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Marching To A New Beat

For our family, the Fall is filled with Friday Night Lights, as our oldest child is a member of her high school marching band. While we certainly enjoy the football team's successes on the field, the process and progress of the marching band really captures our attention. From two-a-day practices in the August heat, to entering the stadium in line to the drummers' beat at each game, to practicing for the always-sold-out Patriotic Game?everything the band director does is designed to build his team into a synchronized unit performing at its highest possible talent level.

A similar approach would be of tremendous value to your small business. Band directors don't show up in September and start figuring out what to do. They work on it all summer long, so they're prepared when students arrive for their first practice. As you and your team work through the daily challenges of running your small business, are you making plans for what you want to accomplish six months from now?

Success Handler Action: After you finish reading this e-newsletter, spend some time thinking about your goals. Consider all aspects of your small business including employees, your products/services, your competition, finances and the economic direction. Here are some questions to help you get started:

~ What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?

~ Where are your biggest opportunities?

~ Who on your team are the key players for getting you there?

~ How will you get your message out to prospects and current customers/clients?

~ What is your competition doing, and what can your learn from them?

Marching bands typically practice in 'sectionals' ? clarinets with clarinets, drum line with drum line, tubas with tubas, etc. ? then come together to blend all of the individual pieces into one cohesive unit. To the casual observer in the stands, everything seems to flow in perfect unison. However, it's the hours of practice leading to each performance that produce musical and marching masterpieces. Similarly, taking the time to develop your team members will pay off tremendously in the results you ultimately achieve.

Success Handler Action: As you begin the process of planning for the next six months, consider what your team needs, individually and as a unit, to take you to a higher level. Here are five ways you can have an immediate impact on their productivity and individual growth:

1. Pay for employees to attend an advanced learning class ? online or in-person.

2. Review the software your team uses regularly and decide if it's time for an update.

3. Reach out to your vendors and ask them to provide educational materials/training.

4. Make this "Employee Idea Month" ? and remember?the quantity of ideas you receive, not the quality, ultimately leads to discovery.

5. Give each employee two tickets to the movies...it will help relieve some of the stress, and not cost you much.

When our daughter began playing the clarinet in sixth grade, many months were filled with incorrect notes and shrill squeaks. However, she practiced every day, took weekly private lessons and began to improve. With ongoing encouragement from her middle school then junior high band directors, and her own self-determination, she eventually gained a skill that now provides her tremendous joy.

The same success is possible for your small business. Figure out what it is you want to accomplish, communicate that vision to your team members, motivate them to achieve their goals and help them overcome their roadblocks along the way. Before you know it, all of you will be cheering loudly for the victories you're enjoying together.

Copyright ? 2004 by Success Handler, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Coach, David Handler, is the founder of Success Handler, (http://www.successhandler.com), and specializes in helping small business leaders, franchisees and franchisors find clarity and take action. He understands the challenges of running a business, because he's been there ? as a small business owner, franchisee, franchisor, corporate leader and trainer. Much like sports coaches, his coaching will show you how to compete on a level playing field in your industry.

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