January 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Ready or not, it’s a new year. I am not going to go into the whole New Year resolution thing, because I am no expert on that tricky little mind game. However, the other day when I was going through my usual late December routine reminding myself of my much-needed resolutions, I wondered why it is so hard to start “new” things.

Habits are powerful. We persist with many of them because we tend to give undue emphasis to the present. Trying something new can be painful: I might not like what I get and must forgo something I already enjoy. That cost is immediate, while any benefits — even if they are large — will be enjoyed in a future that feels abstract and distant.

In business, we often find ourselves in a similar catch 22 situation. We have no time to work on the business because we are too busy working in the business. And we can’t get away from the business because we haven’t developed the documented systems and processes needed to make such a concept a reality. So, we’re stuck in a business that has become a self-made trap. The only way out is to make time to create and document the business systems. And for most of us that means doing something new.

Business systems start with documented procedures and processes that allow your business to run without you. And yes, you read that correctly.

There are two major reasons why business systems are ignored by many small business owners:

Reason #1

Business systems are “back office” functions. Unlike the latest
marketing strategies, sales techniques or other highly visible aspects of business, good business systems are considered by some as boring. While building them may indeed be boring, the incredible power they give is anything but.

Reason #2

Business systems are neglected because of a perceived lack of urgency. When a business is small there are seemingly much more important things to do like sales, marketing and order fulfillment. With all of these important things vying for our increasingly scarce time, business systems seem like something that can be put off until later. However, just like any other accumulation of neglect over time, it rarely ends well.

There are numerous benefits to implementing new systems in business. Here are some of the most important:

It supports consistency

Consistency is one of the keys to delivering an excellent customer experience. You may not like the food at McDonalds, but one thing you can say about them is that wherever you go they deliver a very consistent experience.

It stimulates creativity

Ask any highly creative person how they continue to innovate and express themselves in new ways – they’ll tell you the key to their success is a commitment to trying new things. When you try new things, you put your brain into unique situations that force it to really think. This stimulates creativity, which eventually rubs off in other areas of your life. As a result, you begin to think about everything in a new light.

It makes money

When you and your staff don’t have to waste time and effort re-inventing the wheel each time, you improve efficiency and reduce costs.

It builds a valuable asset

It’s nice if your business gives you a great cash flow to fund your lifestyle. But wouldn’t it be fabulous if one day when you decided it was time, you could sell your business and have the biggest pay day of your life? You can only do this if you build the value of the business, and that can only happen if it is based on a system that can continue running without you.

Whether you realize it or not, you spend the majority of your day doing things you’ve already done hundreds or thousands of times before. Very rarely do you actually try new things. There are many benefits to doing new things – don’t cheat yourself out of them.

December 2017 – Letters from Lisa

Christmas is my favorite time of year. The birth of Christ and its meaning has been a monumental part of my life, and my birthday is December 24 – that is a story of courage in itself.

There is a much better story of courage that took place at the first Christmas. We often miss it because our focus is on a young mother and a baby. This character heard first hand that his bride-to-be was pregnant, and it was not his child. He experienced a personal message from God because of the extraordinary event. He stood by the manger where the baby was laid. He provided protection for the mother and child during the early years of the child’s life. The man’s name of course is Joseph. What the story of Joseph tells us is that:

1. God gives courage to ordinary people.

2. God gives us courage to overcome our doubts and fears.

3. God gives us courage to face the future.

God provides the same courage to business leaders, but we try to complicate it by making rash, unproductive or irrational decisions.

The word ‘courage’ derives from the Latin word cor, which means ‘the heart.’ Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by revealing all one’s heart,”in other words, to speak openly and to act honestly with integrity. It means to tell your story how it is – even at the risk of being rejected, ridiculed or misunderstood. Do you have this type of courage in your business?

The good news about courage in business is that it is not something you either have or don’t have. Courage can be learned, cultivated and practiced.

Six processes can help you start down this path: setting goals; determining the importance of achieving them; tipping the power balance in your favor to precipitate action; weighing costs against benefits and moving forward with that balance in mind; selecting the proper time line for action and developing backup plans.

Changing our lives, and eventually creating an entire culture of courage, starts with small acts which then produce micro-changes in each of these processes.

As we enter into the Christmas season, do you need the courage of Joseph to boost your business? Joseph took what he perceived at the time to be small steps, but those courageous steps made our world and our lives a better place.

