Blogging for dollars – can you teach an old dog new tricks?

26th Apr 2008



Several months ago, Mike Sansone, a nationally known blogging leader located in Des Moines, told me that in today’s business environments, blogging is a key promotional tool.  I confess, at that point I had hardly read a blog, much less composed one.  So it is with mild shock that I share that not only am I blogging (albeit sketchily) but I’ve also teamed with the Des Moines Register to manage the Business Edge Blog at the Register’s website.  Please take a look…a number of business experts are providing expertise on an array of business topics that are valuable to small and mid-sized business owners, many of whom, are my age.  By the way, you’ll also find good advice at Iowabiz.com, a site managed by Drew McLellan.

So if you’re reading this and fear blogging, take it from an old dog who learned a new trickreading and writing blogs will boost your business.    

423 Comments

 

PaceSetter co-founds Business Edge to help businesses revitalize, restore or create shareholder wealth

15th Apr 2008



Terry Myers, Tom Steen, and I, all owners of independent consulting practices, have formed a new venture. Business Edge, LLC is a Des Moines-based company that helps small and mid-sized Midwestern companies revitalize, restore or create shareholder value. The group solves leadership, operational and sales issues that limit a company’s ability to attract resources to move to the next level.

Steen, a native Iowan and capital markets expert, is the founding principal of Transition Capital Management, http://www.transcm.com/. Myers, founder of Terry Myers LLC, is a veteran senior management consultant. Pace, owner of PaceSetter Consulting, has senior management, operational and marketing experience. His Web site is http://www.pacesetterllc.com/.

369 Comments

 

Set performance goals, meet staff regularly for reviews

28th Mar 2008



Outstanding teams have outstanding performance management processes that are a result of a leader’s commitment. Such processes are not easy to initiate and implement. Company-wide commitment is required, and time must be taken to make the process valuable.Once a good performance management system is in place and has gained traction, staff commitment, performance and morale will amaze — and the entire organization will thrive.  Please link to a Des Moines Register article PaceSetter scribed on this subject.

480 Comments

 

Best practices: Starting a business

5th Nov 2007



If you considering starting a business…planning is critical.  Please review the article on this topic that I scribed for the Des Moines Register.  Feel free to contact me directly if it generates questions or you wish to discuss.  Thank you.

506 Comments

 

Would you like to know more about the Pace in PaceSetter Consulting?

24th Oct 2007



The Des Moines Register published an article spotlighting “the Pace” in PaceSetter Consulting, llc.  Take a moment to review the article and get to know PaceSetter’s founder.  While you’re at it, you might wish to know more about my cohort and business collaborator, Tom Steen, of Transition Capital Management.

PaceSetter Consulting, llc is a Midwestern consulting firm specializing in serving small and mid cap manufacturing and distribution B2B companies, offering leadership, marketing, sales and change management services. Visit our website for more information.

505 Comments

 

Emerging Opportunities: Biorenewable Materials 9/19/07 Networking

17th Sep 2007



Folks,

The Iowa Biotechnology Association, Transition Capital Management and SEEME bring you this networking event at the Science Center of Des Moines, IA on September 19, 2007 at 4PM.  I’ll participate in the presentation delivering a business planning session entitled “Ready, Fire, Aim”.  Also on the agenda are Deere and Vermeer representatives who will speak about the subject.  Check out the agenda at the Iowa Biotechnology site and come out and join us.  Refreshments will be served after the presentations. 

408 Comments

 

Internal Communication: An Engaged Work Force = Productivity

7th Sep 2007



There are a number of U.S. workers dissatisfied with their employers.

According to Gallup research, there are three types of employees: engaged, not-engaged, and actively disengaged:

  1. Engaged employees “work with passion and feel a connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.”
  2. Employees who are not-engaged “are essentially ‘checked out’ putting time—but not energy or passion—into their work.”
  3. Disengaged workers “act out their unhappiness,” and “undermine what their engaged workers accomplish.”

A U.S. Employee Engagement Survey indicated that 69% of workers are either not-engaged or actively disengaged on the job. Further, that $370 billion/year is lost due to lower productivity. Can we do anything to increase the engagement level of the workforce?  Sure.  Certainly benefits, environment, etc. play a large role in engagement levels, but instituting an internal communications program has proven a valuable way to encourage employees to become stakeholders. Progressive companies view internal communications equal in importance to external communications. External marketing can reach its full potential only when employees fully “buy in” to a company’s vision, messages, goals, and values. Internal communications plans start with a clear statement of the company’s ethics, standards, and principles.  It’s also important to conduct a “communication audit” that analyzes how organizational communication occurs and answers some important questions:

  • Are employees receiving accurate information?
  • Are employees receiving regular information?
  • Are messages consistent across the company?
  • Do employees understand the goals/results of communications?

Once the audit is complete, a plan can be implemented that communicates employees’ worth and demonstrates that they are critical to the company’s objectives. In fact, there are countless ways to reinforce employee engagement from a communications perspective. Here are a few examples:

  • Contests with compelling prizes (free gift, etc.)
  • Celebrate of achievements (attended by senior executives)
  • Awards/certificates recognizing employee commitment
  • Internal mentor programs to link junior and upper-level employees
  • Community relations events sponsored by the company

Feedback is equally important.  Leaders should solicit employee feedback and suggestions about the company’s direction. Employees who feel that their ideas and suggestions are heard will be more engaged in their job. An organization with high levels of employee engagement enjoys reduced attrition and increased advocacy for its products and services. Implementing a well thought-out internal communications program will help companies leverage benefits for maximum advantage. Employee engagement can be the catalyst that leads a company to increased levels of productivity, creativity, and bottom-line results.  

