For students, both on and offline, coworking is the perfect study environment

Coworking isn’t just for entrepreneurs and freelancers. More employees than ever are working remotely, and more students than ever before are distance-learners.

A good coworking facility provides all the resources students need to get work done: a comfortable, modern, low-distraction workspace, ultra-high-speed internet, plenty of convenient outlets to charge tech gadgets, a frig for your lunch, and unlimited free caffeine. (The savings in coffee alone could pay for a membership!)

Amenities like lockers and showers increase the utility of a coworking space for students, who are frequently combining work and school, or taking classes both online and on-campus. Members can utilize the printer/copier for a nominal fee, as well. For $20 per month, a member can opt for an Adams Hub mailbox.

Need to take or make a phone call? Coworking etiquette dictates that a quiet, short call is okay, but a “phone booth” is offered for those longer conversations. Want to get outside? Adams Hub offers a coworking rooftop deck with wifi.

But what about remote learners? One of the biggest challenges for students of online schools and courses is isolation. A home environment presents myriad distractions. (The dog, the laundry, the refrigerator…) Coffee shops can be loud and crowded. A good coworking facility creates an atmosphere of focus, with just the right amount of social interaction.

In fact, the biggest benefit of student coworking is the opportunity for collaboration and networking. It may be as simple as, “Hey, I know someone who could help you with X,” or it could be as rewarding as, “Hey, I’m looking for someone who does Z. Would you be interested?” In a coworking environment, students are exposed to entrepreneurs and freelancers who could open up new and interesting opportunities, including jobs.

Adams Hub offers a Student Membership that provides access Monday through Friday from 9 to 5 p.m. The discounted membership rate is just $49 (a $100 savings over our standard $149, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. membership.) Curious? We’d be happy to take you on a tour. Contact us at grow@adamshub.com.

The Scoop on Scoups, an EA-fueled local startup

When Geoff and Kimberly Landry began working on their startup, Scoups, the naysayers were loud. Their business concept, an ice cream and soup bar, was a combination the market hadn’t seen before. After finding what seemed to be a perfect location on the new McFadden Plaza, they were committed. Even though they were just months from opening, the couple decided to seek an entrepreneurial community to support them on their journey. What they found was the Carson chapter of Entrepreneurs Assembly.

More than a networking or mastermind group, EA is a community of entrepreneurs and mentors who support each other in growing their businesses. Participants break out into mentor-facilitated round tables, taking turns presenting a current business challenge. In addition to the mentors’ feedback, peer-to-peer experience sharing is encouraged. After that, specific “marching orders” for the next 30 days are identified.

“We’re always impressed with the broad range of ideas from the attendees, everything from high tech to home-based businesses, and products to services,” says Geoff. “It’s a wide variety and it helped us look outside of our box and our business.”

EA is open to everyone, whether a business is in the early “idea” stage, making money, or ready to grow. Because EA is free to attend, its mentors are all volunteers. This includes businesspeople who run profitable companies of their own.

“We are there for the love of business and we want to see each other succeed,” says EA Carson City chapter president Diane Dye Hansen.

“The EA energy is great,” says Kimberly Landry. “The support is just amazing. In business, we all carry a certain amount of knowledge. When you go to EA, you take what you know and add everyone else’s thoughts. It gives you a different perspective. It’s a great addition to Carson.”

The Landrys say, even though they were far along in their opening timeline, EA helped them further validate their business plan and better understand the profit margins they needed to achieve. They took action on their marching orders to stay on their construction timeline and open a restaurant which is now known and loved by many.

Scoups enjoys reviews averaging 4.9 out of 5 stars on Facebook and 4.5 stars on Yelp.

Entrepreneurs Assembly (EA) is held at 5:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month inside The Studio at Adams Hub for Innovation. If you are ready to take the next step with your business idea, or get some peer and mentor help with your business, EA may be right for you. You may be amazed what it does for you, your mindset, and your business.

Entrepreneurs Assembly – Carson City
111 W. Proctor Street – The Studio
Carson City
2nd Wednesday of Each Month
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
No cost

Meet Bill Monroe, the Mushroom Man

When you think of the ag industry in Northern Nevada, the first crop that comes to mind is probably not mushrooms. But Adams Hub entrepreneur Bill Monroe of CalNeva Organics is pioneering this space in the exploding indoor-agriculture sector. Here’s a quick Q & A with the co-founder of this exciting, sustainable ag-tech business.

