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Building Business Value | Corporate Management Strategies

5 Beliefs of a Leader

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 13:03 PM

Anyone who has worked in a business that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit knows how exhilarating it is. You can feel a buzz in the air. The action on the shop floor and in the hallways is so intense that coming out of your office is like merging into rush­hour traffic. Decisions are made on the fly without the need for formal meetings or approvals. The esprit de corps is palpable. The whole team pitches in to do what it takes to succeed.

When entrepreneurial spirit permeates every corner of an organization, the entrepreneur lurking in each of us awakens. Think about what characterizes a successful entrepreneur. She has tremendous belief in her abilities and in her vision for the business. Now, imagine that every person in your organization shares this same belief. How powerful! Just imagine the possibilities! Lets look at the five key entrepreneurial beliefs.

- Belief in the Leader: When everyone in your organization believes in you as a leader, a high level of trust develops. Belief in the leader means the people in your organization trust that you and the other leaders have integrity, competence and vision. It means they believe you have the business acumen and talent to succeed, and they believe you are trustworthy. Do people believe in your leadership?

- Belief in the Purpose: Most people want to be a part of something big. And they want to believe in the purpose of their organization. Leading companies have a strong purpose. For example, the stated purpose of Whole Foods Market is to allow common folks to buy the same high ­quality foods as rich people can. Microsoft’s stated purpose is to enable people to have information at their fingertips. The Body Shop promotes social responsibility. Corporations with a clear purpose make it easier for employees to gain clarity on their personal mission. Employees know the business is trying to achieve something important and meaningful. They want more than a job. They want to be part of changing the world, even if it’s just their own little corner of it. To discover your company’s purpose, ask yourself why your organization is important. If your company went out of business tomorrow or was reorganized out of existence, why would your customers care?

- Belief in the Operating Model: An operating model is the integration and interaction of your business constructs: the policies, procedures, processes and structures of your business in dynamic interchange. It’s how your business works. And your stakeholders need to believe in it. Whether you know it or not, stakeholders are constantly passing judgment on your operating model. When employees believe in your operating model, they understand it. They understand the rationale behind the processes, policies, and procedures you have implemented. Equipped to make decisions, they frame every decision in the purpose of the company and in an understanding of business financials. Your job as a leader is to share the operating model with all your employees so that they can demonstrate their knowledge and align their daily activities with the purpose of the business.

- Belief in Empowerment: The real benefit of working in a high-octane entrepreneurial environment is that people can act on their own with the full support and backing of the organization. All employees should act like stewards or owners of the business. When employees believe in empowerment, they believe in the organization and in themselves. They know the organization supports their actions. Most importantly, they know they are allowed to fail. Mistakes are tolerated because your employees learn from their mistakes and avoid repeating them. People believe in empowerment when they have the authority to act, the ability to act and support when they do act.

- Belief in the Reward: When employees believe in the reward, they believe that when the business succeeds, they will succeed. They are willing to give their best efforts on behalf of the business because they know their personal success is tied to the success of the business. Help your people stay focused on the big picture. In turn, they will try to improve the business so that their reward increases. Employees will think and act like entrepreneurs—like owners of the business. They’ll protect the bottom line as if it’s their own because it is their own!

Leaders must constantly strive to promote the “Five Beliefs” and build a winning culture. If you do, you’ll begin to see competitive energy resonating around the clock. Everyone in the organization will focus on winning and satisfying new customers. A sense of purpose will begin to dominate the work environment, and the entrepreneurial spirit will come alive. Do you work in a high-octane entrepreneurial environment?

Tags: Ownership Culture, corporate culture, leadership, entrepreneur, operating model

Are You a Giver or Taker?

