Busting Branding Myths

Every company has a brand. Some have worked to carefully build their brand, while others have been assigned a brand from their customers that they would rather not have. For every company, the work of defining and building a brand never stops. Because of changing markets, competitors, and products, there is always a need to close the gap between our current brand positioning and our desired brand positioning. It’s possible for any company to close the gap, but you will want to avoid these five branding myths to reach your goal.

I need to have a big budget to build a brand

It’s possible to create and maintain a strong brand regardless of size of company or budget. Start by defining what sets your company apart from the competition in the mind of your customer, or the dominant selling idea (DSI). Once the DSI is determined, communicate it to customers, and deliver on promises with Iaser-like focus. As leaders, we can accomplish our desired brand identity with clarity, intentionality, and time, all of which don’t cost money. It’s up to leaders to decide if we want to put in the effort to cultivate our brand or have one given to us by default.

The best brands are entertaining

There is a difference between entertainment and effective branding. creating something memorable doesn’t give you lasting business. Poor service, quality, product, etc. will always undermine advertising. Being first or spending the most money doesn’t matter all that much. Focus more on consistently exceeding customer expectations and less on making an initial splash in a market.

Branding is the job of my marketing team

Creative branding ideas are only a start. Billions have been wasted in making a splash rather than building value. While this culture has subdued a bit, it’s imperative for CEOs to understand and authorize marketing efforts – both from the perspective that it requires good stewardship and the fact that the company brand flows out of company culture. Your brand must align with the firm’s stated mission and core values to be credible to internal employees and external customers. Do the work of creating the desired internal brand, and the results will manifest in a quality external brand.

There is no silver bullet on how to build a brand

The truth is, there is a silver bullet, but most companies aren’t willing to put in the time and effort it takes to implement. Successful brands are built with consistent, tightly crafted brand messaging and constant follow through. Break through the clutter by consistently delivering on your promises, and over time your brand positioning will continue to improve.

What built my brand will maintain my brand

Sustained success means conveying a sense of trust and perceived quality. This happens over time, but new threats to your brand are constantly emerging. New competitors, products, delivery systems, and communication tools will be introduced. Your mission of consistent messaging and follow through will remain, but the strategy in which you accomplish those things will need to change along the way to take the next step in your brand positioning.

When you have questions on business topics like branding, how do you get the answers you need to grow your business? Every month, thousands of Christian business owners and CEOs gather together to answer questions and share best practices learned from the combined hundreds of years of business experience around the table.

Operational Fitness Is Key To Organizational Wellness

Every year, thousands of people resolve to better maintain their personal fitness. But unfortunately, it’s also the most frequently broken. This truth not only applies to our personal fitness goals, but to our professional goals as well.

After years and years of doing things a certain way, it is challenging to make intentional shifts in your operating culture. However, it is a challenge worth pursuing, as a little intentionality and perseverance can propel your business to the next level and create a dynamic culture of continual improvement.

If you’re a Christian CEO, business owner, or leader, here are a few ways to keep your organization in robust health:

Find Christian Mentors 
It is imperative that leaders have peers in their lives to serve as trusted advisors that can help navigate key business issues, provide qualified advice, and ensure accountability. A wise man once said, “It doesn’t matter if you are a tree in full foliage if you don’t produce fruit.” A Christian mentor or peer group can help dig deep and help discover ways to produce results.

Pursue Biblical Wisdom
We can learn a lot about both leadership and equipping others to lead through Scripture. If you’ve resolved to shape up your business, making time to meditate on God’s word should be a concrete part of that plan. Being in tune with God’s will and calling for your life provides the peace only He can provide.

Focus on Alignment
Top-down leadership is the demise of many business. The alternative is an aligned, team-based approach which creates a culture of enthusiasm and shared responsibility. Like a team of horses pulling a heavy load, if one or more horses pulls in a different direction, you can get off course quickly.  Make sure your efforts are focused on the road ahead.

Joining C12 can help you stick to your professional and personal goals through peer-to-peer support and one-on-one counseling with an experienced C12 Chair. To learn more about business leadership through C12.

