"...keeping you great" Ten Minutes with the Growth Guy
HEADLINES: (Happy Valentine's Day)
NPS Stories Wanted -- Justin Martin is writing a story for FORTUNE Small Business on small to mid-market firms using Fred Reichheld's Net Promoter Score (NPS). If you have some experience, good or bad, using NPS please email Justin -- and read Reichheld's book The Ultimate Question. Firms that utilized NPS had 2.5 times the growth rate of those that didn't -- it's all about focusing the organization on creating advocates for your business.
Keep Building -- this is Ram Charan's first principle for managing during a possible recession (my favorite of his four). Take five minutes and read his FORTUNE magazine article "Managing Your Business in a Downturn" (skip right to his four principles).
Charan is one of the most famous business thought leaders of our time as co-author of Execution with Larry Bossidy and his latest two books: Know-How: The Eight Skills that Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don't and What the Customer Wants You to Know: How Everybody Need to Think Differently About Sales. I've just ordered the latter book for review since I'm pushing EVERYONE to focus on sales and marketing in 2008. Ram tends to be very practical and insightful as a former Harvard, Northwestern, and Boston U prof -- and as a close advisor to leaders like Jack Welch. I tend to pay attention to what he says.
Go Global -- this is my recommendation, recession or no. For companies in the U.S., go international. The rest of the world's economies are growing at 3 to 4 times the U.S. economy and the low US dollar gives us a huge advantage right now. Even GM, while offering buy-outs to all their employees in the U.S., is booming overseas. A close friend of mine in the AV furniture business is doing a booming business in Russia. I'm moving my family to India in September to build up our Gazelles business in Asia and the Middle East. The problem with companies in the US is we've become spoiled living in a huge domestic market and thus never developed the DNA to do business internationally, like our entrepreneurial friends in small markets like New Zealand or The Netherlands.
Export-Import Bank -- 85% of their loans go to small businesses. FORTUNE Small Business magazine did an excellent piece this month, with plenty of small to mid-size company examples, of U.S. companies taking advantage of the dollar's decline. Take a look at this article which includes links to the Ex-Im bank info.
Hidden Champions: Lessons from 500 of the World's Best Unknown Companies -- I read this book over a decade ago and found it to be one of the most insightful books about mid-size firms I had ever read (though now out-of-print -- check your library). The main point that stuck with me, if you want to dominate a narrow niche, was the importance of extending your reach into markets around the globe before companies in other parts of the world, focused on your same niche, enter your market! Your biggest competitive threat, even in the tiniest of niches, is a competitor you don't see coming from the other side of the planet. And you need the global market intelligence that comes with doing business in other markets. Here is an excellent article that outlines the five keys to being a hidden champion (take 15 seconds to glance at the sidebox in the article).
Australian National Growth Summit -- speaking of international, we co-host with Business Connect, our first annual "Growth Summit" in Sydney next week -- February 18 -- 20. Joining me from the U.S. are business thought leaders Geoff Smart (Topgrading) and Kaihan Krippendorf (The Art of the Advantage). A dozen additional Australian business experts will round out the program. Here's a link