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Category Archive: Entrepreneurship

6 Ways SME Leader’s Role Changes When Growing Internationally

SME owner, leader, growing internationally, changeRemember what it was like when you first opened your business? You had a plan and goals. There was excitement and uncertainty. Your role then was probably very hands-on with everything. And here you are today. Maybe you have always had your eye on expanding internationally. Quite a few SME owners and executives of Irish based businesses tell me about the challenge of growing within Ireland and seeing the limits of strictly focusing on this national market. Thus, they look for markets in Europe, the UK or the US. But there is more than finding your target client in a new market. There are some ways that a leader’s role changes that may be unexpected, even when expanding internationally was the plan all along.

Most common role change for small to mid-sized leaders

  • Adventure4- Before any growth, there is some predictability to leading your company in its current size. Notice the thrill when you’re planning and implementing steps to grow your small to mid-sized business in another country
  • Delegator- This is essential to being able to focus on all the details needed to grow in a new market. It includes knowing what you are best at, the person(s) on your team with specific skills and developing trust in letting your team members do their jobs.
  • Communicator- With all the travel and meetings involved in growing your business in another country, it is important to clearly set your expectations for both the home office and the foreign office. Plus, regular check ins support your availability for our team’s questions, timely decisions and general relationship maintenance.
  • Newbie (Exposed to different ways to do business)- Meetings, schedules, meals, entertainment and communicating via email or phone can have minor to major differences. This is an opportunity to learn something that makes you better as leader and manager of your organization.
  • Start up status (2nd time around)- Go from being established with a reputation, credit and stability to start up status could make you feel off balance or frustrated.
  • Missing the familiar- Being in a different country can be both exciting and foreign. There are different smells, flavors, sights, sounds and behaviors.  It is not uncommon to feel homesick at times. Learn where to find food and expatriates to bridge the new with the familiar.

Good time to use the CEO Mindset

With the CEO Mindset, there is an awareness encompasses both you and your new environment. It is important to know how much you can handle in terms of going from one meeting to another, spending time at networking events and being away from home. There is also the part where you need to know any skills gaps regarding communication and delegation that you might have. There are a lot of details to keep track of and using the CEO Mindset allows you to be patient with yourself while you are exploring and learning. Your role will change. Others will treat you differently. You will see yourself differently. Be confident, do your preparation and enjoy the experience!

 Related post: 8 Tips for Expanding in the US For Irish Small Business  

 

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8 Tips For Expanding in US for Irish Small Businesses

Irish small business owners, expanding in the US, exportI was just reading the other day in The Irish Independent that the Irish Export Association changed its forecast from positive to negative. They attributed the contraction to weaker demand in EU and US markets as well as other international markets. It may not sound like the best time to consider doing business in the US but it does give you time to prepare. You already know that preparation is a key piece for growing in your current market. As one of my Irish clients discovered, there are a lot of details when entering the US market. Here are eight tips to make your process smoother.

8 tips for expanding in the US

1. Know “why” – Your reason for expanding in the US is the cornerstone for the effort you will put into this venture. Identify your strategic intent and business goals for why this is a good move for your business. Be sure that you are operating from a sound business reason and not from the extremes of naivete or cynicism.

2. SWOT and/or PESTEL analysis- The US is a big country and, despite some consistent cultural qualities, there are a number of sub-cultures due to geography, ethnicity, race, politics and economic class. Conduct a SWOT analysis to clarify what is going on within your business and a PESTEL (also known as a PEST, PESTLE) analysis to clarify what is going on outside of your business. There may be regulations, demographic trends or other information that you need to know.

3. Do your marketing homework- Americans don’t think or experience emotions like Irish people. As an example, the ads that run on RTE or UTV use different emotional touchpoints than the ones on American television. Even language (even though we all speak English) is used differently. This applies whether you’re selling food, software or medical devices.

4. Hiring/outsourcing- If you decide to hire someone or outsource,  first learn about benefits and legal responsibilities. It may be useful to speak to someone who specializes in human resources to make sure your company doesn’t violate any regulations or laws.

5. Legal entity- It is often necessary to establish a US-based business entity when expanding in the US as it may be more cost-effective, increases options for funding, reduces how much you travel and other considerations. For example, a foreign small business who establishes a legal US-based business entity is eligible for assistance from the US Small Business Administration (the SBA).

