Posts tagged "Success"

Success is Personal

July 11th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Goal 2 thoughts on “Success is Personal”

While recording an episode of the Business is ART podcast (airing Tuesday, July 17 at 7pm), my guest, Donerik Black, and I discussed the importance of knowing what success means to you before launching a business, a career, or taking whatever that next leap of faith may be.

Donerik is a Business Consultant and Managing Partner at Jasper Browne LLC. He is also an entrepreneur himself and is the former director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) that was formerly located at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

In other words, he has worked with his share of entrepreneurs and has seen a thing or two.

A heartbreaking reality

I shared with Donerik the experience of meeting with some students from Urbana University that had been asked what success meant to them. One of the students explained how much being asked that question meant to him because no one had ever asked before.

The reality is, many people, perhaps most people, are never asked that question, so it is no big surprise that when they ARE asked, they often have no answer that readily comes to mind.

Many of us are just going through the motions – perhaps dreaming about things, but not really having a clear idea of what success means. So it’s also no big surprise that so many people feel less than satisfied with life or their current situation.

It’s personal

Success is personal. Define it on your own terms – no one else’s. Try to think beyond money, toys, and career, although there is nothing wrong with including them in your definition of success.

There is no better time to start than when you are a student just beginning to explore and learn. But there is also no time that is too late to begin.

Plan Canvas provides you with a tool that you can use to begin defining success on your terms.

Plan Canvas for Individual is a free personal development planning and management tool that you can use to pave your way to success in your career, current job, personal/family life, and, optionally, spiritual life.

Start planning today, but begin by defining what success means to you

One of These Attitudes Will Get You Far

April 17th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Strategy Execution 0 thoughts on “One of These Attitudes Will Get You Far”

The majority of this post is an excerpt from our soon-to-be released white paper entitled “Strategy Execution Improvement Requires Institutional Change.”

Before getting to it, we would like to add an editorial note to say the title perhaps should be expanded to include, “And it requires individual change as well.”

During a recent demonstration of Plan Canvas, an entrepreneur commented that seeing a list of past due items in a dashboard and receiving an email indicating the item is coming due or is past due would “discourage the user” to the point of inactivity.

If that is really true, perhaps it is no wonder so many businesses and strategies fail.

The ironic thing about it is that the software isn’t telling you what to do…it’s reminding you of what you, yourself, said you’d do, or that you assigned someone else to do it. If you don’t need subtle reminders, you probably don’t need Plan Canvas (or any other tool).

But if you can’t keep it all straight in your head, or through round table discussions over coffee and diet soda, you just might benefit from Plan Canvas.

White paper excerpt

A vast majority of strategic initiatives fail. The obvious reason to be concerned with this is the resulting, tremendous, amount of waste – wasted time, money, effort, energy, and emotion.

The less obvious reason is the immeasurable lost opportunity, taking the form of missed potential to gain momentum, survive and thrive, versus the real potential for loss of market share and extinction of the business.

Saying that we need to do a better job of implementing successful strategies is comparable to saying we need to do a better job at diet and exercise. We know it is good for us, but find doing it difficult and unappealing.

For many of us, it is only after years of unhealthy eating and lack of exercise have negatively impacted our lives that we decide to make a change. At that point, “why” becomes, literally, painfully obvious. Unfortunately, it is often too late to reverse the impacts that could have been avoided in the first place.

The same is true of business and enterprise strategy. An institutional change is in order. Key to that is understanding and acknowledging why it is important, then acting on it before the negative impacts occur.

There are numerous reasons to focus on improving strategic outcomes, but all are a matter of momentum, surviving, and thriving.

Included herein are three critical business success factors, each representing an example of why improved strategy execution is essential:

  1. Cost Optimization
  2. Digitization, Digitalization and Digital Business Transformation
  3. Employee and Customer Engagement

Check your attitudes

The white paper goes on to explain these 3 examples in more detail, why they are each important, and how building them in to your culture or strategy is vital, before further discussing how to improve strategy outcomes.

For an advance copy of the white paper in its entirety, please contact us.

