11 Jun 2018
In business, it’s often not what you know, but who you know. And it’s not just who you know, but how strong the connection and relationships you have with certain people are. For example, if you need advice or an opinion, you would most likely write to or call someone whose opinion you trust.
Doing that is one case of networking. Yet, networking often gets a bad reputation and plenty of people think of it as something to dread or something that won’t really help them grow their businesses or advance in their careers. In large part, the negative view of networking stems from a few common misconceptions about what it is and what it involves. Adjusting your viewpoint on networking can help you forge new connections and move your business forward.
Misconception 1: If You’re Not a Natural Extrovert, Networking is Impossible
When most people hear the word “networking,” they picture wine and cheese filled after work events during which the naturally outgoing all congregate in the center of the room while the naturally shy or introverted hang around the edges, clinging to the snack table for dear life.
While your run-of-the-mill networking event does cater to the skill sets of extroverts, those events aren’t the only way to network and build connections with others. If you are naturally shy or don’t do well in large group settings, it’s better to change your approach to networking. Instead of going to big events, reach out to people you are interested in getting to know individually and ask them to meet up for a one-on-one conversation.
Misconception 2: It’s a Waste of Time
Like the first misconception, the belief that networking is a waste of time probably comes from the fact that people aren’t likely to form lasting connections when they go to big networking events. Handing your business card to a group of people and never following up isn’t going to lead to any significant relationships.
Instead, it helps to be proactive. If you do attend networking events, take the time to follow up with the people you thought were interesting or who you’d like to learn more about afterward. Send a friendly email, reintroducing yourself, saying that it was nice to meet them, and complimenting something about them. You can ask to meet them again if you’d like to further the relationship.
Misconception 3: It’s Selfish to Network
It’s not selfish to network and to meet new business connections. It is selfish to approach networking with a “me first” mindset. While you do want to think about how building relationships will help your business, it’s also important to think about how other businesses or individuals can benefit from getting to know you and what you have to offer. For example, you might be able to provide a company with a way to reduce expenses or with a time-saving device.
When you go into any networking event, large or small, always ask yourself what you can do to help others, not what they can do to help you.
Misconception 4: Networking Creates Fake Relationships
Sometimes, you have to reach to find and connect with people who are outside of your usual business circle. Making the effort to connect with people you wouldn’t ordinarily meet doesn’t mean that the relationships you build with them are fake or false. It simply means that you had to put a bit more effort into forming those relationships than you would have if you had stuck with your usual circle.
One way to connect with people who aren’t in your usual circle or who might have something to offer you (or you them) is to network and to find ways of building your network with deliberation. That can mean going out of your way to attend events that you would ordinarily avoid or it might mean reaching out to someone you don’t know but would like to and asking them their opinion on a subject.
Networking can help you find a solution to a problem you’re having and can help you build long-lasting connections with others by helping them solve their own problems. To learn more about the value of maintaining relationships in business, contact New Direction Capital today.
24 May 2018
What’s the next step that your company will take? For some businesses, going public, or starting the process of undertaking an initial public offering (IPO) is the top of the growth ladder. They’ve courted private investors, seen significant growth and increases in revenue. Now they’re ready for the next big thing — gaining access to capital from the market and getting the nod of approval from the general public.
But going public isn’t always the right decision, even if a company seems to be on the up and up. If you’re wondering if an IPO is the right next step for your business, asking yourself a few questions about your plans and your company’s health can help you make the right choice.
How Predictable is Your Company?
Some businesses are more stable and predictable than others. Before you go public, it’s worth taking a close look at where your next meal is coming from, so to speak. Can you look out at the next quarter, or even better, over the course of the next year, and have a general idea of what they will bring your company? Or are you uncertain of how much your business will bring in and whether it will be able to meet its targets or not?
Public investors aren’t necessarily as forgiving as private investors. If you expect to hit a certain target during a quarter, then miss it, even by a small percentage, your stock value can fall dramatically (after you go public).
While you can’t predict with 100 percent accuracy what the future will hold, it’s still important that your business has some level of stability before you begin an IPO.
What Are Your Plans for Future Growth?
Going public doesn’t mean your company is going to plateau. Instead, it should continue on a growth trajectory. That said, it’s important that you have an idea of what that growth trajectory will look like. For example, what plans do you have in place to help your business achieve $XXX in revenue? Although going public can seem like the end of the line for many business owners, it’s often the beginning of a new journey.
Is Your Company Established Enough for an IPO?
Do people know who your company is and what it does? While you don’t have to be a household name just yet, it’s imperative that people have some understanding of what your company is before you undertake an IPO.
Remember, when you go public, you are putting shares of your company up for sale on the public market. If the general public doesn’t know who you are or doesn’t understand the worth or value of your company, it will be difficult to convince them to buy shares. That can lead to the value of your company dropping, making it difficult for you to bring in capital from the IPO.