Business & Ministry Ideas for Your Business



Looking for practical ways to incorporate ministry into your business? Here is a list of proven ideas you and your team can start to implement!  C12 Faith & Business best practices

What Scripture Teaches Us About Debt

We’re living in a culture where instant gratification is expected, but business owners often find that accumulating significant debt can be detrimental.

Whether it is declining prices, dropping value, rising interest rates, or a sharp drop in sales, you should always protect yourself from the worst case scenario.

As a Christian leader, that means pausing, planning, and praying before borrowing money. There is no Biblical ban on debt; however, we are clearly and frequently warned of its risks through Scripture. 

A Healthy Debt Perspective 

From a business perspective, you should remember that debt isn’t a crutch for ongoing operating problems or unprofitability. 
Rather, you should focus on paying off debt to improve margins, earning the right to later employ a modest amount of debt for funding strategic growth projects.

Repeating the cycle every few years will help you stay within a comfortable debt-to-equity range. Some of the most successful firms have followed this model, borrowing at favorable terms and paying it down rapidly, thereby creating the financial capacity to do it again and further enhancing their growth. 

Being a Good Steward 
Debt is not something that should be entered into hastily. You should think strategically about how to protect yourself from the risks outlined in Scripture. Still, Christians sometimes find themselves in danger of defaulting on their obligations. In these cases, we must think proactively, establishing a plan to retain long-term stewardship and pay back our creditors. Regardless of your situation, it is wise to remember that debt carries risks and comes with a great deal of responsibility. 

Support at C12 
Debt is a common topic discussed during our monthly forums. Members learn from their Chairs and each other how to grow their businesses while being responsible stewards.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a part of C12, contact C12 Central Texas today!

Spending Too Much Time in Meetings?

Use this 12 Point Checklist to Create More Productive Meetings

Looking at the habits of chief executives, many studies over the years have pointed out that only about 20% of our work time is focused on the vital value-adding elements of our jobs. Our most important contributions are achieved during this relatively small portion of our overall workweek. The remaining 80% of our time is typically spent in a variety of unproductive ways. Since time is the one commodity we all have in equal supply, how wisely we use it will largely determine whether our businesses thrive or just muddle along!

One specific area in which we can lead by example, is through effective meetings!  The following checklist of questions can be used to help improve time-management and outcomes of your meetings so you can be more productive focusing on your customers and the bottom-line!

  1. What is the purpose of the meeting? Do we really need to hold it?
  2. What is the agenda (including objective) and when does it need to be in the hands of those attending to enable them to prepare to contribute effectively?
  3. Who will attend and for what specific purpose?
  4. Will advanced information be provided?
  5. Who will run the meeting? Is this a coaching or delegation opportunity?
  6. How long will the meeting last? (define expectations for start and end times)
  7. Will presentations be made? If so, by whom and for how long? Will copies be provided?
  8. What is my strategy for this meeting and how will I keep it on track?
  9. What physical set-up will best facilitate group interaction? (consider visual displays)
  10. What decisions must be made at this meeting and who will be responsible for implementing the decision(s)?
  11. Who will take notes and how/when will they be distributed?
  12. Is a follow up meeting necessary? If so, when?


©2007, C12, all rights reserved

Mid-Year Business Check-up

The year is half over – it’s an excellent time to stop and assess how you are doing and reflect on how your actions and leadership are impacting your business and faith. Take this quick check-up to assess your progress.

