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The 2012 Plan

by Jim Raffel on January 2, 2012

image of 2012 plan

Planning works. A year ago, I shared The 2011 Plan and last week I shared the success story of that plan when I wrote “How to make what you write come true.” Finding a planning method that works for you is, unfortunately, not so easy. I’ve settled on a method that combines Chris Brogan’s three words method and the visual thinking approach of Sketchnotes, which results in the drawing included with this post.

The 2012 Plan dissected

Growth – One of last year’s words was “customers” and it turned out to be the key word. We learned two important pieces of information about our customers in 2011: Who they are and where to find them online. Armed with that knowledge and the other two words in this year’s plan, significant growth of the ventures I am involved in is achievable.

Automate – Late last year, I had an “ah-ha” moment related to automation. A task worth doing manually is worth automating. If it’s not, then stop doing the task entirely. Your business is not truly systemized until most – if not all – of the business processes are automated. It takes more time to delegate and train those to whom you are delegating if the process is not automated. Automated tasks have a much higher probability of being done correctly.

Teams – It’s one thing to hire people to help you. It’s quite another to empower them to manage the team without you. This year, progress must happen without my involvement. Handing over business processes that have been automated is one way to ensure this outcome. While I can and sometimes will be a player on the teams I help create, I don’t intend to ever be the coach.

Back to growth

The strategy that came out of this planning exercise is: More and more of my time must be dedicated to tasks focused on long-term enterprise growth. Some might call this sales. I’ll be out searching for the relationships that allow us to partner our technology and knowhow with new audiences in 2012.

Here’s to an awesome 2012. Lets’ do this!

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How a peer group will help double your business

by Jim Raffel on February 8, 2011

Author’s note: Parts of this post were published over at Kitchen Table Companies as a Success Story. The “What I wish we’d had” section below reveals the secret sauce I’ve stumbled upon over the last couple years – this one is a freebie my friends, enjoy it.

Then one day you wake up and realize you’ve been in business almost sixteen years. You also realize the little ups and downs don’t scare you like they used to. The deer in the headlights fear you now see in other people starting businesses – all gone. You’ve made it and are an overnight success. Never mind that is was something like 5,480 overnights.

Overnight success

From where I stand now, the real overnight success of starting a Kitchen Table Company does in fact occur over one night. If you haven’t yet made the leap to full-time self-employment, you may not have yet experienced it. But it’s that morning you wake up and just know you are going to be just fine without a paycheck. You’ve decided you won’t miss the cube farm nearly as much as you once thought you would. That, my friends, is the overnight success that matters.

My business partner Michael Litscher and I started ColorMetrix with an idea and about $1,000 in the bank. For many years, there was no office. Just two guys in two garages – um, at two kitchen tables. I traveled far and wide selling the idea to an industry that wasn’t quite ready for the idea. Oh, how amazing it would have been to have blogs and social media back then! Michael held down the fort writing great code and providing customer support we are damn proud of to this day.

What I wish we’d had

I’ve gotten to know Joe Sorge and Chris Brogan pretty well over the last year. And not just these two – let me explain. I’ve networked my behind off online. I’ve made many good friends and some have turned into a virtual peer group. Sure Joe and I live in the same city and I frequent his burger joint every now and again, but that’s not it. I see him online every day. Now, with Kitchen Table Companies, I’m involved in daily conversations with him and dozens of other smart business folks.

The power of a virtual peer group can’t be understated. The thing about a Kitchen Table Company is that (at least for a while) it’s just you and maybe a cat or dog wandering around the house. Being able to jump online and interact with fellow kitchen tablers – some years ahead of you on the continuum, others right where you are and other just getting started – that’s been extremely valuable to me.

So valuable, in fact, that my business should double in this year because of the people I’ve met and the things I’ve learned online (in places like Kitchen Table Companies) over the last year or so. That’s my Kitchen Table success story and I’m sticking to it!

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Linkedin: Finding the Full Value of the Ecosystem

August 13, 2010

I know plenty of people (myself included) who struggle to find the value of Linkedin. My gut tells me there is plenty of value there and I have found several small pockets of success already. The goal now is develop a more complete understanding of the entire Linkedin ecosystem and how to maximize the benefit […]

Selling Dreams – Vimeo Video and Slide Deck

April 29, 2010

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking to the Milwaukee PHP User Group about selling dreams which is what solutions based software companies (like mine ColorMetrix) do. It was fun to have my business partner Michael Litscher there to interject his thoughts about some of the selling dreams stories I told. I hosted […]