Why are You in Business? No, Really, I Want to Know

18 01 2013

Fish leaping from one bowl to a better oneRunning and I have been in a love-guilt relationship for over 6 years now. I love that it gets me outdoors, creates forward motion when everything else seems so backward, is quiet and introspective, makes me stronger…

But, holy smokes, do I ever feel guilty when I fall off the running bandwagon. You know what I mean. Whatever your extracurricular, I know you’ve been there, too!

Business, as it turns out, is just the same. When clients are delighted, the balance sheet is… well… balanced, and business just keeps rolling in, it’s hard not to love what you do. But when you lose track of priorities, lose sight of goals, and lose your patience with the small stuff, no well-practiced family member could ever guilt trip you with such finesse.

But I’ve discovered a truth. It’s not new. It’s not trendy. But it is the number one way you can ride out the tough stuff and capitalize on the good times.

Figure out why you are in business.

I know. Profit is a great motivator, serving customers is a great benefit, but I challenge you to dig deeper. Why are YOU in business? And, more to the point, why are you in business NOW?

Your reasons will change over time. You might have launched your company to make a mark on the world, but are now running it as a legacy for your children. Both are entirely valid and motivating.

The trick is to remember your NOW reason when the crud hits the fan… and cling to it with everything you’re worth.

I’m going to drop my walls for a minute, here, and let you in on the oddly-linked evolution of my own running and business existence:

1st Era: Building muscle under the fluff
I ran to avoid turning into a slender, but lightweight marshmallow. I launched my business to ease myself off the stable rungs of employment, and create character muscle.

2nd Era: Getting out
I ran to socialize. Meanwhile, my business became a tool to build a network.

3rd Era: Need for speed
I ran to build speed, and for the thrill of competition. My business now revolved around fast growth, and competitive drive.

4th Era: Expectations
By this time, I was known as “the runner.” People expected me to run, and so I ran. At the same time, my business had insidiously morphed into a venue to prove myself to others.

5th Era: REGROUP!
Era 4 was NOT a long-term option. So, I took 7 months off of running, to ponder whether that passion was real or imaginary. No similar sabbatical for DMT, but I did institute a paradigm shift that has led to my…

6th Era: The Long Haul
Today, I run because I WANT to. I run for distance, not speed, and only because it thrills me to trump the “I-don’t-wanna”s with less and less effort. Likewise, my business has outstripped all of my original expectations, and is something I gratefully continue to nurture. I’m in it for the adventure and challenge of being successful in “the long haul”, and THAT is why I am in business today.

So, back to my original question. Why are YOU in business? And, really, I would love to know!

Please click on the orange comment link below, and add your insight to the mix!

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

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Have-To v. Want-To Ju-jitsu: The work balance

20 11 2012

Ju-Jitsu JumpA warm “thank you” to my Uncle Mark for his insight below on work balance:

I was talking with Dawn the other day, sharing a perspective about the concept of work, and how it is that we do our jobs. As I’ve reaped the benefits of years of experience (read as: gotten a lot older), I have decided that to describe an overall approach to the whole concept of work, a gross oversimplification is helpful, so here it is:

All jobs can be broken down into two essential components:

the part that you have to do,

and

the part that you get to do.

Since everyone is different, and has different tastes and preferences, these parts will vary.  Some people enjoy meeting with clients; some enjoy the creative work that comes after the client meeting; some enjoy the mechanical production work that brings the creativity to life; some enjoy the delivery and tailoring of their product to the customer; and some people honestly enjoy the bookkeeping and administrative aspects of running a business. None of these is exclusive – you can love doing all of these things, in any combination.  But I’ve never met a person who doesn’t have a favorite – and a least-favorite – part of their job.

Here’s the “wisdom” that I’ve been asked to share with you:

The way I see it, my goal for a career is to maximize the time spent doing the part of my job that I get to do, while keeping in check the part of my job that I have to do.

