You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Entrepreneurs are in the business of taking risks, whether investing in a start-up or reinvesting in an existing business.  Without a silver bullet for success, mitigating the day-to-day can present unforeseen challenges.  The job description of CEO can quickly become “jack-of-all-trades” and “expert-of-none.”

There is inherent and undeniable value in finding a good advisor(s) who can provide not only strategic direction but tactical assistance in moving the business forward.  An external strategic firm with in-depth industry knowledge and a diligent focus can be an indispensible ally for an entrepreneur, SMB, or large firm.  It can prevent failures in strategy or uncover important insights to ensure success.

Management consultants can provide information, resolution, implementation, and overall organizational effectiveness to move a business forward.  In order for the relationship to be successful, entrepreneurs must remember to:

Trust – Finding the right relationship with an advisor is critical.  Without trust, the relationship could prove to be detrimental and result in less than effective results.

Engage – Collaborating with an advisor is a key ingredient to the success.  Entrepreneurs must continue to engage and actively get involved with conversations regarding the business.

Execute – Listening and learning are important. Success, however, lies in the execution.

Understanding the value of consultation with a strategic firm can be a crucial step towards building or furthering a successful business. The proper course of action for bridging strategy and execution differs greatly for every business, and can be a difficult path to discover. Rather than play a guessing game, business owners should free themselves from the extreme demands of the “jack-of-all-trades” cliché, focus on driving the business forward as the CEO, and let the consultant handle the items that they don’t know.

Atlanta Shows Strong Support for Local Startups and Growing Businesses

With news that hiring had slowed, preventing unemployment levels from dropping as predicted, 2011 began with an inauspicious economic outlook. Georgia in particular entered the year seeking to end a three year slide of job losses. While the times have been hard on business across the board, startup and budding small businesses in the heart of Metropolitan Atlanta have continued to emerge, undeterred by the grim conditions.

Largely against what might be expected with the overall economic climate, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), an Atlanta-based strategy firm, and its local clients have managed to show that entrepreneurship is alive and well. Driven by innovation and carefully executed strategies to overcome the volatility of the small business environment, both Junction and a number of its Atlanta-based clients are achieving unprecedented growth in the first half of 2011.

AcuteCare Telemedicine, an emerging Atlanta-based teleneurology services provider, has seen business grow 60% since 2010. The company has successfully contracted with both urban and suburban hospitals in the Atlanta area to provide expert neurology services through remote presence technologies. AcuteCare’s model drives down costs for medical facilities while effectively increasing quality of care, potentially saving lives in the process.

The 4 partners remain optimistic in the continued growth of their business in Georgia and throughout the Southeast as the company gains visibility in the industry. “Atlanta has long been a successful incubator for entrepreneurs,” says Matthews Gwynn, M.D., CEO, AcuteCare Telemedicine. COO, Keith Sanders, M.D. adds, “Even in these difficult financial times, the reasonable regulatory environment will help this city continue to lead the way as the economy improves.”

Competitive Sports Analysis, LLC (CSA), headed by serial entrepreneur Diane Bloodworth, launched a new interactive website integrated with its pioneering scoutPRO™ technology, designed to help fantasy football players gain a competitive edge. CSA has fostered growth throughout the first and second quarters by embracing a well planned business and marketing strategy.

Bloodworth is fond of the entrepreneurial environment in Atlanta, having moved from Washington, D.C. 6 years ago. “I am always impressed with the support of Atlanta’s community. We have received excellent guidance through initiatives like the StartupChicks Accelerator Program and the ATDC Angel Readiness Program.” Added Bloodworth, “With the resources available here to businesses such as ours, it has been very rewarding to see our ideas successfully implemented.”

Julie Gareleck, Managing Partner, Junction, says “We are fortunate to have clients who reinforce the core principles of our own business: authenticity, integrity, value, and most importantly, true entrepreneurship.” Junction has exemplified a strong belief in the power of the right planning for business. “Our firm is dedicated to delivering strategies that hold strong value for our clients, and we work diligently to practice what we preach.”

Gareleck’s firm and its clients take a measure of inspiration from each other to drive business, drawing insight from the attitudes and approaches displayed by one another. In its own strategy and execution, Junction is positioned well to creatively react to the constant changes surrounding the business environment.

Theory M, a software development and consulting firm that leverages new technologies to help clients implement multimedia strategies across multiple platforms, has valued Junction’s philosophies to capitalize on hidden opportunities available to them in Atlanta. “Like Junction, we recognize that we need to be flexible. Luckily, Atlanta is a growth area for new technology and is attracting the type of talented professionals that are interested in the challenge,” says Michael Mayer, Managing Partner, Theory M.

