What is your biggest challenge in your business or your career?

Are you a business leader or owner? With the continued changes happening in our nation and around the world, what is your biggest concern?

Many in business are afraid to take steps forward now with so much about the future unknown. What is the worse that can happen if you take some steps to grow or stengthen your firm or your career?

Risks are part of business and our career. These are times to research and turn to credibe resources. It takes courage to take such risks. Consider the value of a good executive coach.


Sunday, August 30, 2015


Having lived in Charlotte since 1980, I find it amazing how Charlotte has changed.  Though I thought Charlotte was already a big city, having moved from Roanoke, VA, I couldn't imagine how much Charlotte could yet grow.

Some areas of Charlotte seemed behind, as Roanoke already had a beltway in the 1970's, and Charlotte still continues I-485's completion.  I also noticed that in 1980, Charlotte didn't have a bus system for the entire metro, though many people were moving to the outskirts.  People from the northeast and other places where there were train systems to get across town for work, were voicing their disappointment that Charlotte didn't offer this option.

Though Charlotte may be slow to develop in some areas, there are still other positive activities and growth attracting more and more people to the Charlotte Metro.  Our "Energy Sector" is gaining more attention and diverse energy venues, which is a good thing.

Charlotte had been known for her "manufacturing industries", which many of these firms moved away for a while or closed, but now more are returning.  There is a wide range and variety of manufacturers in our region.

Technology, the medical/health industry, construction firms, as well as financial firms are also still strong in our area.  In addition, we have to note the continued growth of the communication industry, and we can't forget how the sports industry plays a huge part in Charlotte and all of the Carolinas: Panthers, Hornets, NASCAR, Knights, Checkers, etc.

Whatever industry is your specialty, just look around and see what others have done to help Charlotte to grow, and this should open your eyes as what you and your organization might be able to do to make a contribution to the Charlotte Metro.  Every year Charlotte becomes the new home for hundreds of individuals and families.  Therefore, new jobs are needed, as well as homes, shopping facilities, health care, schools, and a host of other shops and entities.

As said earlier, there are ongoing needs for our Charlotteans.  What can your organization do to address needs of our citizens while also making this area a pleasant and safe place to live.   

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Since we are all consumers as well as business people, it isn't much of a stretch, if any, to understand what "customers" want from a business.  We all want:
  • Good service/quality products
  • Reasonable prices
  • Quick and polite/respectful responses
  • No run-arounds or passing of the buck
  • Solid, reputable business practices
Unfortunately, how many times have you dealt with just the opposite?  Too many times!!!  Recently, we needed to have our roof replaced due to hail damage.  We had two recommendations right away, plus one unsolicited contender.

The unsolicited company came back with a very high fee.  So we went to the first recommendation, but the charge seemed too high as well.  We contacted the second recommendation and had to leave a voicemail.  With no response, we called them a second time, when they apologized due to technical problems.  Having experienced that ourselves, we continued to ask them for a quote.  We were told that they were very competitive, if not the cheapest.  However, we never received a quote back.  We went ahead and reached out to this third firm again, and their quote came back higher yet!!!  We also left a message afterwards expressing our disappointment with their firm.

We went back to the first recommendation to ask if they could be creative in finding a way to reduce their charge.  They did.

Later, the owner of the third company called to ask what happened in regards to the exchange with their staff.  We explained how they said they promised to be cheaper, but instead came back much higher.  The owner thanked us for our feedback but was obviously concerned.  

We made arrangements for the first recommended firm, who had been polite all along, and was good to respond promptly and agreed to our concerns and terms, as well as setting a date for this work.

The next day the owner of the second recommended company called and offered a MUCH cheaper charge, but by this time, we became uneasy with the fact that they didn't offer such a deal from the beginning.  Would they still do a good job at such a low rate?  Had the owner lost touch with his staff?  Needless to say, we stayed with the first recommended firm, who we had agreed to use.

This example of questionable customer service demonstrates poor handling of a call for business, unclear reasons for a wide range of pricing, a possible integrity concern, etc.  One big reason to use a business is if they are trustworthy.  Another reason to use a business is when they do quality work, as well as are quick to respond, are convenient, and that they are respectful of their customers.

