Seventhman Blog

  1. Should You Embrace Fear and Ignorance to Succeed?

    "fear ignorance business success"Have you ever wondered where the word innovation came from and just how it all began?  As I’ve been taking a break to read my favorite feeds, Rita McGrath’s HBR post caught my attention.  Curious thing, that before the 80′s, people used the term ‘diversification’ when exploring new opportunities.  In today’s fast-paced world though, I don’t think it will take eight years to become profitable in what you do; we’ve seen so many startups break all popular notions of success as their revenues hit a record high in such a short time.  When I was searching for a term on Google, I can’t help but ask myself if there are still undiscovered territories in the business landscape.. as everything seems to be explored (exploited) already.

    When Old Meets New

    Do you agree that there’s no such thing as a fresh idea, that all these new concepts have been the product of a need to make old ideas.. better?  I bet, before Seth Godin became popular with his famous ‘linchpin’ or ‘purple cow’ – someone must have thought of that under a different name; he just turned it into something avant-garde through the power of storytelling.  While technologies developed in a blink of an eye, it fascinates me so much that I can only be grateful for being alive to experience this age.  Corporations and fledglings are now on equal grounds where the fast beats the big, where project managers have morphed into project leaders.  What sort of luck have we been experiencing these days?

    To Succeed, You Must Fail

    Many have written that fear is the top reason for business failure.  I hate to disagree, but I believe it’s your ego that contributed big time.  You are too proud to even consider the thought of failing, of losing out on opportunities, and so you continuously sabotage what could have been a phenomenal success.  You know what made Facebook’s Hackathon an overnight success?  It’s that they allowed people to push the limits of their imagination, without expectations.  You’ll never know what you can learn from failing the first time.  I’d say it’s a chance for you to learn, take down notes and succeed the second time around.  How else can you know if you won’t try?

    Return to Ignorance

    When there’s mystery, you are more motivated to search for answers.  Agree?  Innovation is like searching a black cat in a dark room, and the cat just isn’t there – to quote from Stuart Firestein, neuroscientist and author of  “Ignorance: How It Drives Science“.  If I were to trace back the very root cause as to why it’s hard for CIO’s, CEO’s to unlearn what they have learned about innovation, I believe the answer will point me back to this 3-letter word: EGO.  Consider this though: We are living in an information economy where knowledge is a top commodity.  While big data is the new buzzword in the tech world, to succeed these days may just mean not being scared of asking questions and being brave enough to muck about in unknown terrains.

    An adventure of a lifetime awaits… whenever you’re ready to embrace ignorance and fear.

  2. Presidential Debate 2012: Small Business Concerns Over Tea and Politics

    "presidential debate 2012"I’d like to take a time off from the usual business blog I share here to write my thoughts on the recent Obama-Romney face off last 16th.  I’ve been following my favorite #custserv chat on Twitter when the convo was cancelled to give way to the presidential debate.  While the spar of wits and words has entertained everyone who watched, if you ask me, I was hoping to get real answers on how these candidates plan to handle the economy and change the way things are run.. for the better.  Like many small business owners out there, we’re hoping for a permanent fix, that whoever will win the presidential race will truly understand our needs – of helping us get customers and grow our businesses.

    Leadership Lessons from the Obama-Romney Debate

    While there have been many debates over the issue of job creation, it’s still too early to say who really won until all the votes are cast out.  I guess, the more appropriate term is a ‘stalemate’.  All of these talks aim to gain trust and respect – which you can’t win overnight.  You can’t command it or demand it either.  But to be a leader, you have to earn respect and this can mean going back to the basics, of being consistent with your message because people REALLY do pay attention.  You don’t have to be right all the time, but you must still have that positive mindset to respond to the challenge, to forgive others as well as yourself.  Enough with the jabs, I’d say, for leaders walk the walk.  All these talks are hollow if you can’t make an impact, a difference in the lives of people you lead.

    Getting Jobs Back

    It’s not as simple as everyone thinks.  One hot topic in last week’s face off has been the issue of outsourcing jobs overseas.  The manufacturing industry has been hit badly when it comes to finding cheaper labor cost elsewhere.  Do our candidates hope to bring back Apple’s manufacturing jobs?  While President Barack Obama acknowledge that these ‘low-wage, low-skill jobs’ won’t be coming back, Romney is pointing out on being tough on China’s currency manipulation.  Quite contradictory as that would mean making hiring labor there… cheaper?  I’ve mentioned before about having hybrid sourcing models to remedy this issue.  Besides, this is the era of globalization and I’m optimistic that we can find something that will work for everyone.