  1. Are your best customers happy? Most companies get 80% of their business from 20% of their customers. If your key customers are unhappy, this is an indication that there are serious problems that need to be addressed and fixed. Are your key customers ecstatic or are they ready to jump ship?
  2. Is employee turnover too high? Are you losing more people, especially key players? Employee turnover relates to many variables and can be an indicator of several different problems. Basic compensation policies may need to be changed or some managers may need to be trained or replaced, just to name a few of the variables to consider.
  3. Are you developing new business? Are you gaining or losing against the competition to get new customers? If your marketing, R&D, and sales efforts are healthy, you should be faring well among your competitors. Are you growing at a healthy rate for your industry?
  4. Are your communications effective? Are your meetings boring and unproductive? Do the same mistakes seem to occur? Are you paying too much for rework on items that should have been done right the first time? Are you confident that your key players have the right information?
  5. Are your goals clear, and do they relate to and support your vision?Can all your employees recite your Mission Statement, and do they use it to make decisions in the business? Obtaining buy-in to your mission, goals and objectives is a core leadership function. Employees need to feel part of a team; something bigger than a paycheck. If you were to take your best employees and ask them to state your company mission statement, goals, and core values, how confident would you feel waiting for their answer?
  6. Does your compensation system support your desired culture? Do you pay for performance or do you pay for simply putting in time? Your compensation strategy should be an integral part of your corporate strategy. Setting clear performance goals and rewarding those who achieve them, is the best way to improve overall performance within your organization. Are your employees paid well in comparison to your competitors employees in similar positions?
  7. Are your employees working too many hours? Are you?Overworked and overextended staff often make mistakes. This condition is generally indicative of bigger problems. If you or your staff average 70-90 hours per week, it’s time to evaluate workflows and efficiencies.
  8. Are your financial reports current, reliable, and useful to you in operating your business? Managing a business without relevant and reliable financial information, or having a team without any accountability to them can be costly.
  9. Have your recent initiatives been successful?Initiatives can relate to entering new markets or installing a new compensation system. It can also include changes to improve processes or procedures, or the culture of a healthy business to make it healthier.

How did you do?

If you recognize any area that needs work, dedicate some valuable time to working on solutions. You’ll see improved performance among your employees – and a better bottom line. If you would like to learn more about joining a local Business Forum, contact us today!
“Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully.” – 1 Peter 4:10

Bridging the Gap Between Sunday Faith and Monday Work

What’s your view on your business and faith? Have you considered a transition from making a living to making a life for yourself and those entrusted to you? Have you crystallized a long-term vision, enabling the work/faith integration, fruitful ministry, and business excellence that your team is actively pursuing?

C12 challenges our members to break down the wall of separation between faith and work by helping Christian CEOs and business owners realize they can live one integrated life, seven days a week. Your faith can be reflected through your business so that active ministry flows to the thousands of stakeholders your company touches each year. You can become Chief Ministry Officer — not just Chief Executive Officer. In fact, there’s no one else who can provide such leadership over the company God has specifically given to you. A healthy, growing business is a solid platform from which you can become a spiritual influence to others.

Do you struggle with your calling as Christ’s disciple and ambassador? What could you change to close the gap between your company’s actual performance and its potential? Consider these four keys to seeing your work as both worship and ministry:

  1. Passion: Faith, talent, and education are certainly critical to a fruitful business, but if we’re “running on empty,” without passion for the Lord’s purpose, we’ll fall short. Evoking passion takes ongoing intimacy with the Lord through daily, intentional quiet time. Operating from a full heart that’s passionate to share the love of Christ is key for living the significant life God desires. Godly passion leads to our character becoming more like Christ.
  1. Relationships: To build loyal relationships at work, leaders must focus on meeting the needs of those they serve, consistent with Jesus’ command for us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mt. 22:39). Focus on people – not just processes, products, and profits, so you can earn the right to share the Good News. CEOs who are Christ- and others-centric will earn trust and loyalty by displaying competence, character, and a caring heart.
  2. Margin: Align your priorities with scriptural wisdom. If your schedule is crammed with commitments and distractions, little time remains to spend with God and minister to others. Maintain enough margin in your schedule and delegate duties so you can be accountable to use the time, energy, and resources that have the greatest impact on those the Lord has placed in your life.
  3. Discipline: God provides us with plenty of opportunities, but we must fulfill our roles as servant leaders in the marketplace. Given your positional authority, this requires ongoing personal discipline to give God all the glory. Building a fruitful business ministry requires articulating a clear, God-honoring vision and defining priorities for the business. The key is trusting Him (Pr. 3:5-6), and giving Him the praise.

By removing fears and separating secular from sacred, many business owners begin the powerful transformation of creating a fruitful business ministry. A renewed sense of purpose takes flight that affords the ability for leaders to build like-minded teams, delegate daily management tasks, and reshape priorities to be a better steward — both at home and at work.