Along with knowing who you are, it’s essential that people can see the value of your business. Companies that have struggled with or failed at IPOs have often had a single product that didn’t have much use or value or that people didn’t much of a future in.
Do You Have Enough Staff to Handle the Additional Responsibilities Going Public Brings?
Going public can mean having to hire more people or outsource some responsibilities. You might want to hire someone who has experience with SEC reporting and a virtual chief financial officer to help answer larger financial questions your company might face.
If offering stock options to your employees is something you are considering doing after the IPO, it might be worth hiring a human resources team with experience putting together stock options benefit packages.
Are You Ready to Give Up Control of Your Company?
Depending on how many private investors you’ve worked with in the past and how much of a stake they’ve had in your company, you might already be used to not being fully in control of your business. But for owners who have previously been the sole owner of a business, going public can be a bit of a shock.
Is going public the next step for your business? The team at New Direction Capital can help you decide. Contact us today to learn more about our virtual CFO services.
18 May 2018
An episode of the series “Silicon Valley” found the CEO and employees of a start-up company on the search for office space. After finding what he thought was a great deal, the CEO took his team to view the space, a windowless room with buzzing fluorescent lights. While the CEO was delighted, the team was horrified at the idea of spending at least eight hours a day in such a space.
While it might seem like a small thing, where you set up shop and the layout and design of the office space you choose for your business can have a significant impact on productivity and your company’s ability to grow. Whether you’re investing in office space for the first time or are considering moving to a bigger workspace, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Open Layout vs. Cubicles
Whether an open layout, where employees all work together, often at the same table or workbench, or cubicles are better for productivity is a debate that goes back as far as the invention of the cubicle (in 1967). On the side of the open layout is the fact that cubicles can cut people off from each other, minimizing opportunities for collaboration.
On the side of the cubicle is the fact that people often struggle to focus and get their work done when there are a lot of distractions. In some cases, people feel more on the spot and exposed in an open layout setting, which might also have a negative effect on their overall productivity.
It might be that offering your employees a “best of both worlds” option is what works best for your business. You can set up private workspaces for people to use when they need to focus and think, as well as open areas where people are encouraged to gather and discuss ideas.
Another aspect of office design that can impede your company’s ability to grow is volume. When there are many people gathered in one room, working away, the noise level can get pretty high. One study from Oxford Economics found that more than half of all surveyed employees were less productive when there was ambient noise (such as phones ringing, co-workers chatting or noises from offices above or below your own).
There are a few ways you can reduce noise levels in the office to help minimize distractions. Carpeted workspaces more easily absorb sounds, for example. You might also install special panels on the ceiling to help bring down sound levels. Another option is to encourage people to take phone calls or to chat in areas that are closed off from or otherwise away from open spaces.
You don’t want your office to be too hot or too cold, as temperature extremes can affect employee performance. Getting the temperature right can be tricky, but it’s usually a good idea to aim for somewhere between 67 and 75 degrees. How warm or cold your office is can also depend on the clothing choices of the people who work there. Men who are stuck wearing long sleeve shirts and jackets might appreciate a colder space while women who wear sleeveless or short-sleeves blouses or dresses might be shivering in a 67-degree office space.
One option is to allow employees to adjust the temperature in their own workspaces, such as by having space heaters for people who are always cold or small fans for people who tend to run hot.
How tidy an office space is can also affect employee productivity. One way to improve office tidiness is to eliminate the causes of clutter. Try to go paper-free as much as possible, so that your team doesn’t have stacks of files or other paperwork piling up on their desks.
Cleanliness goes beyond managing paper clutter. Take a look at the common areas, such as the kitchen or lounge space, if your company has them. Do people leave things out or do they put them away after use? Are spills cleaned up quickly? Encouraging people to clean up after themselves can help to foster a sense of pride in the space they work in, and by extension, in the company they work for.
When it comes to business growth, even the small things can make a difference. To learn more about strategies you can use to help your company grow, contact the team at New Direction Capital today.
19 Apr 2018
Whether you’re trying to come to an agreement about salary with a new hire, working on a contract with a new client or communicating with a new vendor, you most likely negotiate something every single time you go to work. Although negotiation is a key component of doing business, it’s not necessarily something everyone is gifted at doing. If you’d like to work on your negotiating ability, there are several skills worth focusing on.
Goal Setting Skills
Before you head into any negotiation, it’s important to have a goal in mind. What do you want to get from the negotiating process and how flexible can you be in terms of the outcome?
While it’s a good idea to have a target or most desirable outcome in mind when creating your goal, it’s also a good idea to have a few backup options at the ready. For example, in a salary negotiation, you might set $52,000 as your target salary. But it’s also ideal to have a walk away or bottom line salary in mind too. While you’d prefer to offer a new employee $52,000, it might be that you’d settle for paying them as much as $62,000, depending on how the negotiation goes.
Having a plan B is another key part of setting a goal. What happens if you and a new hire can’t come to an agreement on annual salary? Can you offer other benefits, such as a higher retirement plan match or a few days working from home each week?