Sounds simple, right? It is, as a concept.  It can also be devilishly hard to do, because it requires a structured approach to your business. Now, everyone is different, so I won’t pretend to have the one-size-fits-all answer about how to structure a business and how to mix and match the “have-to” parts with the “get-to” parts.  But I’m happy to share a few things that help me, as I try to incorporate these ideas in my own career.  In no particular order, they are:

Remember that the part that you “get to do” is the way you can really express yourself.  Take pride in it, do it well, and make that your signature.

Use this as a test to check that you’re doing the right things.  If there’s nothing but “have to do” involved in your work, and that’s not going to change anytime soon, it might be time to think about nudging your career in a different direction.

Recognize that sometimes the “have to” segments of a job lead to realizations that improve the fun parts – but that generally only happens if you’re open to seeing things from different perspectives.

It’s also really important to avoid the temptation to completely skip the “have to” parts – or, worse, to do them, but so sloppily that you have to go back and re-work them.  What helps me is to remind myself, when mired in a pile of reports that I don’t want to deal with, that I’m simply paying the price for the time that I get to spend learning about my clients’ needs and designing solutions to their problems. It helps especially because I know that the more thoroughly I work through the boring stuff, the more knowledge and experience I will bring into my interactions with my clients and staff.

Since I was asked to keep this short, I’ll try and wrap up now.  I’d like to leave you with an example of what I’m trying to describe: writing this note to you, dear readers, prompted me to put form to some ideas that were kicking around in my head for a while – which, in turn, led to some other ideas that will be of use in a project that I’m working on.  I’ll admit that when I was asked to write a guest blog, I was honored, but… still, it fell into the “have to” category – it seemed like a good idea, and I was happy to do it, and all, but it still meant an obligation… which turned into an enjoyable hour of thinking and developing concepts that I will be using to win over clients tomorrow. I offer that as proof of the subtle ju-jitsu that you can do to shift your thinking away from viewing work as a list of chores and into reshaping your career to be something more like jazz, in which you can improvise on themes that you create and modify endlessly.

Escape from the boredom. Take a chance, and go where it leads you. And be on the lookout for the things that make you excited about starting your workday – and then savor those moments and use them to build even more opportunities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Gabriele serves as a senior adviser for technology programs for the US government. He lives in the Washington DC area with his wife, their two kids, and a pair of Siamese cats.

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





If Wishes Were Horses:

5 10 2012

Having a conversation with yourselfWait. Hope. Wish. Dream.

What do all of these words have in common?

Answer: They have no place in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary. These words are passive. They are a luxury. They neither get things done, nor generate productivity.

They’re all talk, and no action.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I’ve caught myself red-handed – more recently than I’d like to admit – waiting for projects to fall in my lap, hoping office renovations move forward quickly, wishing there were more hours in the day, and dreaming about DMT ‘going viral’ across the nation.

Doing this costs me. It costs me time; it costs me brainpower; it costs me energy. And the return is peonic – a moment of mental gratification. Hardly something to write home about.

So, why do we do it?

Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to accomplish things when someone or something – your boss, your spouse, the law, even your body – tells you to do something? Seriously. You have to do it – make the deadline, fix the car, pay your taxes, fill a cavity – so you just make it happen.

Take the same task, and put yourself in the role of giving orders. YOU know that you’re feeling a little tired today, that you have an ill family member, that your “to do” list is a mile long, that you’d rather be fishing, that…

It’s very easy to be sympathetic with a person who’s life you know intimately, and you will always be number one on that list. For that reason, it can be one of the most challenging feats of entrepreneurship to simply INSPIRE YOURSELF TO ACTION.

How do we make that happen?

Plan. Set goals. Initiate. Do.

There are always people to inspire, motivate, support, and cheerlead, but when the chips are down, YOU are the only person who can drive yourself to act. I can write “rah-rah” pep talks until the cows come home, but I cannot flip the switch in your brain that decides whether you wish or whether you do.

So if you came here today looking for motivation, I’d recommend pulling out the mirror. This is a conversation that you need to have – can ONLY have – with you, and you alone.

The world will know the results of this conversation by the progression of your business. Remember, failure is as legitimate a result as success. Stagnation and atrophy are not.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just inspired myself to action.