How would you describe your business?

I’ve got my hands in several ventures right now, but I’m currently focused on mushrooms, as that facility is about to open in a few weeks in Carson. CalNeva Organics is an organic oyster mushroom farm that incorporates biotech systems into food production for consistency in product, calculable and timely yields, and ideal fruitbody size. We grow oyster mushrooms in a sterile environment using waste materials from other agricultural crops such as wheat straw, rice hulls, peanut husks, palm, sawdust/wood chippings or cannabis and hemp stalks.

How did you find your way into this business?

My partners, Nick and Phil, met a local mushroom mycologist named Dr. John (Doc John) Holliday last year when discussing a different business we were developing. As that development continued, Doc John became closer on the project and eventually proposed possible revenue enhancement with the incorporation of mushrooms into our current agricultural system. After some development and research, we landed on a reciprocal and multi-beneficial business model to incorporate oyster mushrooms into our plan.

What’s the biggest challenge that you’re facing right now in growing that business?

Our model is to grow certified organic oysters, which requires organic inputs into the system. During the summer, before summer wheat is harvested in the southwest, we find it difficult to source quality materials for our nutrient inputs. The material must be tested to be free of fungicides and other non-organic matter, and with a monthly requirement exceeding seven tons of dry straw, it is not an easy order to fill.

What kind of growth are you anticipating in the coming year? Why?

CalNeva Organics is part of a larger operation that is in multiple states under the name “Holliday Mushrooms”. Our goal is to have ten to twelve mushroom farms across the country focusing on organic oyster mushrooms. The oysters are part of a class of mushrooms considered to be “exotic” in the markets, and Doc John’s biotech system allows for consistency and quality in these mushrooms. We have one brand, Holliday Mushrooms, that will be represented in many markets across the country by the end of the year and into next year. We aim to be to Planter’s Peanuts or Blue Diamond Almonds of the exotic mushroom industry- partnering with local operators in different states, supplying them with operations support and sales channels.

Why Oyster Mushrooms?

Oyster mushrooms are dense in protein and nutrients, and are largely unknown to the mass market. Everyone knows about the common button mushroom and portabellas; even shitake and crimini are popular. These mushrooms are classified as agaricus, and grow primarily in a soil mixture. Oysters grow from waste material from other agricultural crops, therefore turning waste into food. This is important because it allows us to implement a farm like this in any market that has agricultural production–including third world countries–and allows for the manufacture of protein and vitamins from waste. We consider this an opportunity to help feed the world.

Tell me about your work style and how being a member at the Hub supports that.

My work style is very free-spirited and lightly structured. Most days I feel like work is just one constant stream of tasks and agenda items flowing from one day into the next. Being a member at Adams Hub has allowed me to come into the office at all hours of the day and night to support the busy schedule I keep. There is always coffee available–a true life saver for me–and it is a conducive environment to work in. I’ve utilized the available interns for market research and help in shaping the business early on, and intend to use them as sales and marketing researchers in the coming weeks. Kat and Miya have been incredibly supportive and communicative of pertinent issues to my business–from texts alerting me of arriving packages to key introductions with influential people in the business community. Working from Adams Hub has certainly accelerated my start-up, and will continue to help propel it into a successful business.

Mentor Moment: Clint Koble, SBDC Business Counselor

Clint Koble loves rural America and its small communities. As Northern Nevada’s SBDC Rural Business Counselor, he spends nearly all his time there. From Elko to Battle Mountain to Lovelock and south to Carson, Minden, Gardnerville and Yerington, you’ll find Clint on the move, meeting with small businesses and entrepreneurs. SBDC provides free and confidential business counseling to new and existing small businesses.

