5 Ideas For A Happy Business

5 Ideas For A Happy Business

Apple, Innovation, and Revolutions

There seems to be a growing number of people “disappointed” with Apple’s latest products because they are not revolutionary enough. There are increasing calls that Apple is just rotting without Steve Jobs. Is it really?

The latest iPhone has a graphics processor 56x faster than the original iPhone and uses LESS power for MORE battery life. And they are not innovating?

Apple is the driving force to push retina level displays with crystal clarity to laptops and mobile devices.

The new iPhone has an integrated fingerprint reader (that by all accounts works really well). Right now that may seem like more of a trick than a revolution, but what happens when they tie that into passbook and payment mechanisms. Credit cards, receipts, and wallets could be a thing of the past. Apple isn’t calling it the “most forward thinking phone” for no reason at all.

I know, I know, the question everyone has is “but what’s the next big thing?” I don’t know any more than you do, but to act like Apple isn’t working on that just because you don’t know about it is silly. No one knew anything about the iPhone before Steve Jobs introduced it — or the iPod or the iMac (all of which many people said would be failures out the gate).

Clearly the iPhone has been more of an evolution with each release, but if you look at the capabilities of the current iPhone (hardware & software) compared to the original, it’s staggering.

Would we prefer Apple push out products like Google Glass? Just because no one has done something like that before doesn’t make it revolutionary. Products that are a dud don’t start a revolution. No one is seriously going to walk around with those glasses on — it’s a beta prototype at best.

I continue to believe that Steve Jobs best invention was not the iMac or iPod or iPhone but Apple itself. To act like Apple can’t continue to innovate without him is a disservice to the incredible talent and leadership that works there. Apple continues to provide the very best design and technology products available anywhere in the world.

Revolutionary products don’t rotate through on a 6 month cycle, they take time, investment, and lots of creative juice. Those are three things Apple has a plethora of.

Will they be the ones that release the “next big thing” — I have no reason to believe otherwise. Who else will it be?

EntreLeadership: Performance Series Review (3 day event)

Early this year, I had the privilege of attending Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Performance Series in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve followed Dave’s financial advice for a while (our family is now debt free except for the house) and recently read the EntreLeadership book which lead me to look for more training from Dave’s team.

They also offer a 1 day and 6 day event. One day seemed to short and the Master Series was on the same week as a family vacation — so the 3 day Performance Series was a good compromise for my needs.

To be completely honest, I was a little apprehensive that it was being taught by Chris Locurto and not Dave Ramsey. That apprehension was quickly resolved on the first day of the event. Chris was excellent (as was the rest of the team and event). If this is a concern, let not your heart be troubled, Chris is an incredible teacher.

If you want to hear from Chris before the event, check out http://chrislocurto.com/ or listen to the EntreLeadership podcast, which he hosts.

The other objection was the cost — the 1 day even is very affordable but the 3 day and 6 day events are a little more expensive due to the more exclusive nature and limited size of the events. I’ve always been a little tight with money, I don’t travel a lot with business and don’t go to a lot of conferences or training unless I think they are really worth it. EntreLeadership was easily worth 3 times what I paid.

Want proof? Last year was our best sales year in 12 years. We just passed last years sales numbers and we’ve still got almost 4 months to go. Much of this is due to ideas I learned at EntreLeadership.

Entrepreneurship runs in my blood. My grandfather owned a restaurant, my uncle owns an insurance business and I started my first business at the age of 8 (selling drinks and snacks from my red wagon at the ball park). I started my current business, Design Extensions, over 13 years ago while still in high school. I’m better than I’ve ever been at running a business, but I have a LOT more to learn. I always want to grow, learn, and improve — EntreLeadership looked like a great fit for my goals.

Here’s the executive summary: If you’re an entrepreneur, a business owner with a team, or a team member wanting to be a leader or grow in your company, this event is a must attend.  Just go!

Originally I had planned to stay with my father outside of Nashville since the event is near there, but opted to stay at the group hotel at the last minute. That was a good call and highly recommended.