Another good customer service trait is to be "good listeners" to your clients.  Listen to them and respond appropriately.  How does you company rate with your customers?  A good customer may spread the word to a few people, but when you have a BAD experience, it seems to go out to dozens of people!!!

If your company is growing via acquisitions and mergers, you would be wise to provide "Good Customer Service Training" to those who touch your customers directly!!!  Let us know when we can help. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015


It's nothing new.  Each generation goes through this, and yet it is still sad and a big adjustment.  Johnnie Jones and John Crosland were two big names in construction in our area for decades, but both are now gone.  The Charlotte area has seen other highly respected business leaders to pass away.

As has been discussed before, Charlotte is  also gradually seeing many business leaders retire, and their organizations have had to sort through the existing professionals, seeking ones who are capable of taking their places.

Lately, some younger professionals, who have been examining their own future careers, have shared their concerns with me of not knowing how to handle "business ethic dilemmas".  Furthermore, a large portion of these young professionals do not feel very confident in the current leaderships.  These young professionals believe there is a lack of wisdom by current leaders, which weakens the trust of their new professionals.

Therefore, there seems to be two issues in regards to losing our well-respected and successful business leaders. 

1) How can we teach our up and coming business leaders how to handle business ethical issues?

2) What can be done to help our leaders be more confident, as well as strong and full of wisdom?

1a) It would seem to be a prudent and an efficient approach to strengthening "business ethics" by having regular and frequent discussions among each organization's leaders and prospects.  One session would be a waste.  It is critical that this important topic be reviewed once a month or every six weeks. 

2a) Anyone can make a mistake, therefore, leaders need to be given a fair amount of responsibilities, and made accountable, noting what mistakes are made and how it should have been handled.  With each mistake and information on how to correct this, a prospective leader will learn from those mistakes.  With each "lesson", a person's confidence will build and that experience will make them wiser.

Losing good leaders is sad and hard, but this is why prospective leaders must be  identified early and trained.  It takes time to develop new leaders, which is why it is so important to recognize those potential leaders and provide them with training and coaching as soon as possible.  These people will be the ones to take us into the future.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


As employers have had tight times, you have noticed and experienced many who have had to downsize the number of employees.  So for the past couple of decades, employers have been using more and more "consultants" and "volunteers" in their working world.  Some employers would actually release an employee one day and then call them the next day to offer a position of being a consultant to work on a "project" for the company.

As most business owners know, the IRS produced specific guidelines to differentiate between employees and consultants quite some time ago.  Most employers have complied with these stipulations, though other employers have pushed their limits.

In more recent years, some employers have also increased the number of volunteers they use in their organizations.  Though these "volunteers" are not paid, many are given strict rules and requirements to follow.  Many of these company volunteers are even required to attend training sessions, wear uniforms, "clock in and out", and request time off like employees.

Since certain companies are becoming more aggressive about the use of their "volunteers and consultants", the government is starting to take a more active approach to this "alternative workforce", especially if companies are using them without pay, nor paying taxes for them.

Therefore, it would behoove employers to review their uses of consultants and volunteers, as the rules for using these people and how they should be compensated or treated will most likely be changing.  It may even be worth contacting your business attorney for advice and learning what changes lie ahead.

Using consultants can be a great approach to tackling short-term projects, and volunteering is a valuable way for many senior citizens and others to contribute to special organizations for which they have a passion.  Still, there are some corporations, etc. who might be taking advantage of the people involved.  Nevertheless, this message is to encourage those business leaders to become clearly informed of what changes may be coming soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Many aspects of businesses have improved, which has encouraged some companies to acquire or merge with others.  However, that has not been true for all.  Most business leaders have heard of the importance of being strategic, though many haven't heeded that advice.  There is still time to make 2015 a good year for your business.  It's a matter of creating and implementing a "strategic plan or process".