“I enjoy helping someone chase their dreams,” he says. “I like to be positive and reinforcing, and at the same time, it’s my job to be brutally honest. I have to tell them that their plan may not work. And I have to help them develop contingency plans in case that happens.”
Clint is adamant about the importance of rural America to the fabric of our economy.
“Two percent of our population grows food for the other 98%,” he points out. “Our fresh water, food, fiber, minerals, energy sources, and major transportation links are all located in these rural areas. Yet only 16% of the country’s population lives there, the lowest amount in history.” As anyone who has traveled through these small towns has observed, the loss of population has led to a decline in local businesses. Those that survive are challenged by the tremendous pace of technology-driven change.
Clint was born and raised in north central North Dakota, the second oldest of seven siblings. He lived on a 2,000-acre family farm with row crops and hay, as well as beef and dairy herds.
“I developed the value system that I have today from my upbringing. I learned the importance of the family unit, of working together, and having a strong work ethic.”
After college, he found his way into the fitness club industry and then into the resort and hospitality sector. But his heart remained in small town America, and he eventually returned. He worked for the Nevada Rural Development Council, a non-profit focused on economic development, and then was appointed to head up Nevada’s office of the Nevada Farm Services Agency of the USDA. There he helped implement and enforce farm bills and programs, and worked closely with farmers, ranchers and Tribes.
“Rural America is under a lot of stress,” Clint explains. “We have to keep reinvesting in these communities. There’s so much change right now.”
He cites Winnemucca as an interesting example of a small, rural community that is rising to the challenge.
“It’s a town that wants to protect its future, and it’s a community willing to invest. Winnemucca is normally dependent on mining, but they just built a brand-new Boys and Girls club, did a $50 million-dollar expansion to their hospital, and recently added a large new hotel and casino. They’ve also embraced the arts, education and the environment. It’s a well-balanced community, with a large number of dedicated, community-driven, well-trained, and well-educated people. Even though their population is less than 8,000, they’re thinking about, worrying about, and planning for their future.”
Clint believes that community pride and entrepreneurship is key to the future of small towns.
“These are communities that deal in trust, in face-to-face interactions. A handshake and a smiling face still mean a lot,” he observes. “There’s still opportunity for locally-owned and operated businesses.”
With the improving economy, Clint has seen more lending to small businesses, but financing can be a challenge in rural Nevada.
“Businesses that are related to agriculture and mining can stillfind access to capital. So do service businesses that support those industries, such as companies who provide heavy equipment and tools, or skilled labor such as welders and mechanics. We’re also seeing increasing investments in indoor ag and hydroponics.”
Clint is encouraged by meeting a lot of young Nevadans with “entrepreneurship in their DNA.”
“They see the world as they want it, not as it’s been seen, and they have big imaginations. They can be experts in a moment’s notice–they can get so much information online. They have access to templates for business plans and cash flow statements. The people I meet with now are more well-read and their plans are better researched today, compared to 5-10 years ago.”
He cited a recent meeting with an aspiring bakery owner who had extensive experience in the industry, and presented him with strong business plan.
After their first meeting, Clint assigned her to do more detailed research on her competition, produce a monthly profit and loss statement, and plan more for operating capital. He’s optimistic about her chances because of her experience and knowledge, as well as her commitment.
“She’s willing to do whatever it takes, including waiting until she’s better prepared,” he notes. “Many aspiring business owners don’t seek help with their plan until they’ve made critical decisions, like signing a lease or cashing out their retirement account. That is usually the kiss of death.”
“I like to be positive, and if they are doing what they need to do, I’ll be their biggest cheerleader,” he says. “But I’m also willing to be brutally honest to save them from themselves.”

Free and confidential counseling from the NV SBDC is available with Clint on alternating Tuesdays at Adams Hub, 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. He can help business owners improve the performance of existing businesses as well as guide an aspiring entrepreneur through the creation of a full business plan.

Interested in SBDC counseling? Contact the Nevada Small Business Development Center at www.nsbdc.org, and on the home page, click on “request counseling,” answer a few questions about the business, and you’ll be contacted within 24-48 hours to set up your session.

Community Yogi Founder Allison Reitz on Disrupting Wellness

Allison Reitz wants to help you find balance. The founder of Community Yogi, a transplant from Illinois, knows something about balancing acts. While building her startup, she also works as a composer of films scores and as an on-set sound effects expert. Allison discovered yoga in college in 2011. Her passion for the healing art grew steadily, and when it came time to become a yoga instructor, she went directly to the source. In 2016 she spent a month studying at the Trimurti school, in Dharamsala, India, located at the base of the Himalayas.