6. Work with someone who can help you with the details- The are a number of brokers and organizations that can help you expand in the US. However, many of them require a fee upfront before they help you. Another (and less expensive) option is to work with a non-profit group like The Business Coalition who can provide advisors and/or a liaison for immigration/visas, business law, rental space (offices, manufacturing, living), transportation,  mobile phone companies, explain cultural differences and other business needs during your growth phase.

7. Develop and write a plan that outlines funding, personnel, risks and goals- There are a lot of details to keep straight between the business goals, who is responsible, legal requirements, regulations, schedules and so much more. A written, living document allows you to see progress, benchmarks, accountability and potential problems so you  can respond appropriately.

8. Your role and identity will change- Becoming the owner and/or executive in an international business is a transition for everyone. As you interact with new people who may be from a different country or economic class, it is not unusual to feel as if you are in over your head or are somehow a fraud. Just traveling back and forth will open up experiences that are good and bad. This is where the CEO Mindset will serve you so you can manage your stress, exhibit confidence and adapt to your new status.

Smoother process, less stress

While these tips may not the workload any less, they do provide you with an outline. There will be easy victories and perplexing problems. But it is an exciting venture well worth preparing for so someday you can say, “yes, we serve customers in Ireland and the US.”

*Update as of 8/15/2013- Sometimes things change on both a micro and macro level. This is more the macro level.  The Irish Times reported today that Ireland and the Eurozone emerged from recession during the spring months of 2013. Irish exports played a major role in growing the economy.

image: iStockphoto Andrew Johnson

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and executive coach who guides established small business owners and executives in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US to use the CEO Mindset and be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are re-focusing your small business or expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about growing to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation here.

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7 Reasons Why Upgrading Your Business Networking Events Matters

Business networking, business owners and executivesI recently attended the Boston Irish Business Awards Breakfast hosted by the Boston Irish Business Association and the Boston Business Journal last week. As I listened to the inspiring stories, quite a few of the honorees mentioned people they had met who were helpful to them as they developed their careers and businesses. They described how they met these people through common organizations or through other introductions. It was clear that networking had made a difference!

Networking is key part of building your small to mid-sized business

There is a reason why we go to events and spend hours standing, talking and listening to people we don’t know. But have you thought about why you choose one event over another? Here are seven reasons that occurred to me as I was listening and meeting the people sitting with me at the awards breakfast… Click here to read more »

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Dilemma of Wanting to Be CEO and Future of Social Entrepreneurship

Some of you might have seen these posts on TweakYourBiz.com and KaizenBiz.com but if you haven’t, allow me to share them with you.

When Your Small Business Isn’t Ready For You to Be CEO

You may have seen some of my previous posts here since I’ve been a regular blogger since 2009. It’s not an unusual situation for a small business owner to be ready for the next stage of his/her career but feel they have to put the brakes on their activities because the business needs their direct attention. When Your Small Business Isn’t Ready For You to Be CEO talks about the dilemma small business owners face when they cannot move to the next stage of their own growth. So, when is your small business not ready for you to be CEO? And how do you prepare it so it is ready?

Latest Ideas of the Future of Social Entrepreneurship

On a weekly basis, I host the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz. (If you would like to see what this lively, thought-provoking and international chat is like, please join us every Friday at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT) We talk about all kinds of business ideas using critical thinking so we can enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding. So this past week, we took a look at Social Entrepreneurship.

If you are not familiar with social entrepreneurship, it is is a subset of entrepreneurship with the emphasis on using business to drive a social change. It is not simply corporate social responsibility. It is a company that is founded with the intent to change the world. The 10th annual Skoll World Forum was held recently and there are some interesting ideas emerging. We decided to take a closer look with this framing post, Latest Ideas of the Future of Social Entrepreneurship. Do you see social entrepreneurship becoming more mainstream? What expectations are being created for social entrepreneurial ventures in terms of sustainability, creating customers and earning profit?

Let me know what you think by commenting here or on the posts themselves…

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Small Business In Ireland – Time of Doubt, Hard Work and Hope

Irish Small BusinessThere are reports that the Irish economy is growing, fractionally, but growing. And there are reports that things are very bleak. The truth probably contains a bit of both.

