All posts in consulting

If At First You Don’t Succeed

We all do it……fantasize about how sweet huge success can be, and then get frustrated when our ideas/concepts don’t launch us in to the fortune stratosphere on the first attempt.  John Linkner, a blogger for one of Vision Generation Lab’s favorite publications, Fast Company, wrote a nice little reminder piece entitled “The Dirty Little Secret of Overnight Successes”…..  here’s the link to his blog piece:  http://www.fastcompany.com/1826976/the-dirty-little-secret-of-overnight-successes.

From one of the fastest-growing websites in history, Pinterest, to James Dyson and his amazing vacuum cleaner and fans, they all had many set-backs and failures leading up to their success.  It did NOT just happen overnight.  Heck, even our business hero, Oprah Winfrey, struggled for a very long time before she became the entertainment mogul she is today.  And speaking of Oprah, her new network, OWN, is going through some very public challenges right now.  However, you don’t see her throwing in the towel, do you?

I have never been a fan of Steve Jobs, but have always been a huge fan of his products.  After recently reading his biography, beautifully written by Walter Isaacson, I was both inspired and disappointed.  I recognize he was a great visionary (which inspires), but felt he had little regard for kindness and compassion toward his colleagues (which disappoints).  I’m convinced there is a successful balance that can be struck.  Most importantly, I walked away from the book with one valuable nugget I will hold on to until my last breathe.  During his June, 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, Jobs said the following:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

I offer these words as encouragement to every one with a business idea or concept.  The time is now to begin.  The team at Vision Generation Lab is here to help in the transformation process, from new opportunities to business restructuring.  Let’s turn your concept into your success.

Key Talents of Successful Startup Founders

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to speak with many people about starting their own business venture.  More and more, with the challenging employment outlook and still-struggling economy, people are actually beginning to chase their own dreams, and I don’t believe luck has anything to do with those that succeed.

While it is both stressful and all-consuming initially, the true sense of accomplishment comes from knowing YOU have actually created something that is appreciated and valued by customers/clients.

Nick Hughes, the CEO and co-founder of Seconds, a mobile commerce platform, posted an interesting article regarding five key talents of successful startup founders, as discussed in the book “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton.  I am only about half finished with the book now, but assure anyone interested in pursuing their own business, this book is an excellent read.

Here’s a link to the article:  http://mashable.com/2012/03/26/entrepreneur-talents/

The team at Vision Generation Lab is here to help with your business startup.  From concept to reality, we are happy to provide the necessary assistance with your business transformation.  Give us a call !

Doing Things Differently

Just yesterday, as I was clearing off my desk, I ran across a blog item from the Harvard Business Review I had printed out last year.  After quickly re-reading the blog (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/02/nine_things_successful_people.html ), I began thinking about how this information applies to the VGL team members.  As consultants, I don’t believe we can be effective for our clients if we are not practicing the same principals both in our personal lives, as well as our professional service offerings.  If you can’t tell, I don’t subscribe to the saying “Those that can do, those that can’t consult”.

In the article, Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, Heidi Grant Halvorson discusses her observations as to the actions taken by individuals that set them apart.  I’d like to share a few of Heidi’s observations and demonstrate how the VGL team incorporates these qualities into the services they provide for our customers:

1)      Get specific – setting goals that are specific.  At the onset of client engagements, we document requirements and establish success measures to ensure both client and consultant are on the same page.  I’ve said this more times than anyone wants to hear ….You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

2)      Seize the moment to act on your goals.  Create a roadmap of smaller tasks/work units documenting how you will get to that end goal.  Good thing several of the VGL team members are certified Project Management Professionals.  With more than 15 years of project management experience, each of our team leaders know how to develop realistic and achievable projects plans.

3)      Know exactly how far you have left to go.  Part of effective project management is a vigilant watch over the actual performance as compared to the plan.  Sure things don’t always happen exactly as planned, but a close monitoring allows for early course adjustments in order to bring the end goal back in sight.

4)      Be a realistic optimist.  While having a positive/can-do attitude is important, so is be realistic and not underestimating the effort.  While the VGL team has broad and deep experience, both in skills and industries, if we are unsure or unfamiliar with a project, we will reach out to our alliances to bring in the necessary knowledge.  If we don’t have, or can’t find, we will let you know…and of course, that’s before the engagement begins.

5)      Focus on getting better, rather than being good.  Striving to increase your knowledge and abilities allows each of us to make better choices in our daily lives.  The same holds true for the VGL team.  We embrace the constant learning approach.  Whether it is OCM, Project Management or technology, we make the time to keep our skills and certifications current and relevant.