Allison joined the instructor team at Carson City’s premier yoga studio, Yoga Sol. She quickly saw that her new mission to introduce others to yoga was limited by her own time and energy. While teaching a community class at Comma Coffee on Sundays, she found her answer.

“I realized that we could host more yoga classes at underutilized commercial spaces.” Community Yogi was born. “It’s a win for the business that hosts the class, because it increases their visibility and foot traffic. And it keeps overhead expenses down which helps us provide classes at an affordable price.”

Central to the Community Yogi concept is a “Choose Your Price” or “Pay What You Want” model, a business model promoted by business influencer Tom Mork. The idea behind this is to ensure that everyone in the community can afford yoga classes. Community Yogi has a suggested price of $12 per class for drop-in sessions. Allison reports that about 2/3 of customers pay the suggested price; the final third split evenly into those paying more and those paying less. She’s noticed that this effect is a bit different for the more expensive class pass, which has a suggested price of $25.

“The majority of the customers pay more, and a lot of them pay $40 because they tell us that it’s worth that,” she reports.

Customers use the Community Yogi app to reserve and pay for their classes. Instructors currently receive 80% of the class revenue.

“We’ve attracted incredible teachers. We’re all discovering different kinds of yoga. The format of Community Yogi makes it easy to explore different yoga modalities,” Allison observes.

Offerings include popular themed classes like Soul Day Sunday, Moon Day Monday and Afternoon Zest. There are an array of healing arts represented in the Community Yogi repertoire, as well. The Brewery Arts Center hosted a sound-healing class, called Gong Immersion. Instructors are encouraged to be creative. There’s even a class at Patchwork Giraffe crafts store in Carson where participants sew their own eye pillows and then put them to use in a meditation class.

Allison is excited about the rapid growth of the company, and knows there are challenges ahead. Ensuring that the semi-virtual company can scale profitably will be the biggest. “We’re part of the sharing economy,”

“I’m looking forward to working with my mentor group,” says Allison. “I came to Adams Hub to take advantage of the Marketing Entrepreneur in Residence office hours on Tuesdays. When Community Yogi really started to take off, they invited me to become a Virtual Incubator member.”

“What Allison has accomplished in a short span of time is amazing,” notes Miya MacKenzie, Chief Professional Officer at Adams Hub. “She has incredible focus and strong follow-through. But very importantly, she is coachable. That’s not always true of entrepreneurs, but it’s essential for their success in incubated startups.”

“We liked her concept so much we decided to bring a Community Yogi class to our incubator and coworking space,” says Adams Hub Community Curator Peggy Wynne Borgman. “Beginning May 4, we’re welcoming Yoga Lunch to The Studio at Adams Hub, from 12 to 1 p.m.”

To learn more about Community Yogi, visit www.communityogi.com. Or sign up now for our Yoga Lunch!

Mastermind Groups Demystified: Guest Blog by Diane Dye Hansen

The first time I sat in the hot seat in my mastermind group, I was terrified. What was I doing? I had 20 minutes to talk about my business and ask a ‘how do I’ question. This was vulnerability at its most frightening. Sit me down in any support group and I’d be happy to talk about my childhood or my relationship with my father. But, cracking the nut on my business challenges, fears, and outright stalemates? That’s the type of raw honesty that made my skin crawl Yet, I counted myself in. I learned a while ago if it terrifies me, it’s worth the leap to try. After all, wasn’t that why I was a dyed in the wool, 4th generation entrepreneur? So, there I sat on the phone surrounded by the CEOs, VPs, owners, movers and shakers I had been so confidently providing advice to for months. It was my turn.

The experience of sharing my business was unlike anything I had experienced. It was nothing like the horror movie my mind conjured up. I was surrounded by a team of intelligent allies who were curious about my business and wanted to help. Soon, I found myself talking about my business and where I had created operational stress for myself. My ‘how do I’ turned into a slew of solutions from those who cared about me. I had given freely during previous sessions. Now, they were giving to me. Top consultants had their eyes on my business. Best, it didn’t cost me a dime.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misunderstandings floating around about mastermind groups and what they do. When I stepped into my first one, I was still figuring it out. Now, I don’t see running my business without being part of one. Hopefully, my experience will help you decide what group is right for you.