 

Conflicting reports about the Irish economy and small businesses

  • In February, 2013, the Irish Independent reported that small business failures dropped by 32 percent
  • In March, 2013, The Irish Times reported that the services sector grew at a slower rate
  • Also in March, 2013, Business + Leadership reported that in a IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) business sentiment survey, indicators showed strong  improvement in business confidence at the start of 2013
  • In April, 2013, the Journal.ie reported that Davy, a stockbroking firm, revised its projections upwards for the Irish economy due to better performance and foreign investment
  • In April, 2013, FinFacts Ireland detailed that “Half of all lending to SME (small and medium enterprises) business is in arrears, according to the Central Bank”

But I got curious and asked my counterparts and peers in the #SMEcommunity in Ireland. I posted a query on the Facebook page of the #SMEcommunity.

A few perspectives

Geraldine Kennedy : (Jerros) “I have a boutique in Birr and I am seeing a lift in confidence. People are still cautious but definitely more optimistic. We are seeing more people out and about compared to last year which was desperate at this time.”

Debra Harper: (Tús Nua Designs and co-founder of the #SMEcommunity) “From what I can see there is a lot of small guys emerging, a lot of bigger established companies struggling with big overheads. A lot of biz based from home. There is a real fighting spirit going on, its not easy but the desire to succeed is there. A lot of frustration around new government schemes, all the right language is used but they are not moving with the times, not taking into account that the emerging new biz are tech or digital so can not forecast as easily as someone with a traditional shop and stock.”

Ray Wilkins:  (TotalGiftz.com) “There is a change in the air alright, a little more positive than before, small businesses continue to struggle though and changes are badly needed to help these businesses grow and create employment…government need to listen to the needs of small business and stop overlooking them..then we will see a bigger improvement…desire,drive,determination are all there..government ignoring SMEs causing road blocks..unnecessary.”

Debbie McDonnell: (The Marketing Shop.ie) “There are still no realistic options for a small business owner who provides a service or is a sole trader. If you can create a product or you opt to become a limited company you can get more than advice. Frustratingly there are situations where an enterprise board in one region can provide a lot more than one a few miles away too so your postal address can work against you which is all wrong. I think our government are doing a lot of talking about what they’re doing for small business but I know so many with viable businesses that get nothing because of rules, many of which were created pre-recession e.g. innovation vouchers which were last updated in 2007.”

Not exactly bullish

 While this may be not a technically representative sample, their comments reflect the frustration and concerns shared by SME owners in Ireland. There are calls for the Irish government to create policies that support the business growth of indigenous established small businesses. With the overall Eurozone trending downwards  and mixed signals in the Irish economy, it isn’t going to be an easy ride but it isn’t impossible either.

What is your observation about small business in Ireland?

If you could get someone from the Dáil to listen to you, what would you tell him/her?

What do established small businesses need to succeed?

What makes you optimistic about the future of Irish small businesses?

iStockphoto image by Artsy

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Back at TweakYourBiz.com

Elli St.George blogging on TweakMyBiz.comOn this blog, I write a lot about managing the business owner. Sometimes the business owner who needs to do some self-management is…well. me. I took a break from writing on TweakYourBiz.com (formerly Bloggertone) to take stock of what I wanted to do next. (I’ll write about my experience in another post.)

Well, I’m back blogging on TweakYourBiz.com and, frankly, I missed my blogger friends and the comments that often follow the posts. You can read my posts here:

How Collaboration Creates Growth For Your SME  I’m a big fan of collaboration and working with complementary professionals. It is a terrific way to see what you do through another eyes, improve your skill set and serve your customers well.

If you want to be incrementally better: Be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better: Be cooperative. - Unknown. Perhaps it’s due to the upheaval triggered by the global economic uncertainty or maybe the seeds were planted in the 1990?s but there is more talk about collaboration. This could be an underestimated strategy to growing your business. Read more

What You Need To Know Before You Export to the US Growth stages are growth stages, no matter whether you’re aiming to attract a more sophisticated customer, grow within or beyond your region or meet a need in a new market. However, if your SME is poised to export to the US, planning can help prevent some painful lessons.