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 08:11 AM

Give and TakeAdam Grant has a sneaky way of getting under your skin!  The Wharton business school professor and author of the book “Give and Take” really challenges you to look at the world and look at those you work with as givers, takers or matchers.  You can’t help but categorize yourself and just about every other colleague you’ve worked with over the years as you go through this terrific book.  At times you want to flinch, challenge his premises, but then he counters with one great study after another.  What makes the book eminently readable however, are the anecdotes.  From studies of medical school students to anecdotes on investment bankers, Grant leverages his background as a social scientist and presents an alarmingly clear premise on who indeed comes out on top – the giver, the taker or the matcher.

While in the middle of this book I attended a dreaded networking event.  We all attend events like these.  The uncomfortable moment when you enter the room and your worse fear is realized … you do not know a soul in the room!  On the car ride over, I formulated a plan.  I would attend this networking event as a “100% committed giver”.  I vowed to help as many people in the room as I could.  I vowed to connect people, really get to know a handful of people and see if there was anything I could do to leverage my network to make their lives better.

And the results?  Wow!  I’m not 100% sure how all the pieces will fall, but I left that event so much more energized than when I entered.  I was able to connect a current client with a private equity group and wouldn’t you know it, I picked up a client!  All because I was having a blast “giving”!

I’ve always felt that I was a giver, but from time to time I fall into the matcher category and there certainly have been times when, generally under stress, that I could be categorized as a taker.

Grant’s terrific book will convince you that “good guys” can finish first.  In fact, givers just don’t win out over takers – in the long run they smoke their counterparts.  Yet givers do it because it is the right thing to do – it just happens to be a great business strategy and an awesome way to conduct your life.

Tags: information, committment, strategy, client relationships, challenges, key success factors, business intelligence

Book Review - “Hunting in a Farmer’s World”

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 11:07 AM
Hunting in a Farmer's WorldJohn Dini has been at this game for quite some time.  His book, “Hunting in a Farmer’s World” is an insightful discussion of why business owners are so often different from the people that work for them.  I was attracted to the title for multiple reasons.  On the first order, I’m a business owner and am always interested in how the minds’ of other business owners work.  Secondly, the celebration of the entrepreneur is a fascinating topic on its own, and thirdly, I grew up on a farm!  It was the trifecta!

Dini takes a classic business paradoxes (leadership vs. management) and weaves the story for how entrepreneurs are most successful.  He breaks down what so many entrepreneurs find so intriguing about their career choice (hunting) and then paints a picture of how they should manage their way to success.

Those of you that are considering starting your own business will benefit from the roadmap as well as the seemingly hundreds of stories and anecdotes Dini has accumulated over the years of coaching and facilitating executive peer boards.  Old hands will find valuable the solid advice on selling and sales management, hiring and building infrastructure (those nasty management constructs!).

John Dini’s book is timely, well thought out and eminently readable.  A great read for an aspiring entrepreneur, a business owner in the thick of operating or one ready to cash in her chips.

Tags: performance culture, leadership books, Business Development, entrepreneur, management, business intelligence

Multi-site Business? Deploy Voice in the Cloud, On-site or Leverage Both Models

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 09:07 AM

Guest post by Jeff Nolte, President of Chesapeake Telephone Systems in Millersville, Maryland. He can be reached at 410-850-4848 or


Phone systems have traditionally been deployed on-site, but the lure of the Cloud is strong.  Many multi-site businesses like a combination of both - deploying an on-site system at headquarters and Cloud systems for the branch offices.  IP networking enables all sites to be connected, providing a simplified dialing plan, consistent features, and centralized management.     


There are many reasons why on-site phone systems are still a favorite. 

  • Control – Many companies have a long history of buying and managing their own IT systems. If you like the control of running technology in-house, then an on-site UC system is for you.
  •  Functionality – If you need to take advantage of customized features, require integration with other applications, or want advanced call-center capabilities, an on-site solution delivers more flexibility.
  •  Compliance Requirements – If your organization strives for uninterrupted communications or is under strict regulatory requirements, an on-site system may be the best fit.
  •  Expense Strategy – If you prefer to make capital investments for infrastructure and depreciate the costs over time, an on-site UC system can be cheaper over the long haul. 