But whatever you do, consider this – there are 2 ways to look at it when viewing a list of things you have yet to accomplish:

  1. Be proud of what you’ve done so far and use that pride as motivation to keep tackling the list.
  2. Be discouraged by the list itself, fold tent and retreat.

One of these two attitudes will get you far. The other, not so much.

Define Success on Your Own Terms

February 28th, 2017 Posted by Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Define Success on Your Own Terms”
success on your own terms

Photo courtesy

It doesn’t matter how you define success. It’s critical that you do.

On your terms.

This is the advice I close every business presentation with. Each of us have opinions on what success looks, smells and feels like, but a hard thing for us to remember is that no one [should] cares about that opinion except ourselves.

We don’t care what others think our own definition of success is, so why should anyone care what we think success should look like for them?

Always define success on your terms

In business, is success limited to revenue, sales and profit? No. Those are certainly motivators and when you valuate the worth of a business, they are extremely important. But in all likelihood, there are many other ways to define success.

This article at Inc. by Jeff Haden is entitled “Want to be genuinely likable and charismatic? Do any one of these 12 things.”

Number 12 on the list? Always define success your way.

Haden goes on to say, “How successful you feel is based on your answer to one question: ‘How happy am I?’ How successful you are is based solely on the answer to that question.”

If true, then it really does not matter how you define success because that feeling of success comes from a sense of what makes you happy.  And only YOU can say what that is.

Who’s hungry?

A really good cheeseburger makes me happy. If I can earn enough money, otherwise eat healthy enough and exercise such that I can enjoy a really good cheeseburger once in awhile without fear of breaking the bank or giving myself a heart attack, then hey…I’m happy and successful.

But you might be a vegetarian, disgusted at the very notion of my delicious, juicy cheeseburger smothered in blue cheese, bacon and jalapenos. Or you might hate blue cheese. In either case, it doesn’t matter if you think my definition of success is ridiculous and it doesn’t matter if I think you ought to order a burger just like mine because…

Success is personal

Your definition of success is your own. It’s personal. No one can define it for you. Which means…you have to do it for yourself.

If you carry on without identifying what success means to you, the chances are very high that you will never feel successful. You’ll just move from one thing to the next, seeing if that makes you happy, only to discover it doesn’t.

Why not try a different approach? Why not begin with the end in mind? What makes you happy? What does success mean to you? Define that first. THEN devise a plan for getting there.

Do it with Plan Canvas

That’s what Plan Canvas is for. It comes preloaded with over 50 key performance indicators to help you discover, for yourself, your definition of success.

If you’d like to be a part of our beta test user group, please click here. There is no cost to you and you walk away with actual, actionable plans for your journey to success – on your terms.

Staying Optimistic in the Business World – Is “Fake it ’til you make it” Really Real?

January 31st, 2017 Posted by Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Staying Optimistic in the Business World – Is “Fake it ’til you make it” Really Real?”
being optimistic

Photo courtesy

Being optimistic comes more naturally to some than others. But even the most positive entrepreneur or leader can struggle to keep a smile on the face during tough times.

As a business owner (or organizational leader), you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some tough times. Whether it’s client issues, personal problems, financial shortages, legal trouble, or something else entirely, there’s a lot that can go wrong in business.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if optimism is one of your personal strengths. To succeed, you’ll need more than a knowledge of basic business principles.

You’ll need to have hope for your future. You have to stay positive, even when there’s seemingly little reason to be. It affects the way you do business.

Optimism Turns Failure into Lessons Learned

You will have failures in your business efforts. Sometime they’ll be small. Other times, they may be soul crushing. But a positive attitude can see the good in the worst of situations. You’ll find valuable lessons that will grow and change your business for the better.

And you’ll know that you’re stronger than you were before.

Positivity Attracts and Motivates

People like to be around positive people, whether they admit it or not. Potential clients will be drawn to you if they see optimism. Your employees will feel compelled to work harder if you help them believe it’s going to be okay.

