The word leak has a negative connotation

(Submitted by Ryan Mapes, Manager, Endeavor Center and Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

TeachU Article:

The word leak has a negative connotation. A leak in a tire isn’t a good thing. A leak in your water heater isn’t good. A leak in your business could drain away the last of your reserves.

We work with small businesses that want to improve. When we get the call, we almost always talk about something management wants to make ‘better’. That’s smart and I support that thinking but before things can get better it is necessary to stop the leaks.

Going back to my leaky tire example, you can make the air pressure ‘better’ by adding air but unless you fix the leak, you will end up back where you started. Time and resources are wasted when we try to make things ‘better’ before we fix the leaks.

puzzleOne way to help a client is to look for leaks. If a client says, “we need to improve margins,” we should look for what is draining margins before we look for ways to increase margins. For example, raising prices should immediately increase margins. But if shrinking margins are a result of sales inefficiencies, price rises will be consumed by those same inefficiencies. We have to repair the leak first.

Let’s look at something specific. Let’s say there is product price timidity at your company. That’s when management and sales people fear competition. More than necessary is spent on advertising that doesn’t produce measurable sales gains. Big money is spent on trade-shows more because of a feeling of obligation, “we have to be there”, rather than to build the brand in a measurable way. Samples are generously distributed to sustain sales rather than build measurable loyalty and increase market share.

What do all these have in common? They can be measured. Leaks are detected by measuring. Leaks continue from a lack of taking measurements. If giving away samples doesn’t lead to increased sales, those free samples are hurting margins.

This same thinking applies to every aspect of a business. Manufacturing costs too high? Start by looking for waste and then go to cost control. Employee retention lousy? Before implementing costly incentives, look for the leak first. Where are your people going and why are they going there? I know of at least one case where the people feel their career is at a dead end. It’s not a lack of money as much as a lack of opportunity that causes employees to leave. (Are promotions based on relationships rather than performance?)

Before starting a big sexy program to improve business, fix the leaks first. You’ll see results quicker. Your betterment program will produce better results after the leaks are plugged.

Let me leave you with a tip. To determine if you have a leak, ask yourself if everything you try seems to fall flat without making things ‘better’. You’ve got a leak. Fix it. Leaks waste time, energy and resources.

Chris Reich, TeachU.com

Work-Life Balance

(Submitted by Ryan Mapes, Manager, Endeavor Center and Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

stress-391662_1920 (2)With extra family and work activities during the holiday season, work-life balance can be a challenge. Writer, Chris Reich, understands this dilemma. Read what he shares about work-life balance in a recent TeachU blog post.

Dec 13 – Work-Life Balance Matters NOW
By Chris Reich

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of balancing work time with personal time. That may be a huge problem at your company as it is at many. If you care, you can make the effort to help your employees have better work-life balance at least through the rest of this year.

December is a month of celebrations, parties and kids. Your people have a lot of extra ‘pull’ on them to attend various functions. The kids are in plays. The relatives are having a party. Friends get together for a drink. People have football parties. This is a time of year when your people need time away from work.

If you cannot make work-life balance permanently better, you can make the effort to make things better for a while. Sure, there are a lot of year-end projects but they’ll get done if everyone pulls together.

How to do it?

If you let people know the goal is to give them more time off during this season, they will pull together to make that happen. Too often we ask for “110%” but fail to let everyone know that extra 10% will be returned in recognition for a job well done.

Don’t add stress to people during this time of year. Help them spend time with friends and family. They deserve it, don’t they?

Chris Reich, CEO TeachU

Staying on top

(Submitted by Ryan Mapes, Manager, Endeavor Center and Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

hand-895588_1920 (2)Today’s economy presents many challenges for small business owners. Success of these ventures is sometimes dependent upon the company’s ability to look forward and adapt or make changes if needed. Business planning is a necessary component to overcome the challenges that are present in this economic environment.

Owners must be proactive in managing areas such as cash flow and marketing. The ability for a company to be flexible and to make changes is critical when managing cash flow. Look for new or creative ways to generate revenues and decrease expenses. Market diversification could positively impact sales and make the difference between a positive and negative cash flow.

“Running my business is getting in the way of running my business.” Have you heard that expression? Don’t wait until it is too late to seek advice in these areas.

Small Business Development Centers are an excellent resource that provides one-on-one counseling services and training events covering a broad range of topics.

Taking Action

(Submitted by Ryan Mapes, Manager, Endeavor Center and Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

When creating a business or marketing plan, you must realize that ideas, or a list of ideas is not a plan. Plans that include goals will help you make your ideas become a reality. Focusing only on the end result may not get you where you need to be today or tomorrow.
2015 5-14 Smart Goals chalkboard Pic - R Mapes
Set short-term and long-term goals so that you take action. Effective goals should be realistic, measurable, and should state a target completion date. I recommend that you consider the SMART goal methodology when creating the goals that will assist you in following through with your plan.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Target Date

When you have ideas that you want to achieve, make a plan and set goals as to how you will put your ideas into action. Breaking the overall plan down into smaller segments with goals greatly increases your chances of successfully reaching your desired outcome. Most business owners do not plan to fail, they fail to plan.

Below is an example of a MS Office Excel spreadsheet to help with your planning efforts.

2015 5-14 Smart Goals Excel Pic - R Mapes

Endeavor Center

(Submitted by Ryan Mapes, Manager, Endeavor Center and Program Leader, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

DSCN0268

The OSU Endeavor Center manager and staff of the affiliated programs at the Ohio State University South Centers continually engage community organizations to maintain awareness of changing needs in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem and develop solutions to combat negative impact to the economy while promoting the regions resources and talents. 2014 was once again a successful year for the Ohio State University Endeavor Center, its programs and its partners. Open since 2005, the 27,000 square foot mixed used business incubator has come to be recognized as a community leader in economic development, business training, and technological excellence.

Endeavor Center business programs and partners had another successful year. The technical assistance programs affiliated with or housed within The Endeavor Center include a Small Business Development Center, an International Trade Assistance Center, a Manufacturing and Technology Small Business Development Center, the Ohio Cooperative Development Center and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. All of these programs provide technical expertise and guidance to the small businesses housed in the incubator. In partnership with the Endeavor Center, the region’s Small Business Development Center was chosen as the top performing SBDC within a 6 states by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). Partners proceeded to work on several projects at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion facility. The facility housed 18 individual businesses which filled 27 office spaces throughout the year and operating at more than 100% of its original occupancy capability. In the last five years of operation The Ohio State University Endeavor Center and its business partners have:

• created more than 1300, high-skill, high-wage jobs, adding more than 115 million dollars of direct economic activity to the local community.

• in cooperation with the Small Business Development Center of Ohio, sponsored or
Conducted 320 business workshops, training sessions and seminars with nearly
5,300 attendees – business owners, prospective entrepreneurs and ambitious employees seeking to improve the profitability of their businesses so they can grow and provide additional employment opportunities for those in the community.

In August, a partnership was formed with Community Action of Pike County to combat potential federal budget induced layoffs at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion facility. Community Action Committee of Pike County received funding to create a temporary transition center to provide technical assistance for employees facing layoffs. In short time, the transition center was up and running in the Endeavor Center.

Also in 2014, the OSU Endeavor Center was chosen as The Ohio State University’s nominee for the national C. Peter McGrath Community Outreach and Engagement Award. In October, the OSU South Center director and Endeavor Center manager attended the national outreach and engagement award in Edmonton, Alberta to learn more about the award process. The Endeavor Center staff is currently working with main campus to prepare the presentation for the 2015 national award process.