Upon arriving at the hotel the first evening, there was a very professional EntreLeadership setup in the lobby with attractive lanyards and a very classy gift basket for all attendees. The gift basket was filled with all types of local treats like RC Cola, a Moon Pie and more — good memories for a southern boy like me. I was feeling at home already.

That evening, they had a social gathering with finger foods, drinks and much of Dave’s team was there for introductions. His team was always very open, available, and easy to talk with. The majority of the teaching team from the week was at this evening event at the hotel including Chris Locurto. I was impressed and it only got better from there.

Each day was packed from dawn to dusk. Their team was ready in the morning and buses were loaded for a short ride from the hotel to the Dave Ramsey conference center (behind their main headquarters.) The facility was very clean, comfortable and professional. They started by providing a very high quality workbook and other materials at our seats including name cards. The lessons began and I was blown away by the content. I’ve read a lot of business books, I’ve been in business a long time, and I couldn’t write fast enough to consume all of the great ideas being shared.

Each day ended with a more casual event including dinner and tours of the local area. Everything was so well planned it showed that Dave’s team leaves no stone unturned.

I remember thinking one night, after an action packed day, “it would be really impressive if they had something waiting in the room as a note or gift focused on tomorrow”. I walked back into my hotel room and there was a book (Question Behind the Question) and a note about the plans for the next day — these guys are that good. Not a huge deal, but shows that they have prepared for every detail.

The number of things that I learned are more than I could write here. Some of the key takeaways for me were the personality profiles and understanding how that affects team members and clients, ideas for hiring, and ideas for profit sharing.

There was plenty of time for one on one interaction with Dave’s team to ask more questions and get specific about problems or ideas without our business. These guys actually walk the walk — they care about people — they want to help others — and it shows.

If you’re in business, thinking about going into business, or a leader at a business — go to EntreLeadership. I’d highly encourage the 3-day Performance Series that I attended in Nashville but the Master Series sounds like an even better idea. They have one coming up soon on Orlando. I already had a family vacation planned for that week or I would be there. I’ll definitely be attending the Master Series in the near future.

If you haven’t already, start off by reading the EntreLeadership book and listening to the excellent Podcast.

5 Tips for Work at Home Balance

Working from home sounds like a great idea in this economy.

The truth though, is that not everyone is cut out for it. Working from home requires a delicate balance between family, work, personal time, and other priorities.

The best thing about working from home is that you never have to go to work, the bad thing is that you never get to leave.

It’s a blessing and a curse and it’s easy to fall of either side of the cliff — working too little or working too much.

I’ve had the blessing of working from home for the past 13 years. In that time period, home could be defined as my a dorm room, a friends house, my mother’s garage, an apartment, our first house, and the place we call home now. Each location and season of life presented it’s own series of challenges.

Through the years, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and managed to work too much and too little. It’s still a daily balance at times.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way that can help make it a little easier:

  1. Define Work Times: Working from home often allows for unusual schedules, which is great, but that can often lead to too much or too little work. If you can define a period of time each day for work, it will help normalize your schedule and improve productivity. Hold yourself to those times.
  2. Define a Work Space: This one is harder for some depending on the space you have available at home, but if you can carve out a space that’s specifically designed for work only, it will help you focus when you’re in that space. Kind of like watching TV in bed can lead to poor sleep and sex, trying to work in a play space can be equally unproductive.
  3. Work when You’re Working: Sounds simple, but it’s not always. Facebook, twitter, blogging, news, and much more can quickly sweep us away for hours of the day without notice. Before you know it, you’ve wasted a ton of valuable time.
  4. Play when you’re Playing: Ok, ok, I’m starting to sound a little repetitive, but seriously… almost all of the very successful business owners I know are great at productive work, but they are also great at playing hard. When you’re with family, or friends, and outside of the defined hours in #1 above, put down the phone, shutdown the laptop, and HAVE FUN!
  5. Communicate with your Spouse: (This probably should be #1) If you’re married, working from home can bring an all new kind of stressors (or be a huge blessing). Making sure your spouse knows when you’re working, when you’re playing, and when you’re available to help with other things is extremely important. Communicate these things BEFORE they become a problem.
Working from home is a delicate balance. I’ve been doing it for years and I still screw it up. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them.