That said, you can’t bear the entire burden of optimism yourself. That’s why you should…

Surround Yourself with Positive (But Honest) People

As an entrepreneur or leader, you cannot afford to have negative people around you to tear down your dream. By keeping positive connections around you, you in turn will become more optimistic. That said, you don’t want to surround yourself with a bunch of yes-men/women.

You still need to hear the truth. You need people who will tell you “no” or advise you to reconsider decisions.

Listen to the Truth. Don’t Exaggerate It.

Optimism isn’t about blindly ignoring the truth surrounding you. It’s about having the strength to face it. Good or bad, be honest with the situation you’re in. But don’t dwell on the negative, and don’t make an obstacle out to be bigger than it is.

Think of How Far You’ve Come

Entrepreneurs are often so focused on where they are and where they’re going that they forget where they came from. When it feels like success is too far away, think about the distance you’ve already traveled. Think of how much closer you are to success than you were when you started.

And once you’re feeling better, set your sights back on the goals ahead.

You Can’t Always Control the Situation

You can always control how you react to it. So, stay positive. It might feel like you can’t do that. That it’s like trying to force yourself to be happy.

But happiness and optimism are choices.

Did you know studies have shown that forcing yourself to smile can lead to you feeling happier? There’s the old business saying of “fake it until you make it”. Why not pretend to be positive and optimistic until you actually are?

You’ll be surprised at the results it has not only in your business, but in your life.

Speaking of being Optimistic

I’m optimistic that you will never want to miss a blog post or podcast when you subscribe to my Newsletter by clicking here.

Success On Your Own Terms – 6 Promises

January 2nd, 2017 Posted by Business is ART, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Success On Your Own Terms – 6 Promises”

success2 weeks ago on the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network, my guest was James Rosseau Sr., President of Business Solutions at LegalShield and author of the book Success On Your Own Terms – 6 Promises to Fire Up Your Passion, Ignite Your Career, and Create an Amazing Life.

During the podcast, we discussed the “6 promises” that are core to James’ book and philosophy, as follows:

  1. Embrace your passions
  2. Perform to progress vs. perfection
  3. Promote with purpose
  4. Parlay your platform
  5. Put it in to action
  6. Proactive philanthropy

Listen to the podcast in its entirety (click here) to hear James discuss all 6 promises in more detail. Meanwhile, let’s discuss one of them in a little more detail…

Parlay your platform

“Parlay your platform” is a very appropriate promise to explore right now – at the beginning of a new year – when so many of us get caught up in resolutions, even if only temporarily (e.g. that 20 pounds I “plan” to lose).

In the online and social media world we talk a lot about platform and how to build it. We are essentially talking about your audience and your stage. But what James is talking about is different. He is talking about where you are in life/career right now. Who you are. The sum total of your being and everything that makes you YOU, whoever and whatever YOU are.

A key thing to remember is that even if you are not satisfied with your platform there are many people looking up to you and striving to get to the very point you have reached – and that you subsequently may be taking for granted – which leads to this point…

Don’t be so focused on where you want to be that you forget to enjoy where you are

So go ahead and make those resolutions. Perform to progress. But remember, you have already achieved a lot. Enjoy it.

What’s more, you have a lot to offer others that perform to progress to the same platform you currently enjoy. Lend them a hand as you seek whatever comes next for you.

Similarities to Business is ART

There are several parallels and similarities between James’ 6 promises and my own philosophy as discussed in Business is ART. Foundational to the Business is ART process and to developing strategic and business plans are:

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Purpose

These foundational components pair nicely with James’ promises 1, 3 and 4. Meanwhile, one of the 4 primary goal categories within Business is ART is Social Responsibility, which pairs nicely with James’ promise #6.

Finally, the Business is ART process is dependent upon articulating and tracking against actionable objectives, which pairs very nicely with James’ promises 2 and 5.

Get Both

Get Success on Your Own Terms by clicking here and get Business is ART by clicking here. Then get moving on your path to increased success.

[bctt tweet=”Define success on your own terms” username=”JonUmstead”]

Satisfaction and Success

August 22nd, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Satisfaction and Success”

Slide1 (1)The Rolling Stones’ classic song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is the perfect anthem to illustrate that what others tell you is “success” may in fact bring you no satisfaction whatsoever.

