You can’t win if you’re not on the same page.  Ten reasons why the One-Page Strategic Plan created by Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits improves a company’s performance. Remember the back of the napkin – the one where you doodled your first business plan? Or perhaps it was a whiteboard in windowless room where you fervently scrawled your ideas on how to change or dominate your industry. Regardless, it was that one page that helped bring your business, or ideas to fruition. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO at the helm of established organization or an entrepreneur who created a company from the ground up, I’ve seen many business leaders develop extraordinary ideas on the back of a napkin over lunch meetings – and probably more over a dinner late into the evening. The point is – there’s a remarkable sense of clarity that comes from creating a strategic plan that fits on one page.

The basics of vision and brand promise – part I. The clients I coach often ask me to describe the difference between vision, mission, purpose, mantra, positioning statements and BHAGs. There’s a lot of overlap in these words and different people use them differently; however, I centre my clients on two concepts to keep them focused on an action-oriented strategy – vision and brand promise. Developing an enduring vision alongside an engaging brand promise helps entrepreneurs and executives clearly determine their strategic goals, create a results-driven plan to achieve their goals and establish a fully aligned and coordinated organization that knows exactly what it needs to do to meet un-met, or under-met needs in the market.

The basics of vision and brand promise – part II. The concept of brand promise is where I will focus on more in depth now, because as I detailed in Part I, there are many rudimentary definitions of brand promise shared online and in business. As I previously mentioned, a brand promise is not a tagline telling customers what they should expect from your business. This is instead a positioning statement and while this statement is important in engaging customers to do business with your company, make no mistake, it is not a brand promise.

Expel the Elephants. When I started coaching CEOs and Entrepreneurs more than a decade ago, I expected to see some similar challenges and opportunities amongst them; however, little did I know at the time just how much the same issues, obstacles and opportunities would arise. It doesn’t matter whether or not my business-coaching clients are based in Vancouver, British Columbia, across North America or internationally such as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. It doesn’t matter which industry they operate in, their stage of growth, or if they are a company with seven employees or 7,000, the same principles used to ignite business performance apply.

Here is a summary of the 20 top principles that inspire business leaders, motivate employees with the desire to be the best and help CEOs and Entrepreneurs get what they really want now. The complete ebook can be downloaded here for free.

The next 90 days. Well, you are now off to a good start: you have drafted your One Page Plan, have an inspiring (and scary) BHAG as well as 3-5 Key Rocks for the Quarter. The workshop is over; you’re back in the office, now what?

CEOs and Entrepreneurs are jumping into 2010, ready for new challenge’s but are your employees ready and engaged? Inevitably, through my travels across North America and globally, CEOs and entrepreneurs have shared their exasperation over the many economic, competitive and corporate challenges they faced during the last year.  Indeed, for many, 2009 was an interesting year; however, we must not lose sight of our ongoing efforts to ready ourselves, our teams, and our companies for the new opportunities in the year ahead.

Revisiting the Magic of Action. Let’s revisit the Magic of Action, which I wrote several years ago to help CEOs and entrepreneurs take action on problems, issues and situations that plague them daily.You remember the story of the Princess and the Toad. It’s a story where an unhappy Princess frees a handsome Prince from a frog’s body with a juicy, wet kiss?

Are you having a customer experience today? Jim Skinner, McDonalds Vice-Chairman and CEO, leads a company that has seen a dramatic increase in results in the last few years (quadrupled their dividend to $1.2B over the past four years and raised the stock price from $25 to a peak of $65). Jim started out as a McDonald’s restaurant manager trainee in 1971 in Carpentersville, Ill and worked his way to the top job.

Make sure new people fit and bribe the rest to quit. Zappos takes fanatical customer service and a high energy culture to deliver more than shoes over the Internet. Zappos CEO Tony Hsich is committed to an organization that constantly amazes their customers.

Catching Zzzzs: Your sleep tips. Here is an article from CNN Money.com called, Catching Zzzzs: Your Sleep Tips. I was happy to be able to contribute my own personal tip on getting a good night’s sleep.

Optimizing email: Stay productive, not busy. Does email boost or hinder your performance? It all depends on how you use it. Email offers us countless ways to save time and be more productive, but when we go on “email autopilot” – checking the inbox repeatedly, typing out messages that should be discussed, copying people who are only peripherally involved, and other bad habits we’ve picked up along the way – email can make us more busy than productive.

Facing the brutal facts. In any business, the best answer to the biggest problem is usually right in front of us… but until the leader commits to conquering (instead of patching) the core issues, the company can’t advance to the next level.

Finding the flow. Racing cars has long been a passion of mine. I love high-performance cars like I love high performance people – riding the edge, where life is focused, energized and precise. Over the years, I’ve realized that days at the race track can be perfect opportunities to discover fundamental rules of high personal performance, in any realm.

The Leader’s Edge: How to transform a company by unlocking the leader. If you take a close look at most entrepreneurs in their first year of business, you’d find an impressive level of passion, commitment and vision. They know what they want and they’re ready to take on the world to get it. A few years later, that fire often begins to wane, and beyond that many entrepreneurs are on a steady path to overwhelm, exhaustion and burnout.

