An uncompromising focus on growth can take companies in the wrong direction. Take Groupon. Once lauded as the “fastest-growing company ever,” its stock price has fallen about 80% since the company went public in 2011. The key is to find quality, sustainable revenue.
Here’s what that looks like:
• It’s predictable. It’s always easier to forecast if you can be confident that 90% of last year’s customers and dollars will be back this year. The money should come from returning clients willing to spend the same amount.
• It’s profitable. A benchmark for a good margin varies by sectors, but quality revenue tends to be higher-margin. Aim for gross margins of at least 70%.
• It’s diverse. While early-stage companies may often have a couple of customers that make up a large portion of revenue, over time you want to build a diverse base. None of your top five clients should make up more than 15% of revenue.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “What High-Quality Revenue Looks Like” by Anthony K. Tjan.
The whole point of résumés and cover letters is to sell your skills. Rather than simply listing the responsibilities in the positions you’ve held (as many candidates do), call out specific ways you’ve made a difference in those roles. Suppose you’re in sales: Did you exceed your annual targets? By what percentage? Or, if you’re a customer service manager, did you reduce the number of complaint calls? How did you do it — and by how much? Quantify whatever achievements you can, and include promotions and other acknowledgments of your success. For example, you may have started as a production manager and then, after six months, taken on full control of the firm’s quality assurance program. Mention accomplishments like that — they reflect the trust you earned and your level of competence.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from the HBR Guide to Getting the Right Job.
A good network is important when searching for a job. But if you don’t already know the right people, you need to expand your reach. People you don’t know yet can be just as helpful as those you do. Here’s how:
Define your professional goals. Write down your objectives and make sure you can tell a cohesive story about yourself and where you’re headed.
Cast a wide but focused net. Scour LinkedIn, company websites, and Twitter to identify people who may be able to offer you a job in your chosen field, or advice on how to get one. With this cold call approach, you’re not likely to get a high response rate so don’t be afraid to compile a long list.
Tell a personal story. Write an email to each person making it clear who you are, what you’re interested in, and why he or she should respond and help you.
Adapted from “Make a Stranger Believe in You” by Anne Kreamer.
You have been predicted — by companies, governments, law enforcement, hospitals, and universities. Their computers say, “I knew you were going to do that!” These institutions are seizing upon the power to predict whether you’re going to click, buy, lie, or die.
So writes Eric Siegel in his book “Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die” (http://goo.gl/pMLMw). Siegel, a former professor at Columbia University, shows how predictive analytics is “powered by the world’s most potent, booming unnatural resource: data.”
Potential investors and partners are often more interested in an entrepreneur as a person than in the business plan. That document is important, but be sure to also show these three characteristics:
• Passion and purpose. Investors want to know if you’re the right person for this idea. Make your personal connection to the business you’re launching clear.
• Resilience. The road to building a business is full of speed bumps. Share some failure stories to show you can bounce back from challenges.
• Resource magnetism. Can you attract money, people, and other resources? This is more important than charisma. Whether or not you have a thousand-watt smile, you need to be able to persuade people to join your cause.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Entrepreneurs: You’re More Important Than Your Business Plan” by Rich Leimsider and Cheryl Dorsey.
When you send an email, chances are that it’s competing with hundreds of others for the recipient’s attention. Here’s how to compose emails that people will actually read, answer, and act on:
• Get straight to the point. Make your request in the first few sentences. Be polite, but concise. Try an opening like, “Great interview. Thanks for sending it. May I ask a favor?”
• Keep it brief. People find long emails irksome and energy-sapping. The more they have to scroll, the less receptive they’ll be. Limit your message to a single screen of reading.
• Write a short but informative subject line. With a generic or blank subject line, your message will get lost in your recipient’s inbox. Be specific — try “The Nov. 15 Leadership Program” instead of “Program.” If you’re asking someone to take action, highlight that in the subject.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.
Giving critical feedback is an essential part of a manager’s job. But people in Shanghai don’t provide feedback in the same way as people in Strasbourg or Stockholm, so how can do your job when you’re working across cultures? Here are three tips:
• Learn the new rules. Read up on the values, beliefs, and assumptions people generally hold about social interactions in this region. Observe it in action to pick up on cues, such as how direct you’re expected to be, or how important it is to save face in group settings.
• Customize your behavior. Don’t assume you have to “go native.” You can often create a blend of styles that’s comfortable to you and effective in the new setting.
• Find a cultural mentor. Look for someone who’s worked in the area, preferably for many years. She can help you craft an approach that fits you and the place you work.
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Giving Feedback Across Cultures” by Andy Molinsky.
How can you get any work done when you’re in meetings all day? You can’t. But instead of griping, be more discerning about which meetings you go to. Before saying yes to invitation, ask yourself, “If I was sick on the day of this meeting, would it need to be rescheduled?” If you answer “no,” then decline the meeting and try one of these less time-intensive alternatives:
• Get an agenda. Ask to look at the agenda ahead of time so you can pass on your comments to the meeting organizer to share on your behalf. (Bonus: This may force him to actually make an agenda!)
• Delegate. Send someone else from your group to communicate your team’s perspective.
• Ask for notes. If someone is going to share important information but you’ll just be listening
Today’s Management Tip was adapted from “Break Your Addiction to Meetings” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders.