Thursday, August 28, 2008

Being An Optimist

Be An Optimist
By: Brian Tracy

"The most important quality for success in entrepreneurship and in life is the quality of optimism. Optimists have an unrealistic expectation of success. As a result, they are willing to try far more things without becoming discouraged. In addition, because of their unrealistically positive attitude, they are willing to persist much longer than the average person. Optimism is a wonderful quality as long as you have it under control."

Above is a quote I got today in an email. In a world full of negative news it's always worth the reminder that optimism is a worthy goal.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to School

This week was back to school week for our family. Both of our kids started back to school on Thursday. Thankfully they enjoy school and our plan is to help them keep that perspective. They have had good teachers and nice friends. Education is obviously important for them just as it is for all of us.

In printing and in sales it is amazing to me how many people stop their education shortly after getting going in their careers. The printing press operator usually doesn't read industry publications or maintenance manuals. The sales person remembers back to the training he or she received at the beginning of his or her career and may not have read another book on sales development since.

To be successful in any business, I believe it is necessary to constantly be improving my skills. In the world of sales or in the world of management, there is new material coming out all the time. Granted some of the fundamentals don't change, but many other things do. Without constant learning, the world will pass you by. Is it possible to communicate today only using a phone and a fax? How much more effective can someone be with a strong knowledge of a Blackberry and good internet skills?

The encouraging thing is most of this is free. It just takes time and energy. Go to a website on sales or management and begin reading. Then it is amazing, the site will lead to other places to get more information than any person can read and use in a lifetime. The opportunities are endless.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sales Planning

How well do you plan your sales efforts? Towards the end of 2007, we realized that some of our larger customers were cutting back on their spending. We also began to see that due to the economy, other customers were rethinking marketing plans. This gave us reason to be concerned.

By the fourth quarter of 2007, we knew we would have to implement a strong sales plan for 2008 if we were going to be able to grow this year. We started looking at existing clients that we had more opportunity with and spent more time working on those opportunities. Our main focus was adding new clients with net new business. Once we knew the goal, our sales people began working on finding and adding the new clients.

As we look back on the first seven months of the year, it is amazing how things happen when there is focus put on those areas of need. We have been able to add enough new business and grow some existing clients that we have offset the reduction of some of our larger clients.

Shortly we will need to plan for 2009. We see great opportunity to have some growth next year. The lesson to ourselves is to never wait until the slowdown starts to begin planning for the ways we can grow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorite books I have ever read. When I first tried to read the book, I couldn't get past the first couple hundred pages. It took about four tries to get the momentum I needed to finish reading the entire book. If you have never looked at the book, it is over 1,000 pages long. After reading the book, I started hearing and seeing opportunities all around me to make better decisions. Although I don't agree with all of the philosophies in the book, I do agree with the basic premise that mankind should produce something that has value and not look to live off the handout of government.

My wife and I have been on a couple of road trips lately and have two more over the next two weekends. She and I are listening to the book on CD and I am amazed at how much of the book I was able to retain. It has been a great experience.

If you are ever in the mood to read a long but great book, I highly recommend Atlas Shrugged.