Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe to this Blog

Your email:

"Defying Gravity"

25 Mistakes Your Company Could be Making Right Now ~

Marty O'Neill

Marty O'Neill

 

About

**********************

Keynote Speaker

Corporate Seminars

Marty O'Neill is available for keynote presentations at corporate events and conferences nation wide.

About Marty O'Neill

My Books

Martin's bookshelf: business

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition IrrelevantThe 100 Best Business Books of All TimeThe Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the WorkplaceOutliersThe Last LectureShop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

More of Martin's books »
Martin's business book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

Alltop

Blog Listings ...

Categories

Building Business Value | Corporate Management Strategies

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

UMBC on "60 Minutes"

  
  
  
  
  
  

As a 19xx graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park (do you really need to know the date?), I used to have a bias against our sister campus 20 miles to the north.  But over the last 10 years, I have become involved in a number of educational and economic development efforts at UMBC and I’ve seen the light!  I’ve taught a few Entrepreneurship Classes through the engineering department, served as the Entrepreneur in Residence for a period of time and sat on both the Technology Center and Cyber Incubator advisory boards.  On every corner and at every turn, I continue to run into education professionals who care deeply about the students, the region, the University and have the skills and competency for making UMBC a fabulous educational institution.

Perhaps the folks at CBS News have uncovered the same bit of commitment.  A piece of exciting news for the University community is that UMBC is scheduled to be on "60 Minutes” this Sunday (Nov. 13, 2011).   After many months of filming on campus, “60 Minutes” plans to feature UMBC on one of it’s news documentary segments.  The news show is looking at how we, the United States, is lagging behind in the graduation of students, particularly minority, in science, technology, engineering, and math. The good news is that “60 Minutes” focuses on UMBC as a place that gets it right!

I can anecdotally attest to this first hand in that in my entrepreneurship classes, most of the students had a science major and many were minority.  That can translate into eager young minds solving tough technical problems and finding ways to take their solutions to market.  Sitting on the Tech Center and Cyber advisory board, I see the potential for enlightened minds coming up with new ways to secure the web or solving some medical challenge facing our society.

From the student body to regional economic development, UMBC, under the inspiring leadership of Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, just seems to get it.  So set your DVR for Sunday night and re-discover one of America’s best-kept educational secrets.

How Entrepreneurs Can Support the Recovery

  
  
  
  
  
  

The opinion page of the August  29th edition of the Wall Street Journal struck a nerve with me.  CEO’s Edward Muller and Larry Zimpleman penned a terrific article on “An Entrepreneurial Fix for the U.S. Economy".  In the article, they quote a Kaufman Foundation recommendation for Congress to do a few simple, and apolitical acts that would have a big impact on business creation, innovation and perhaps job growth.  The Kaufman plan calls for:
  • Letting in immigrant entrepreneurs who hire American workers.
  • Reducing the cost of capital through capital gains tax relief for early stage investments.
  • Reducing barriers to IPOs by allowing shareholders to opt out of Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • Charging higher fees for patent applicants who want quick decisions to remove the backlog of applications at the Patent Office.
  • Giving licensing freedom to academic entrepreneurs at universities to accelerate the commercialization of their ideas.
  • Having the government provide data to permit rankings of startup friendliness of states and localities.
  • Regular sunsets for regulations and a consistent policy of putting new ones in place only if their benefits exceed their costs.
There really is very little that would cause the left or right to groan.  Perhaps you can forward the WSJ opinion to your Congressman with a note attached … “lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Who Else Wants Employees with an Entrepreneurial Spirit?

  
  
  
  
  
  

Everyone should want to have a workforce filled with employees exhibiting the  entrepreneurial spirit. Right?

The first question you should be asking is how do you change your hiring process to screen for prospective employees with an entrepreneurial spirit?

Think in terms of hiring people with the same kinds of attributes that the most successful people in your company already exhibit.  I’m guessing they are entrepreneurial attributes.  So first make a fast assessment … will they fit or not into your organization. Then assess whether they can learn, execute and teach your operating model.  By the way, make sure a good percentage can also challenge and improve the model.  Finally, educate the candidate to your culture and make sure it’s a long term fit.