October 2017 – Letters from Lisa

In early 2000 I was running a technology company that, by its nature, was constantly changing.  While that was not hard on me, I noticed that it was hard on many of the folks on my team. However, as the leader I had to figure out what to do since we had to constantly change to stay relevant. I read book after book on how to lead change. One of my favorites started with this sentence. People hate change. That’s pretty blunt, but I have found it to be quite true. Based on this reality, I find the below graphic quite fascinating. 


It’s full of change. Does it reflect smart change or stupid change? I am going to leave the millennial discussion for another month and ask you to describe your business three years ago in five words and then describe it in five words today. Do these words reflect smart change or stupid change? Do you need to change some things up?

Change isn’t always bad, and calculated change could be the answer to growth. But HOW? And WHEN? The decision to change course can happen at any time, for any reason — even if it’s just a gut feeling that it’s best for your company. But if you’re on the fence about it, these four red flags could indicate you’re better off making the switch.

Growth is slowing significantly. Every business goes through ups and downs in growth and profits. No matter what industry you’re in, you’re subject to the market cycle, and it’s normal to experience slower periods throughout the year. But if your charts are on a continual downward trend — especially compared to others in your industry — it might be time to re-evaluate what you’re doing.

The competitors you use to be able to ignore are starting to bother you. Old businesses that aren’t changing with the times and newer startups don’t normally seem like too much of a threat, as they may be too old school or small to compete with you. But that complacency can hurt you if you don’t take those companies seriously.

Your customers aren’t as happy as they once were. Keeping close tabs on your customers is a good way to gauge the health of your business. Primarily positive social media comments and customer feedback are indicators of happy customers. If these good vibes start to wane, you might need to make a change. Watch for signs that your product or service is becoming increasingly less significant to your customers, or that your customers no longer view your business as providing a high-value experience. Please note, you MUST know what your customers think about you. There are many tools to help with this and I am happy to help you pick one. Not knowing is just not an option; and don’t ever think you just know, you must ask using an independent means to know.

There are Internal cues from your staff that things aren’t great. These cues can tip you off to the need for a change as well. Are you having a hard time recruiting for the positions you believe you need to move your company forward? Is your sales team telling you that potential customers are no longer excited about what you do or sell? Are they talking about a new product or service that they wished you offered instead?”

Change takes time, and you’re not necessarily going to be able to quit your old ways cold turkey. However, you should make sure the appropriate attention is given to the change, ideally through the use of a task force of a dedicated group of employees who can bring many thoughts to the table and can define the best solution automatically creating buy-in.

September 2017 – Letters From Lisa

Location, location, location, or is it relationships, relationships, relationships? Definitely relationships. Find them, nurture them and watch sales soar.

At BioZyme®, that last sentence is key to how we view our responsibility to each of you. This is what really differentiates us from the many options you have in selecting a company’s mineral program to bring into your dealership.

At BioZyme, we believe our relationships will become your relationships and vice versa if we find, nurture and soar.

Find

To reach our full potential we all need to find meaningful connections with a very broad palette of folks who see things differently than we do, ask very different questions and imagine very different possibilities. BioZyme is committed to finding these meaningful connections so we can connect you. Our exclusive partnership with Superior is one of those connections. As the data continues to roll in and the exclusive value-added nutrition VitaFerm® Raised and Gain Smart® emblems equate to significantly more per pound (currently a 7 cent per pound advantage), the connection will help sales soar.

Nurture

Eighty-one to 90% of customers research your business before they make a purchase. Researching your business means that they go out of their way to learn about who you are and what you do, try to figure out if they can trust you enough to solve their pain points and watch your ‘moves’ to see if you truly deliver on the results you promise. In today’s business, it is important to establish and nurture a relationship from the very first contact through a carefully crafted process, up until the customer is ready to trust the products enough to make a purchase. BioZyme is committed to making sure at every one of these touch points information is easily and readily available, the products do exactly what we say they do and new products are added that assist with their pain points. We strive to help make business more sustainable – yours and theirs.

Do you have a nurturing process in your business that leads your customer up to a sale and other repeat businesses? If not, take the time, find a way.

Soar

An important ingredient in business is celebrating each and every triumph—and forgetting about each and every failure—both with the people around you and with yourself, too. BioZyme is committed to helping you remember just how amazing you are each and every day.

The defining attribute of a great business relationship is when each party has an emotional stake in the other’s success. That defines this team. So all we need to do is . . . .  Take the Time.  Find a Way.

