A tree stands strong not by its fruits or branches, but by the depth of its roots.

Anthony Liccione Author
If Your Business isn’t Growing, Look for the Root of the Problem

If Your Business isn’t Growing, Look for the Root of the Problem

Posted by martin.parnell |

I was listening to the gardening segment of a local radio programme and the guest expert was addressing an issue, raised by a listener who had called in asking about a problem with one of his house plants. It was soon established that the likely cause was “root rot”. 

Apparently, if the entire root system has already become mushy, it is too late to save the plant. However, if some healthy, white, firm roots exist, it may be possible to salvage the plant by replanting it, in fresh soil with good drainage. 

If your business is failing to grow, maybe you should look at its “roots” or foundations and try and identify the reasons why. This may prove to be challenging.

If you have good sales, a happy, productive workforce and satisfied customers, what can be the reason for this plateau and should you be concerned? 

Of course, you may be quite happy with the status quo. Perhaps you have achieved all you set out to do and feel it’s OK to be a bit complacent. But, is it really good for the company. Perhaps not right away, but eventually the “rot” will start to set in. 

You may lose the impetus to inspire employees who may then begin to look for new challenges elsewhere. A similar company to yours may be more pro-active and dynamic in marketing their product. Even regular customers may be swayed by a better deal. 

It could be that the issues are more practical. Have you failed to recognise the need to update the technology you use? Are other companies more proactive on social media? Do your employees enjoy the benefits that other companies can provide? 

Yours may be a well-established company that has a recognisable name and a good reputation but, in these times when entrepreneurism is encouraged and new companies are springing up all the time, it’s important to develop an awareness of the ideas that these companies bring. 

They will be looking to be recognised, establishing those same qualities that you value so greatly and will be eyeing your customer base. They will also be looking to recruit workers with experience in their field. These things are simple to analyse so that you can recognise how they might affect your company. 

Do some homework on other companies similar to yours, see how they operate and market themselves. 

With regards to your own set-up, it may be beneficial to take the following action: 

  • Look at the ways technology and social media can keep you current and visible.
  • Look at ways to update your brand in order to modernise your image.
  • Look at your customer base. Who do you sell to? Are there ways you might broaden the demographic? 

Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do you make the most of the individual talents of your employees?
  • Are you even aware of additional talents they might have but you are failing to utilize?
  • Where customers are concerned, do you ask them for referrals?
  • Have you approached them to give constructive feedback? You can provide them with the opportunity to do both of these things, on your website. 

It’s a great feeling to be able to sit back and relax and know that your company is doing OK, but it would be an even more satisfying experience to know that it’s growing and developing in a way that is both rewarding and challenging to all concerned. 

It’s good to have goals, it keeps us rooted!

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential”. Martin has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
How to Speak to the World through the Written Word

How to Speak to the World through the Written Word

Posted by martin.parnell |

I have been working hard, with my publisher at Rocky Mountain Books, on the manuscript of my next book “The Secret Marathon – Empowering Women and Girls in Afghanistan through Sport”, and things are, at last, coming together. So, two weeks ago, I took a break and my wife, Sue and I went on a road trip out to Victoria, BC, to spend some time with friends in their beautiful new beach house. I made the most of my time away relaxing, doing some trail running, exploring the area and catching up with my reading. 

Before I left I looked at the pile of books, sitting on my bedside table, trying to select which ones to take with me. I have a wide variety to choose from as I like to read a selection of genres, from business to historical fiction and science fiction to murder mysteries. I decided upon Single and Single by John Le Carre and Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Goodbye. I also took The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, recommended by Sue, who knows what I like to read and will often make suggestions. 

Talking of recommendations, in the recent July/ August edition of The Atlantic magazine, I spotted an intriguing headline: 

 What Book or Article Would You Make Required Reading for Everyone on Earth? 

I felt this was an interesting question  and decided to give it some thought. I began by considering the reason for m my selection.  Would it be to impart a particular message? Would it be informative? Would it be because it was a thrilling story? Would it be words of wisdom for a future generation? Might I even choose a picture book for those who do not have the advantage of being able to read? The questions were endless and I could think of books for every answer. In the Atlantic article, the responses were,  as one would imagine, very diverse, for example: 

Carey Cranston, president, American Writers Museum

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave illustrates the greatest heights and the lowest depths of America’s history and potential, while, better than any other work, showing the power of literacy—that when a person can read and write, he gains the ability to create his own narrative, and to shape his life and the surrounding world.

Michiko Kakutani, literary critic

Shakespeare’s collected plays. Four hundred years after the playwright’s death, his influence spans the planet. He was uncannily modern in his inventiveness and gift for engaging the popular imagination; in his depiction of spirited, independent women; and in his appreciation of the contingencies of life in a chaotic world reeling from accelerating change and loss.

