A Good Time to Reinvent Your Business and Your Career

In today’s business and non-profit world, fast-moving and continual change is part of the equation. Inevitably, there will be challenges you face at work, in your profession, or in your life that may compel you to rethink what you are doing and how you are doing it. Transitions can be exciting and “fun”, but they are never easy. Most times everything happens more slowly and with more steps than you ever imagined. The best approach is to plan and think ahead, preferably over a period of time to solidify your thoughts and carry out your plan. Change is just another opportunity around the corner. Businesses and people need to change every 5-7 years. They need to grow a new branch on the tree or ignite a new interest, hobby, non-profit endeavor or passion. Here are 4 qucik steps to get you started.

1 Start a log book with dates and record your thoughts and aspirations. Even if some musings seem out of the box, record and date them. Make 2 or 3 entries weekly and take note of your progress and evolution as it happens. What changes do you want to make? Has your medium or long term vision changed?

2 Make a list of these groups and your role in them. Identify your role and contributions in past organizations that you have been involved with. Rank these in order of most fulfilling experiences. Describe conferences you have attended and what you learned from them. Is it time to reconnect with some of these groups or people?

3 Identify industries that are being changed by technology, globalization, consolidation, or obsolescence. Find out what is happening to smaller companies. Write down 5 opportunities that are emerging because of these opportunities. Are there trade shows or events for industries that you normally don’t attend coming up?

4 Develop a network of contacts to help you with this reinvention process.
Identify and engage key partners in the process. Share your thoughts and plans on a regular and periodic basis with colleagues, managers you admire in several companies, and a select group of family and friends. Have you set up a mastermind group or engaged a coach to be your sounding board? Are you accountable to anyone to make this process happen?

4 Adopt the REINVENT paradigm can provide the framework and help get you there faster and with better results ….Reach for more; Energize yourself; Investigate options; Never step back; Vision rules; Emphasize opportunities; Nurture your contacts; and your
Talents will emerge. More on this in another article.

Microlending (MED)

Dear Business Leaders

Attached is a recent story (without pictures)in the Fairfield County Business Journal (October 2, 2006) on a Microlending project (MED) in Ecuador that I am working on that I thought would be of interest.

We can apply our skills and talents in many ways. Hope to catch up with you soon.

When you call your business "The Success Coach," those are some rather strong words to live up to, but one look at Doug Campbell’s accomplishments and it’s easy to see why he earns that moniker.

After a string of five successful startups and five years spent with a Fortune 100 in strategic planning and as a marketing director, Campbell knows how to launch a business and take it to the next level.

"I have been a success coach and a CEO coach for about 10 years," the 53-year-old Darien resident said. "I had taught for 10 years before that for MBAs and undergraduate classes. I started the entrepreneur courses program at Sacred Heart University and I have started five businesses so I have always been interested in entrepreneurs and people building businesses."

In his current job as an executive coach, he helps grow an entrepreneurial company or reinvent an established one. Clients have included everyone from Boardroom Reports (in Greenwich) to Nat Nast Clothing (in Wilton) to LeBlanc Communications (in Norwalk).

"I serve as an advisor and help with four broad areas: strategy, marketing, people (such as hiring and training) and finding the right resource such as a person needing a small-business lawyer."

Campbell also does team building and strategy retreats, speaks at multiple trade associations and universities and owns a tutoring business, in Darien, along with his wife, Gwynne, now going on its 22nd year.

When not in the midst of helping executives reach their potential, Campbell spends time volunteering as part of a not-for-profit micro-lending organization in Darien that has done wonders for the economy of Ecuador.

The Fairfield County Microenterprise Council is now in its seventh year and is comprised of about 25 families who have helped thousands of people start businesses in Ecuador.

"What we do is we donate time and money, but we probably take four to five trips a year with a group of people to provide advice and consult," he said. "I’ve been to Ecuador twice now and what we’re doing is basically providing some seed capital to help them start a business … let’s call it a bank, although we’re lending to people who couldn’t borrow from banks and also providing advice for management and the people there."

The area that they concentrate on is called Ogdabalo, which is a volcanic area with a population of about 100,000 and is known as a very talented craft culture and visited by tourists from all over. They have a famous market where most of the businesses they help sell their wares.

"A lot of people we are lending to are making guitars or braided shirts or belts or all kinds of craft material," Campbell said. "They can make it and sell in the market and make enough money in one weekend to pay off their loan for that month. It’s fun to go see them and I’ve bought a lot of things that they have made for my kids."

Since its inception, the council has seen the portfolio in Ecuador grow from $150,000 to $3.4 million.

"We figured that for every person we help start a business, it probably helps five additional people and we’ve done 8,000 so it’s about 40,000 people whose lives have changed," Campbell said.

They also work in conjunction with Worldvision which does a lot for economic development and also supplies a country representative who helps choose those who will get the loans. Recently, the council added two more countries: Chile and the Dominican Republic.

Helping others start businesses was obviously a draw for someone with Campbell’s background, but there was an international component that interested him as well.

"In a previous life I had studied in Spain in college, I wrote a book on international law and I worked for the United Nations so I spent four to five years in the international world and I love the Spanish culture so it really caught my attention internationally again," he said. "It’s been a wonderful learning experience."