“Action conquers fear.”  ~Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





What’s in It for Me?: Determining Why People Buy

7 09 2012

It gives me very great pleasure to introduce today’s guest blogger – my dad and marketing wizard, Fred Tomczyk! Without further ado…

Why do people buy?As a Marketing Communications Manager, one of my jobs is to identify the messages we want to tell our customers about our company and our products. The usual goal, of course, is to move them towards purchasing one of our products.

Here’s a simple way to approach this task.

Let’s start by talking a bit about how to select a message that has the best chance of stimulating sales.

The first thing you need to recognize before settling upon a message is why people buy your products or services. I emphasize the word “people” because whether you’re selling B2B or directly to a consumer, there is always a person making the decision to buy what you have to offer.

Recognizing that you are selling to a person, you need to ask yourself why your customers would want to buy what you have to offer. This is actually more challenging than it sounds. Everyone who is considering whether or not they should buy what you are offering is standing in front of you with a question written boldly across their forehead, just waiting for you to read it and give them the answer they need.

What’s that question? It’s simply, “What’s in it for me?”

What your customer is always asking is how will what you’re offering benefit them. This is really powerful, so let me emphasize this again. They want to know how the product or service you’re offering is going to BENEFIT them.

That word “benefit” is what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if your widget has a two inch diameter while the competition only has a one inch diameter (the feature). It doesn’t even matter that that two inch diameter means you are stronger (the function). All that matters is the BENEFIT he will derive from the fact that your widget has a two inch diameter and is stronger.

For example, because of this larger diameter, which makes your widget stronger, your buyer will experience increased confidence in using your widget. This may even help him protect his employees. It might help him make more money, improve his customer relations, reduce risk or save time..

Whatever the underlying benefit, your customer will decide to buy your product because they see the benefits that answer their question, “What’s in it for me?”

Here’s a simple example: Two people bought wrist watches. They both say they bought the watches so they can tell what time it is. One of them bought a $20 no brand, while the other bought a $4,000 Rolex. Both watches tell time. So why would one person buy a Rolex while the other buys a $20 disposable watch?

It’s all about the benefits they were seeking.

The $20 watch buyer may be content with telling time to be sure she gets to her appointments on time. The Rolex buyer says he’s buying the same function, but he’s also buying several other benefits. He’s buying the feeling of prestige. He’s buying something he believes makes him look and feel good. He’s buying something that he thinks tells people, “I’ve made it!”

So, if you were selling a Rolex, would you talk only about the high precision manufacturing process? The composition of the metal? The spring tension on the watch band?

Or, would you explain to your customers how their friends will admire them? How good it will look on their wrists?

Use the following list of benefits (“Reasons Why People Buy”) with your products or services. Develop your list of deliverable benefits so you can use them with all of your communications tools – face-to-face sales, web site, ads, literature/flyers, press releases, signs, packaging, etc. Remember to differentiate between Features, Functions and Benefits. Then use your lists of benefits to answer your customers’ question, “What’s in it for me?” and increase your sales

Reasons Why People Buy
To Increase:
• Profit
• Satisfaction
• Confidence
• Convenience
• Pleasure

To Protect:
• Investment
• Self
• Employees
• Property
• Money

To Make:
• Money
• Satisfied customers
• Good impressions

To Improve:
• Customer relations
• Employee relations
• Image
• Status
• Earnings

To Reduce:
• Risk
• Investment
• Expenses
• Competition
• Worry
• Trouble

To Save:
• Time
• Money
• Energy
• Space

Next Blog: Just two weeks away. If you can’t wait that long, contact me! I’m always happy to talk smart business.

Found today’s topic fascinating? Me, too! Here’s a bonus TEDx video, “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” that makes a phenomenal compliment to what my dad wrote above. Thanks to Chris and Jenny of Body Within Personal Training for bringing this video to my attention!

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Purple Revelations: The Joy of Impermanence

24 08 2012

DMT Artistry LLC officeMy husband, who reliably radiates the patience of a saint, requires Netflix and a sleeping bag any time we select paint colors. Yes, I am one of THOSE people.