My sister is contemplating an early retirement and what to do in her next stage of life. Should she do volunteer work, go back to school, start a business? There is no doubt that whatever she decides she will make it a success. How can that be said with confidence? First, when she is determined about something, she does it. She finds a way to get it done.

But as important, and really quite simply, she will be successful because she is taking time to define what success means to her – not to anyone else and not by anyone else’s definition.

Shockingly, that is something most people, business start-ups and even businesses that have been around for a long time do not do.

Motivators and Satisfiers

People make decisions all the time without truly defining what it is they hope to get out of them. They say things like:

  1. I’m doing this because I want to make a lot of money.
  2. I’m doing this because I feel obligated.
  3. I’m doing this because I need affordable health insurance.
  4. I’m doing this because I want to be my own boss.
  5. I’m doing this because I have to.

On a recent podcast (Business is ART #38 on the TrueChat Network), my guest, Mackenzie Kyle, business consultant and author of The Performance Principle, said that money is a motivator, not a satisfier. That is really the issue with the above statements. All of them may be great motivators, but it is doubtful that any of them are satisfiers.

That satisfaction is how you define success.

Success is Personal

Success is personal. It is how we define it for ourselves. So take time to think about it. Be honest with yourself and the people who are important to you. What do you find satisfying? Whatever it is, that forms the basis for your definition of success. The motivators just come along for the ride.

If you are having trouble creating your own definition of success, chances are good that you already know what it is but are having a hard time articulating it. Let me help. Click here to learn how.

5 Hacks for Creating Your Secret Sauce – Part 1

June 13th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Delegate, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “5 Hacks for Creating Your Secret Sauce – Part 1”

DifferentiatorSecret Sauce – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme. Beginning this week, I am breaking things in to two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Later in the week, a second post will summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme.

This week’s theme is “Secret Sauce”

Ah, yes. The old “Secret Sauce.” Most businesses claim to have some kind of secret sauce or another – that thing that makes them more successful, or better, than the competition.

If you’ve ever been to a chili contest, you know that every cook in the competition swears his or her chili is the best on the planet. The same is true for a BBQ contest. Everyone says their dry rub or (literal) sauce is the most special in the competition, practically guaranteeing that their brisket, pork or chicken will bring home the bacon, so to speak.

Define Success and Experiment

Like business is general, your secret sauce is more art than science, although there is a healthy dose of both involved. The right ingredient or flavor for one person is exactly the wrong one for another.

First, define what success means to you. Using the BBQ competition example, perhaps success is to win the overall competition. Perhaps it’s to win the prize for best ribs. Perhaps you don’t even care about trophies and ribbons – success is merely being there to compete at all. Whatever success means to you, define it.

Once you’ve defined it, you have to experiment a little and find out what “tastes” right for you. If it is right for you, chances are, you’ll find an audience for it. BBQ pit masters do not generally go in to a competition with an un-tested rub, sauce or technique and realistically expect the judges are going to go gaga over it. They test it out first.

5 More Hacks

  1. Have an outsourcing strategy. You can’t do everything nor can you count on others to do it all. Determine an outsourcing strategy that makes sense for you and your business. What kind of advantage does it give you? Whatever the advantage is, it should play to your definition of success. Note, a decision to outsource nothing at all is still an outsourcing strategy.
  1. Rethink the way you think. Science and research shows that simply thinking about things differently has a major impact on how you succeed and on happiness. Pardon the French, but I like to tell people “If you expect a shit sandwich for lunch, that’s exactly what you’ll get.” Again, forgiving the scatological trend here, another one is “He/she could find a single rat turd in a mountain of gold and be disappointed.” Thinking positively makes a real difference.
  1. Pay attention to trends. If you have a product and design it in a way that does not appeal to the customer, it may be the best at what it does, but no one will buy it. Know your market, know your customers, and know the trends they are paying attention to – then design accordingly.
  1. Stay entrepreneurial and foster an entrepreneurial environment. So often we find that entrepreneurs are serial entrepreneurs, starting up multiple businesses in a single lifetime or career. It is what keeps innovation alive and well. But the business owner needn’t be the only entrepreneur in the room. Establish an environment in which employee and stakeholders can act entrepreneurially as well.
  1. Have a crisis management and communication plan. No one and no business is infallible. It may be due to our own negligence or mis-calculation or it may be due to unforeseeable outside circumstances, but every business will face crisis at some point or points during its lifespan. How you respond to the crisis is what makes the difference – and that begins with knowing how you will communicate through a crisis.