6)      Have grit.  Be willing to commit to the long-haul and realize there will always be challenges along the way.  VGL will help formulate the right strategy, and develop/monitor/adjust the plans to get you to your desired destination.

I encourage you to read the entire entry, as it is full of excellent suggestions.  Oh yes, and if you are in need of consulting services in the areas of Business Startup/Restructure, Change Management, or Technology, please contact Vision Generation Lab.  It would be our pleasure to assist you in transforming your business concept to reality.

Selecting the Right Consulting Firm

A skilled consulting firm can be of considerable assistance, both in developing and implementing effective business strategies.  The challenge, of course, is selecting the most appropriate consulting firm for the initiative.

Alexander Gordon wrote a piece for EzineArticles, providing his insight in how to select a small business consultant.  Here’s some of the highlights of the article and VGL’s related comments.  Gordon suggests you consider carefully:

1)      Big firm or a Small firm?   In its simplest terms, if you require a customized solution, then the smaller firm is most suitable for you.  Otherwise, a larger firm might be the best choice to suit most standard requirements.

VGL Comment:  We specialize in helping those small and mid-sized organizations with start-up opportunities, as well as organizational changes resulting from business restructuring, new opportunities and process improvements.  While all the team members at VGL have large corporate experience as part of their background, we have found our most creative and innovative solutions have come from helping the smaller businesses.  Smaller organizations are generally more open and willing to implementing and adopting non-standard solutions.

2)      Importance of Personal Relationship.  As a business manager or owner, it is a difficult task to select a small business consultant.  However, the job becomes even harder when it comes to what person to choose for the job, because it is the relationship between the individuals that is ultimately the most important factor.  A good small business consultant is one who not only guides the growth of the business of its clients, but also takes interest in their personal lives.

VGL Comment:  That’s why the interview process is so important.  Ask the difficult questions and see if the answers help establish credibility.  Don’t be afraid to ask “situational” type questions, calling on the consultants past experiences.  Generally within the first 15 minutes of a conversation, you can tell if you will be able to work with another individual.  The VGL team has been in your position before, so we understand how important the relationship is.  We are more than happy to provide a lengthy list of references, and strongly encourage you to speak to our current and former clients about the relationship aspects of their engagements.

3)      High Quality and Cost Effective Services.  No matter how difficult the job of selecting a small business consultant may be, it is always possible to get high-quality services that are also cost-effective.  If you select the appropriate consultant, then the questions of size become irrelevant.

VGL Comment:  All of us are conscious these days about the price of services.  One of the ways VGL distinguishes itself from others is we are very determined to gather as much information early in the process as we can regarding your project needs, including a crisp understanding of  the financial parameters under which the work will be performed.  Some projects lend themselves to a time-and-materials billing structure, while a flat-fee arrangement works best in other instances.  As a client of VGL, all of those discussions around expectations, performance and quality metrics are documented and agreed upon before the work begins.

4)      Experience, Courage and Freedom.  A business manager should consider several factors before selecting a small business consultant.  The consultant should have enough courage and freedom to not only challenge, but also change the views of the client on any particular topic.  He should have experience in your business industry.

VGL Comment:  We pride ourselves on the ability to think outside the box and bring our customers a new and fresh perspective.  Hailing from such diverse backgrounds and client industries such as airline/commercial transportation, healthcare, technology and financial services, the VGL team possesses broad and deep capabilities.  We also recognize that challenges may arise when working in an unfamiliar area, and we have no hesitation in disclosing that in our initial conversations.

It would be a pleasure to discuss your business needs.  Please contact Vision Generation Lab.

Hawaii Calls

After wrapping up a successful 2011, with much gratitude to our fantastic clients,  and putting the 2012 Business Plans to bed in the last few precious minutes of 2011, the VGL Consulting team will be heading to the island of Kauai for some well deserved rest and relaxation on February 8.

Enjoy the peace and calm, Team, because 2012 is going to be another busy year for Vision Gen Lab !

Aloha and Mahalo !

Expanding Opportunities

VGL is pleased to announce a mid-West application development firm has requested our assistance in driving improved market awareness of their logistics planning software-as-a-service offering for the non-profit sector.  VGL has been requested to provide further assistance in researching additional market niches, as well as coordinating the implementation of strategic marketing plans, including advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and social media marketing.  We look forward to accomplishing great things for and with this organization.