Cloud UC can be a good fit for small to mid-sized businesses or an enterprise with smaller, remote offices.

  •  Predictable Costs – Cloud-based UC eliminates the need for upfront investment. Costs become operational expenses and are predictable as they are based on the number of users.
  •  Rapid Deployment – You don’t need an IT staff to buy, install and configure your system, servers and storage. Order only the capabilities you need now. 
  •  Simplicity – With Voice-as-a-service, maintenance and support are simplified and upgrades are automatic. 
  •  Pay as you Grow – Whether your business is growing or needs to scale down in a pinch, a cloud service can adapt. You can fulfill peak demand for functions like a conference, or for temporary deployments.

 You Choose

Today you have the flexibility of deploying Business Communications either on-site or in the cloud - or combining both as a hybrid to exploit the best of both worlds.


Tags: priorities, execution, communication, Leverage, business intelligence

Get the Word Out Fast!

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 @ 09:04 AM

Guest post by Jeff Nolte, President of Chesapeake Telephone Systems in Millersville, Maryland. He can be reached at 410-850-4848 or

Broadcast Important Notifications to Phones, Email and Social Media

Whether you need to issue weather closings, emergency alerts and warnings, broadcast news and updates, or ensure the continuity of school or business operations, every organization needs a fast, reliable delivery system to reach all the right people in the shortest amount of time.

Through a simple interface, you can reach thousands of people across multiple communications channels.  With one action - via the web, mobile or phone - non-technical administrators are able to instantly send custom or predefined alerts as text messages, emails, and Facebook and Twitter posts.  Alerts can also be delivered to web pages, phones, paging systems, two-way handsets, overhead speakers, and computer desktops.  Some of the common broadcast applications include:

K-12 Schools - School administrators face shrinking budgets and increased safety concerns.  An automated notification system improves sharing of critical information between administration, staff and parents, while lowering administrative burden.

Healthcare - Lower emergency response time and reduce miscommunication in critical situations by automating the sending of notices and reminders to patients.  Targeted paging helps to preserve a quiet hospital atmosphere.

Retail - Improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, and increase brand loyalty by streamlining accountability, escalation and closure of critical tasks and customer impacting issues.  Your team can respond faster to things that matter most to your customers.

Other Industries - Ensure a better service experience through automated, interactive and proactive notifications to customers in many other industries, including food services, utilities, service providers, financial services, and more.

With today's broadcast notification systems - standalone or integrated with your current phone system - reaching hundreds or thousands of people with your important messages has never been easier!

Tags: communication, employee engagement, challenges

5 Little Things That Make a Big Difference to the Value of Your Company

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Thu, Feb 06, 2014 @ 08:02 AM

With the Sochi Olympic Games taking place this month, it is interesting to reflect back on some of the big events of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

In the Men’s Downhill race at Whistler, for example, the winning time of 1:54:31 was posted by Didier Défago of Switzerland. The time among medalists was the closest in Olympic history, and while Mario Scheiber of Austria posted a time of 1:54:52 – just two tenths of a second slower than Défago – he finished out of the medals in fourth place.

In ski racing, one fifth of a second can be lost in the tiniest of miscalculations. And when it comes to selling your business, markets can be equally cruel. Get everything right, and you can successfully sell your business for a premium. Misjudge a couple of minor details and a buyer can walk, leaving you with nothing.

Here is a list of five little details to get right before you put your business on the market:

1. Professionalize your books. Consider having audited financial statements prepared to give a buyer confidence in your bookkeeping.

2. Stop using your company as an ATM. Many business owners run trips and other perks through their business, but if you’re planning to sell, these treats will artificially depress your earnings, which will reduce the value of your company in the eyes of a buyer by much more than the value of the perks.

3. Protect your gross margin. Oftentimes, when leading up to being listed for sale, companies grow by chasing low-margin business. You tell yourself you need top-line growth, but when an acquirer sees your growth has come at the expense of your gross margin, she will question your pricing authority and assume your journey to the bottom of the commoditization heap has begun.