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”-Zig Ziglar

August 2017 – Letters from Lisa

For many years of my career, I was a business consultant. Now, before you turn the page thinking consultants just don’t get it, give me a few more minutes. In that role, the first question I always asked each business was “what is your goal?” Almost always the answer was to make more money or worse yet many answered, “I don’t really know.” The latter is almost impossible to help, but there are lots of ways to make more money. All of these start with having a clear picture of the opportunity that exists and knowing the best way to take advantage of that opportunity and marry the culture and vision in which you have built your business. Anytime you bring more people into the fold (sub-dealers, employees, partners, etc.) it is imperative that they are clear on the culture, vision, opportunity and approach if making more money (the goal) is to become a reality.

Being clear is not always easy because things are always changing. It is further complicated by the fact that clearly communicating that vision takes lots of time, time none of us seem to have. And finally, change and communication are the two things most people don’t do well.

Certainly, the desire to make more money is simple. So, why is doing it so complex and where does one even begin? Whenever complex things need to be made simple, I always go back to my childhood. My mom was amazing at making things simple, so they would be less stressful for me. One of her techniques was to use tricky little sayings (the fancy word for this is mnemonics) to help me remember facts I needed to get good grades (a large stress for me). One of my favorites was “I before E except after C or when sounding like A in neighbor and weigh.”

I still tend to look for mnemonics to help me keep our amazing team (having an amazing team is imperative to all of this) surrounded with clarity. So here it is: culture eats vision and then invites the 5 D’s over for a snack.

Culture is what gets you to your goal; vision determines the goal. If you articulate a great vision to an organization without the appropriate culture, you’ll never achieve the vision. If your organization has a wonderful culture, but no vision, then you might really enjoy your time together, but you’ll never go anywhere. I believe that the issue is not vision vs. culture, but how to achieve vision + culture. Once you have the sum of the two, you can focus on inviting the 5 D’s to the party. When they arrive they will each represent something unique but connected:

Determine One must HAVE A CLEAR PICTURE of the opportunities available to impact the goal.

Define One must DEFINE & TRACK the GOAL to help guide going after the opportunity.

Decide Hitting a goal is not a fluke, it is intentional. DECIDE how you will hit the goal and implement the plan!

Drive Nothing happens without a driver. DRIVE!

Deflect Lots of folks and things will try to derail the mnemonic. Wear a SUIT OF ARMOUR and deflect them all.

All of this is a lot of work, so don’t forget to celebrate ANY accomplishments along the way. I would love for you to share those with me. I promise that I totally understand that no matter how small you think your accomplishments are, they are major. Major accomplishments deserve a backflip, and that is exactly what I will attempt in the midst of my excitement for you!

May 2017 – Letters from Lisa

At BioZyme® we have been committed to supporting young people involved in the livestock industry for many years. I cannot take credit for that amazing commitment. My husband, Bob, gets full credit for that very smart, passionate way of thinking about business. Since young people are this month’s focus, I thought it much more appropriate for him to write this month’s letter. We are very fortunate to have him as our guest writer this month.

I was recently asked by a colleague what my vision for BioZyme was when I first came here and what or how has it changed during my tenure.

My vision, then and now, was to continue building a “great” company. I say continue because the foundation was already here when I started. To be “great” you must have a talented, passionate and devoted (to customers) workforce. You must have products and services that exceed the customers’ expectations, and most importantly contribute to the customers’ sustainability. Product development, research, manufacturing, quality standards and controls, marketing, sales, logistics, customer service and administration must all be “world class” in performance and culture to achieve this vision.

Culture, the shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an organization (from the hardcopy Webster dictionary sitting on my credenza, yes I still use it!) must be at our core if we are to achieve culturally the vision of “greatness.”  But, where does “greatness” begin?

Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League, was recently recognized as the Walter Peyton NFL Man of the Year. This award is presented annually honoring a player’s volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field. Larry, in his opening remarks, said “GREATNESS BEGINS WITH GIVING.” 

The video footage of Larry Fitzgerald reflected much of his volunteer and charity work with young people. I believe Mr. Fitzgerald would describe his giving as an investment as much as a gift in the traditional sense.

We would certainly describe our giving to be as much of an investment as a gift with the young people that we are privileged to be associated with through the breed association junior programs, shows, 4-H, tours and internship opportunities.

We have the opportunity to teach as well as learn from our young people. We have the opportunity to inspire and be inspired, the opportunity to share our history and experience and to listen to their thoughts, dreams and goals. The opportunity to give and to receive.

In a very few short years these young people will be customers of our products if we earn their trust in our products and brands. These young people will be the leaders of this great country and hopefully carry on the theme of making “America Great Again.” These young people will become the leaders of our company and hopefully will continue the vision of building a great company.