Working on your goal setting skills and learning how to adjust goals when needed can help you become a more flexible and effective negotiator.
Time Management Skills
In some circles, “on time” means “five minutes early.” Showing up to a negotiation on time shows the person that you’re working with that you respect their time and schedule. It can also pave the way for a more effective negotiation, as the person you’re working with is going to be less likely to be annoyed at your lateness.
Time management is more than getting to where you need to go on time, though. It also means keeping a negotiation from dragging on and on longer than it needs to. If you need to work on improving your time management skills, there are a few things you can do. One option is to set an alarm for yourself so that you leave with plenty of time to get where you need to go. Using a time tracking tool can help you learn how long it takes you to complete certain tasks so that you give yourself plenty of time for each negotiating session. In the middle of the negotiation, try to focus on the most important points, rather than dwelling on small details or getting distracted by small talk.
Good Command of Body Language
When you’re in the middle of a negotiation, it’s not only the words that come out of your mouth that influence the other party. It’s also the stance you adopt when speaking to another person. For example, if you avoid eye contact or make a point of deliberately looking away from someone when you speak to them, you’re sending a message that might be at odds with the words that you speak.
It’s not just eye contact that matters when negotiating. It’s also important to greet the other person warmly, such as with a handshake and smile at them throughout the process. If you feel that facing the other party face on is too intimidating, try angling your body slightly. You’ll look and feel more relaxed when you aren’t directly opposite the negotiating party.
Listening to what the other person has to say during a negotiation is key to its success. If you don’t listen to the other party, the odds are likely that they will get frustrated and you’ll both leave without accomplishing your goals.
One way to improve your listening skills and improve the negotiation process is to actively pay attention to what the other person is saying. When they are speaking, don’t think ahead to how you’ll respond. Instead, focus on them. When it’s your turn to speak, you’ll be more likely to have an appropriate response.
Becoming a better negotiator can help your business grow. To learn more about achieving profitable growth for your business, contact the team at New Direction Capital today.
13 Apr 2018
No matter how good you think are at something, there is usually always room for improvement. In some cases, becoming better at something can have a significant positive impact on your business. For example, improving your management skills can help to reduce high rates of turnover at your company.
If you’re looking to become a better manager, here’s what you can do to improve your management skills.
Listen to Your Team
One thing that sets good or great managers apart from not-great or even bad managers is the ability to listen. It’s not only important that you listen to what your team has to say — you also need to actually hear what they are saying. In some cases, it’s all too easy for a manager to assume that a particular employee is going to say something or have a particular issue, even if that is far from the truth.
In other instances, a manager might choose to only hear what they want to hear, ignoring anything that could be construed as negative. While that can help you to focus on the positive aspects of your company and team, it can also lead you to ignore or overlook issues that need fixing.
To improve your listening skills, it can help to practice active listening. That can involve repeating back what an employee is saying to you or paraphrasing their concern and asking them to validate or confirm that you’ve got it right. When you actually listen to your team, they will feel appreciated and that they are able to discuss any concerns that they have with you.
Get to Know Your Team Members as Individuals
The people who work with you or under you aren’t all the same. They each have different work styles and different needs. One way to improve your skills as a manager is to begin to recognize the differences in your employees. What motivates one team member might not motivate another, for example.
One way to get to know the people you work with or manage is to occasionally hold one-on-one meetings with them. You don’t want to go overboard with the individual conferences, but it’s important to check in with your team every now and again (such as every quarter or once a year at a minimum).
Scheduling individual conferences doesn’t just give you a chance to get to know your team members. It also gives them a chance to bring up and share any concerns they have with you, either about a current project, their status with the company or any other issues they might be experiencing.
Part of being a great manager is being able to anticipate and meet the needs of your team members and knowing who excels at what. Taking the time to really get to know people will help you best play to everyone’s strengths.
Communicate and Be Clear With Your Team
Great managers are great communicators. If communication within a team starts to slide, people begin to feel as if something’s been lost or as if they’re out there treading water, unsure of what to do next. Being clear with your team about who is responsible for what and when is another essential component of good communication.
Part of being a good communicator is regularly checking in to make sure that things are going along as they should. Another part of being a good communicator is having an open door policy with your team members. People who work for you should feel free to come with you at any time with any concerns they have about a project or even about another member of the team. You can help employees feel more comfortable communicating with you by regularly asking them how things are going.
Keep Your Distance
As a manager, it’s not your job to babysit employees or keep tabs on their every move. In fact, doing that tends to alienate and annoy people. Try to learn to keep a healthy distance from your team. Assign and delegate tasks to them and resist the urge to “check in” every minute of the day.
If you want your company to grow and succeed, knowing how to be the best manager possible is essential. The team at New Direction Capital is available to help you put together a plan for growth. To learn more about our virtual CFO services and how we can help your business, contact us today.