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“As a small business, bringing values, your values, into your professional life is automatic, after all, wasn't that why you took the plunge? But, how often does that work get in the way? Ellen helps you find the place back to balance: your work and your values can peacefully co-exist, even better, your values can help you focus your business. Focus on your abilities so that you can grow and succeed.”
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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  



Managing Change: What Neuroscience Teaches Us About Burning Platforms

neuroscience, change management, burning platformIn 1988 in the North Sea, an Occidental Oil rig exploded killing 167 men. This disaster is possibly the worst offshore oil rig accidents in history (see more of the story here). Those that survived the inferno did so by jumping into the ocean waters despite the great height and frigid waters below. One survivor, Andy Mochan was quoted, “It was either fry or jump, so I jumped.”

Daryl Connor was inspired by Mochan’s story and commitment to survival led Connor to create the change management term of “burning platform.” Since Connor’s introduction, it’s become common in change management to create a sense of heightened urgency so organizational changes are adopted more readily.

The morphing of an idea Click here to read more »


How To Be The Sun When Leading Change In Your Small Business

leadership, change and small businessEvery now and then, a children’s story catches  my attention in an unexpected way. Recently I was reading Aesop’s The Sun and the Wind .

The Sun and the Wind were arguing about which one of them was stronger. They could not come to any agreement. When they saw traveller on the road, the Wind said, “this is how we can decide. The first one of us who can make that traveller remove his cloak is the strongest. The Sun answered the challenge, “That is an excellent idea! You may go first.” The Wind laughed and said, “You go behind that cloud while I show you how it’s done. Watch and learn.”

After the Sun went behind  a cloud, the Wind began to blow and blow. However, no matter how hard the Wind  blew, the traveller would not remove his cloak. The traveller just pulled his cloak closer around him and trudging down the road. Finally, the Wind gave up and stopped blowing.

The Sun came out from behind the cloud and began to shine. Eventually the traveller became so warm, he took his cloak off and carried it on his arm.

During times of change, are you the Wind or the Sun? Click here to read more »


Do What Scares You-Latest Bloggertone Post For Your SME

The recent economic turmoil has triggered a lot of change for many of us. Whether you are seeking the change or it has been imposed on you, it is important to know how to handle any fear that accompanies your change process.

Read more about Do What Scares You…


Goodbyes and Change

December is a month of saying goodbye. A year ends and many of us take holiday time to be with friends and family. So we joke, “see you next year” to our vendors and clients (and our employees) as well as anyone we regularly network with. We even have a seasonal goodbye. In my part of the world, you can feel the switch from fall to winter as the days grow shorter and the temperature chills (Or for my readers on the other side of the world, spring has become summer and the temperature is going up).

This month brought a different kind of goodbye that I didn’t expect. A wonderful colleague and mentor lost his battle with cancer and died earlier this month.

John Reddish @GetResultsJohn Reddish and I met on a small business Twitter chat (#smallbizchat). He was someone I could joke with and share my dreams, goals and questions about my coaching business. We met in person when he was in town for a speaking engagement and we had such an amazing conversation over tapas. We talked about our businesses, the thinkers that have influenced us and our love of good food.  He was a talented coach who had a deft touch with encouragement and truth telling. So now, saying goodbye to him leaves an empty space. His mentorship was such a gift!

Goodbyes are often the harbingers of change.

When someone we respect and admire dies, we think of how to live with that empty space in our lives. Some people call that process “closure.” For someone who made a huge impact on us, our feelings of grief can include doing something in honor of them or to live up to what they expected from us when they were alive.

So I’m seeking change. Seeking something more. John always encouraged me to act on my real reason I coach small business owners. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to tell him what I was imagining for 2011.

Change is coming….

I”m pretty excited about 2011. These are some of the ideas I wanted to tell John and there’s so much I want to tell you (some of it hasn’t been totally ironed out yet).

  • Bloggertone-I will still be blogging on that site and some of the themes I cover there (e.g. doing business with the Global Irish and Ireland) will be posted here as well
  • Webinars-Free and not-so-free programmes will be offered over the year
  • Guest bloggers-More posts from interesting people and their ideas and/or how they build their small businesses
  • Interviews-Sharing ideas from different people, different settings. All so you can take a look at yourself and your business and see how you can be even better

The really big message…I’m going to be talking a lot about how you make the rules and shaping each action you take to build a solid business that you truly desire. Even how maintaining the entrepreneurial mindset is essential for an established small business. For some of you, this is going to sound revolutionary. For others, it will sound perfectly normal. No matter what this message sounds like to you, no matter where your business is targeted,  you are agents of change.

Goodbye…Hello…Living up to expectations

Although I won’t have John to bounce my ideas off or his gentle prodding for me to go through another edit of an idea, it’s still important to remember he believed in me. This belief is humbling, to say the least. So it’s my hope and intention that I can live up to his expectations. Otherwise, the goodbye will be very long and change delayed.

What are you saying goodbye to?

What would help you make your business stronger, more powerful, more sustainable, more…in 2011?

Who believes in you even when you don’t believe in yourself?