The most important – and overlooked – measure of return on investment. When ambitious entrepreneurs set their minds to accomplish something, they can summon a tremendous amount of drive, tenacity and commitment to make their vision a reality. And what a vision it is… a luxurious home, expensive cars, fine dining and more. Ah, the trappings of success!

Slash the Knot. What does Alexander the Great have in common with Richard Branson, Michael Dell and Jim Pattison? Alexander the Great lived only 33 years – from 356 to 323 B.C. But in that short time, Alexander forged the greatest contiguous empire the world has ever known, stretching from south-eastern Europe to Egypt, and east as far as India.

Using DISC personality profiles to hire better staff and better manage your existing staff. Wouldn’t you love it if there was a sure fire, 100 per cent accurate tool that would guarantee hiring only the most suitable staff? Well, even though I would love to find it, I do not know of such a perfect device. But I will share with you highly effective tools for helping you make better, more informed hiring and management decisions.

Ready, Aim, Fire! How to professionally end your working relationships with a client. One of the most predictable, sure fire ways to get a room full of professionals and business owners to sweat is discussing the firing of a client who drives them crazy. Some clients cost more than they could ever pay them in fees. We have all had these types of clients.

The power of niche marketing to build your business. In the current atmosphere of the competitive, changing world of business, you may find yourself asking “What can I do to stay competitive, distinguish my services, and still be able to charge higher rates while at the same time attracting more, high quality clients?”  The answer is simple: Become an “expert” by focusing on a specific field or market.

Raising the bar on headache clients: How to get your difficult clients to willingly shape up or ship out! Difficult clients, you know the ones – you cringe when they call, you dread meeting with them, you lose sleep thinking about sending your bill and having to deal with their backlash, and you have to fight to get paid what you’re worth.

The Magic of Action: How to overcome procrastination – How you CAN beat the procrastination habit. Remember the story of the Princess and the Toad, where an unhappy Princess frees a handsome Prince from a frog’s body with a juicy, wet kiss? Imagine she’d avoided the Toad, and that instead, our Princess had looked at him and thought: “How disgusting.  I’ll never kiss you.”  The story would have a new ending: Rather than marrying a handsome, young prince and living a heavenly life, our princess would continue along her way, unhappy and despairing, having missed a great opportunity.

How to build your business with referrals and repeat business. Your business is a lot like a big wooden barrel in an old farmyard full of other barrels. Your barrel holds all of your customers. The other barrels belong to your competition. When a customer leaves, for whatever reason, think of this as your barrel of business leaking – part of its content is being drained.

Calculate the true value of your customers. The value of a customer cannot be overrated, and you shall soon understand why. The following story proves that the true value of a customer can barely ever be measured; it is always potentially huge.

How to use email to build client relationships and generate referrals. In a world moving at a faster pace every day, where people expect their needs to be gratified instantly, there is no better tool for relationship and business building than email. How else could people keep up with the demand for prompt and quick service that exists in today’s frenetically paced market? Email can help you add value, increase customer loyalty and generate referrals.

How to profit from customer complaints. Complaining customers are a scary proposition for many professionals, but the complaint situation represents an opportunity, not a problem, in most cases. If you deal with a person’s concerns respectfully and helpfully, your effort and consideration will almost always be appreciated, and former complainers will walk away feeling happy and valued.

Why customers leave and how you can ensure they stay. It’s always frustrating when a client leaves. Most likely, a lot of time and energy was spent prospecting and then serving that individual or business.  And now, you’re left with nothing.

Top 12 ways you can over-deliver value to your clients. In our business, we’re often asked the question: “How can I over-deliver and, thereby, ensure high levels of customer retention and referrals?” Here’s our answer, in the form of a “Top 12 Ways You Can Over-Deliver Value To Your Clients” list.

Ten steps to generate endless referrals and profits. Here are some business building ideas to help you start off on the right foot. If you implement these strategies, your efforts will be rewarded – with an endless stream of customers and profits.

How to generate endless referrals from your networking activities. Building a business takes patience, perseverance, and lots of hard work.  And selling yourself to potential clients and contacts can often be the most difficult part of the whole process.  It’s good to meet new people and tell them what you do, but it’s not enough.

Ten essential things you must know about your customers. Knowledge is a powerful fuel that propels successful businesses.  It helps you understand how your business rates with clients, and it allows you to make positive changes to accommodate their unique and varied needs.

Do you know what your customers really think of you? Each time you lose a potential or existing customer or fail to obtain a referral, there’s a reason why.  You may not know it, but it exists.  That’s why getting plenty of feedback from your clients is very important.

Looking to make a stronger first impression and be remembered by potential customers? You only have about 15 seconds to get the attention and respect of a new person that you meet. People make a subconscious judgement about whether to deal with you in those critical few seconds. If you don’t get them then, you may not have a second chance.

Getting paid what you are really worth as an accounting firm. Finding an accountant in North America that feels like they get paid what they’re worth by their clients is like finding a unicorn in your backyard – a rare find.  The reality is that most accounting firms I’ve worked or spoken with feel that they are underpaid regularly.

From compliance to reliance for accountants: Why should accountants make the shift from compliance services to advisory services? The field of professional accounting has shifted its focus considerably during the 1990’s. Large companies like American Express in the United States have begun offering accounting services.  Software companies are now producing accounting software packages that make it easier for individuals and businesses to perform their own bookkeeping and preliminary accounting services.