Masterminds are not:

About Finding Sales Prospects: Networking and business connections can be a by-product of being part of a mastermind group. However, you don’t go there to sell. The best masterminds are those where everyone is there to give freely of their knowledge and make connections without strings attached. This no-sales environment makes a mastermind a safe place to explore business challenges without feeling you are about to be pitched.

Always “Pay to Play”: The experts industry has high end mastermind groups which can cost thousands to join. These groups may be right for some people. However, they are not the standard for mastermind groups. A good number of mastermind groups, Entrepreneurs Assembly included, are completely free to participate in.

For Those Who Know Everything:
If you think you know everything and are not open to ideas about what you are doing, a mastermind group may not be right for you. Where you gain from a mastermind is getting different perspectives on your business challenge. If you are closed off to this or are seeking validation for what you are doing, a mastermind may not be the best fit for you. You are intelligent. However, even the most intelligent person is open to insight.

A Place Where You Stay Quiet: Come to your mastermind group ready to participate. Entrepreneurs Assembly at Adams Hub for Innovation breaks out its entrepreneurs into pre-revenue, revenue, and growth categories. Each person has 20 minutes to briefly state their challenge and get input from the group. Seasoned entrepreneurs guide the group as facilitators to move the discussion along.

Masterminds are:

An Environment Filled with People Like You: Mastermind groups provide an opportunity for you to meet people who are facing similar challenges. You will get support, get connected with people who have been where you are, and discover resources that are available to you. You’ll realize quickly even if you are a solo-preneur, you are never alone.

A Place to Give Freely: Don’t be stingy with the questions. Mastermind groups are a place to give! When giving recommendations, it’s best to frame it as something you have done or would do with your business. Listen and respond thoughtfully and people will do the same when you are on the hot seat.

Incredibly Fun: When I left Entrepreneur’s Assembly, I felt energized. Even though I was mentoring, it gave me new fire and energy which I applied to my business. I also felt more prepared with ideas for my two other mastermind groups.

I hope to see you at the next Entrepreneur’s Assembly in Carson City. I look forward to saying hello!

Executive Pajamas – Cute Idea. But Not Cute for Executive Mindset.

Guest Blog by Diane Dye Hansen, Chief Inspiration Officer, What Works Coaching

Last Friday, I hit work-from-home bottom. Ironically, it was because I wasn’t working from home. I had set such poor boundaries with my working hours Monday through Wednesday that, by Thursday, I was waking up late. By Friday, I was entirely unable to focus. I went for a run. I talked on the phone. I did everything I could to get my head right. Because, darn it, I’m a business productivity coach! This is not me! But, it had become me.

It becomes thousands of well-intentioned business owners who want to save some money and work how they want. Unfortunately, how I wanted to work was to work when the inspiration is flowing. Can you guess how long that lasts for someone whose title is Chief Inspiration Officer?

I was working a lot. It was sustainable, I thought. It was productive, I justified. But last Friday, I hit my work-from-home bottom.

I realized that, although I could go to work in my pajamas, I also had “pajama boundaries” with myself. I put “pajama limitations” on myself on my ability to network. By that Friday, I looked at my social calendar and it looked like “pajamas” too. Too much Netflix and chill was needed to recover from the way I had been pushing myself. I needed boundaries. I needed socialization. I had reached “diminishing pajama return.” I needed to be a part of the human race again. I already volunteer at Adams Hub for Innovation on Mondays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.. So, I decided to drop my pajamas (!) and check into what co-working could do for my business.

For one, I am clear and unwavering about my needs. I don’t want to be tied to a space. I want the flexibility to be absent, to travel, go see clients, and (gasp) work from home if I wanted to. Also, I didn’t want to be in the middle of something and have to get up and leave because its “closing time.” That sounded less productive than more. The 24/7 co-working membership allowed me flexibility to come and go and not experience the “last call’ feeling when it came to my work. If I am inspired at 4:50 pm, I am probably going to lean into my inspiration versus say, meh, tomorrow.

What’s your Co-working Why?