Are you considering growing your business by exporting your products to the US marketplace? There are  opportunities to grow beyond your local borders for small businesses. Thorough planning will highlight what you need to know before it becomes a problem. Read more

I hope you will find these posts useful, add your comments and share them.

 

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1st Chat Post on KaizenBiz.com

This is such an exciting time for #kaizenblog. We’ve changed our name and added a website. We’re now KaizenBiz and you can find us at www.kaizenbiz.com.

Our guest, Deb Carducci of Villa Lusso has our inaugural framing post, “Color, Environment and Your Workspace“  Please read the post on our new site and join us for our conversation on Friday, February 24th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT.



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Business, Design and Love

Eve Blossom and Lulan Artisans

 This post is by guest blogger, Eve Blossom who leads Lulan Artisans  and author of Material Change is our guest on this week’s Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. She is passionate about creating a collaborative business model that sets the stage for the artisans to have economic and social sustainability. Please join us to explore “Love, Design and Business” this Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog.

Business: What Moves You, Grabs You, Won’t Let You Go

I started my career in Architecture and in 1995 was fortunate enough to live and work in Hanoi, renovating old French villas. During my first few months in Hanoi, I witnessed first-hand a transaction where a young girl was sold by her father to a European man for sex.  She was 6 years old. I tried to intervene. I was threatened at knifepoint.  I was unsuccessful in changing the outcome for that little girl.

 That night, I had a striking realization.  I began to see Human Trafficking as a marketplace— where unfortunately the commodity is a person. I could see clearly that Human Trafficking is an economic market that needs to be addressed at an economic level. Click here to read more »

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SOPA, Innovation and Potential Global Impact

SOPA, Innovation and Potential Global ImpactAcross many social networks and many blogs, you may have noticed a lot of discussion of SOPA. There is a clear explanation on CNNMoney but, in a nutshell,  SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill going through the US Congress that is supposed to eliminate copy infringement and penalize offenders. There are plenty of people out there with rogue web sites who steal innovative and creative products. These rogue websites are located outside of the US but they This threatens not only the competitive edge of the companies who has intellectual property and products stolen. According to a letter to the editor of the New York Times, the US Chamber of Commerce, it “threatens 19 million jobs.”

No one is advocating for online piracy

What is at stake is that the bill is poorly written in its current form. Fortunately this week, support has eroded and perhaps the sponsors of the bill will take the opportunity to improve the language so it actually targets these rogue websites. Artists, musicians, film makers, entrepreneurs and other content creators should have their copyrighted material protected. No question. It just comes back to how the bill is written and can it do what is intended?

Could innovation be stifled?

There have been discussions about how to regulate the Internet. As you know, there is everything on the ‘Net. But one of the things that makes the Internet so attractive is its openness. Now we have so many ways to communicate, collaborate and share with one another new ideas for business. We’re redefining how we interact on a personal and professional level. And this is changing how business is conducted. Not only are companies and partnerships formed but what is truly intriguing is the capacity to the varied ways people can connect to create and produce intellectual property.

Since there are provisions in the bill to shut down sites that are alleged to have violated a copyright. This means that sites would be blocked by ISP’s, be removed from search engines and be denied the ability to collect payment from online payment services (ex. Paypal). It is unclear how a site could defend itself from false accusations. So if a site aggregates information or users interact with one another, there could be an allegation of an infringement or intellectual property or the ability to enable an IP infringement. Result: the site just disappears.

What could happen globally?

It seems to me that a number of small and mid-sized businesses will not only cease to exist. Cloud computing, social media sites and many other advantages that the Internet provides an avenue for these smaller companies to compete, attract and serve their non-US customers with lower costs and easy access.

Non-US businesses may find that there are just too many obstacles to doing business in the US. SOPA could have a chilling effect as there may be fears that it is a form of censorship and potential legal issues.

Want to add your thoughts on how SOPA could positively or negatively affect how business is created and conducted?

Join us on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, on Friday, January 20th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. We want to hear what you have to say.

Certainly it’s clear that I have some grave concerns about SOPA in its current form so my bias is negative. The US House and Senate have to create a bill that will be cognizant of what is really going on online, what laws currently provide adequate protections, the types of products and companies that are created and how this could adversely affect how business is conducted. Still online piracy is a problem.