    Small Business and Globalization

    The idea of business expansion is always an exciting venture for any entrepreneur.  There are small businesses who are looking for new markets beyond the U.S. borders, like a modern hunt for El Dorado.  There will be challenges, no doubt, and it will transcend foreign currency, language and culture differences.  There will be legal matters to settle too, like trademark requests, privacy laws and so on – as this will differ from one country to another.  Most of them have stiff requirements too than what you’ll expect if you’re doing business here in the U.S.  While the subject of helping small businesses benefit more from international trade feels like music to my ears, we’ll just have to wait and see for this bit of encouragement to become a reality.

    On the other hand, who do you think has won the debate on this topic?

  3. What Social Media Marketers Won’t Tell You ( But You Need to Know )

    "marketing trap"I’m one of the many small business owners out there who have jumped into the social media bandwagon hoping to have that ultimate fix to cure my sales and marketing ills.  Guess what?  I was wrong.  There’s simply no shortcuts to creating trust online and you can’t improve your revenue by 30% overnight.  The bad news is that many are still falling for this trap set by so-called social media experts who love to gamble with your money that you start to wonder just how far can you stretch your resources.  Sure, we’ve fallen for bad advice more than once as we grow our online presence from becoming a nobody to a somebody.  Is social media marketing worth every penny then?

    The Truth About Social Media that No One Wants to Tell You

    And I’m not the only one blogging about it; we’re only a few brave soul who do.  Last time, I have shared with you my perceptions on social media and why you should try social enterprise for your business.  This time, I’m taking you back to reality lane so you can avoid costly mistakes before it happens.  After all these years of building my social capital, I’ve learned that:

    1. Getting Social is NOT Being Social

    Marketers, please don’t hate me.  You may be great at connecting and starting a conversation, but not that awesome in marketing activities like lead generation to increase sales and improving customer loyalty through social media funnels.

    2.  Engagement is a Vague Word

    We all get it!  Engagement is the key to growing your online presence.  The next time you will give us this advice, please make sure that we are engaged with our customers offline first.. before we bring the whole experience online.

    3.  You CANNOT be Omnipresent

    Don’t we all love to be with the trendy crowd?  Before you even consider being on every social network that you can name, please consider where your target market is most likely to hang out.  Besides, being everywhere has its major drawback: Social Media Saturation.  There’s doing ‘less is more’ when it comes to getting better results.

    4.  Being Efficient Doesn’t Mean Being Effective

    I’m totally impressed with all the numbers, the reports based on advance analytics tools you may be using.  But, there’s a big difference between influence and reach.  While having lots of fans or followers can give me instant gratification, I’d love to see more of them converting into buying customers.  Measuring what really matters count.. a lot!

    5.  The Same Basic Strategies Still Apply

    I do appreciate all those unique marketing ideas to help me create a buzz for my brand, but at the end of the day, I have to develop my business first so I can identify new opportunities to grow my brand online or in real-time.  Please remind me to put research on top of my priority list.. or help me do so – because it will aid me in building a realistic expectation about social media marketing, the nth time around.

    And if there’s one thing I agree with internet marketers, it’s the art of creating Authenticity.  I’m with you in this concept, that having a unique voice will help me stand out from the crowd, to start with the Why of things.  The more you focus on this, the more people will trust you for them to hit that ‘buy’ button.

    Would you agree with the lessons I have learned so far?  I rest my case.

     

    ** Do you agree with Jeff on this social media pitfall?

  4. Keeping Agile in the World of Offshore Outsourcing

    "agile outsourcing"Gone were the days of labor arbitrage as we enter a new era where finding qualified talent for your team is as quick as a mouse click.  While it is true that many businesses are looking offshore to cut down on cost, there is much more benefit to be had than meets the eye.  Those who were first to take a bite have now harbored mature offshore outsourcing relationships that resulted to an overall increase in service quality, as well as maximum flexibility when it comes to the organization’s enterprise strategy process.  Many of those who have been practicing offshore outsourcing see more improvement in their organizational agility as an effect of sending work over to global sourcing hubs.  But, innovation in this area is not without a multitude of challenges.

    The Immigrant-Driven Economy

    As I’ve been following the hot debate between Obama and Romney when it comes to immigration, I can’t help but wonder just how have these people born outside the U.S. helped in growing the economy.  In this infographic from Entrepreneur online mag, it will surprise you that more foreign-born workers and entrepreneurs are driving economic growth.. and the number is rising.  What’s more amazing is that they dominate service-based industries, regardless of the language and culture barriers.  There must be a stigma right now on local businesses taking jobs abroad, but I’m hoping that whoever wins the presidential race will not forget about the efforts of these migrants who are helping reshape the economy in such uncertain times.

    How Do You Play the Sourcing Game?