4. If you’re lucky enough to have formal contracts with your customers, make sure your customer contracts include a “survivor clause” stipulating that the obligations of the contract “survive” the change of ownership of your company. That way, your customers can’t use the sale of your company to wiggle out of their commitments to your business. Have a lawyer paper the language to ensure it has teeth in your jurisdiction.

5. Know your value. If you don’t know the value of your company, take a few minutes to answer the questions on our Sellability page. You’ll see how you performed on the eight key drivers of sellability and you can identify any gaps you need to fill before taking your business to market.

Like competing in the Olympics, selling a business can be an all-or-nothing affair. Get it right and you will walk away a winner. Fumble your preparation, and you could end up out of the medals.

Article contributed by:  The Sellability Score

The Sellability Score

Tags: results, focus, strategy, future, Value

Managing Growth? Check out Flexible, Affordable Cloud Voice Solutions

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 @ 11:01 AM
Jeff Nolte
Guest post by Jeff Nolte, President of Chesapeake Telephone Systems in Millersville, Maryland. He can be reached at 410-850-4848 or

When it comes to selecting phone systems, an on-premises solution is no longer the only option. Businesses now have more choices — on-premises, public or private cloud voice services, or a mix all three.

Public cloud solutions offer a pay-as-you-go subscription to voice services and applications that originate from a service provider’s off-site data center. The arrangement eliminates equipment and upgrade expenses, and the need for support staff.  This “virtual” resource can be accessed from any location or device. Users simply log in with their web browser on a laptop, tablet or smartphone. They access their personalized information and can use the voice applications and services as easily as they would back at the office.  A private cloud works in much the same way, except the business owns the platform hosted in their offsite data center.

Cloud services add survivability.  When a phone system goes down in the cloud, a redundant system immediately takes over. If a connection goes down, voice and data traffic can be handed off to another connection. If there is a power outage, a generator or fuel cell array takes over. If a remote site loses its local connection, on-the-go users can still connect via a mobile service.

When it comes to phone systems, businesses now have the best of both worlds to choose from. Those that require more control or have unique requirements often go with an on-premises phone system.  Smaller businesses that want advanced capabilities, but lack the size to make them affordable may opt for the hosted pay-as-you-go. Those with multiple office locations have the flexibility to use a mix of both on-premises phone systems and cloud services, and integrate all their sites into a unified voice network.

Each option has its pros and cons, so be sure you evaluate each as it pertains to your business needs.

Tags: evaluate, communication, management, growth strategy

How Social Media Affects Hiring Practices: Pros and Cons?

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 09:09 AM

This is a guest post by Blake Pappas. Blake completed his undergraduate degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. He has also recently worked in higher education and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business.

The use of social media has made its impact in many areas of our lives.  It is hard to ignore all the sites that can be thrown at you.  There is no exception when it comes to hiring practices.  In addition to the knowledge gained with a human resources degree, HR departments and future employers now have new strategies at their fingertips, commonly referred to as “social media outlets.”

Whilst social media has brought a swell of new information to the process of hiring a new candidate it has also brought disadvantages.  Weighing the options should depend on each company's specific employment vacancies and the processes they currently have in place.

Listed are both advantages and disadvantages of using social media sites for employers and job seekers.

  • Employers can gather a lot more information on a candidate then a paper resume has ever been able to provide them.  Web searches using tools such as Google and popular social media sites can give an employer an overview on a candidate.  Information such as interests, social interactions and even work samples can be gathered by an internet search.
  • Thanks to social media the task of finding a job has been made easier for jobseekers.  With the ability to search and sort, job seekers can find jobs across hundreds of sites that meet their specific abilities. No more searching the newspaper every day to find jobs that don't match specific skills.
  • Employers can target specific job seekers on social networking sites such as  This saves a company having to advertise and receive hundreds of applications.  Instead employers can find employees that meet the needs of their business.
  • Employers who are looking for niche skills or have jobs in unpopular geographic locations can have more luck using social network sites to find employers than they have had in the past with advertising.
  •  If looking for a certain skill that is more relevant in the international job market an employer has more access to candidates overseas when using social media.
Disadvantages of Social Media in Hiring Practices