Co-working might be right for you if you:

• Enjoy being around people and don’t need absolute silence while you are working.
• Hate being in pain after sitting in the wrong chair at coffee shops or other public spaces.
• Are open to the opportunity that meeting new people may bring you.
• Tend to overwork or underwork yourself when you work from home.
• Realize your home doesn’t feel like home anymore.
• Need a more professional environment for meetings
• Need things like fast Internet, copiers, good ‘ol fashion fax machines, and coffee you don’t have to worry about making.
• Understand that a $5 cup of coffee and a $5 snack from your favorite place times 5 times a week is the same amount as a 24/7 co-working membership at Adams Hub – and there is no closing time.
• Would like to work in downtown Carson City, have sushi for lunch, maybe some mid-morning yoga, and walk to your office from your free parking spot.

Your why is in there. You are feeling it. I know I had to be huddled under the covers, exhausted, unsocialized, and battling the pajama-CEO blues before I realized it. Use me as your cautionary tale. Just come and check it out. There are day passes, 9 am to 5 pm memberships, offices, and even incubator services. Plus, you get access to a bevy of experts to help you with your business.

If nothing else, come say hi to me. I’m still getting used to face-to-face human interaction again.

Diane Dye Hansen Chief Inspiration Officer
What Works Coaching
775-400-6174 | diane@whatworkscoaching.com
| www.whatworkscoaching.com | Skype: whatworkscoaching

Schedule a session now.

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Innovator Interview: Justin Huntington, DRI researcher and MapWater co-founder

Read our blog, 8 Daily Habits that Boost Productivity

 

INTERVIEW: Dr. Justin Huntington of MapWater

How did MapWater come into being?

justin-speaking-at-googles-earth-engine-2016-user-summit

Dr. Huntington of the (co-founder of MapWater) giving a presentation at Google’s Earth Engine 2016 User Summit.

Water and agriculture in the western U.S. are multi-billion dollar resources that are central to the regional economy and future development. An important component of water development, management, and sustainability in the western U.S. is a detailed accounting of historical and current water use from irrigated agriculture. There is a great need for accurate, defensible, and timely maps of water use that are summarized on a field-by-field basis–the spatial scale at which water rights are managed. MapWater is a new company founded by researchers at the Desert Institute that provides satellite-based field scale water use and vegetation vigor products using multiple NASA and non-NASA earth observation platforms and spatial data-sets. These products can be used by water and natural resource agencies to support day-to-day decision making, long-term water resource planning and management, hydrologic studies, and obligations for water governance and interstate agreements.

 

Why do you do what you do?

Helping to better manage and protect natural resources using new satellite and cloud computing is quite exciting and inspirational. Just a few years ago making field-scale water use and vegetation vigor maps was very labor intensive and expensive. Now days we can make maps in seconds compared to days or weeks.

What was the most exciting development for you in 2016?

The use of cloud computing to quickly make maps and data summaries that are easily assessible to end users via a web browser.

What lies ahead for 2017?

We are working with several government and NGOs to develop products that best suit their needs.

How has your experience at Adams Hub contributed to your success?

Adams Hub has provided the support and environment to accelerate research to , and development of a sustainable model.

Contact Dr. Huntington at JustinH@.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 daily habits that boost productivity and reduce stress

For , self-management is one of the keys to success. Not all of us are “monomaniacs on a mission,” like an Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, so most of us exist in that space between wanting to accomplish our goals and wanting to have a life. With the ubiquity of technology, we can work anytime and anywhere, so we do. Entrepreneurs frequently admit that we’re the worst bosses we ever had.

Goals are crucial, but it’s our daily habits that enable us to reach them. During the years that I ran two companies and oversaw 50+ employees, I learned a some best practices that were powerful boosters, not to mention sanity-savers.

1. Don’t start your day with email. If you do, other people’s priorities (and crises) become your own. Reserve the first hour of your day, when you’re freshest, for tasks that require concentration, creativity, or both.

2. Focus on accomplishing just three key things a day. Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach says this is about all we ever manage to do anyhow, and trying to accomplish more sets us up for failure. (If you’re Elon, you’re allowed 100 things a day.) Focusing on three key things helps you focus and provides that all-important sense of accomplishment.

ferriss-quote3. At the end of the day, write down what you’ve accomplished. There’s nothing more dispiriting and de-energizing than looking at a list of things to do that’s as long as your arm, and then adding something to it. Take a minute at the end of the day to write down what you actually did. This prevents you from focusing only on what’s left to do.