On one trip a few years ago, Campbell took his then 17-year-old daughter Caroline with him to visit some of the people who they were helping. He says the people of Ecuador were so grateful and opened up their homes to them.

"What I’ve gotten out of this has been tremendous," he said. "To see how such a small token of effort has changed people’s lives. They are so appreciative and so grateful and even though here’s someone who may not read or write, he’s making a good living and the kids help, so there’s a lot of pride there. It’s an extraordinary business."


All the best.

Ecommerce and Dotcoms are Back

Ecommerce and Dotcoms are Back

In the mid 1990s Priceline, Amazon, and Ebay were on the cover of Business Week. BW asked “will they make it?” Can they survive as “new” business models? The answers have now all come in. Since then, Ebay and Amazon have grown exponentially and become leaders in their markets, and Norwalk-based Priceline now has its highest stock price since mid 2004, and its profits are growing.
Six years ago when I was working as an Executive/CEO Coach for several dotcom clients, two companies, that didn’t make it, even convinced me to take a piece of the company. They were run by talented leaders, but the market and the revenue model just didn’t develop fast enough. They fought hard, but many companies with great ideas and people didn’t survive. Some received too much money and spent it unwisely due the boom. Some were ahead of the market; others couldn’t find enough paying clients.
Only recently have dotcoms come back to the forefront for me and in the business world. It is now acceptable to say you are a dotcom or to add the dotcom back to your business name (which you may have dropped). Several recent projects include advising a dotcom company with explosive growth potential on their VC presentation in an effort to raise an additional $3-5 million, working with another one that is growing 40% per year on a sale/merger, and heading up a board of advisors for another small dotcom (that has been growing since 1999) that just received a group purchase patent that we are licensing. In addition, I just received a call (and email) to speak on Ecommerce in June.
Whether you have been paying attention or not, there are numerous success stories in Connecticut, and several models continue to grow. I met yesterday with a food company that sold over $100,000 on the web out of several million in total sales, and they are just getting started. I ran another meeting with a leading executive information company, now with 40 employees, that is growing solidly.
Even if you are with a large company, there may be opportunities. Several years ago, I had a client who helped launch Weight Watchers online business which had $9 million in sales in its first year. Not only did this effort surprise many executives in the company, but it brought out a whole new underserved market i.e. men who wanted to lose weight, but didn’t want to go to meetings.
What opportunities are you missing with your company? Have you used the latest search optimization techniques? Do you have a dedicated focus for this area of your business?
Many websites today should move from being a brochure to being an ecommerce website, particularly if you are selling products. It can be more efficient for small orders and requires less processing time. It can also generate a new wave of clients who get to know your company, even though they may be in different geographic areas or countries. The time to act on this challenge or rededicate your efforts is now.

Douglas Campbell III (www.thesuccesscoach.com) facilitates strategy and team-building meetings for companies to build effective and strong management teams. As an executive/CEO coach, he works with business owners in the areas of strategy and vision, marketing and business development, and team building to move businesses to the next level. He has started 5 businesses, taught undergraduates and MBA students, was Director of Marketing for a Fortune 100, writes for several newspapers, and is a member of the National Speaker’s Association.

Being Sandwiched When You Run a Small Business

I haven't written in a while. My life and my family's life were interrupted this fall and this winter. Let me explain. I finally started talking about it to friends and business owners. Many people are facing similar challenges even though it rarely gets talked about. This fall my daughter, who is doing very well now, spent 3 weeks in the hospital in Pennsylvania with an autoimmune issue- the first 3 weeks of her sophomore year in college. she ultimately had to drop 2 classes, couldn't try out for a sorority, and has only now recovered 85%+ of her strength. It was exhausting to make 5 trips, spend 8 nights and deal with multiple doctors from afar.

In late January my uncle who is in Rhode Island ( I am the closest relative) finally succumbed to leukemia after a 2+ year fight and 3 hospitalizations. There were numerous trips up for the day or night sometimes on only several hours notice. My brother and I set aside 3 days to plan the service and arrangements. We made endless phone calls and sent emails almost daily to keep everyone up to date. The night he died we found out my father-in-law had a stroke, and this set off a whole chain of events for my wife - visiting Oregon, managing the health care from Connecticut, moving out of their house of over 40 years. Very demanding!

Lots of good has come out of these challenges, however. We have a closer knit family that is now in regular communication. We have celebrated several family get togethers and renewed acquaintances. There have been highs and lows. Yes, the businesses (Sylvan Learning Center in Darien and The Success Coach) have suffered at times due to lack of focus and less business development.

Interruptions are a part of life, particularly when you are in mid 40s to mid 50s. For many people these are the peak earning years. They may also be coupled with college expenses for your kids and maybe providing emotional and financial support for your parents or other relatives. You have to respond to the highest need with a positive attitude and dig in to solve problems. Many times you are making decisions you have never faced before. Use your business communication skills and reach out to move decisions along or lead the charge. It isn't easy, but you have been making business decisions daily and know how to do it. Don't be afraid to step up. Interruptions and new challenges, even if there are family or health related, will create personal growth for you. They will strengthen you as a person, and some of what you learn can be applied to employees, clients, and vendors.