388 Comments

 

When you’re through changing…

7th Aug 2007



Embracing change is essential to success in today’s business world and the city of Des Moines is changing daily. When I first moved here in 1990, it seemed a small metro area in the middle of a sea of corn. Today, the population is growing and the economy, buttressed by that sea of corn, is spurred on by expanding financial service and high tech companies. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are also finding roots in this booming economy.  The city is thriving, full of dynamic energy, and opportunities are unlimited for businesses willing to embrace the change.  The same is true for all of us.

One of my favorite quotes is from Bruce Barton…”When you are through changing, you are through”.  PaceSetter can help your organization embrace change and grow.    

And speaking about change…here is an excerpt from the Des Moines Register’s July 31, 2007 Biz Buzz column: 

Barry Pace is back in town for the third time.  Pace directed the sales and marketing start-up of Firestone Agriculture Tire Division in Des Moines from 1989 to 1993.  He then returned from 2000 to 2005 to become president of Formed Steel Products Inc., Quality Control Equipment Co. and Profile Foods.  He moved from Benson, MN, where he was chief operating officer at Redball LLC, a maker of agriculture equipment.  Now, he’s started PaceSetter Consulting, offering leadership, marketing and sales consulting services to small firms, and he is blogging at www.pacesetterllc.com“Today, the city bears little resemblance to the Des Moines we remember from 1990,” Pace said.

516 Comments

 

Ready, Fire, Aim and some lessons learned along the way

30th Jul 2007



“Ready, Fire, Aim” is a hackneyed expression but I cannot think of a better way to describe incomplete or improper planning.  During my career I have been guilty of this error…and I have seen companies with great ideas struggle and even fail because of a lack of planning.  Transition Capital Management, West Des Moines, IA, has asked me to deliver a presentation on this topic next month to a group of Des Moines small and start-up businesses.  Planning is a discipline that my management teams and I have spent a lot of time and effort on.  Planning is really a simple exercise that small businesses often ignore…and many large businesses spend too much time on!  The key is balance.

“Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality is most prevalent in small cap, start-up and turnaround companies but occurs in large operations as well, even in those who over-plan.  Smaller operations can react so quickly that tight resources may be expended too rapidly.  And start-up and turnaround operations may jump at what appears to be a good opportunity…only to find out that they jumped too quickly. 

Here is an example:  I was part of a technology start-up that has a wonderful product.  The company was under-funded and its product was well ahead of its time.  The target customer group did not recognize the value, did not know they needed the product and, as such, the product got an early black eye despite the benefits it could deliver.  We were guilty of developing incorrect distribution channels and believing that guerrilla marketing could overcome what was really poor planning.  The initial pricing was an obstacle to success and the potential customers were resistant to technological advance.  We modified the product, reduced its cost and capabilities, focused on a different market segment, and were able to successfully re-launch the product.  But the cost in time, money and energy was enormous.  Clearly, a few months of market research and planning would have preserved capital, re-directed product development and put us in the market much more rapidly.  Today (four years from the initial launch) the product is accepted and drawing rave reviews.  Who knows what success we may have enjoyed by now if we had just done a little more marketing and sales planning. 

All of you know the PLOC’s of leadership…the P being planning.  It is vital that all of you in leadership, marketing and sales positions in smaller operations make a conscious effort to force planning and strategic thinking time into all of your new product or process launches.  And all of you in those over-planning larger operations…keep that planning activity in your process but reduce the time frames.  Ensure your competitors don’t beat you to the punch!

Ready.  Aim.  Fire.  Plan and win.

416 Comments

 

People, your most valuable asset

29th Jun 2007



Through the years many managers have grown from mere supervisors into true leaders, doing all they can to remove the obstacles inhibiting their team’s ability to excel and win.  Are you and your management team included in this leader group?  I hope so.  If not, you can improve the performance of your teams by undertaking a very simple leadership approach, one of optimizing your performance management process.

We all recognize that our teams’ motivation levels vary, in some cases significantly.  Often, we call under-performance a people issue.  But is it really?  I believe it is most often a leadership issue.  You’ve seen the research.  Most people aren’t motivated by money alone.  Most perform well for a variety of personal motivations.  Nearly everybody wants to do a good job in all their endeavors.  And all employees want and need  to know what’s expected of them and how they are performing against expectations.  If you can do a proper job of communicating your company goals, your expectations of the employees and provide proper feedback on how you view their performance…you’ll see a marked improvement in the performance of your teams and, hence, the bottom line.

This doesn’t mean you should merely initiate a performance management process.  It means building a process, implementing the process and committing to continued use and improvement of the process.  Those old-fashioned annual evaluations have little value.  In fact, the results may be opposite of what you hope to achieve.  The same is true for evaluations completed by unskilled supervisors. On the other hand, a properly conducted, objective and open communication and feedback process can result in improved job satisfaction, morale and performance.  This process should be conducted much more frequently and include employee evaluation of supervisors.  It’s not a difficult task but it does take a commitment of time and resources and a champion.  And that champion should be a senior leader.

Want to hear or discuss more?  Stay tuned, I’ll be writing more about this subject in the coming days and will share some of the successes I’ve seen or enjoyed. 

79 Comments

 

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