4. Move all the items that you can from your “to do” list to your calendar. This is a tried and true technique that really works. It keeps your to-do list from reaching terrifying proportions while it allocates time to the items on it–and that enables you to visualize exactly what you can (and can’t) do.

5. Delegate that! I consulted with many company owners who claimed that delegation “didn’t work,” as an excuse for why they were so overworked and underproductive. Most bosses never learn that there are two distinct transactions involved in an effective delegation: you need both the delegee’s understanding of the task being delegated (can they do it?) and their agreement (will they do it?) Nail down both and you’re golden.

6. Set a brisk operational tempo. Verne Harnish’s classic book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits prescribes a rhythm for business operations that generates a sense of purposeful urgency (not the more popular and widely-used fear and hysteria.) In this system, the rhythm builds steadily from day to week to month to quarter to year to years.

  • Daily: A minutes-long “huddle” in which team members participate in a quick discussion of their top priorities for the day (see previous habit)
  • Weekly: the tempo continues with a one-hour weekly meeting (we changed the name of ours from “operations meeting” to “progress meeting.”) We started those with a quick round-robin of “good news” and “acknowledgements.” As leaders, it’s important for us to make sure we look back at what we’ve accomplished, rather than focus on the stuff that remains to be done.
  • Quarterly: half-day sessions to review progress toward our goals and plan next steps. We conducted these as off-site mini-retreats. This was time to step outside of our daily routine and get strategic.

7. Revisit your goals daily. Remember your awesome strategic plan for 2016? Yeeaaaah. Harnish specializes in fast-growing “Gazelle” companies and offers a famous “One page Strategic Plan” which is one of the most practical and actionable (not to mention free!) tools I ever came across. It enables you to take your company’s long-term BHAG and break it all the way down into quarterly bite-sized chunks, on a simple chart that everyone on the team can read at a glance. While his book explains how to use the plan, he also offers seminars on the topic. Thousands of companies swear by it.

8. Use Different Days in Different Ways. When I first encountered the Strategic Coach I had a 24/7 work lifestyle and so did virtually every I knew in Silicon Valley. I’d just met a terrific guy, but after a month of dating, he told me flat-out, “You don’t have time for a relationship.” Fortunately, I was just about to start attending Strategic Coach sessions.

Dan Sullivan had us divide our week into three distinct days: Focus Days, Buffer Days and Free Days. A Focus Day is one spent 80% in your area of “genius,” activities that you do better than anyone else.  A Free Day is a 24-hour period in which you do not do any work, talk about work, or think about work. (If a family member asks you how your is going, you pleasantly remind them that it’s your Free Day and you’ll have to get back to them. You’ll be surprised at how quickly others around you get trained.) A Buffer Day is when you do things like email, meetings and, well, the stuff that occupies most “normal” work days–and importantly, get ready to enjoy a peaceful Free Day or rock a super-productive Focus Day.

My Free Days enabled me to invest in my relationship and I ended up marrying aforementioned Terrific Guy. Even if you only start with one Free Day per month, the experience is incredibly liberating and rewarding. The hardest days to carve out were Focus Days. Even with 20% of the time allocated to non-Focus interruptions, it’s can be hard to get back on track. You may want to spend your Focus Day out of the office.

As entrepreneurs know, there’s no shortage of good ideas out there. The difference is execution. Execution requires discipline–and good daily work habits are the way vision becomes reality.

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Your Business with Strategic Alliances: the Basics

One of the most effective business-development strategies for startups is a process that’s employed by mid-size to large companies every day in the United States. It’s the use of strategic alliances.

I hesitate to call them “strategic partnerships” as many do, because they’re not really partnerships per se. A partnership denotes shared risk and shared reward, but this isn’t usually the case. Typically, the parties in a strategic alliance will keep the relationship at arm’s length until the comfort level, expectations, and rewards of the relationship become evident.

Strategic alliances are business relationships that are usually built with no money or investment of capital.