Another question to ask yourself is what are the entrepreneurial beliefs that prospective employees should have?

First, there is a belief in the leader or the leadership.  A belief in the purpose of the company.  A belief that your operating model makes sense and can work.  Also a belief in their ability to act (to be empowered) and finally they have to have a belief in the reward.  That what is good for them is good for the company and what is good for the company will somehow be good for them.

When you start screening new hires for the entrepreneurial spirit and can prove to yourself that employees have entrepreneurial beliefs, you are on your way to filling your ranks with entrepreneurial employees.

The Last Untapped Channel of Distribution

  
  
  
  
  
  

Companies like Dunkin’ Donuts—which makes my favorite coffee—have used franchising to grow very rapidly and secure a significant share of their markets before competitors could catch up.  Can business leaders use similar conventions to drive revenue and build long-term value?  YES!  Think of it as an Internal Franchise.

In a franchise system, a franchisor licenses a business formula—a complete way of doing business—to a franchisee. The franchisee agrees to operate the business according to specific guidelines and to pay the franchisor a percentage of sales as a royalty. The franchisor/­franchisee relationship is governed by a franchise agreement, a binding legal agreement.

The franchise sector is one of the fastest ­growing segments of our economy. Franchises employ more than 11 million people. The sector has outpaced construction, durable and non­ durable goods, manufacturing, and financial services. In fact, a new franchise outlet opens every eight minutes in the United States.

One reason for this success is that franchising provides the opportunity to run your own business with less risk than starting from scratch on your own. One of the hardest parts about starting a business from scratch is designing the business concept. In franchising, this step is already done for you. You simply have to learn to run the business. You have a serious head start on competitors who start from zero. That is why many Americans are turning to franchising to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

In an Internal Franchise, a company makes its operating model explicit and then franchises the operating model to its employees. The Internal Franchise is a framework for creating the ultimate channel of distribution for your products and services. The employees are then coached, mentored, and trained to operate the business at the highest level of proficiency. In an Internal Franchise, the franchise agreement is not a binding legal contract; it’s the company’s culture, an ownership culture.

Business leaders understand it is more difficult now to hire and retain an engaged, loyal workforce. They are looking for ways to motivate and inspire that next generation of leaders to innovate and take on additional responsibilities, and they are al­ways trying to find new channels of distribution for their products and services.

If franchising is a method of marketing and distributing products and services, then an Internal Franchise is the last untapped distribution channel for your products and services. A channel of distribution is simply an avenue to move your products and services into the market. Creating this untapped channel forms a new energy in your organization and an opportunity to leapfrog your competitors.

Is Your Workforce Engaged and Entrepreneurial?

  
  
  
  
  
  

Is your workforce filled with engaged, entrepreneurial employees?  If not, begin with your hiring process. When you hire new employees, do you want technicians or entrepreneurs? Are you hiring people with specific skills, or are you hiring entrepreneurial people with an aptitude for the job they will perform?

Most employees are conditioned to think like a technician. They view them­selves as a salesperson, an engineer, or a manager.

You need to begin to view your employees as entrepreneurs. And this starts with your hiring process. When you screen for attitude and cultural fit, look for people with entrepreneurial drive. Engage in open­ended questions that tap their background, demonstrate their ability to understand customer needs, and illustrate how they have served customers in the past. When you begin to explain to prospective employees that they will be given the opportunity to act like an owner, the entrepreneur in them will awaken.

Your job as a leader is to attract and grow entrepreneurs, or “intrapreneurs,” who can learn and execute your operating model, your way of doing business, at a high level of proficiency. You must attract people with a positive, entrepreneurial attitude and then create an environment that nurtures and supports an entrepreneurial spirit and creates the behaviors you desire and need to survive.

Creating Internal Franchises

  
  
  
  
  
  

In a franchise system, a franchisor licenses a business formula—a complete way of doing business—to a franchisee. The franchisee agrees to operate the business according to specific guidelines and to pay the franchisor a percentage of sales as a royalty. The franchisor-­franchisee relationship is governed by a franchise agreement, a binding legal agreement.

The franchise sector is one of the fastest ­growing segments of our economy. Franchises employ more than 11 million people. The sector has outpaced construction, durable and non­ durable goods, manufacturing, and financial services. In fact, a new franchise outlet opens every eight minutes in the United States.

