Past Issues

Elizabeth Usovicz

The Basics of Growth Hacking — and What it Means for Your Online Business

What is growth hacking? Many business owners and entrepreneurs aspire to be growth hackers, but the term’s meaning has lost precision since it was first used seven years ago. Like “bandwidth,” the word “hacking” has mainstreamed into popular culture and is often used to describe a shortcut in food, fashion and life in general. Growth hacking a business is not an easily duplicated process or a quick fix. As Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur Paul Singh noted in 2016 at a 1 Million Cups meeting in Kansas City, “Everyone wants to read about growth hacking… [but] by the time the growth hacker actually writes the growth hack out, there’s no yield anymore.” (more…)

From Expert to Owner: Letting Go of Your Specialist’s Role

I recently met a friend for lunch to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her corporate event planning business. Reese started her businesses from a home office after five years with a Fortune 500 company. Today, she has nine employees and eight-figure annual revenues. As we discussed the peaks and the dips of her decade in business, she remarked, “I will always remember you telling me ’It may not be the way you would do it, but as long as you get the results you want, let your employees do their work.’ That was one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten.” (more…)

Big Data and Small Business

Your guide to managing disruptive technology.

In films like “The Matrix” and “Blade Runner,” disruptive technology takes the form of rogue androids longing to be human or suffering from a Big Data glitch in their algorithms. Technology may not be as life-threatening as Hollywood portrays, but innovation is often disruptive. Consider the impact of email on direct mail marketers or of the internet on travel agents.  What emerges is a cautionary tale that technology breakthroughs can be hazardous to your business. (more…)

The Key to Sales Goals Success: Committing to a Routine

Three months ago, Jon set ambitious sales goals for his business. When he reviewed his progress recently, Jon was ahead of target – for the first time in two years. Jon is more than lucky or determined. What he realized this year is that setting a sales goal isn’t just getting the number right – it’s also committing to a routine of activities that produce results. (more…)

Got Call Reluctance? Amp Up your Ask!

“It’s just a conversation. What’s getting in the way?” I recently asked a business owner that question.

For weeks, Chris’s prospect list has included a CEO that Chris has known for several weeks. As members of the same organization, they see each other twice a month at meetings and have a friendly relationship. Chris is normally outgoing, proactive and confident. He believes the CEO could benefit from his company’s services. Yet, twice a month, Chris passes on an opportunity to approach the CEO. Why is he so reluctant to take the next step? (more…)

A Message from Your Future: 3 Business Priorities for 2017

Every year at the holidays, my family plays a game called “Yankee Swap.” In our version, inexpensive, useful gifts are wrapped identically. Each person is given a number, selects and unwraps a gift, or “steals” another player’s opened gift. This year, my gift was a 2017 planner titled “Plans for World Domination 2017.”

Talk about Big Hairy Audacious Goals – this was probably not what Jim Collins had in mind when he coined that phrase in his book “Built to Last.” Although intended as a joke, that planner’s title is a bold message from the future: a new year is an opportunity to refine your business priorities and focus on success. Here’s how with three simple tips.

1. Keep Your Goals on Track.

The often-cited Harvard Goals Study suggests that people with clear, documented goals achieve more and earn more than those who don’t. Once you have written your goals, do the following:

  • Put them into a form that you can review and revise.
  • Set interim outcomes by asking yourself what the monthly or quarterly outcomes of your goals might look like.
  • Schedule a weekly appointment with yourself to review your goals.

2. Get Real.

During your weekly appointment with yourself, keep your business goals visible. Reviewing a standard list of questions at each meeting can help you to focus on what you did during the previous week and what you can do this week. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself:

Business Changes

  • What needs to change in my business?
  • Who can help with this?
  • Which of my current activities or behaviors need to change?

Opportunities and Issues

  • What can be done right now to help to resolve this issue or leverage this opportunity?
  • How do these opportunities or issues impact my business goals and opportunities?

 Priorities and Productivity

  • What percentage of my time do I spend on specific activities?
  • How could I defer or delegate those things?
  • What were the top three things I did last week or I will do next week?

3. Make Someone’s Day – Every Day

If you dared yourself to make someone’s day every day, what kind of impact would it have on your business? It’s a question worth pondering every morning. When I receive a message of compliments or thanks, I tell the sender that he or she has made my day. Expressing this simple appreciation always makes the sender’s day too. When someone does something beneficial for me, or I recognize someone’s influence on a project or activity that is going well, I send a note or email, or call to thank that person for making a positive impact.

No matter what plans you have for your business in 2017, your message from the future is a reminder. Set Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals, then pay close attention to the impact your activities have on your business and relationships.

Why You Need a Plan B—and How to Develop One  

“What happened?” I asked. Carol, the company owner, shrugged. “The deal didn’t work out.” She had been in negotiations for six months to merge her business with a larger company. I persisted. “So, what’s your Plan B?” She shook her head. “There is no Plan B.” (more…)


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