    While there’s news of GM bringing back 10,000 IT jobs on-shore, many other early adopters of offshore outsourcing may just follow suit.  Manufacturing is one of those areas where we’ll surely hear more news where sourcing is concerned.  But in this age of globalization where the fast beats the big, to survive the game, you have to multi-source… or simply, take the best of both worlds, of what insourcing and outsourcing can bring to your business so you can maximize productivity and increase your ROI.  As the adage goes, fortune favors the brave.  Many may still be reluctant to go local because they may not be able to scale their operations like what they currently do now overseas, like in India.  Investing in domestic resources may just not be a viable option for some.  Are you willing to take the risk?

    Offshore Outsourcing and Agility

    Some say that you can’t outsource agile for the simple fact that distance works against close collaboration among your team.  Can you really adopt an agile work process when it comes to outsourcing?  Though it comes with challenges, especially in the matter of managing people and technology, the good news is that it is manageable.  The core value of organizational agility comes with the right preparation, of taking baby steps, starting things slowly but surely, investing in on-site training, choosing the right partner, and having project managers who lead by example.  It’s all about taking advantage of the best available resources, onshore and offshore, that works for many successful teams.  In this case, we’re more likely to see hybrid sourcing models bloom just to make ends meet, as they call it.

    The decision is yours to make.  Experiment and Learn.

  5. The Fine Line Between Project Managers and Project Leaders

    "project manager"There are no bad projects, only bad management. While I would love to debate on this line with a fellow entrepreneur over a cup of our favorite brew, it made me think of what really caused a project failure.  Is it really about lack of management.. or leadership?  While mistakes can often be time-consuming and costly to deal with, many projects often take longer to complete than what was expected.  When your project manager cannot consistently deliver on time and within budget, you begin to wonder:  Is it the people, the methods, the tools – or.. all?  While creating your own business may seem like a dream come true, know that in the rat race of the business world, your team is the greatest investment you can ever have.

    Looking Through the Eyes of a Successful Project Manager

    While I’d rather call them ‘project leaders’, a good project manager is someone whose passion for the job reflects in his/her every action.  This enthusiasm is highly contagious that it inspires the entire team.  Experience leading people to succeed is just one of the prerequisites.  The best project managers around have the gift of foresight enabling them to anticipate issues before they even happen.  They listen closely at what is going on right now, analyze things to the last minute detail, and communicate every milestone clearly to everyone involved.  They organize each goals to make sure work is done one step at a time.  The only difference perhaps is that great project managers trust on others to be successful.  Everything is about team work; not a one-man team.

    Project Management Mistakes Do Happen

    For the sake of the argument that ‘nobody’s perfect’, the hardest thing to do perhaps is admitting a mistake when it is done.  It is not just skill set that defines good management, but people skills as well.  This is why it is important to have a balance – from drafting realistic timelines, being flexible to change and ideas, consistent and clear communication, having an organized system to track progress, involving the team behind the project.. to being transparent.  Above all, that person needs to respect and trust every player to do their best.  Meetings can be noisy, no doubt, and it is the project manager’s job to stay engaged and motivate even the most shy of introverts to participate in the process.

    Quantifying Success Through Cost Effective Innovation

    Staying ahead of the innovation curve is a tough challenge for business owners.  Having worked in the IT field before transitioning to the business world, I’d say that failures do happen because the CEO has a different concept of success vs. that of the project manager.  This is why it is crucial to measure the success rate of a project by knowing if it is within schedule, budget and scope.  In the end, the quality of work will be the silent testament to it all.  All that effort done where the business landscape is concerned may be futile if you don’t have a blueprint to follow.  Project managers can always choose to keep the team happy, or struggle in misery.

    And if you ever have an awesome project manager right now, perhaps it’s time to give that person your appreciation.  It doesn’t cost much to say ‘Thanks for a job well done!’  The reward doesn’t have to be monetary all the time.

     

    Related Readings:

    Bridging Outsourcing and Innovation in the 21st Century
    Innovation: Managing Risks and Portfolios Explained
    Managing Virtual Teams: Five Keys to Success

  6. Does Your Business Really Need to Be Mobile?

    "mobile business"The age of mobile is here.  More people are owning smartphones and other types of mobile devices.  They’re checking websites online to stay connected.  Now, the real question is: Do you have a mobile-friendly site where they can check you out to see what you have to offer?  Most probably, not.  It still amazes me how many small businesses are over-looking this matter, that they’re missing lots of chances to connect with their target mobile users.  It’s not just about building better business relationships, but it’s also about increasing connectivity.  How convenient do you make it for people-on-the-go to find you on their devices?