One reason for this success is that franchising provides the opportunity to run your own business with less risk than starting from scratch on your own. One of the hardest parts about starting a business from scratch is designing the business concept. In franchising, this step is already done for you. You simply have to learn to run the business. You have a serious head start on competitors who start from zero. That is why many Americans are turning to franchising to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.

In an Internal Franchise, a company makes its operating model explicit and then franchises the operating model to its employees. The Internal Franchise is a framework for creating the ultimate channel of distribution for your products and services. The employees are then coached, mentored, and trained to operate the business at the highest level of proficiency. In an Internal Franchise, the franchise agreement is not a binding legal contract; it’s the company’s culture, an ownership culture.

An Internal Franchise addresses many of the fundamental challenges facing most workplaces today:
  • Understanding and providing for an employee base that wants opportunity and security
  • Finding new markets for a company’s products and services
Business leaders understand it is more difficult now to hire and retain an engaged, loyal workforce. They are looking for ways to motivate and inspire that next generation of leaders to innovate and take on additional responsibilities, and they are al­ways trying to find new channels of distribution for their products and services.

If franchising is a method of marketing and distributing products and services, then an Internal Franchise is the last untapped distribution channel for your products and services. A channel of distribution is simply an avenue to move your products and services into the market. Creating this untapped channel forms a new energy in your organization and an opportunity to leapfrog your competitors.

5 Steps to Higher Profits

  
  
  
  
  
  

Until people accept a new idea as appropriate and possible, their attitudes won’t change. And until their attitudes change, their behavior won’t change. They may fake the behavior if it’s in their best interest, but the change won’t be meaningful or lasting.

We’ve all seen this type of change. The boss demands change or else heads are going to roll! For a while, people make cosmetic changes that imply acquiescence to the new mandate. But over time, and sometimes it is shockingly short, their behavior slides back to the earlier state—in fact, it often becomes worse. People’s behavior never really changed because their attitudes never really changed. And their attitudes never changed because they never thought the new mandate was a good idea.

12 The Elements of Great ManagingAttitude is a predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively toward a certain idea, object, person, or situation. It influences people’s choice of action and their responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards. A person’s attitude comprises two areas: emotions and beliefs.

Can attitude impact company performance? You bet! In 12: The Elements of Great Managing, authors Rodd Wagner and James Harter surveyed 125 organizations in an attempt to match employee attitudes with company performance. The survey found that in companies where employees:

  1. felt they had the opportunity and tools to do their best and
  2. believed their fellow employees were also committed to quality,
Profitability was 12 percent higher than in those companies whose employee attitudes were found lacking.

Wagner and Harter found that employees:

  1. need to feel as though they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.
  2. 
This is especially true for younger workers, the Millennial Generation, who have developed a loyalty to what they do before anything else.

Employees also:

  1. need to believe that their opinions count, that they can act, and that those actions affect the performance of the company.
  2. Finally, when employees sensed a direct connection between their work and the company’s mission, the company was more profitable.
Finding people with these attitudes isn’t as hard as it might seem. In fact, most people are eager to act like entrepreneurs. However, insecure leaders often stifle entrepreneurial spirit through restrictive policies and procedures. They neglect to talk to their employees about such spirit. Therefore, the concept will be new to the people you seek to hire. But the potential is there. The profits are there. Devote yourself to tapping that potential.

How to Create 200 Jobs Out of Thin Air

  
  
  
  
  
  

“A recent report by the Sage Policy Group and the Nearing Group affirms the positive economic impact of UMBC’s ACTiVATE® program. The report concludes that ACTiVATE® creates jobs at a "remarkably low cost" when compared to benchmarks for entrepreneurial job creation and generates substantial income for local governments and the State of Maryland.”

This was the opening line of a recent press release from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) touting the successes of their ACTiVATE®  program. ACTiVATE®  is an incredible innovative, yet simple program that works because of its pragmatism and because of the people involved.  Over 100 women with business and technical backgrounds have gone through the program and have started 30 companies as a result.  The Sage Policy Group study estimates that these 30 companies will create 234 direct and spin-off jobs by the end of 2011.