Coming from completely varied industries, businesses such as AcuteCare Telemedicine, Competitive Sports Analysis, and Theory M are showing that Atlanta is ripe with entrepreneurs and small businesses that are prospering with the right approach. “Despite the outlook, it is a promising time for an opportunistic business that knows how to acclimatize itself,” says Gareleck. “Atlanta is experiencing a boom of businesses that have come to this realization, and we’re so excited to be part of it.”

Junction Discusses Authenticity, Value on The Business Hour

Julie Gareleck, Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions, recently joined host Ron Comacho as the featured guest on The Business Hour, broadcasted live across the web on www.americaswebradio.com.

The hour-long interview focused on topics related to Junction’s unique positioning as a valuable hybrid agency in the broad marketplace of firms offering “consulting services.” Gareleck described how every business has unique strengths and inherent weaknesses, but regardless of industry, well-researched and effectively planned strategy is a universal necessity for success. She illustrated how several of Junction’s clients, ranging in size from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, have leveraged sound strategy to thrive in a highly competitive, quickly evolving business environment.

Comacho’s questions drilled down to the details of how Junction, as a growing firm, can generate great impact and supply measurable return on investment by providing custom-tailored solutions. The conversation included an examination of how Junction capitalizes on its own core values of authenticity and integrity in this process. Founded on the same spirit of entrepreneurship that drives its clients, the company has been fortunate to have fostered a reputation for delivering real value in its services as it has grown from a one-woman operation to a team of 12.

The entire conversation is available for listening in The Business Hour’s Archive, at http://www.radiosandysprings.com/podcasts/BusinessHourJuly29.2011.mp3

Does Your Brand Have Staying Power?

It was hard to miss the 4-page spread in The New York Times celebrating IBM’s 100th anniversary.  Ranked by Forbes as the 31st largest company in the world, IBM proves its staying power despite the loss of its founder, Thomas J. Watson, Sr. The company operates on  the principle that a business’ long term success hinges not on its current products or offerings, but its institutions of culture and values.  Watson and his successors encouraged embracing innovation in order to understand why the organization does what it does rather than simply how it does it.

For IBM, inventing the UPC bar code and developing a computer that understands language well enough to win Jeopardy! were processes motivated by the company’s drive to constantly innovate to improve how technology serves the world.  Watson’s legacy continues.

As of May 2011, with 35 years in business, Apple Inc. has become one of the largest and the most valuable technologies companies in the world surpassing Microsoft.   A long-time competitor to IBM, Apple differentiated its brand, greatly influenced by its founder, Steve Jobs.  The company believes in fostering individuality and excellence in order to be best in breed.

Powerhouse players like Apple will have to face the same inevitable challenge. When a figure such as Steve Jobs comes to the end of his career as its unequivocal head, will Apple preserve the momentum and maintain its lead in the industry?

As valuable a concept as this is for a large scale international corporation, so too is it for the entrepreneur or small business owner.  Understanding how a business delivers on its purpose is a key to finding success that goes beyond a clever idea or a sensational product.   Businesses must be able to react and adapt to changing climates, leaders, and innovations in the marketplace.

Although most companies will never attain the heights of IBM or Apple Inc., it’s important to identify the values needed to create the ultimate staying power in an ever-evolving business world.

Junction Creative Solutions Educates Atlanta-Based Women Entrepreneurs On The Importance Of Strategy In Growing Sustainable Businesses

 ATLANTA, GA: November 18, 2010 – Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) participated in the “Ask the Experts Round-Table Discussion” hosted by StartUpChicks, a non-profit organization focused on connecting and inspiring entrepreneurial women.  Experts shared key insights from business planning to exit strategy with women business owners in the Atlanta region.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions related to challenges with launching, marketing, and sustaining new business ventures,” said Julie Gareleck, managing partner, Junction.  “It’s so critical to have a business plan or a roadmap to guide execution – strategically and successfully.

Gareleck shared lessons learned from her experiences in building the strategic firm from ground zero.  In 18 months, Junction has grown to a team of 9, in 3 locations (Atlanta, Central PA, and Costa Rica), with clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.  She stressed the importance of having a business plan, a living-breathing document that can be adapted as the company grows.

In addition to Gareleck, panelists included: Peter Rosen, HR Strategies & Solutions; Jackie Hutter , General Counsel and Chief IP Officer; Allison Siavage, Siavage Law Group; Kenji Kuramoto , AcuityCFO; Jody Fennell and Ella Dyer , Abundant Closet; and Lynn Scott and Lisa B. Dowling, Arnold Golden Gregory Law Firm.  Topics included:  IP, legal, finance, outsourcing, fundraising, branding, marketing, and strategic planning. 