    The Mobile Gold Rush You Simply Can’t Ignore

    You’ll find plenty of stats on the subject of mobility and the mobile consumer.  Did you know that more than five billion own mobile phones worldwide?  The number of Google searches on mobile devices increased dramatically by 500% and Google predicts that by 2016, mobile searches will outdo PC searches on local search ( Google 2012 Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research ).  For those in the travel, restaurant and auto industry – it’s definitely good news that 50% of mobile queries result in a purchase (  2012 Telmetrics Survey ).  In fact, early last year, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, reported a spike in download of travel apps.  I bet there are plenty more to add to this list and one thing’s clear: People are looking for mobile solutions… so how can businesses create a better connection, stay efficient and increase sales?  Simple – provide value and better user experience.

    More than Changing How the World Shops

    There are many reasons why you need a mobile site for your business.  In fact, it’s a hot topic these days and I only have to thank Marsha Collier for sharing with me Google’s Howtogomo.com test to see how my website looks on a mobile phone.  It will also ask you a couple of questions and give you a free report on the mobile-friendliness of your site.  Now, many have been asking if they should go for a mobile version of their site or build an app instead.  I guess, the apps market is a bit fragmented and for now, going for mobile site is a better investment.  While it is important to put usability in mind when it comes to site navigation,  it’s always crucial to put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and identify which information they will need the most.  It’s not just about mobility, but a simplified browsing experience that will push them to buy.

    Your Business Needs a Mobile Strategist

    Yes, mobile technology may seem complex and those who are still trying to cope up with social media tools are already scratching their heads in confusion.  But these myriad of new inventions are here to stay – from location/content-based apps, mobile payments to augmented reality.  How do you manage the mobile eco-system?  When your business moves in the speed of mobile, you will need someone to create a balance between mobile functionality and user needs.  This person will implement your business goals objectively, making sure that mobile projects are profitable as well as intuitive.  S/he will discover new challenges and opportunities in the mobile landscape, to understand consumer behavior and lifestyle as major players in their decision-making process.

    Are you ready to take your mobile strategy seriously this time?

  7. Positioning Statement: The Most Powerful Weapon in Your Marketing Arsenal

    "positioning"Most often, we’re so involved with that big idea for our business that we forget to make a succinct description about what makes our brand stand out.  We often overlook drafting that positioning statement which can help identify our distinct value to our customers, of what differentiates us from the competition out there.  While having a mission and vision is great to start with, we’re simply living in an age where attention span runs as quick as a 5-second sound byte.  If you can define your business in one sentence worth an elevator pitch, what would it be?

    Going Beyond the Slogan Concept

    When I started my outsourcing business, I have spent a lot of time in bringing my mission-vision to life – to define what exactly is it that I do, who I’m doing it for and what makes my offering unique.  So, I’ve come up with this statement: “We Help your Business Save Money and Accelerate Growth with Global Outsource consulting.“  Believe me, it’s not as simple as you think, but the effort is well worth it.  While the term ‘positioning statement’ may sound like a jargon for those who are not into marketing, creating one helps you focus on a niche than becoming another generic brand with messages scattered all over the place.  A positioning statement is not just another memorable slogan; you need to build that emotional connection with your customers/target market.  It’s not rocket science, really… you’ll see.

    The Next Step is Yours for the Taking!

    Don’t confuse a slogan with a positioning statement.  Crafting one is invaluable; think of it like the Sun of your marketing plan where other elements revolve.  A slogan or tagline is something that will evolve from this positioning statement.  You probably remember Nike’s famous slogan, ‘Just Do It’.  While it is quite ambiguous when it comes to the benefits it offers to its consumers, the brevity used for this advertising campaign just got stuck to our minds, like super glue.  Know this – that the next step you will take in your business will be influenced heavily by how well you write that positioning statement.  It even helps you build better business relationships as you have a compass guiding you in reading your road map while you tread the path to business success.

    Redefining Your Brand

    Let’s brainstorm this time and make a list!  Start with defining who you are, what your industry is, who your target customer is, what are their needs, who are your competitors, what value do you offer over your competitors, and what benefits do you offer.  Don’t worry if the list gets too long as you will narrow it down later.  Keep in mind that while editing, you have to give your target customers a reason to believe that you can deliver what your business promises.  And as always, don’t try to stuff a lot of items that don’t make sense.. because keeping things simple will always work the best.  Write.. rewrite.  You have to own that statement!  You have to make it look and sound credible.  Got it figured out?  You can come up with the final three and ask your team to cast their votes.  You can even test for feedback and see which one resonates well with your customers.

    You may not need a tagline to go with what you’ll come up with – but having a clear, compelling and thought-provoking definition of what your business is all about will give you that competitive edge, no doubt!  Sit down, get creative and take time.  A powerful positioning statement is worth all the investment you can make for your brand.