Ellen Hemmerly, Walt Shultz, David Fink, Steven Auvil and the leadership team of UMBC’s Incubator and Accelerator (branded as bwtech@UMBC) have done a great job in finding passionate business people and encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit, locating technologies that were able to be polished and taken to market and then offering the right mix of support to make ACTiVATE®  such a smash success.

Let's see - passion, entrepreneurship, sound technology, a market awareness and support when needed.  Sounds like a formula for success any business would be smart to employ!

ACTiVATE
Full study available here:
http://www.umbc.edu/activate/SageACTiVATE_UMBCImpactStudy2010.pdf  

Press Release:
http://www.umbc.edu/blogs/umbcnews/2010/09/report_affirms_success_of_umbc.html

Leadership team of UMBC:
http://www.bwtechumbc.com//about/management.html  

Are You a Born Entrepreneur?

  
  
  
  
  
  

The question of whether leaders are born for greatness or grow into greatness has raged for years.  The nature side will reference Alexander the Great or General George Patton and point to innate personal characteristics that contributed to their success.  The nurture camp points to Harry Truman, Abraham Lincoln or Sam Walton as successful leaders that seemed to grow into their roles as leaders.

In a recent article in the December, 2009 copy of "Fortune Small Business", Ian Mount picks up the argument as it pertains to entrepreneurs.  Are they made or are they born?

Mount points to research and genetic modeling by Scott Shane of Case Western University that suggests 60% of entrepreneurs are born and 40% are made.  You can quite easily find similar numbers on the nurture side.  The fact that over 500 entrepreneurship programs exist at major American universities suggest academia believes entrepreneurship can be taught.  Either that, or they're just taking your money ... which is not out of the question!

I taught entrepreneurship at UMBC for a couple of years and I have to tell you the whole idea that a textbook even exists on the topic blows my mind!  I do feel strongly however, that an opportunity exists to teach and mold the attributes and tendencies we normally associate with entrepreneurialism.  Similar to developing the leadership abilities in our workforce, we can teach people how to look for opportunities, how to calculate and manage risk, how to find financing, how to write business plans, how to bootstrap and how to structure a business.  We can even show people the benefits of the one attribute I most admire in entrepreneurs  - dogged stick-to-it-tiveness.

Yeah, great leaders and entrepreneurs are born with certain skills, attributes and tendencies that give them an advantage, but we can create environments where these same attributes are encouraged and fostered.

The bottom line?  Don't spend another second thinking about whether leaders or entrepreneurs are made or born.  You've been dealt a hand .... play it!  Whatever talents, skills, attributes and tendencies you have, continue to focus and build the important skills.  Surround yourself with entrepreneurial people and then find ways to help them grow their skills.  Whether they were born into it or not, you still have to nurture the seed for any great results.

Johnny Cupcakes - a Recipe for Success?

  
  
  
  
  
  

On a recent business trip to Boston, I was fortunate enough to have my family tag along.  We took an extra couple of days and force marched the kids through the Freedom Trial, took a ferry to Salem and made a visit to the Harvard campus (hey, you never know!)

From my fourteen year old son's perspective, the highlight of the trip was a pilgrimage to Johnny Cupcakes.  Don't be confused.  Johnny Cupcakes is not a bakery, but rather a very cool T-shirt shop located in Boston's trendy shopping district, Newbury Street.  We bought a couple of T-shirts and were blown away by this unique store.  It had all the trappings of a bakery, but instead of cupcakes in the fridge and display cases, we found shirts and apparel that appeals to the young at heart.
Johnny Cupcakes Logo
So the obvious question to me was -  what drives value for Johnny Cupcakes?  Much of their success seems to be viral.  You sense an undercurrent of support.  Drawing people like my son from all over the world.  They certainly are unique but in no way pretentious and even a dad (me) was comfortable paying $24-35 for a piece of art that you just happen to wear.  Their customer service was great and they seem to revel in watching confused tourists enter the store looking for the perfect snack!  Their product is unique, comfortable and makes a fashion statement.

Time will tell if founder Johnny Earle will be the next Bert and John Jacobs of Life is Good, but he certainly seems to be off to a great start.

All Posts