When Should My Business be Profitable?

May 26th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Goal 9 thoughts on “When Should My Business be Profitable?”


Profitable businesses are so last decade, right?

After all, Twitter doesn’t make a profit. Salesforce has lost over half a billion dollars the past few years. Amazon went about 20 years without ever showing a profit.

The truth is, there’s a lot more to these companies’ business models than simple profits and losses, and for Salesforce and Amazon in particular, their revenues are rapidly growing every year. Explosive revenues can change the game on how a business needs to make money.

For your business, unless you have people investing hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars, you’re probably going to need to make a profit sooner rather than later.

But when does that happen?

The answer depends on a number of different factors. Before you can even define any sort of ‘when’, you need to figure out what profitability means for your business.

What Profitability Means for You

Technically speaking, your business is “profitable” as soon as its revenues exceed its expenses. But let’s say you left a good paying salary job to start up a business. In that instance, you might not consider yourself profitable until you personally are making as much if not more than you were at your previous job.

Or maybe you have investors, and you don’t consider yourself profitable until they’ve seen some return on their investments.

If you don’t have investors, and you’re fine with just reaching that base-level, “ramen profitability”, that’s not a bad starting goal, but you may want to build from there.

Whatever your benchmark is (and it’s very important to have benchmarks in place), you’ll want that in mind before you start down the road to profitability. And make no mistake….

Profitability is Important

There’s probably a number of different reasons why you started your business. It could have been because you wanted to be your own boss or because you realized a certain product was lacking from a specific industry. Perhaps you started a business out of necessity when you found yourself unemployed. Perhaps you hoped you could make the world a better place. Quite probably it is a combination of these and other things.

It’s fair to say you also probably hoped to make some money in the long run. Even if money is the last thing on your mind, at the end of the day, to keep your business operating at its best, you need to generate profits.

Entrepreneur Magazine once published an article that said “profits aren’t everything, they’re the only thing”. They go on to detail that you should have a plan, and that plan should revolve exclusively around you making money until you turn a profit. I tend toward the “profit isn’t everything and there are many ways to define success” school of thought, however, your business can’t last forever without it.

For anyone who has watched Shark Tank, you know that time and again, the first questions asked by the investors are:

  • What’s your profit model?
  • How much revenue do you have?
  • What are your sales?

And they ask this because they know a business that’s not making money is not going to be around for that long.

So how long do you have?

When Should My Business Be Profitable?

Getting back to the original question, it’s something that in many ways, you’ll have to decide. For some businesses, people will say you can expect to lose money in the first year, squeak by in the second, and start building up some profit in the third. Of course, if you’re taking loans or investments, that adds a lot more to manage.

The answer to the question might actually be another question:

How long can you go without making a profit?

Think about it. What’s the longest your business can stay afloat without bringing in some real revenue? If you can answer that, then you at least have a starting point to work from.

And from there, there’s some serious planning to do. I can help with that part. Check out my book Business is ART, download a free business plan template, or contact me directly.

3 Keys to Business Success

May 19th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Inspiration, Leadership 18 thoughts on “3 Keys to Business Success”

Julie White on BIA #32

Three keys to business success. On episode #32 of the Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat network, my guest was Julie (Korowotny) White. Julie is an entrepreneur and graphic artist ( who has spent a number of years and specializes in the craft beer industry, and to our delight, she brought some samples for us to try out as we talked.

As someone who has worked for large employers and is currently a free-lancing, self-employed entrepreneur, Julie offered a lot of great advice for businesses, leaders and entrepreneurs, summarized here for your convenience.

