Platinum Group
The Platinum Group Newsletter
T3 – Tools for Tough Times
To survive in this troubled economy, owners and leaders are looking for tried-and-true resources to help in key aspects of their business. Based on patterns and trends that partners at Platinum Group see daily in many different businesses as they experience critical transitions, this “Tools for Tough Times” column showcases common needs and a variety of tools that can be applied to help address these needs.

"How do I develop an e-Commerce site that will help my business grow?"

Many business owners either fear the unknown of e-Commerce or leap too quickly into implementation. Unfortunately, they start by weighing the benefits of different e-Commerce platforms or focusing on a cool or fancy design to the site without thinking about overall business objectives.

The measure of an effective e-Commerce site is how well it integrates into the company's overall business plan so that managers can take advantage of every tool available to grow the business, from marketing to distribution. That means building a site that furthers overall business objectives, supports the brand and salespeople - plus leverages direct mail, advertising, trade shows, fulfillment, customer service, and other online and offline capabilities. Click here for the tools to help you develop e-Commerce for your business.

Lesson Learned
Starting with Trust: Support vs. Manage Your Team

By Tom Ahonen, Platinum Partner and President of Law Enforcement Targets

I learned a valuable lesson years ago about how to lead a team of people that you inherit.  Back then, I was transferred into a manufacturing operation where my predecessor was a talented engineer who knew the operation inside and out, but was deeply involved in directing the day-to-day, minute-to-minute line operation. This is difficult to do with a 24/7 operation and four manufacturing lines. I had neither the engineering background to fill those shoes nor the desire to work seven days a week.

Over time, the on-shift operators (most of whom had more than 20 years of experience) rose to the tasks of leading their respective lines.  This allowed me to focus on broad initiatives to improve safety, quality and productivity. How did we make that transition? We started with TRUST. My predecessor's messages had been: "I don't trust you to do the right thing." My messages were explicit in communicating my trust in their knowledge and experience. There was skepticism at first but the operators soon realized that I wanted to both empower and support them - not set them up for failure.

There are all sorts of leaders - from awful to good to great. You could inherit a self-managing, highly motivated, world-class team. Or you could inherit a group whose most finely tuned skill is looking at their shoelaces.  Regardless, I've learned to start new relationships with a strong bias for trust:

  • Trust that people, regardless of their past experience with their work environment, want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
  • Trust that people want to be part of a winning team.
  • Trust that given the choice, people will try to do the right thing.
  • Trust, and the "benefit of the doubt" endemic to it, can transform a culture.
Platinum in the News:
No sale in sight? ESOP offers way out of business

The January issue of Upsize Minnesota magazine features an article on how to get money out of your business - without giving up control.  The co-authors are Bruce Mallory, managing partner of Platinum Group, and Tim Ring, attorney and shareholder at Leonard, Street and Deinard. 

"Many business owners are singing the blues right now because they didn't sell their businesses a couple years ago for a high valuation," according to Mallory and Ring.  "Now that times are tougher, owners can't get their price - and many Baby Boomers are unable to retire as planned.  A change of tune is possible by considering an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) as an option to selling outright."  Click here to read the article.  

Platinum in the Community:
What are anticipated business growth obstacles and the strategies to overcome them in 2010?

Answers to this and other questions of interest to business owners and CEOs will be addressed at the March 2 Allied Executive Symposium and Expo's event called "Business and Economic Outline for 2010." The keynote speaker will be Narayana Kocherlakota, the new President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who will speak to Minnesota's economy for the balance of 2010. Platinum Chairman Dean Bachelor will be among the guest panelists to discuss changing business leadership practices to create and maintain a thriving company, and related issues. Go to the web site for more information and registration.  The "click here to register" button is on the home page.  The event location:  Minneapolis Convention Center.

Platinum Group
9855 W 78th Street
Eden Prairie, MN 55344

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