  1. First review the full process of your business, making each step a point of examination.  The first might be to examine your services/products and determine if there are any aspects that need to be improved.  (Correcting the service, part, or product so each is performing at its best.)
  2. Then go to the next area to review, which could be your sales department.  Is the lead sales manager using an effective process in maximizing the sales team's efforts?  Is the sales team performing at their best?  Is the sales manager inspiring or motivating the team?  Are they selecting appropriate targets?
  3. Have you surveyed your customers about the sales approach and/or the customer service?  Do the customers feel they are being treated professionally and effectively?  Do customers feel that they are "being heard"?  In other words, are the sales staff responding to the "real need"?
  4. If you manufacture a product, is the product one of good quality and safe, delivering what is promised?  Have you inspected your "operations" to confirm it meets the highest standards?
  5. Within each area of your business, there should be one Point Person/key dependable employee to examine all aspects carefully and have one or two others to double-check, be of support and/or research alternatives, etc.
  6. Though some areas/departments may be in top shape, there are bound to be some areas needing improvement or total review or changes.  In this case, a detailed plan should be drafted with specific dates to complete each stage.
  7. A deadline should be determined (that is reasonable), when you/employer should receive a complete report, after which you would "walk through" your company and confirm all are performing and producing its best.
A Strategic Forum of your department heads and their assistants could be a good way to kick off this comprehensive review.  In order for your employees to deliver their best, it is important that you/the employer "clearly define your expectations".  The more detailed you are about this, the better the outcome.  The better the outcome, the better chance that your company will excel and be successful.  This process would be wise to implement once a year, using an outside facilitator for the annual Strategic Forum.  The facilitator is one who partners with the employer to help the company leaders be more focused and conscious about their purposes.  In turn, your business will become a strategic and successful entity.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


From the time we started our business in 1994, we found ourselves busy as we focused on helping businesses with change and transitions.  There was a lot of that happening all through the 1990's.  Not only did we have a lot of projects going on at once, change continued to escalate.  After going through two rental spaces in less than five years, as well as adjustments to our spaces, we began to look at the amount of money we were spending on this and related assistance.

Like renting an apartment verses owning a home, the difference in costs became clear that we were losing a lot of income with nothing to show for it.  Therefore, we began to talk to our financial advisor and with being a woman-owned business, we realized we could apply for an SBA loan.

This was a BIG decision, and yet it was the first time we really began looking at our business strategically.  Where are your biggest expenses?  What are the best ways to invest in your business?

  • One of your biggest expenses is your people/staff/consultants, etc.  Carefully selecting the best people to grow and build your business is critical.  Initially, customers may only think of you, the owners, as the faces of your business, but eventually you will need others to service and support your clients.  As you have built your company's good reputation, it is important that the people on "your team" should also reflect that good reputation.
  • Today technology is another huge expense, no matter what type of business you have.  To have quality tools and equipment is a necessity.  Such things are another big expense, but using quality equipment equates to quality workmanship and outcomes.
  • Selecting and using a variety of professional marketing venues helps to spread the word of your business' capabilities.  It is important to use a variety of marketing resources as people tend to respond to different types of communication.  In addition, the message and image has to be professional and accurately relayed.
  • The work environment for your business is also a vital factor in the success of your business.  Whether you are meeting clients in your facility, or providing a good work environment for your team, etc., your business space should have a professional image, including quality furnishings, equipment, clean personal spaces, as well as attractive and  upbeat d├ęcor to stimulate creative thinking and positive attitudes.
When we decided to purchase our office building, we not only looked for an efficient floor plan and professional-looking business park, we also considered the need for being accessible to main highways for easy access, had a comfortable and welcoming environment, plus offered free parking to our clients.

In the summer of 2001 our bank, financial advisor, and SBA representative graciously helped us through the process of our office building purchase.  As we watched our office building take shape and then got settled, it was exciting and a proud moment to invite our clients, business associates, and vendors to see our new business home.

Now in 2015 we plan to offer our business home to hopefully another credible business owner.  As we post the listing, there are mixed emotions.  Our industry has changed, which has affected what we need in "business space".  Though we ourselves are in the "business of change", it is time to offer this lovely space to others.  An office space is quite important to any business, and ours would make a great home for another "professional organization" or possibly make a perfect Executive Suite arrangement.  Whoever takes advantage of this attractive building should have many years of positive experiences, including the gorgeous cherry blossoms throughout our business park in the spring.

Take time to look at your business and invest in its future with quality and professionalism.  Having a welcoming work environment is a blessing.  As you know, you tend to spend a lot of time there.