Be Authentic

There is a lot to be said for authenticity – as an individual and a business. Don’t try to be something you are not, for several reasons. First, you probably aren’t fooling anyone. Second, if you do manage to fool someone, you won’t be able to keep it up for long. Three, when your lack of authenticity is discovered, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to get the customer or prospect back.

How many of us have been pulled in by someone or a business that made us feel they were all about something that really resonated with us only to find out it was just a way to sucker us in and keep the cash flowing in their direction? With so many gurus and miracle products out there, it’s easier than ever for us to part ways with our hard earned cash and not receive a return on investment

Don’t become part of the problem. Be authentic.

Be Consistent

Inconsistency in the quality of your product or service is a killer. The last thing you want customers saying is “they are consistently bad.” But the next to last thing you want them saying is “they are hit or miss.”

Think in terms of your own experiences. Have you ever been to a restaurant that was so good you couldn’t wait to go back? But when you did, it was just so-so. How anxious were you to return and what did you say to others who asked what you thought of it?

Inconsistency is a killer. Be consistent.

Embrace Your Niche

It is risky to have a single source of revenue. “One product, one service, that’s all we do,” is generally not a winning strategy. However, neither is trying to be everything to everyone.

Some might see having a niche as being a limiting factor, but it isn’t if you are smart about it. As an example, Julie is a great graphic artist. She could widely diversify and try to be the best graphic artist in a number of industries, but as it happens, she has gained a great deal of knowledge in the craft beer industry, as well as contacts, so she chooses to focus there. She can and will do work elsewhere because those opportunities exist, but she specializes in craft beer.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Embrace your niche.

To listen to the podcast in it’s entirety, please follow this link:

4 Tools to Make Your Business a Success

February 25th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, CEO, Entrepreneur, Goal, Leadership, Owner, Social Media, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “4 Tools to Make Your Business a Success”

Business is ARTToo many young business leaders charge headstrong into the foray of their industry only to realize that they bit off more than they can chew. When it comes to starting a business and making it a success, you have to be prepared to take on anything that the business world will throw at you.

And that can often be a lot.

Between the competition, the costs and the unexpected bumps you are going to hit along the way, getting your company off the ground is never a straight shot from point A to point B. Instead, it is a winding road that will lead you all over the place. There will be days when you surge forward, days when you are left at a standstill and days that set you back more than you’d like to admit.

Nevertheless, you need to keep pushing forward with your business vision.

Tools that Build Success

Sounds easy, right? You’ve got your vision, you’ve got your business plan and you’ve even got a team in place to help you build it.

For some, this is all that is necessary. They have a lot of luck and their business just seems to take flight out of nowhere But these lucky first-timers are few and far between. Most people have to work very hard at building their business, and they often need a lot of help along the way.

You need more than a business plan to reach your definition of success. You also need tools to help you with everything from planning to your day-to-day operations. Even if you know exactly where you are going, you still need a means by which to get there.

Free Resources to Help You Out

There are quite a few free business tools out there that can help your business out. Some of the best that you can use are:

  • Google Apps: It’s like having Microsoft Word and Excel for free on your work computer. Plus, it is easy to share documents with your co-workers and clients.
  • Dropbox: A must have for businesses that need free cloud storage space. You can get 2GB of space for free, with paid plans upping your storage capacity.
  • LinkedIn: If you want your business to be taken seriously, you have to have a customer-facing image that is impressive and professional.
  • A Strategic Plan: What is your company’s vision and goals? It is essential for business owners to know where they want to go, but it is even more important to know how to get there. We have a free “One Page Strategic Plan” in our “Freebies” section that you can download to help get you there.

Learn as Much as You Can

The Business is ART book talks about not only having a plan, but always being prepared to revise that plan as the circumstances around you change. To do this, you have to learn all that goes into business planning, execution and more. The book, and our software subscription that is set to release soon, are two great tools that you can use to help you achieve success.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

© SeaSeven LLC 2019.
Designed by FRW Studios, LLC.