Take the Next Step

C12’s business best practices are based on Biblical principles and the eternal perspective, equipping members to become servant leaders and to live one life as an ambassador for Christ. If you’re serious about growing a GREAT business for a GREATER purpose, let’s talk!

A Billion Dollar Issue: How To Align Projects with Business Strategy

Is Project Management Really That Important?

Corporations throughout the world are losing billions of dollars in wasted project spending. A new global research report shows that one of the biggest contributing factors is the lack of alignment of projects with corporate strategy.

Many companies are almost purely project management enterprises (e.g., consultants, contractors, job shop manufacturers, design firms, and moving companies). Whether we’re better than our peers at managing projects can determine whether our company will survive and flourish. For businesses as varied as equipment manufacturers, retailers, hotels and resorts, health service providers, restauranteurs, logistics companies, and financial service providers, an enormous portion of their overall business activity involves project management. Other companies manage projects primarily to drive improvements, expansions, and necessary changes. What makes this topic so pregnant with potential is that so few companies – including many large project-driven businesses – follow a well-defined, disciplined, and unifying approach to managing projects.

If questioned, could your key people succinctly describe your company’s project management approach (i.e., methods/measures/reporting)? Probably not! Surprisingly few companies can, in spite of the following:

■ Top-level consultants and project management professionals know that less than half of major projects actually meet original expectations. An estimated 50-80% of all projects fall short of delivering their promised impact on-time and on-budget.1 Worse, when projects go off the rails the distraction and resource drain can threaten a company’s existence. Still, firms often fail to pull the plug or make remedial changes due to poor project management oversight and pride. When customer commitments are involved, project problems can lead to financial losses, aggravated clients, and a long, mutually painful, experience. Much of this failure, stemming from a lack of sound fundamentals and detached senior executives, is avoidable.


■ An estimated 50% of all work done in business is project work. This should alarm most of us, since 80% of us lack sound project management skills. It’s also estimated that 30% of every project dollar spent is wasted due to delays, mistakes, inefficiencies, excess materials, rework, poor planning, lack of teamwork, etc. Imagine taking a snapshot of the last 10 times you passed project crews working on roadways or major construction sites. What percentage of the labor and machinery were productively engaged? Typically, for each person you see working, there are multiple people idle,  waiting, and watching. This also applies to expensive on-site equipment. On this basis, our 30% waste estimate might be optimistic! Still, what’s 30% waste worth to a typical company with 50% project-related work? It equates to a profit erosion of 15% on sales (i.e., .30 x .50), representing a huge opportunity to more than double the 10% pretax profit margin of a typical healthy company!


■ Highly-developed project management capabilities can improve a company’s on-target project performance by 50-66%. Focused effort and discipline based on shared project management protocol can eliminate most of our off-target projects and much of the waste in our companies. Although factors often exist beyond our control, enhanced project clarity and competence yields great dividends by enhancing staff and customer relationships and improving our top and bottom lines. Most companies have at least as much staff time devoted to project activity as they do to standard daily flow through activity. In fact, stripped of the daily issues associated with poorly planned and executed projects, most CEOs would be shocked at how little overhead is needed to operate their daily core business. The obvious question is, “How well are we managing the project resources we have on our payroll?” What’s it worth to improve our successful project batting average by 50% through highly robust project management?


For Christian leaders, projects are a key area where we can reflect excellence in serving, stewardship, communication, and delegated decision-making. Whether we’ve truly equipped our staff members to succeed is apparent as we see project teams interact and perform under the pressure of project commitments. CEOs can largely eliminate the frustration, confusion, distrust, and cynicism that afflict organizations with poor project discipline.


Driving Topline Growth- 15 Tips to get you started

Assessing Our Readiness for Growth

In the first half of the business life cycle, we focus on sharpening our efforts to gain as much market share as possible while the potential for profit remains high. During the second half, our focus shift s to cost reduction, competing, and planning ‘next generation’ offerings to keep our offerings fresh and valuable to our clients. No matter where we are along the ‘S’ curve, we benefit from knowing our place and tactics for growing profitably. The following questions
are designed to help us measure our current, short-term, and long-term capacity for healthy growth. Answer each question Yes, No, or U (uncertain).