Typical goals:

  • Expand visibility in a new market sector
  • Confer legitimacy or prestige to the parties, especially when one is new or unknown

A strategic alliance must be a win-win, but the way each party “wins” can be quite different. Strategic alliances are most beneficial and impactful when they are built between businesses with complimentary offerings, that serve the same markets and customers. They work best when they consist of unrelated offerings that together create a synergy.

So how does this differ from sales and marketing? First and foremost, this is definitely not about selling to other people’s customers. The quickest way to kill a strategic alliance is to treat it like your new sales channel. It’s about building relationships and business development. It’s a matter of having a vision for your organization and identifying which resources can aid the strategy. What other organizations can be aided by what we do? How can our products or services help others?

Startups and small businesses have a tough row to hoe to gain traction and customers in competitive markets. Throwing money at the market is one way companies try to overcome the deficiencies, but startups rarely have that option. Even if they did, success depends on how and where the dollars are spent and the metric(s) utilized to measure it. Most startups and small businesses don’t have endless amounts of cash to spend on marketing, nor can they effectively measure which piece of the marketing and communications budget actually creates the greatest ROI. In my startup companies, we always look early on for powerful strategic alliances to help drive our agenda, identifying other non-conflicting agendas in the same marketplace. We create a more dynamic message and/or solution, and we do that on a shoestring.

Here’s an example, one we’re working on right now for my new software company. In the new company we’ve identified some real problems in the boutique hotel industry, and it’s easily costing small hotel owners tens of thousands of dollars per year and up to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars to rectify these, or upgrade. One way to get customers in the target market is to start cold-calling hotels that fit the profile we’ve identified. Anyone who has ever cold-called a market knows just how hard that is to get anyone to even listen to you, much less buy from you. The odds are in the low 2% range, which means that for every 100 calls made, only 2 will result in an appointment or sale. Those are some rough odds for anyone in this era of small business customer acquisition, and phone screening.

Our primary strategy is to align with the organizations that cater to this particular industry. It does help that in this case we have a thirty-year relationship with several hoteliers, and know the founder of an industry association that includes a membership of 20,000 small-hotel chains all around the world. We’ve pinpointed something of value for the association, are building it, and providing it to the membership as a value-add to their base dues. Then (ta-da!) there are two more tiers of premium products that will be available for the members at higher price points, providing services that tether us to the customer base in long-term ways.

Why is it important to identify key players, associations and memberships within your particular industry? There are many reasons, but one of the best is creating a legitimate one-to-many relationship.  Other parallel reasons for pursuing the associations and memberships in a particular market are to create parallel legitimacy with a recognized or established organization. Being able to use of share their brand alongside your brand is a powerful message to would-be customers and other alliances.

When we founded the non-profit Entrepreneurs Assembly (www.EA-NV.org)  five years ago, it was established to assist entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs in honing their business models and keeping them on track in 30 day intervals. Early on, we established strategic alliances to provide funnels  for the programs and legitimacy for the unique and valuable things we were doing to create and grow businesses. We worked with the folks in Reno at EDAWN, and provided them with a key entrepreneurial metric they did not have. They helped us with marketing and a bit of funding which continues to this day. We strategic-alliance-imagealso knew early on that the university was key to many aspects of our programs and their success. Our educational courses have been accredited now for several years and 20% of our EA membership are students and former students all of whom are now building fantastic companies right here in northern Nevada, instead of moving over the hill to work for Google.

In launching EA in Incline Village, we knew that working with SNC was critical to the equation. They have an entrepreneurial program up there, but not a community outreach mechanism, which is what we have. I spoke to my pal Kendra whom I’ve worked with for years in business plan competitions. She was excited to launch, so we did, but we couldn’t have done it without the critical alliance in Incline!

Now here we are in Carson City, where we’ve been working strategically with Adams Hub for innovation to build a culture of entrepreneurship and collaboration in Carson City. This entails working closely with NNDA and other local entities to create a collaborative network of businesspeople who can help each other and drive fundamental success.

No organization can operate solely on its own. All of them need resources, networks, customers, and strategic alliances. The alliances help each entity accomplish more than it could on its own, tap into new markets, create new synergies, and most importantly help organizations thrive and prosper. It works!