May 2012 eNewsletter

SpiritBank eNews
May 2012 That's the Spirit!
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Today's Quote:

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

- John Quincy Adams

In this Issue...


The Giving Spirit AwardThe Giving Spirit Award

SpiritBank is once again honoring and recognizing volunteers in our community that have a great giving spirit. Nominate a local hero who makes a difference in our community today.

Click here to learn more or to nominate a deserving volunteer



Paying It Forward: Fishbowl CEO David Williams on Mentoring
By Stephanie Christensen

Running a small business often requires shifting your competitive spirit into overdrive. But there can be equal value in stopping for a moment to offer advice and guidance to your peers, particularly new entrepreneurs who want to join you on the fast track, but are struggling with challenges you've already overcome.

Fishbowl, which makes the "#1 requested inventory solution for QuickBooks," also runs BoomStartup, a mentorship-driven accelerator that supports upstart technology businesses. The Intuit Small Business Blog recently caught up with Fishbowl CEO David Williams to get his thoughts on the value of mentoring.

ISBB: What inspired you to volunteer as a mentor to small-business owners?

Williams: Working with a mentee is in some ways like taking a course in Business 101. You go back and learn about things you were unaware of, and see how you're perceived through the mentee's eyes. In turn, it actually helps you to see things from a new angle and approach problem-solving differently. In business, you grow your network by connecting with people - even someone less experienced.

What benefits, tangible and otherwise, have you realized for your own business by supporting others?

Building a profitable business in today's fast-paced, competitive, and demanding world means finding the lowest-cost, highest-quality solutions for your organization's needs. There is no question that your greatest asset is your people and their collective knowledge capital. Enhancing your organization's talent translates into real bottom-line results. Unlike traditional training programs, which are often expensive and time consuming, mentoring programs provide a cost-efficient alternative for getting employees up to speed and keeping progress alive.

Why is having a mentor so valuable for small-business owners?

To break through to real success, you need a support system that's proven to work. Most truly successful business owners I've seen have three kinds of support: a mentor, a coach, and a team. A mentor helps you look at your business in new ways to determine what will get you to the next level and how to focus on those activities - both personally and in business. A coach keeps you accountable as you work toward those goals. The support team, which can be made up of family, friends, and business associates, keeps you moving through particularly difficult situations and helps you celebrate successes.

What advice do you have for small-business owners who are interested in developing a mentor-driven program?

Anyone that's anywhere has had some help getting there, and helping others along their way is the best way to pay back those who helped you. As a mentor, your role is to support, develop, stimulate, and challenge your mentee, whether they're just starting up in business or are already established and seeking guidance. If you already have plenty of business experience, consider offering your services as a mentor to other businesses. It's a very rewarding way of passing on the benefits of your experience.

Read this article at the Intuit.com

10 Ways to Motivate Anyone
By Geil Browning

Understand the unique brain and personality types of your employees to keep them invested in work. You'll see amazing results.

I am often asked about how I keep employees inspired and productive. It's an essential question since companies today must accomplish more, with fewer people. The most successful start-ups must be lean, nimble, and fierce.

In a nutshell, you should hire bright, energetic, innovative employees. Then offer them the right incentives - the ones that will impact their personal brain and personality types - to keep them mentally and emotionally invested in doing their best.

It's impossible to talk about motivation without mentioning Drive, a book by best-selling author Daniel Pink. (His TED lecture was turned into a fabulous video.) Pink notes that people perform best when they are given autonomy, opportunity for mastery, and the belief that their task is meaningful. He says money is not the best motivator, and that employees want to be "players, not pawns."

Pink believes Google's "20% time," in which employees may spend one day a week on whatever they want is a shining example of how allowing intrinsically-based motivations (a sense of accomplishment or purpose) can flourish. Personal endeavors from "20% time" resulted in Gmail, Google News, Orkut, and AdSense. Long before Google - back in 1948 - 3M instituted the "15% solution" or "dream time," which yielded both Scotch Tape and Post-It Notes.

There's no question that intrinsic motivation is essential. However, I do not agree with Pink that all extrinsic motivation (raises, bonuses, commissions, awards, titles, flex time, and other perks) is harmful. A skillful entrepreneur keeps employees motivated with a combination of both.

That said, there is no cookie-cutter approach to motivating your people. What inspires one person may leave the next cold. When you understand an employee's thinking and behavioral preferences, you'll be able to maximize his or her enthusiasm. This will help you get your workforce aligned and moving in the same direction, and you'll see incredible returns.

1. Analytical types want to know that a project is valuable, and that their work makes a difference to its success. They need a leader who excels in a particular area, and whose expertise they believe benefits the group. They prefer compensation that is commensurate with their contribution. If they have done a tremendous amount of work on their own, don't expect them to be happy if you reward the whole team.