Where better to give, or to invest than in our children? Our young people will carry on the legacy of this country, this company and our agricultural community. Each of us, individually and collectively, has the opportunity to aspire to do great things, big or little, as long as we remember that “GREATNESS BEGINS WITH GIVING.”

Bob Norton

April 2017 – Letters From Lisa

When I think of a harness, I immediately start thinking about a horse. You all know that I love horses (if you didn’t, now you do), and I would say my love is really a passion. Today I feed and clean a stall of a retired champion show horse that is 27. I can’t ride him any more, he’s just a pet. But, I feed him dressed for work, so I regularly go to work with hay hanging from something. I clean the stall at the crack of dawn to get it done before other duties call, and during the week I pay someone to clean for me. If you are like my family, you are asking, “Why does she do this????”

Passion is what inspires you and what gives you the drive to move forward. It gives you a reason to get up, get going and climb into bed excited for it to be morning so you can do it all over again. It’s that adrenaline pump that wakes you up in the middle of the night with a vast idea — one that will be the next (insert something big here).

Based on this definition I would say Tubby is my passion. I carry that passion around with me every day. I only have one thing on my bucket list, and that is to show a horse again. Although I am starting to realize this might not happen, it drives me every day. I feel the same way about BioZyme® and the work I do for it.

“Passion is not something you go after as an end in itself. It’s rather a symptom of your engagement with anything into which you are fully immersed. It’s also not something you usually know you have. Others notice your full involvement with something and they call it ‘passion’. I just call it doing what I feel like doing.” – David Allen, the originator of the book Getting Things Done

So, should one try to harness passion? My family has routinely tried to convince me that I do. My answer is I don’t. Passion shows up in many shapes and forms and you just don’t get to be passionate about one thing or one aspect of life or work. So any kind of harnessing, in my opinion, would be dumb. However, balancing your passion with those around you, your pocketbook and your commitments is not dumb.

I am very passionate about the value of our additives in this new antibiotic-free world, and I believe we will be a leader in developing even more science and products to help animals thrive; however, I don’t only read, meet and think about that. While we are investing money into this exciting, potentially life-changing opportunity, we aren’t going out on a limb financially to do it. We are still working on our commitments to impact the lives of our family (yes you) positively through marketing, programs and support at the same time.

Remember, passion is like chocolate cake, it is amazing, but you can’t survive on it alone. You must know when to give passion a break and bring in reason. Passion slams the gas; reason steers us safely. Passion throws us out of an airplane; reason pulls the parachute cord.

 

March 2017 – Letters from Lisa

At BioZyme®, we track our market share in all the different markets where we are trying to grow. While the sales team would tell you that I use market share as a part of my slave driver approach to growth; it is actually not true. I use market share to motivate our entire team (you too) around the significant opportunity that still awaits us.

Our growth has been impressive and would not be possible without each of you. This growth makes it easy to ask how many more years is this really possible? The answer to that is objective and easy when you assess it from the market share perspective. At the end of 2016, our market share in the cow-calf sector was 1.5%. On a state-by-state basis it ranges from 10% in Indiana down to 0.2% in Texas. Just to give you some comparative perspective, McDonalds has 17% market share in the fast food industry, while the strongly misguided Chipotle has 2.2%.

Increasing market share is one of the most important objectives of business. The main advantage of using market share as a measure of business performance is that it is less dependent upon variables such as the state of the economy or changes in tax policy. Market share is said to be a key indicator of market competitiveness—that is, how well a firm is doing against its competitors. Similarly, within a firm’s product line, market share trends for individual products are considered early indicators of future opportunities.

I am sure by now, you are thinking let’s go grow market share. And because you are thinking that right now, I am hugging you. It is my job to keep the team focused on how to continue to grow that market share. It’s actually not that easy, but there are a few things one should constantly consider:

Stay relevant through innovation. One great way to gain market share is to spot new trends ahead of competitors. Listen carefully when you’re chatting with friends, watching the news or listening to kids talk about what they like. There may be a change in the wind your business can jump on.

Respond to customers – fast. Remember when leaving a voicemail recording that said, “I’ll get back to you within 24 hours” seemed responsive? Not anymore. In this age of real-time, shoppers are increasingly loyal to the company that can fix their problem right now. Check out how fast your competitors respond, and then be faster; customers will take notice.

Keep an open channel for customer ideas. One of those ideas might be your next hit product. So, let’s hear from all of you. What should we be considering as an add-on to our product line up??