  • Employers need to be careful what information they are accessing through a candidate's social media profile.  Accessing the wrong types of information can lead to discrimination cases.
  • A social media profile does not always give the best overview of a potential employee and employers may miss out on great staff by only  looking at the small picture
  • Streaming through applicants on social media profiles can be time consuming when it comes to comparing new candidates. If a company does not have enough man power it can become a drain on other hiring practices.
  • When it comes to employees, with future employers scanning through social media profiles things such as poor grammar, spelling and behavior can all be noted and have an impact on future job search success.
  • It can be hard for employers to make specific searches and get accurate results back due to all the information available.  Finding the right employees is not always easier using social network sights especially if the job requires specific skill sets.
When it comes to using social media in the hiring process both employees and employers should weigh the advantages and disadvantages.  They should also keep in mind the legal ramifications of information being misused in the hiring process.

Tags: information, human resources, strategy, employee engagement, hiring process

More Justification for Your Next Vacation

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 @ 08:09 AM

In our last blog, we talked about a recent survey by The Sellability Score found companies that would perform well without their owner for a period of three months are 50 percent more valuable and more likely to get an offer to be acquired when compared to more owner-dependent businesses. So why is this the case? Let's look at a couple components of your company.


Start with your key leaders and answer the following questions:

  • Why did this problem end up on my desk?
  • Who else is qualified to answer this question and why was that person not consulted?
  • If nobody else is qualified, who can be trained to answer this question in the future?

Is your leadership team capable of handling not just the routine, but the hair raising customer or supplier phone call that can ruin your day?


Next, look at your systems and procedures. Could the issue have been dealt with if you had a system or a set of rules in place? The best systems are hardwired and do not require human interpretation; but if you’re not able to lock down a technical fix, then at least give employees a set of rules to follow in the future.


You may be a bottleneck in your own company if you’re trying to control spending too much. Employees may know what to do but do not have any means of paying for the fix they know you would want.

For example, you could put a customer service rule in place that gives your front line staff the authority to make a customer happy in any way they see fit provided it could be done for under $100.

You might allow an employee to spend a specific amount with a specific supplier each month without coming to you first. Or you might give an employee an annual budget, an amount they can spend without seeking your approval.

Given the fires that may need to be extinguished after the fact, taking a holiday may seem more of a hassle than it’s worth. But if you transform the aftermath of a vacation into systems and training that allow employees to act on their own, you’ll find the vacation is worth what you paid for it many times over: your company will increase in value as it becomes less dependent on you personally.

Tags: accountability, empowerment, preparation, Leading Teams

Justification for Your Next Vacation

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Sep 03, 2013 @ 14:09 PM

A recent survey by The Sellability Score found companies that would perform well without their owner for a period of three months are 50 percent more likely to get an offer to be acquired when compared to more owner-dependent businesses.

We recently conducted an exercise on one of our TAB Boards where we asked each CEO to “list three things they can do in the next 30 days that will make it possible to take 30 consecutive days off in 2014”. It was amazing to see the wheels turning and a number of CEO’s are now working their plan to find a way to take a month off.

There is no better justification for taking a blissful, uninterrupted holiday than to see how your company performs in your absence. The better your company runs on autopilot, the more valuable it will be when you’re ready to sell.

To gauge your company’s ability to handle your absence, start by taking a vacation. Leave your computer at home and switch off your mobile. Upon your return, you’ll probably discover that your employees got resourceful and found answers to a lot of the questions they would have asked you if you had been just down the hall. That’s a good thing and a sign you should start planning an even longer vacation.


Tags: reponsibilities, performance culture, performance, accountability

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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

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