2. People who are "structural" by nature want to know their work aids the company's progress. They prefer a leader who is organized, competent, and good with details. They like to be rewarded in writing, in a timely manner, in a way specific to the task. An encouraging email is appropriate to communicate with them.

3. Social people want to feel personally valued, and that what they are doing has an impact on a project. They go the extra mile for a leader who expresses faith in their abilities. They prefer to be rewarded in person with a gesture that is from the heart. If your own preference is for written communication, send a handwritten note to a particularly social employee.

4. Innovative employees must buy into a cause. To them, the big picture matters more than the individual who is leading the charge. They prefer to be rewarded with something unconventional and imaginative, and would find a whimsical token of your esteem very meaningful.

5. Quiet staffers don't need a lot of fanfare, but they appreciate private, one-on-one encouragement.

6. Expressive people feel more motivated when assignments are openly discussed and an open door is available. They like public recognition, with pomp, and ceremony.

7. Peacekeepers hope everyone will move in the same direction. They'll never demand a reward or recognition, so it's up to you to offer it.

8. Hard-drivers are independent thinkers. If they agree with you, they'll be highly motivated. They will let you know what they'd like as an extrinsic reward, and they tend to want whatever it is right away.

9. Those who are focused team members must have confidence in the leader and in the project, or their motivation may falter. They want know up front what kind of reward they can expect. Make sure you follow through on whatever is promised.

10. Flexible people go along with the team, as long as a project does not contradict their morals or beliefs. They're also happy with any kind of recognition.

Watch for the weakest link among your employees. If you have a slacker who consistently does less than everyone else but seems to get away with it, this can dampen the motivation of everyone else.

Read this article at Inc.com

Finding the Right Mentor to Help Grow Your Business
By Brad Sugars

People go into business for themselves for a lot of reasons, including freedom, control, and, of course, the potential to make more money. But few entrepreneurs truly appreciate how much potential lies dormant in their companies.

The best way to tap into this potential is to learn as much as possible about sales and marketing, conventional - and unconventional - ways to generate cash flow, and strategies to develop low-cost, but high-quality leads.

You can get this from books or personal experience, but I would suggest working with an advisor or mentor to help guide you. While it may seem like an unnecessary or unaffordable expense in terms of time and other resources, outside counsel can be one of the best investments you'll ever make for your business.

You should acquire as much knowledge as you can from a trusted advisor who will hold you accountable for taking the actions you need to be successful, even if you don't always agree or feel comfortable.

Related: Mentors: A Young Entrepreneur's Secret Weapon

Look at it this way: Starting a business is a risky proposition mainly because most first-time entrepreneurs simply don't know the ins-and-outs of running a successful operation. Generally, it isn't lack of capital that kills most businesses. It's lack of knowledge.

So what should you look for in a mentor or advisor? Here are four important considerations:

1. You should have good rapport with your advisor. This doesn't mean you should find someone who will agree with your every decision. But it does mean you should work with someone who is a good fit with your personality and who is willing to challenge your status quo. You can work one-on-one with a mentor, or you can try to find a local network of like-minded owners. Such groups meet regularly to provide advice and feedback about issues facing their members' businesses.

2. Your mentor should be someone who's "been there, done that." Beware of someone who claims to have a "new" system or a "magic bullet" solution. Rely instead on tested veterans who have played the game successfully. Not only can they reveal the secrets of their success, they also can be candid about their failures and how to avoid them.

3. Your advisor would ideally have a framework for driving sales, repeat purchases, cash flow and profit. In the best case, you should work with someone who takes your entire enterprise into consideration, or at least has some good tools, tactics and strategies for the functions that drive sales and profits. Be wary of complex strategies or hard-to-replicate systems.

Related: Three Steps to Finding a Business Mentor

4. Your mentor should hold you accountable for results. A mentor needs your permission to hold you accountable for what you say you're going to do and when you're going to do it. He or she also should be willing to guide you in a different direction or correct potential errors in judgment. Many hard-driving entrepreneurs find such accountability difficult, but it can be one of the most valuable aspects of mentorship.

Can it be difficult to find an advisor who is willing to guide you? Perhaps. But once you start looking for that person, you'll be amazed at the connections you'll start to make. And once you do find the right advisor, it can make all the difference in the world.

Is all that effort really worth it? Recent independent studies have shown that companies that get outside business help can generate a tenfold return on the investment. These days, you're simply not going to get that type of return in stocks or real estate.

Simply put, no successful entrepreneur got to the top without a great team and a trusted mentor to turn to for help and advice. So don't go it alone. Learn from others who have been there before and achieved the level of success you're seeking. You'll cut years off your learning curve.

Related: Five Steps for Finding an Ideal Mentor

Read this article at Entrepreneur.com

9 Ways Positive Thinking Leads to Success
By Barry Moltz

Most small business owners see the glass as half full. On the roller coaster of starting and running a company, it is really the only way to survive and thrive. Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus, believes that positive energy can actually be the difference between long-term success and failure in any business. In my full interview with Jon, he discusses how thinking positively can lead to success. Here are some takeaways.

