Columnists Don Daake and Ed Piatt

Ask the Professors Don Daake and Ed Piatt.

Editor’s note: The last Wednesday of every month, Dr. Piatt and Dr. Daake will be jointly writing this column entitled, “Main Street – Ask the Professors – Questions on Main Street.” Due to the scope of last week’s column, we are continuing the discussion from last week. If you have a question you would like to be featured in this column, please email either of them directly. This is Part II of last week’s column.

Given the many recent stories in the Daily Journal and other news sources about how businesses have both failed and survived during the previous year, we addressed the “don’t dos” last week. This time we will share positive actions you can take from our collective experience of more than 75 years of working with hundreds of businesses and non-profit organizations and reading hundreds of practitioner and academic journals.

1. Be highly visible and involved in the business. Some businesses are turned over to employees to such an extent that we rarely see the owners’ or managers’ in view. Let me give you two great examples where you see active involvement. First, Mike and Joe of Sweet Street in Bourbonnais are on the job most all of the time. Along with their employees they provide personalized first-rate service and products.

Many times, in large businesses, you only see an upper-level manager when there is trouble. A notable exception to this is at the local Menard’s, where one of my former students, Dan, is on the floor all the time greeting and thanking customers, pitching in when necessary to get the job done. His example needs to be followed by more managers of all sizes of organizations.

2. Seek advice when you need it. SCORE’s (Service Corps of Retired Executives) online site presents free courses and even free online counseling. You can get access to experts in your industry from all around the United States. Check out their website at Score.org. Also, there are many free incredible resources available to you through the sister organization SBA.gov.

The late-great Michael Holtzman, the past local chairman of SCORE, told many local business owners to consider going to a business just like yours 50 or 100 miles away. He mentioned that most business owners love to talk about their experience, and since you are not a competitor, it is incredible what you can find out and learn from them.

3. If you have access to CNBC, watch the popular CNBC program “The Profit.” Marcus Lemonis is a Chicago-based entrepreneur and investor. Among the businesses he owns is Camping World. He has taken his fortune and now goes into struggling businesses to invest his own money. Does it work every time? No, but he owns a vast network of businesses.

According to Inc. Magazine, Lemonis, star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” manages his investments in more than 100 different businesses while managing a $4 billion company.” It is all about People, Process, and Product that leads to success. I’ve learned most from him regarding what he calls process- everything from structure to financial and inventory control, creating a healthy culture, etc. I recommend you watch his TV show and or check out the web cnbc.com/the-definitive-guide-to-business-with-marcus-lemonis/

Next, Ed will add his perspective.

Echoing on Don’s illustrations mentioned earlier regarding the organizational “must-dos,” every organization needs to strategically instill the organization’s vision for success and then tactically innovate and implement those strategies to align its purpose with its mission.

A compelling article written by RaeAnne Marsh titled “Top 10 Best Strategies for Business Success” is a great primer to review. I will highlight a few of these salient points and then offer my commentary in parentheses on how to add to your leadership domain.

1. Planning-planning-planning: (Having a proven business plan allows your organization to map out the destination and, more importantly, the road map on how to arrive there expeditiously. This road map includes financing objectives, strategically aligned with the organization’s purpose and mission, growing, and sustaining the business, and emergent strategies in dealing with your core values while maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.)

2. Branding, marketing and image: (Beau Lane’s CEO of full-service strategic marketing agency Lane Terralever said, “It’s how the world views you; it’s their emotional connection to what you’re selling.” By understating your company’s value proposition, you can ensconce those core values and integrate them into your customer’s wants, needs, and desires.

Utilizing market research surveys allows you to gather key demographic information to further define and differentiate your brand. Finally, use social media to advance your customer base but remember, in the end, there is no substitute for having a direct face-to-face relationship with your customers as often as possible. It’s about creating and sustaining relationships.)

3. Managing people, processes and benefits: (What makes a business successful, says Stephanie Waldrop, principal of Employee Benefits International, “has a lot to do with its ability to attract and retain quality employees who will be the face of the business.”

Diamond-level organizations reward their team members and manage their team’s expectations while coalescing the organization’s objectives. Team members who feel valued and rewarded will do more than those who feel oppressed and denigrated by mean-spirited managers who are only concerned with the bottom line. Success breeds success and allows your team to feel they are integral to your company’s operation as they represent the organization’s face.)

In the final analysis, it is incumbent for every organization to heed to the dictums above. As expressed by Dee Hock, “Any organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it.” Make sure your organization is one in which you team-members wish not only to work at but live in it as well.

Don Daake, MBA, Ph.D., has worked with hundreds of small, mid-sized, and large businesses in his positions at Winnebago Industries, Eastern Iowa Community College District, the University of Iowa, the Florida State University. For 23 years, he was as a Business Professor and Director of the Weber Leadership Center at Olivet. He can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or directly at ddaake@olivet.edu

Dr. Edward Piatt, Ed.D., MBA, is a retired manager from the state of Illinois with 32 years of frontline leadership experience. He is an adjunct professor of business in the MBA and MOL programs at Olivet Nazarene University, and a doctoral advisor and adjunct doctoral professor at Trevecca Nazarene University. He is also an organizational/economic development consultant and lectures frequently on Emotional Intelligence (EI), organizational culture, and leadership. He can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or directly at epiatt@olivet.edu.