if their thinking doesn’t count?
- “Get comfortable marketing on the Splinternet.” The ‘Splinternet’ refers to the splintering Internet, meaning … people increasingly get access to content and to your brand using multiple devices and multiple platforms. So said Shar VanBoskirk of Forrester Research. For more, read from the Forrester blog: Proof the Splinternet is Real and The Splinternet Means the End of the Web’s Golden Age. The critical question is: are you customizing your content, products and marketing messages to be seen and experienced by your customers no matter the device (computer, iPhone/iPad, BlackBerry, Android) and no matter the platform (Web browser, Facebook, XBox)?
- “Technology has enabled small companies to do amazing things,” says Phil Simon (pictuted above, second from right), a technology consultant who helps companies optimize their use of technology, and author of The New Small. Phil’s comment reinforces a refrain regular readers of this site know well. Technology has the power to give small businesses bigger reach and bigger profits. Is there some repetitive low-value-add activity that you could automate? Have you even looked around lately to see what technology solutions will help your business be more efficient, or operate faster or cheaper?
- “When a business has mojo you want to be associated with it.” Bo Burlingham, author of Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big, went on to liken business mojo to charisma that a person might have. Mojo makes your business seem attractive and desirable. People want to work in it, they talk about it, they think of it when it’s time to buy. Does your business have mojo (charisma)? What would give it mojo — a fresh brand identity, or a unique twist to your product, or something else?
- “Stop trying to get people to like you – instead care about THEM.” This quote is courtesy of Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone. He emphasizes showing others how you can help them when you communicate or interact. When you write emails or approach a sales prospect, are you emphasizing what you can do to help THEM succeed — or is it all about you?
- “Buying a killer domain name in our industry was important.” This was said by Seth Newman, President of Envelopes.com, in the context of a session on constraints to growth. Getting an easy-to-remember, single word domain name was one of the growth strategies for Envelopes.com. According to Newman, the company paid $400,000 for the domain name and rebranded the company (it previously was called Action Envelopes — not nearly as memorable). Are you prepared to invest and make bold moves to grow?
- “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. Balanced people don’t change the world.” This is by Chris Guillebeau (pictured above, right), author of The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris’s point wasn’t to deliberately work yourself sick. Rather, work with a sense of urgency and embrace life and your work to the fullest, to the point that it satisfies you. If you are not satisfied, change it. Are you satisfied with the mix of time you are devoting to your life and to your business? If not, how would you change it?
- “Your employees can sense when you’re not engaged. It hurts your company.” That’s according to Mike Faith, CEO of Headsets.com and avowed customer service fanatic. He says you have to stay interested, energetic and involved. Are you as interested in your business today as you always were? Or have you checked out already? If so, find a way to get your excitement back.
- “Resistance to change is often just a lack of clarity. Ambiguity is the enemy of change. “ So says Dan Heath, co-author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. He was referring to change in the context of organizational leadership and employees. It’s not that employees may not want to change. They may just not understand what change you want, or why, or how to go about it. Are you being as clear as you can be when explaining to your team what should change and why?
Some quotes above were paraphrased, based on note-taking during the live event. For more quotes and coverage read Inc.com Editor Mike Hofman’s “5 Takeways from Growco.”
(1) have netbook, will travel at GrowCo (the author’s work set up at the conference);
(2) panel discussion with Mike Faith, Steve Kimball, Phil Simon, Bo Burlingham (l to r);
(3) Inc.com Editor Mike Hofman with Chris Guillebeau