1. You are the Driver of Your Bus. You have the ability to choose the ride you want. As Gordon says, "You choose your energy and it will determine the ride, your attitude, how people respond."

2. Stop Blaming Others. In the long run, it's not their fault. Being accountable for your own business is the reason you started a company, right?

3. Fuel your Ride with Positive Energy. Gordon believes that "whether we feed ourselves each day with negative fuel or positive fuel, our attitude, our mindset, our belief, our optimism has a big impact on our day." With positive energy fuel, you will be able to accomplish things that others thought impossible.

4. Lead with Optimism. Gordon studied great teams, leaders and organizations. He shows that optimism is one of the defining factors of their success. "Optimistic salespeople outperform pessimistic salespeople," Gordon says. "Optimistic leaders are able to get their people in the right direction and ... create success. I work for a lot of NFL teams, for instance, and I've seen this principle play out."

5. No Energy Vampires Allowed. Gordon quotes Gandhi: "I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet." He points out that stress, business and fear are the main enemies of positive energy.

6. Stop Complaining without Solutions. Gordon compares complaining to vomiting. He says that "afterwards you feel better, but people around you feel sick." Ultimately, complaining is counterproductive and hurts your company. Gordon's "No Complaining Rule" dictates that you are "not allowed to complain unless you come with one or two possible solutions to your complaint." In this way, complaints will serve as a catalyst for innovation and change within any company.

7. Be Thankful. Gordon insists that you can't be stressed and thankful at the same time. He takes a "thank you walk" every day. Like in so many areas of our life, we become what we focus on.

8. Find Your "Why." Gordon advises people to stop seeking happiness at work. He says to "instead, decide to work with passion and then purpose and happiness will find you. Find a purpose and allow it to energize you." Gordon cites a mortgage broker he met that felt her purpose was "saving marriages because she feels like if she can help people with homes they'll keep their marriage intact and the research shows that to be true." The "why" helps overcome most challenges.

9. Share it at Work. Gordon states that leadership is really a "transfer of belief." He encourages leaders to share them with their employees. He says we should start asking "What do we value? What are our expectations? What are our beliefs? What do we want to accomplish?" It helps the employees become a team and work toward a common goal.

How have you used positive energy to fuel your business?

Read this article at OpenForum.com

It's Funny What a Little Spark of Creativity Can Do
By Jamillah Warner

Leadership sets the company's direction and atmosphere, and if you fail to establish an environment that encourages creativity, then you get what you get - the status quo. Even in a hectic and fast pace setting your attitude toward innovation and creativity can still make room for your staff to toss some fresh ideas your way. But everything starts with the conversation that you have with yourself.

Do you give yourself room to think and operate outside the box?

Do you socialize with creative others in your industry? Being around your contemporaries can awaken a competitive and creative spirit in you. Directing that energy, just may inspire a new idea.

If your life revolves around going to work and coming home and going to work and coming home, then you're breathing the same old stale air.

Stop.

Go for a dream walk.

Go help your mentor do something.

Reinstate date night with your mate.

Hang out with your kids - they'll love you more for caring about what they care about, plus inspiration may find you on the way home. Children have inspired all kinds brilliant and profitable business ideas including Jibbitz - the little inserts that kids use to decorate their crocs.

Do you have wild and mad brainstorming sessions with yourself?

If you don't give yourself room to be creative, then it's hard to pass on what you don't have. Pull out that big over sized pad and start writing down your ideas. I don't care how wild it is, put it on the board, you can filter later. For right now, just let it flow.

As Anita Campbell, Founder of Small Business Trends, states in " Are Your Employees Scared To Innovate?":

"You can’t expect employees to innovate if you're not thinking creatively yourself."

And how you spend your time can play a big roll in your creative process. John Mariotti gives some key advice in " When Your Career Is Over, But Your Life Isn't." In reference to retirement John says:

"Start with a plan…based on reflection about what you like to do…know how to do... or would like to learn."

It holds true for anyone trying to shake up their status quo. Do new and interesting things centered around "what you like to do…or would like to learn." Make room for change and creativity in your own life and it will show up in your business.

The by product of a creative environment is an inspired team that represents you well, even when they're off the clock. In "Small Business In America: 10 Years After 9/11" Susan L. Reid highlights the idea that being active and visible within the community creates stability. While that's true and great for the city, that visibility is also good marketing.

This is more than staging events (which is important), it's real and abiding relationships within your community around causes that matter to you, your neighbors and your business - for that to happen your team has to get involved.

It's funny what a little spark can do. Inspire yourself. Inspire your team. Let your team inspire each other (and you). Become active. Become visible. It's a natural return on investing in a creative environment on the clock.

Read this article at SmallBizTrends.com

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Property of SpiritBank. 2012.