C. W. Gortner, author, The Romanov Empress and Mademoiselle Chanel

An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore. Though not very sexy, it addresses the most vital and pressing issue we face as a species on our beleaguered Earth. If left unchecked, global warming will have devastating ramifications for every living being on this planet. We simply can’t afford to ignore it in the hope that it’ll go away. 

Kevin Kwan, author, Crazy Rich Asians

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, is an astoundingly visionary satire published in 1932 that foresaw not just what’s happening today, but where we’re possibly heading next. 

C. E. Morgan, author, The Sport of Kings

The Mindbody Prescription, by John E. Sarno, saved my life. It explores how the subconscious mind can create physical pain as a means of avoiding emotional pain. This mind-body approach has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of the psychological origins of many ailments. A vital read for anyone suffering from chronic pain.

Esmeralda Santiago, author, Conquistadora

Men speak about peace but prefer war. Men head the majority of governments and control the increasingly lethal weapons, using women and gods as moral shields. Unsparing in its portrayal of men’s nature, The Iliad should be read by everyone who hopes to understand mankind.

There were also contributions by readers which included titles as equally diverse, from books by Dr Seuss to the writings of Maya Angelou.

I gave the question some thought and, quite frankly, struggled to pick one defining answer. I wondered what books my family and friends might choose. As anyone knows who has ever belonged to a book club, passions run high when it comes to what is or is not a worthy read.  Also, I go back to the reason behind the selection, which wouldn’t necessarily be based purely on the book being one you personally love.

So, as the dog days of summer continue, I leave the question with you.

Which book, poem, article, short story or other piece of writing would you want everyone to read?

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON, is being released on October 9th 2018.

He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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My definition of ‘innovative’ is providing value to the customer.

Mary T. Barra, Chief Executive Officer of General Motors of Canada
Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want…

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want…

Posted by martin.parnell |

Two weeks ago, I ran the MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) 10km, in Calgary. I thoroughly enjoyed the race, which was well attended and well organized. One thing that’s great about this event is that it only costs $15 to participate. I have run many races, in my time, from 5kms to Ultra marathons and the price to register can vary from $30 to several hundreds of dollars. 

Of course, some of them, particularly the longer ones, have to provide aid stations and other support, but oftentimes, with the shorter runs, the money is used to provide runners with a race shirt or other memento and a finishers medal. My run on Saturday did neither, but I didn’t mind. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I can understand the value of having the shirt and the medal. I have some that I truly treasure, for instance, the ones from the Boston Marathon, the Comrades Ultra, in South Africa, the Kilimanjaro marathon, my rock from the Lost Souls 160 km, the Massey 5km I ran with my daughter, Kristina and the Marathon of Afghanistan, to name but a few. 

However, there are some races that I have run several times and it would be great to run them again, at a cheaper registration fee and forego the shirt etc. You see, I don’t always want all the extras. Sometimes, I just want the basics. Have you thought about this in relation to your business? 

New and existing customers might be duly impressed with any extras you can provide for them, additional perks that may make the deal more attractive. But, you know that in the long run, they will be paying for them in one way or another. It might be the cost is included in the original price, you may ask for a longer commitment from them or there may be some other way they can reciprocate. 

Some customers, however may not need these extras or perhaps would rather not have them. The reasoning for this may vary. Maybe it puts the cost out of their reach or perhaps they are just not what the customer needs. 

And that is perhaps the point you should ask yourself and be the focus of your research. What does this particular customer actually need? This could apply, in particular, to a company that is starting out or a small business that has to watch every dollar and yet still wants to engage your services. 

They might really appreciate the fact that you have made this consideration and are prepared to present a price that is more appropriate to them because they don’t need or want all the extras. Remember, that company could grow and become a valuable, long-term client. That would be the time to suggest they engage more of your services. 

If you are unsure as to what a particular customer might want, when you are packaging a deal, ask them. You might be surprised and their response could save you time and money in trying to work out what might be the best for them.  

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.” ~ Kevin Stirtz, Manager, Data Analytics Strategy Team – Thomson Reuters. 

Some people would argue that this is not the right tactic and your customer may not know what they need until you tell them.  That may be true if they have the funds to pay for the additional costs but not everyone will be able to and you could end up being perceived as too demanding or out of their league. 

It might also apply to a customer that has seen this tactic before, has all the services they require, at the present time, and knows you are doing this more for the benefit of your company than theirs. This idea brings to mind a quote by Annette Franz, founder of CX Journey, "What is necessary is to listen to your customers: understand their needs, expectations and jobs to be done, and design an experience that meets those needs.” 

And, if you are afraid that taking this approach might affect your profits, perhaps you need to look at your own production costs and see if getting back to basics, in some areas, might benefit your company, too.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON, is being released on October 9th 2018.

He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

 

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