“StartUpChicks is a great organization for women entrepreneurs.  Junction is a proud sponsor of the organization and its growing member base,” said Gareleck. “We hope the number of new businesses continue to rise, fueling the entrepreneurial environment in Atlanta.”

 About StartupChicks

StartupChicks was founded in February of 2009 when the founder, Jen Bonnett, noted the extreme dearth in women attending various local entrepreneurial events. The company has grown from its original five founding members to a membership of over 500 and has hosted numerous educational and social events for its members.  The StartUpChicks mission is to connect entrepreneurial women and to grow, inspire and educate women on entrepreneurship as a career/life choice.

Atlanta Based Motion Stability Introduces the Launch of a New Brand Strategy and Website

ATLANTA, GA: October 28, 2010 — Motion Stability, a leading physical therapy and rehabilitation center headquartered in Atlanta, GA, introduces a new brand strategy and website.  Motion Stability, a practice committed to excellence, offers a user-friendly online experience to educate and inform patients.

“We stress the importance of our multi-dimensional approach for evaluating and treating pain to our clients.  We wanted the site to include the latest research and relevant information helpful to understanding how to restore performance and resolve pain,” said Brian Yee, owner, Motion Stability.  “As well, we want our clients to continually have access to our team and our research.”

The website is designed with the customer in mind, allowing visitors to quickly navigate areas of the website to learn about current and upcoming trends in research, articles, patient information, educational courses, and community involvement.

“We believe in Brian Yee’s vision for Motion Stability.  He has created a thriving and sustainable business with a unique combination of industry knowledge, experience, and customer-focus,” said Julie Cropp Gareleck, Junction Creative Solutions. “We greatly enjoyed working with Brian and his amazing team at Motion Stability. We wish the team much success with their practice and their new website!”

To visit the new site, visit www.motionstability.com.

About Motion Stability

Motion Stability opened its doors in 2006 as a rehabilitation organization for clinical excellence, evidence-based research and professional course training.  With over 10 years of experience working with a continuum of patients – from acute to chronic pain to elite level athletes in the PGA Tour, NFL, USTA, NBA, and Olympics – – Brian Yee, owner, established one of the leading physical therapy and rehabilitation centers in Atlanta, GA.  The team at Motion Stability shares passion, diverse talent, and a drive for providing the best level of care for injuries as well as comprehensive strategies for resolving pain and dysfunction.  The therapists provide education, tools, and resources to insure that patients are able to maintain good health and prevent future injury.

EXECUTION by Non-Execution

As strange as it may sound, it makes perfect sense.

What do all successful businesses have in common?  They execute and they deliver. Yet, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day tasks, losing sight of the bigger picture.  Consistency in execution is the bullet proof vest that is going to keep your company from getting executed on its own accord.

Strategic planning is crucial for the growth of business.  Business owners are keenly aware of just how difficult growth is with the constant changes in our economy.  Some have a strategic plan laying around that cost the company big bucks, although it’s lost somewhere in a file cabinet.  Others have found it unnecessary to market the business or create a solidified marketing strategy.

Don’t make that mistake.  Shooting from the hip can only work for so long before the business comes crashing down.  Have a plan, work the plan, adjust the plan, and execute consistently.  Then, do it all over again.  We have yet to meet someone who wears a bullet proof vest well.

Be Contextual. Be Relevant.

If Facebook was a country, it would have a population of 400 million and be the third largest country in the world. 70% of its users are outside the United States.  Nearly 50% of all users login daily.  YouTube announced that it has reached 2 billion videos on the popular portal.  Twitter has more than 75 million user accounts. Linked In boasts 50 million users. Flickr hosts more than 4 billion images.

We see the statistics.  We hear the industry buzz.  Yet, many of us fail to harness the power of social media to be contextual and relevant to target consumers.  What are you waiting for?  Build your own country.

“Comprehensive” means what?

As companies explore marketing solutions designed to create awareness, build influence, and ultimately generate revenue, it’s incredibly challenging to create a truly “comprehensive” marketing strategy.   What does “comprehensive” mean?

It’s more than just one solution, one tactic, and one person’s idea.  It’s about many solutions such as: Twitter, a blog, a press room, LinkedIn, affiliate marketers, media buying, media pitching, seminars, podcasts, webinars, mobile applications, or Facebook.    It’s about having an ongoing tactical execution that can be adapted over time as needed.  It’s about collective perspective.

Whether you are a small business owner or a member of the corporate marketing team, be mindful of your strategy.  The marketing mix if executed consistently will establish a relationship with target audiences, encourage participation in the conversation, and mobilize audiences to act.

We’d love to hear how you are being more comprehensive?

Listen

As the marketing world evolves, it’s often the case that creative motivations take precedence over what customers actually want and expect. Listen to your customer. Accept that it’s more about them than you.