Berkonomics

Can you defend your pricing niche against your competition?

Berkonomics

This week, we continue our series on marketing and positioning. There can be nothing more important in your business planning that selecting the proper pricing niche, making your story clear using that niche, and the defending your position against the competition.

Why buy IT? Why buy MINE? Why buy NOW?

Berkonomics

What a powerful set of three questions. These are so succinct, so well defined, so precise that everyone in sales and everyone involved in marketing must be able to answer these three questions without pause, and convincingly.

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Catch up to your market or be lost!

Berkonomics

Markets and competitors change. Are you being left behind?

Faster is sometimes more valuable than better.

Berkonomics

And d oing both well usually wins the day. This is one of those arguable insights, where both sides win. Dell is a great example of emphasis upon fast, creating a customized computer in 48 hours or less, bringing in assemblies and components just-in-time to make the assembly line.

Have you experienced your “Every Three-Million Dollar Crisis?”

Berkonomics

Here is a phenomenon I discovered over time when dealing with many small start-ups in their early revenue period. A very predictable series of rotating crises seemed to befall most every one of these young companies.

Business risk: Bet the farm only when the crops are on fire.

Berkonomics

Close. How much risk you and your company are willing and able to tolerate over time? Most people believe that early stage companies should take risks aggressively because there is less to lose and much more to gain with each risky bet or decision.

You are watched, mostly when decisions are tough.

Berkonomics

we_are_wat we_are_watching_you. Close. If you have been in management or an entrepreneur long enough, you will have experienced the gray area of decision-making where ethics, the law, your needs and expediency all collide.

Insurance is always too expensive – until it’s needed.

Berkonomics

I expect that you have a story about how insurance saved you lots of money in your past. As usual, I have a story to make your hair stand on end. But first: here’s a fact.

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Learn to never handle a paper or email twice

Berkonomics

Close. We all do it… to our own detriment. So, let’s make a pact that we will try, if not succeed, to handle our incoming messages more efficiently. Personal time management helps immensely to make a better manager of you and me.

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How can you let a talented employee go to pursue a new career?

Berkonomics

It is tough to lose your best employees wanting to advance their careers. Sometimes you can be the coach, helping them even if it means losing them.

Coach 50

You are your company’s moral compass.

Berkonomics

Here’s yet another story that you may identify with – or have yet to experience in your business life. It’s one of those that define your leadership for all to see, sometimes based upon decisions made in the moment – such as this one. A story of a CEO’s snap judgment call.

Have you been celebrating each victory?

Berkonomics

Here comes another story. Of course. This one may be like one or more you have experienced in your company. It is a story about focus upon the customer, first.

How do you pay an early stage board?

Berkonomics

Give one percent equity to each outside board member vesting over four years of service. Many early stage CEOs and board members have asked for some guidance regarding pay and time commitments for board members. Here is my best advice, based upon many boards and many years.

Here’s a rule for companies with outstanding loans

Berkonomics

Here is one that is so important to the continued health of a growing company that it cannot be overstated. It’s a bit complex for novices. But hang in there as I explain a bit about accounting classification of assets and liabilities. Differences between types of assets and liabilities.

Any advice can be worthless, or worse.

Berkonomics

Close. Ever get bad advice? We all have in our past. Ever take that advice without question because the person giving it was an investor, a superior in rank, the chairperson of your board? I’ll bet you have at least one story of bad advice taken and being bitten as a result.

Have you made the mistake of hiring too soon?

Berkonomics

Well, you may not be alone. Many executives and managers have made the mistake of using the financial and sales forecast to plan and execute hiring of new employees – so that they could be trained and up to speed when the demand arrives. The balance between preparedness and cost.

So, what if you run out of money?

Berkonomics

Money in the bank is like oil in the car. Certainly, you have many ways you are pulled every day, both tactical and strategic. But when money is the issue, your time, energy and focus are drained from other important areas of your life or business.

I won’t serve on a board without D&O insurance!

Berkonomics

Close. I’ve been sued as a board member too many times over the past twenty-five years of board service. Five times. Does that shock you? It does me. Entrepreneurs blaming their board for failures of a fragile, early stage company.

How about your board members’ time commitments?

Berkonomics

Expect a board member to give a meeting a month, emails and phone calls between. Urgent issues require more of all. Board members are usually busy people, often running other companies or serving on multiple boards.

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The 18-month rule and a harrowing tale

Berkonomics

It can take 18 months from initial concern about a critical employee to getting a replacement up to speed. Of course, I’ll tell another harrowing story here. But first. an old friend, Dick Tanaka, gets credit for the 18-month rule.

Entrepreneurs: Employment law is not on your side!

Berkonomics

Small companies most often scrape by with borrowed or invested funds, doing everything possible to grow and prosper with limited resources.

Hire a consultant; ignore the advice.

Berkonomics

At one time or another, most all businesses use consultants to fill the gaps in knowledge or to provide guidance for management. Consultants are good in that you can sample their work with short projects, change to other consultants quickly, and stop using them when a project is completed.

Bankers: love ’em or hate ’em. They may affect your future.

Berkonomics

Let’s get right down to it. Your banking relationship can be like a great marriage or a bad trip to the DMV. In most cases it is strictly your choice. But the results of that choice will reverberate for what could be years. For a start…. How did you open your first bank account?

Take only “smart money” investments

Berkonomics

Close. This statement could be considered controversial. We have previously made the case that professional investors demand more in the form of restrictive covenants and lower valuations. Now we explore the other side of that coin.

How to cheat legally on your tax return.

Berkonomics

Close. When do you cross the line between honesty and dishonesty in tax planning? Is it ethical to allocate income between periods to take advantage of tax breaks? Can expenses be put off until the next period to increase income, or accelerated into this period by prepayment to decrease net income?

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Accounting: What kind of bean counter do you need?

Berkonomics

Close. Accountants are trained, certified and usually quite experienced in financial analysis, both creating and reviewing data. Bookkeepers are often trained on the job although sometimes more formally and handle the physical work of accounting for the transactions.

Niche marketing works. Here’s how.

Berkonomics

Close. How many of us throw away marketing dollars because our paid efforts reach an audience that is much larger than the target or niche audience we need to reach?

Can your lawyer destroy a good business deal?

Berkonomics

Over the years in business and as a member of over forty boards, I have received good advice from corporate attorneys and on occasion bad advice as well. There is a line that should be drawn in a relationship between corporate attorney and CEO or board.

What’s a company board good for, anyway?

Berkonomics

Some of you have gotten along forever without a board of directors, or used your spouse as the “other” board member from the start. But there are some very good reasons to build a great board composed of some outside members. And good board members can add real value to you and the company.

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Please learn this: “Noses in; fingers out!”

Berkonomics

Many of us have someone who reports directly to us and who supervises others in return. If that fits, well then, this one is for you. And it is one of the most important lessons you can learn as a manager or board member of a company or a non-profit enterprise.

Will tech kill your job?

Berkonomics

Close. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. “My My job as a (newspaper publisher telephone installer, stockbroker, travel agent, retail store manager) is safe as this economy continues to grow.” Thought so. We are in a decade of creative destruction that will affect most everybody.

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What if you come across juicy competitor information?

Berkonomics

Close. Many of us belong to industry associations and find ourselves at conferences and trade shows with time to spend with competitors. Some of these are old friends; some even former associates. It is natural to want to associate with these people for many reasons, certainly socially.

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How well do you use your business time?

Berkonomics

Forming business relationships at the highest level. As you follow these insights from ignition to liquidity event, you’ll detect a continuing theme, emphasizing the need for deep and wide relationships that the CEO and senior staff can call upon for advice and guidance.

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