December 22, 2010

Straight talk to a Protégé

What should the mentor do when the Protégé doesn't do what the mentor advises?

I have been dealing with that issue and have come to the conclusion that some people move faster than others, and that I need to show patience, which is not one of my great assets.

How long should I repeat my advice and exercise patience before I give up on the Protégé and move on to help someone who does take action?  That's a judgement call, but I'm thinking that a year is plenty of time, and if after a year the Protégé still doesn't get it, there is something basic going wrong and I must not understand it but since my best advice isn't being taken then I'm wasting my time and the Protégé's time (and money).  It should be time for the Protégé to get another mentor, or go it alone.

I never liked firing a customer who pays right on time and treats me right in every other regard, but I'm not in this for the money, only to see results.  If there are no results, then it's not fun for me, so I should move on.  I figure I do owe the Protégé a final meeting where the options are discussed, and then at most a few more weeks to see if anything is going to change, but then if there are no changes, it's time to move on...

I would never reveal the identity of a Protégé without his/her permission (it's sort of like a doctor/patient confidentiality thing).  However, I can speak in broad terms about the nature of the situation and the advice, which I feel is of the most essential importance. Here is my last written correspondence on the matter:

Here are the priorities the way I see them:

1.  Increase profitability.
   a.  increase prices - if you have a question about an item, or group of items, then just write it down on a separate list and continue with the price increases that you can do right now.
   b.  advertise - spend money on ad words where you can prove that it is worth the investment.  do not spend a penny on ad words if you can not track the investment and know that it is worth while.
   c.  increase sales to existing customers:
           - have your customer care reps up-sell on all current orders
           - have customer care reps call past customers who have not purchased recently.
   d.  decrease costs - review purchasing policies, establish systems for optimum order points and order quantities.

There is no # 2 priority, just #1.
Do 1a first, then move on to 1b, and when 1b is done, then do 1c.

When you have finished with the above priority list, then you should be in good shape,
and can focus on whatever is next.

If your sales for the year will be 1.5 million, and you could have raised your prices 8% at the beginning of the year, as planned, then 8% of 1.5 million is $120,000 in profits ON THE BOTTOM LINE, that you have thrown away by not taking action.  Every month you delay the price increases, you throw another $10,000 away, and you seriously endanger the existence of your company and your personal and family financial strength and success.

There is only one thing that matters in this world, and that is ACTION.  It is irrelevant what we think, or what we plan, or intend, or hope, or want, the only thing that matters, or will ever matter, is what we actually DO.   

Do not fear that you will take the wrong action.  You are smart and have experience with your business.  It is unlikely that you will take the wrong action.  It is highly probable that you will take the right action.  If you take action, you learn something.  If you take no action, you learn nothing.   

If you take action, and you learn that the action is wrong, you can stop, or change your action based on what you have learned.  Taking action is done in steps, as you have learned in Principle #10:  Test.  This limits the downside of your actions, and optimizes the upside.

Be Bold.  Take action now!