Put me in a paint department with my artistic soul and perfectionist tendencies, and Mother Theresa could be forgiven for bolting for the door.

So, when it came time to choose colors for my in-progress office, I did everyone a favor, and went it alone. Interestingly enough, it took less then 15 minutes for me to leave with my liquid treasure.

Which got me thinking…

The way I see it, my office colors are the epitome of impermanence… the exact OPPOSITE of how I view DMT Artistry’s re-branding. My office colors can be changed in a few hours with a gallon of paint and elbow grease. But I’ve given myself the expectation that my new DMT brand must remain consistent across materials, locations, and time.

That’s a Mt. Everest order. Every brand evolves – even for the big guys, like Pepsi and Xerox. It has to. Stagnation means death.

It seems to me, then, that the “get-it-right-the-first-time” mindset is one of the primary sources of entrepreneurial quicksand. In an effort to make it right the first time, make it work perfectly the first time, make it a raging success the first time, we set ourselves up to be the deer in the headlights.

Impermanence is not only less intimidating; it’s more realistic. It reduces waffling over decisions. (It should NOT, however, be used as an excuse to be, think, or act in a mediocre fashion. We already talked about mediocrity in last week’s blog.)

Tell me, what decision have you been postponing for ages because the fear of “getting it wrong” is looming, piano-like, over your head? I challenge you to recognize that an incorrect decision is workable – you’re rolling your eyes, but I’m quite serious, you can always always correct your course to wind up on unexpected, opportunity-packed avenues – but going nowhere is not.

Come on, fellow entrepreneurs – let’s take this business world by storm!

Next Blog: … will be written by a guest blogger marketing guru, who’s been a DMT go-to guy for inspiration, motivation and valuable support – my dad!

“Nothing endures but change.”  ~Heraclitus

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.

 





Flat Out Scary: Mixing Business With Superstition

10 08 2012

Mixing business with superstitionA few days ago, I heard something that chilled me. To. The. Bone.

A new acquaintance complimented me on my 4-wheeled transport. Do you have goosebumps yet? No? Good, because that’s not the scary part.

I am fiercely proud of my car – not because it’s beautiful (it is), but because I worked so hard to make that purchase possible. Where one person sees a hunk of steel on wheels, I see restructuring MY life to give my BUSINESS life – long hours of mind-cramping design sessions, intense dedication to exceeding expectations, balancing precariously on the diplomatic highwire, sweating bullets over deadlines, epic mental battles with self-doubt, and more all-nighters than you can shake a stick at.

I shared an abbreviated version of this with the complimenting party, and she responded with:

“Oh, boy… you’re in trouble. It’s when you care about something that bad things happen. I couldn’t care less about my car – see? [gesturing grandly at a rusted out minivan] – and nothing’s happened to it.”

If the hair isn’t crawling on the back of your neck, check yourself for a pulse.

This kind of superstitious negativity is the antichrist of entrepreneurship (and, in my opinion, humanity). This is the reason – read: excuse – to hunker below sub-mediocrity. But if you don’t care about your business, who will?

As an entrepreneur, YOU DON’T DO mediocrity.

Contrary to hoodoo-voodoo beliefs, rational pride (emphasis on “rational”) in your achievements is NOT the beginning of the end. It’s a crucial element of business growth.  If you quake with each new customer, cringe at each dollar earned, and flatline every time you make a business conquest, your company – and you – will be lucky to survive a week.

I challenge you to place rational value in the things you’ve earned – whether it be money, success, fame, or the positive perks that result from them. You worked hard for these. They are motivators, and motivators are what give us drive to achieve, and continue achieving, greatness.

What are your thoughts regarding mixing business with superstition?

Next Blog: DMT Artistry’s business rebranding took a turn for the exciting, as I’ve just moved to my new office. For now, it’s a playground of cardboard boxes and construction materials, but it’s given me new incentive to put my logo on the renovation fast-track. I’ll be back in another 2 weeks with the next installment of The DMT Idea Board. Thanks for reading!

“I had only one superstition. I made sure to touch all the bases when I hit a home run.”  ~Babe Ruth

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.