Snap up competitors. Sometimes the easiest way to get more customers is to simply buy them. Watch for competitors that might be up for sale and purchase them or their customer lists.

Let’s go get that market share – our BioZyme goal is to get to 2.5% in the next 2 years. WE CAN DO THIS!!

February 2017 – Letters from Lisa

“ACTION IS THE FOUNDATIONAL KEY TO ALL SUCCESS.” -Pablo Picasso

In mid-January, our area prepared for an ice storm compared to nothing we had seen since 1993. I don’t remember the ice storm of 1993, but it must have been bad as they were predicting a ½- to ¾-inch of ice in this storm, a very disruptive amount. A disruptive ice storm is typically one of  ¼- to ½-inch of ice accumulation. This amount of ice starts to damage trees and power lines. As a matter of fact, a  ½ inch accumulation on power lines can add 500 pounds of extra weight.

Having an action plan around this ice storm was important to my survival success, as I am responsible for a very famous horse, two rabbits and three dogs. Our daughter came home so I had to make sure she was safe too. With all that in mind, Bob got an electrician to set up a generator wired to the house for basic power, we (along with everyone else in St. Joe) went to the grocery store and got enough food to last at least a week. We bought every heated blanket and small heater they had left at Target, and I slept on the couch so I would hear the storm hit. I did this for three nights. The ice never came. Was all this action a waste of time or did it have value?

We don’t ever expect to have to deal with an ice storm, a flood or a tornado but when they do happen, the difference between life and death is often determined by how prepared we are for action and how much of a plan we have. The same is true in business.

Here are three easy steps to ensure you maximize the value of your business with planned action.

Pick Your Three “Focus Areas” – Focus Areas are the most important areas for your business to spotlight, the areas that will really help you develop your business. Stick with no more than three, as too many priorities mean you have no top priorities. Sure, you’ll still have to take care of your company’s day-to-day operational needs, but focusing on a few key chunks will actually produce value for your company. Potential focus areas could be:

  • Increasing your lead flow
  • Improving your sales conversion system
  • Speeding up your collections cycle
  • Making a key hire
  • Developing a new product

Define Success for Each of Your Three Focus Areas – generally, you should pick criteria of success that you have control over (or, at the very least, you have a great deal of influence over). It’s important to look for criteria that are as objectively and quantitatively measurable as possible. Pick one “Key Performance Indicator” to track. Your KPI for each Focus Area gives you a yardstick against which to measure progress as you go. By laying out your criteria of success for each Focus Area, you’ll have clear clues for what action steps you need to take.

Lay Out Your Key Action Steps and Milestones – the final step is to lay out the key action steps you need to take and milestones you need to reach to accomplish success for each Focus Area. Try to break down each Focus Area into five to seven action steps. For each action step, pick a team member to be responsible for executing the step by a definite date.

Remember, action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.

January 2017 – Letters From Lisa

game chang·er
noun
noun: game changer; plural noun: game changers
1. an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something.

With a goal to help ensure safe food and the sustainable use of antibiotics for animals and humans, the FDA published the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) to promote the responsible use of antibiotics for food-producing animals. The regulation requires a VFD for all medically important antibiotics (those important in human health) administered in feed, and a veterinary prescription for all medically important antibiotics used in water. However, there are concerns that FDA’s position could disproportionately affect small livestock farmers, have a negative effect on animal health and increase the cost of producing food while not improving public health.

Michael R. Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said “We believe that veterinarians should work with their clients to explore alternative approaches for managing certain animal health conditions, and we will be working with animal producers and drug companies to make any needed changes in approved conditions of use. Antimicrobial resistance is everyone’s problem. It requires determination and cooperation to make the changes needed to protect the utility of these life-saving drugs. We are grateful for the way our partners and stakeholders across the food system are responding to this challenge.”

4keypointsAll this sounds like a game changer to me. As business leaders, how do we manage a game changer and still GROW exponentially? And yes it is possible because when there is a will there is a way. Here are some ideas:

  1. Be Aware – Be aware of the emotions and needs of others, and how all of this will be embraced in the market.
  2. Have Purpose – If you want to maximize the value of a real game changer have a purpose that serves, improves, helps and inspires.
  3. Focus on Relationship – All business boils down to people (employees, customers, partners, investors, vendors, etc.), and people mean relationships.
  4. Transform – If nothing changes, if nothing is created, if nothing is improved, if nothing is transformed, then you don’t have a game changer. You simply cannot experience sustainable improvement without transformation.

It was Albert Einstein who said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Don’t get entangled in complexities – become heavily invested in the simplicity of using a game changer to your advantage.