Managing Transition To Next Stage of Business or Career-#kaizenblog recap

This #kaizenblog chat was more than just our usual chat. We said goodbye to the chat’s founder and co-host, Valeria Maltoni. Valeria has created a chat on Twitter that goes far beyond the 14o “soundbite” and asks all of us to think a bit more about our ideas about business, social media and ourselves. Her passion for connecting with people and seeing where conversations can take a person are infectious and always an experience.

The real gift here is that Valeria is not really going entirely away. She will be around, as always for a good conversation full of big ideas, on Twitter. If you haven’t connected with her, you can find her on Twitter as @ConversationAge. Do connect with Valeria! Your world will become much more interesting!

In that vein, Valeria wrote a lovely post about Passing the Baton. Managing a transition to the next stage in your business or career often involves passing on the “job” to someone else. What is embedded in this process? To see the whole conversation, check out the transcript Transcript for #kaizenblog – ManagingTransitionInBizCareer_!

We spend time dreaming and working towards a vision of where our careers or our businesses can go. Another thing to keep in mind, as Valeria reminded us, “So many companines don’t have a succession plan, or traning to help you manage your career…need to have one for yourself.” How would you describe the a career or organizational change/transition/shift to a more sophisticated level?

  • Laura Crum “A1: I like the term “movement” but that’s pretty broad, too. Doesn’t necessitate forward motion.”
  • Parissa Behnia “a1: having direct honest communication about how difficult change is. be a bull in a china shop, kinda”
  • Lois Martin “A1 I think back to how my business and I have grown by “stretching” — taking on new, larger, more challenging clients, projects”
  • Jason Mikula “Sometimes you have to reach, take on something you’re afraid of & force yourself to grow”
  • Rob Petersen “Q1 Explain why change needs to occur and make everyone see what is value in their being  behind it”

There were references to how change can be uncomfortable so we asked, Given the ebb and flow nature of managing change, what makes change more complicated or simple?

  • Penelope Singer “It’s important to not overwhelm yourself with too many changes at one. That leads to paralysis”Growth and change in business and career
  • Tanja Ziegel “Frame of mind”
  • Laura Crum: “A1a : true change is never simple. t’s EASIER to stay in a bad situation than make move to a good one”
  • Jason Mikula ” ‘Voluntary’ change vs. ‘forced’ change — both can be complicated or simple”

The thoughts behind the comments about change and the process of managing change brought up an interesting idea. Often with change, good or bad, we feel a sense of loss. For big changes, it can even be grief. For example, entrepreneurs who put everything on the line to make their venture go and then have to close the doors, maybe even file for bankruptcy. Those with business partner may see friendships end. Certainly one’s identity depends partly on our roles. When I’ve talked with clients about their past business failures, it is not unusual for them to describe a stage of grief.

Now clearly, not everyone is going to be distresed to that extent but do we even recognize the feelings when they occur? However, we often resist change in the early stages. We fret over how things will be different or we will be different. This can happen even when the change is in our best interest. What would happen if we took the time to grieve what we use to have or do before the change started?

  • Mary Ann Halford “Who has time to grieve – have to focus on keeping up w changes”
  • Amber Cleveland “A2: I’d rather celebrate what I have rather than grieve it. When I left my last co, there was a nice partyfor me=felt good”
  • Ken Rosen “Q2 Maybe not grieve, but acknowledge. Chg adopted when anticipation overwhelms fear, uncertainty”
  • Penelope Singer “intermix your grieving with change by remembering past positives and linking to future positive change”
  • Lois Martin “A2 Grief and disappointment will happen. The loss of  a client. Learn from the experience and move forward. Don’t dwell”

So if we’re sensing that change is coming and (hopefully) noticing the discomfort, How do people know it’s time for a change?

  • Jason Mikula “Even if it looks like a -, find a way to leverage it, improve yourself, your life, your mind”
  • Parissa Behnia “Q2a: if they are in tune with their “gut” feeling, they will sense the need for change. our intuition is smarter than we are”
  • Tanja Zieg “It may be just a feeling of restlessness or being antsy…something quite “right’…pay attention to that”

Valeria Maltoni gave some great advice,  “to me, it’s about learning to listen to yourself Feel when the party is going great and you can make a gracious exit”

Certainly the question about grief touch a nerve as there was quite a discussion about acknowledging grief or permutating it into another emotion. This led to an interesting side thread about how emotions fit in and whether or not they are even appropriate to have them in the business world. Interestingly, there was no consensus as to what to do with these emotions. It’s worth reading the transcript and see where you land in the conversation.

As with most #kaizenblog conversations, we take the topic and take a look at how we engage with the ideas in the conversation. We ended the conversation with this question, What changes are you experiencing in your career or business?

  • Penelope Singer “A3 Full realization of need for clearer paths. Mores structure in some areas, less in others”
  • Parissa Behnia “A3: it’s hard but be content and expect change. your success depends on emotional maturity in dealing with it”
  • Elaine Rogers “I often find pushing myself out of my comfort zone empowers me to accept change and not fight it – hard work tho”
  • Rich Becker “A3 It’s becoming easier to be the content publisher than it is to guide clients toward becoming marketing-content publishers”

 Change is an interesting part of our life experience. Perhaps Thoreau is correct in his observation that there are those who lead lives of quiet desperation and are slaves to their work and their employers. Avoiding change is impossible. As we move along in our careers or in leading our businesses, let us take Valeria’s example and know when to leave a party graciously.