What would you suggest?

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Collaborative Consumption – What Is This, Where Is It Going?

This post is by guest blogger, Nick Allen of  Spring Ventures, a multi-stage/multi-strategy venture fund that invests in novel information technology and cleantech companies. He has a great deal of experience in clean tech and on Wall Street. He is passionate about the potential for capital in in private and public markets to revolutionize broad sectors of the economy like transportation, energy and the built environment. He is our guest host on this week’s Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. Please join us to explore Collaborative Consumption this Friday at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog.

Join us as I guest host on the Twitter chat, #Kaizenblog Friday at 9am PT where we will discuss the very cleanweb concept of collaborative consumption – the massive rise in sharing/trading/renting of goods and services enabled by information technology and peer-to-peer market places. While an unfamiliar term to many, collaborative consumption is part of a widespread cultural shift in how we interact with others, our stuff and our surroundings.

More and more our idea of an ownership society is giving way to one where we value experiences and access over ownership.  No longer do we need to own the vacation home, the car, the CD, or the DVD. We want the experience they provide without the hassle, cost and inefficiencies of ownership. Yesterday’s vertical business practices and centralized distribution systems no longer serve the needs of a culture that is highly open and highly networked. Collaborative consumption flies in the face of traditional consumer culture and replaces it with the efficient and social use of products, services and resources. The result is a sustainable, improved and lower cost experience.

 A few questions to ponder ahead of Friday’s tweet chat…

 What are some examples of collaborative consumption?

 Buildings: There are 260, 80 and 2.4 billion square feet of residential, commercial and storage space respectively in the US. That’s over 1,100 square feet for every man, woman and child in the US. Using this incredible asset base more effectively and efficiently is a key theme of collaborative consumption. Companies like Airbnb and Homeaway are displacing the need for costly and energy intensive hotels by facilitating home share and rental between individuals.

Transportation:  Cars sit idle 95% of the time. The average person spends 35 hours of year in traffic at a cost of $115 billion per year in wasted time and fuel. Peer-to-peer car sharing networks like Zip Car give the benefits of ownership without the hassle.

Goods:  The average power drill is used for a combine total of 20 minutes. Craigslist and EBay were the first to connect buyers and sellers and give life to products otherwise destined for landfill. The greenest of products are the ones that never need to be manufactured in the first place. This idea has been extended more broadly through companies like Rentcycle,  FreeCycle  and ThredUp.

 Finance:  Banks and credit card companies have long controlled the purse strings. Social and peer-to-peer networks are opening up lower cost ways for consumers to get loans and investors to put capital to work by cutting out the costly middleman. Solar Mosaic allows anyone to invest in solar, Angel List is connecting startups with much needed early stage capital, and Lending Club and Prosper are getting consumers better terms then they ever could from their credit card companies.

 How big can this concept be?

As I mentioned above, collaborative consumption spreads across every industry. It’s not just a business practice but also a secular cultural shift that is impacting broad segments of society. And it’s not just happening in the US, but abroad as well. I’m not kidding when I say this is a mutli-trillion dollar movement.

 A NY Times article from early October talked about how barter networks were surging in Greece as economic crisis gripped the nation. This is collaborative consumption replacing a major currency!

 What are the cornerstones of the movement?

 Trust:  Companies and brands have spent enormous amounts of time and money building trust with their customers. We want to know that the products we use will perform as expected and will be safe. The level of trust for collaborative consumption to work is even higher. It’s more personal in nature and challenges our ideas around privacy and ownership. My hope is that we see new services arise that increase trust between parties and further accelerate peer-to-peer.

 Critical Mass:  Convenience drives the modern world. Zipcar works because it’s local and there when I need it. The swapping of goods is very local as well and needs a balance of supply and demand.

 What happens next?

Mobile is going to make collaborative consumption more and more on demand. The ability to use things when we want and how we want is only going to increase. Trust networks built by social media and our online presence is going to further meld with our physical lives allowing greater use, flexibility and efficiency.

 Where can I find more information?

The Mesh, Lisa Gansky

What’s Mine is Yours, Rachel Botsman

http://www.collaborativeconsumption.com/

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