Category Archives: Leadership

Secrets to Managing a Store Successfully: Part I

male store owner

Retail is a complex and challenging business, posing problems ranging from inventory management to theft prevention. When coupled with falling prices inspired by major retailers, like Amazon, and the rising costs of labor, there are a variety of pitfalls facing modern retail businesses.

With so many ins and outs to consider, now more than ever, effective management plays a critical role in retail success.

In this two-part blog series, we reveal the core principles and techniques you should apply to manage a store successfully.

Streamline In-Store Operations

Whether you know it or not, many of the day-to-day tasks that dominate small retail operations are based on old-school styles and strategies, like counting inventory by hand, creating manual schedules, and entering sales transactions one by one into bookkeeping software. While these methods can be useful, they cost you time that could be invested elsewhere.  Continue reading

Good Leaders Are Curious

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

good leadersLately, I have noticed that the seeming inability to have reasoned debate within the political climate has spilled over into the workplace. There seems to be a “my way or the highway” mentality seeping into professional environments which is not productive. People are taking sides and staking claim to their view with no room for understanding or compromise. I’m reminded that whenever one side is “right,” it automatically makes the other side “wrong” and no one likes to be wrong.

I think the first step toward better understanding of one another’s points-of-view is to stop rushing to judgment. Just stepping back a beat and pretending there might be another approach or that – gasp – you might be wrong, are worthwhile steps. Being wrong is not the end of the world, it just means you have more to learn and isn’t that true of all of us? If we listened without judgment we might actually hear what the other side is saying.

If you are ready to practice, start with questions. “What” questions are usually the best and most effective for not conveying judgment. For example:

  • What makes you say that?
  • Tell me a little about how you came to that decision, belief, position, idea, etc.?
  • What other ways have you looked at?
  • Would you be open to a different point-of-view?

Read more on Mary Marshall’s website

Leadership: Control vs. Influence

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

As a leader, the distinction of “control vs. influence” is an important one to consider. Which is better? The answer is probably “it depends,” however, when working with employees or your team, influence can be so much more effective that it’s not even a contest.

As an entrepreneur, sometimes control is the only thing we think we have to keep all the balls in the air. Unfortunately, when you have “control” or perceived control of everything you become the bottleneck, and everyone relies on you to do or approve things. Additionally, you will get labeled as a micromanager and there are not many who like working for a micromanager. This becomes the Achilles’ heel for a lot of entrepreneurs.

Another common challenge based in control is growing and running so fast that the response to someone on your team asking you to slow down and explain is annoyance. A typical leadership pitfall is to think, “well, it’s just easier to do it myself.” This ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, (and not in a good way), as you will end up doing EVERYTHING yourself.  Continue reading

Success in scaling your business.

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

First, what does it mean to scale your business, and how does it differ from growing your business?

Consider scaling a business:

“growing sales at an exponential rate while only adding costs incrementally by developing a replicable system for delivering goods and services.”

with simply growing a business:

“increasing sales coupled with increasing costs with little improvement on profit margins.”

The difference is clear. There is nothing easy about scaling your business, particularly for small businesses. It takes intention, strategy and investment.

Often business owners are caught in a Catch-22. They know they can sell more if they hire a Vice-President of Business Development. But, they can’t afford to pay for this this new position until they have increased sales.Yikes.

The larger your business, the easier it is to scale. Larger businesses may have multiple revenue streams, fungible staff and banked capital which can help see them through the ramp-up phase of accelerating growth. Smaller businesses often do not have this luxury.  Continue reading

Good leaders go positive.

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

be-1-300x300Good leaders know that inspiring people has a lot to do with focusing on the positive vs. the negative. Unfortunately, many of us are predisposed to focus on the negative and give it more worth or value than the positive. Alison Ledgerwood, a social psychologist does a great job in this TED talk showing us how that works.

Essentially, once we focus on the negative, we are much less likely to believe anything that proves otherwise. When asked how our day was we generally start with the negative. When asked how a project is going, we typically respond with what is not working. When asked how a team is performing, we often reply with explanations of how it’s not. Who knows why we do this? Preservation perhaps?

The end result is that we are discounting that which is good and leaving opportunities for happiness out in the cold.

Read more on Mary Marshall’s website.

Are you ready to lead?

How good a leader are you? If a recent survey of small business owners by The Alternative Board (TAB) is accurate, it seems that most small business owners are feeling pretty confident.

In fact, a whopping 95 percent of entrepreneurs polled believe their leadership skills are “above average.”

That doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, however.

When asked to identify the top areas in which they need to improve their leadership skills, entrepreneurs in the survey say:

  • Holding others accountable — 67 percent
  • Tending to my team’s development — 51 percent
  • Delegating to others — 41 percent
  • Demonstrating a strong vision — 41 percent
  • Communicating clearly — 40 percent

Continue reading