Creative Work Requires Scoping

Posted by JasonBlumer on Aug 17, 2017 in

Our firm works with a lot of creative clients, and there is one common element to these businesses that can make running a creative company difficult: subjectivity. The results of creative work and the happiness of clients is all a subjective measure. This makes the work, and the delivery of that work, difficult to assess as to whether it is being done correctly, is moving forward in a timely manner, or is even successful. Who defines the creative work in a world of subjectivity?The client? NO!It is the role of the company (the expert) to define what creative work will look like, what the process will look like, and what success will ultimately look like. This is the burden a creative must take on. Scoping work in a Statement of Work (SOW) is one key way to define this subjectivity. It's not good if a creative company has…

Small Things Are Scary Under a Microscope

Posted by JasonBlumer on Aug 10, 2017 in

Do you remember in science class when you looked at things under a microscope? Those things looked weird and much larger than life.Issues and problems can seem like that in the world of running a business. You can bump into an issue and it seems that it is incredibly big. When you are hyper focused on these issues or problems in the context of the details, then you are looking at your issue under a microscope. And it looms large.But stepping back to look at a larger picture, a long-term strategy, or a well crafted plan for you business can bring these issues into perspective. Stepping away from the intense details that created the issue or problem can take away the fear of the situation. Maybe that problem was really a necessary step in the longer term strategy? It often is.At times we have to step away…

The Role of Your Tools

Posted by JasonBlumer on Aug 3, 2017 in

When I say 'tools' I'm mostly talking about the plethora of technology apps necessary to run your company. The larger your company gets, and the larger your team grows, the more technology you are going to need. But a tool is just a tool. The tool doesn't necessarily do anything special. A hammer is only as good as the experience of the carpenter using it.Keep this in mind when you are investing in tools to help you sell better, draft money better, or keep track of your work. The tools are only as good as the company implementing those tools. Each tool comes with a certain level of strategy as to how to use it and the required team training to make everyone an experienced carpenter.Tools are just assistants to make your work more efficient, ultimately creating better service for your clients. Keep the role of your tools…

The Future Value of Building Processes

Posted by JasonBlumer on Jul 27, 2017 in

We read books about processes and how awesome they are. But sitting down to create them, roll them out, and teach them to a team is a lot of work. My partner and I are committing to this right now. Doing all of this work takes everyone away from their real work.Maybe building and implementing processes IS the real work? I believe it is.It's a good reminder that there is mostly future value in building company processes. The payoff in building processes always comes later. Never at the time of implementation. So building processes is a current temporary commitment for a future value. And we can say from experience that the future value is mind blowing.This means that if you say 'no' to building processes in the 'now' you are agreeing to say 'no' to the future value of those processes down the road. You can't reap…

Love the Problem, Not Your Solution

Posted by JasonBlumer on Jul 20, 2017 in

One of my favorite startup bloggers is Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean. Though he writes about tech startups, a lot of his principles apply to the consultative world of service firms that I live and breath in.And one of my favorite blogs is "Love the Problem, Not Your Solution." As he states in his post, we fall in love with our solutions before we even know what our clients want us to solve. We have to become lovers of the problem first. Our 'big ideas' are normally the solutions that pop into our minds. But this is not the path to market dominance. The only thing that matters are solutions that solve problems. Maurya built a Lean Canvas to help entrepreneurs get to a problem faster. What is the problem? Answering this question is what you must love if you are to build a company and business model…

Givers and Takers in Your Company

Posted by JasonBlumer on Jul 12, 2017 in

This was a fascinating TED talk by Adam Grant:Per the norm for TED talks, Adam's style was funny and engaging, but enlightening on the topic of Takers and Givers in companies. While working with many companies around the country, he noted that company cultures had Givers, Takers, and Matchers. The Givers are always doing for others, the Takers are always out for themselves letting others do most of their work, while the Matchers tend to give and take depending on what has been done to them (e.g. an eye for an eye). But across the board, he noted that all company cultures thrived when the company was loaded with givers. He also pointed out that givers are often taken advantage of in companies, so he asked the question "how can we build cultures where givers excel?"Here are some points from his talk on how we can help…

Building Depth on Your Team

Posted by JasonBlumer on Jul 6, 2017 in

We've added a fewnewteammembersto our firm this year. It's an investment we are making this year to build a strong foundation to grow on in the future. We've noted that a company with fewer people doing fewer jobs can actually be risky. It feels shallow. It can be risky because a lot of the operational work falls on the shoulders of the owners. So when you lose a big client, or a process doesn't work out the way it was supposed to, then the owner has to step in and feel the full burden of correcting those immediate situations. When owners are forced to address immediate problems, they typically stop doing the important work of building the company (like selling, writing, marketing, speaking, etc.). Growth can stop in these situations.We've specifically added team members that bring 'depth' to our team. That…

Eggs on Toast, Every Morning

Posted by JasonBlumer on Jun 29, 2017 in

Almost every morning, my breakfast is one egg on a piece of toast with cheese and mayonnaise. Here it is:It takes about 5 minutes to make each morning. Making the same breakfast every morning is one way I take thinking out of my day.I need to think a lot during each day. The knowledge we create in our firm, and my thoughts, are often the things we sell. So I need to save a lot of my brain power for the right thinking. But there is a type of thinking I do not need to do each day - making breakfast. I use a toaster and the microwave to make it quickly while I read or do my morning devotions.Being a virtual firm also means I don't have to worry with the types of clothes I wear each day. Nothing fancy - shorts and a tshirt most days.…

A Review of Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini

Posted by JasonBlumer on Jun 16, 2017 in

I'm enjoying Dr. Robert Cialdini's latest book, Pre-Suasion. Similar to his first book, Influence, this book is full of stories, anecdotes, and science experiments supporting the main point of the book. The point of the book is: "Trust is one of those qualities that leads to compliance with requests, provided that it has been planted before the request is made." The book supports the premise that you can influence people to do what you want to a high degree that you do something before you ask them to do the thing you want them to do. And, it is even more effective, if the first pre-suasive trigger you use to build trust is associated with the request you make immediately after. If the premise of this book is true, this could be fascinating to experiment with before team meetings, before sales meetings with potential new clients, or before you ask…

Planning Helps Me Write

Posted by JasonBlumer on Jun 8, 2017 in

I write a good bit of content. There is a lot I've learned in leading and growing businesses, and I like to share it with anyone who will read it. Most of the content I write here is short and digestible. That is both for me (so I can produce more content) and for you (so you can consume it quickly). It's a win-win.Writing posts used to be something I just 'fit in' to my schedule. But if you are busy running a business (or doing anything in life), important things don't just 'fit in' to your schedule. You have to plan for things to fit into your schedule. Now, I block off my calendar and it says 'Write Blog Post.' You'll see that block appear on my calendar 4 to 5 times per month. I had to plan for the time to write, or it would never happen. One…