1. Is our core business generating sufficient earnings to allow us to invest in growth?
Yes___ No___ U___
2. Do we have the will and the ideas to push profits higher in the next few years?
Yes___ No___ U___
3. Is our value proposition (i.e., cost, quality, service) competitive with the best in our industry?
Yes___ No___ U___
4. Has our market share been stable or growing? Yes___ No___ U___
5. Are we well-positi oned against competi tors, technologies, or
regulati ons that can redefi ne or alter our industry?
Yes___ No___ U___
6. Are our new planned offerings capable of creating as much economic value as our current core business?
Yes___ No___ U___
7. If so, are these new eff orts gaining customer momentum? Yes___ No___ U___
8. Are we prepared and capable of making the investments necessary to support their rapid growth?
Yes___ No___ U___
9. Have we (could we) generate sufficient investor interest and confidence in these efforts?
Yes___ No___ U___
10. Are we attracting entrepreneurial talent with these plans? Yes___ No___ U___
11. Does our leadership team dedicate ‘strategic planning’ ti me to analyze growth opportunities and industry trends?
Yes___ No___ U___
12. Have we developed a portfolio of options for extending or reinventing our core business and creating new offerings?
Yes___ No___ U___
13. Are our ideas very different from those we had last year…
three years ago… five years ago?
Yes___ No___ U___
14. Do we have a shared long-term plan and strategy for turning our ideas into new products, services, or businesses?
Yes___ No___ U___
15. Have our ideas been made tangible with concrete, measurable project milestones?
Yes___ No___ U___

You’ve just completed 15 questions; five each dealing with current business, mid-term growth prospects, and our long-term outlook for growth. While there’s no absolute pass-fail standard, if you’ve answered ‘Yes’ 12 or more times, you’re probably in great shape to grow your topline.

If you responded ‘Yes’ eight times or fewer, you may need to be more intentional in focusing time and resources to adopt planning and project discipline to better position your company for growth. If you selected ‘Uncertain’ a few times or more, you’re probably unprepared to lead your company to healthy growth. Start by focusing on the first five questions related to your current growth prospects. Without a strong foundation of shared team understanding on these near-term issues and opportunities, any growth may come at too great a cost. So, how much growth should we target?

Critical business issues like these are the core of a C12 meeting. Want to join the discussion?  Contact C12 Central TX Chair, Robert.Vogel@c12group.com today to schedule your visit.

Leveraging our Marketing Efforts to Build Community and Loyalty

According to Garner Research, business users spend an average of 49 minutes per day on email and check their messages six ti mes per day! Given the inherent low cost of web-based communication, it’s easier than ever to build a contact database and user community using broadcast email and targeted web landing pages.  Unfortunately, industry statistics report that businesses typically have just two percent of the email addresses for their existing customers. If you find yourself in this situation, there are three things you can do to build a more robust database:

ƒ Organize a calling/visitation campaign with the objective of coming away with email addresses for your key customer contacts.
ƒ Build an ‘opt-in’ email list over ti me by capturing the email addresses of your customers, website visitors, and those who respond to advertising offers. Make the process very easy (i.e., email address only). Don’t request lots of
extraneous data and provide an incentive (e.g., discount code or free user e-newsletter).
ƒ Hire an email marketing specialty firm or list seller to do a ‘matching’ project to generate an email list based on known company and individual names and addresses. This can lift your email coverage to 30+%. Armed with a solid email database, begin to inexpensively generate targeted communications and offers to your customer base and prospects. Such segmentation of messages will allow customers to interact with you based on areas of specific interest. Over time, you can easily establish a greater understanding of their needs and interest (e.g., seasonal or life cycle offerings, special events and information).

Such increased communication can provide a sense of community and even result in ‘viral’ spreading of your company’s message as they forward or discuss your communications with others. One company actually recruited a standing ‘expert’ panel which became a testing ground for new product ideas, sharpening existing offerings, and brainstorming next generation features and services relevant to the user community. Meeting quarterly, with the company furnishing only a facilitator, pizza and a conference room, this group provided great testimonials, helped
enhance the company’s core offerings, and became loyal long-term customers in the process. Email addresses in the hands of an expert ‘Guerrilla Marketer’ can be a beautiful thing!