If you find your small business is directionless, going nowhere, spinning its wheels, not making any headway, drifting aimlessly, or simply out of your control, it’s time to “Make-it-Fly.” Offered locally by Dianne Ochoa and Wade Sorolo, members of the La Verne Chamber of Commerce, Make-it-Fly is a powerful business development program designed to give small business owners the tools, guidance, best practices and proven principles to help their businesses soar in any economic environment.
Having earned her instructor and franchisee wings from Make-it-Fly’s corporate headquarters in Denver, Colo., Dianne serves as the facilitator of 10- to 12-person advisory boards consisting of business owners, who are like-minded only in the sense they all share the same common passion to take their businesses to a new level. Under the direction of Dianne, a long-time accountant and business consultant, each board over a three-month period meets every four weeks for three hours, during which individual members grow by taking advantage of the group’s collective gifts and experience.
“Nobody flies alone,” Dianne said. “Everyone benefits from the combined and complementary strengths of the board members.” For example, an event planner, financial planner, sporting goods shop owner, printer and pet groomer will be seated at a round table alongside a Realtor, dentist, day spa owner, dance instructor and photographer, all sharing ideas and offering open, honest critiques and suggestions in a spirit of high trust and accountability.
Between advisory boards, each board member also meets with an assigned “accountability buddy.” These power partners (a two-person advisory board within an advisory board) collaborate on homework assignments, exchange feedback, and hold each other accountable for setting and reaching goals.
“Make-it-Fly works especially well for service-oriented businesses and salespeople,” said Dianne, now in the midst of forming the first of three advisory boards in La Verne. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for businesses and business people that need structure and need to improve their focus. If you’re not focused in your day, you’re going to be all over the place, and in the end, that’s going to affect your sales.
“Make-it-Fly is going to push you to the point where you need to be. It will show you where you are, where you want to be and the best way to get there. What it really does is create a new habit for you so that you can continue working on your business.”
Each three-hour session is time well spent. As a curriculum-based program with Dianne facilitating each advisory board discussion, board members share their progress on their monthly SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Sensitive) goals.
“If you don’t have a goal, you can’t achieve your goal,” Dianne said. “That’s why we are convinced that setting appropriate SMART goals is a critical component of every board member’s success.”
An equally valuable exercise helps board members identify and implement core values that they can use as a basis for all their decision-making and problem-solving. Advisory board members start by identifying about 10 values that they consider most important and keep working on their list until just one core value remains.
“If your core value is family, and you spend 20 hours away from your family each day, your values are misaligned,” Dianne said. “So you have to change the way you do business, so you can spend more time with your family.
“It’s a soul-searching process.”
After defining their one rock-ribbed core value, board members can more easily craft a personal or business statement that truly reflects their business philosophy, mission and purpose.
“There’s no question,” Dianne said, “that companies that declare and adhere to their core values gain a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
Board members also work on mastering their elevator speeches, that tight, 10-second commercial to showcase their business and get listeners and potential clients to want to know more. Again, they’ll hone their marketing message by sharing it with their accountability partner and the greater advisory group.
While the elevator speech has to be sharply focused, Make-it-Fly’s brainstorming sessions are a free-for-all –- the more outrageous and off-the-wall idea the better. A board member facing a particular problem or issue will share it with the board and then invite his or her colleagues to begin brainstorming.
“We just throw out ideas,” Dianne explained. “It’s really quantity versus quality. Throw out enough ideas and one may just stick, taking you down a completely new path you might never have considered before. Everybody leaves the session with more energy and more enthusiasm.”
Normally, it runs $795 to join and participate on a Make-it-Fly advisory board. For each of Make-it-Fly’s next three advisory boards, however, the pricing is only $595 as the result of a special arrangement with the La Verne Chamber of Commerce’s Business Development Council.
Advisory board members will be familiar with many of the practices and principles featured in the Make-it-Fly program. What is revolutionary about the program is how these time-tested principles are applied within a cooperative and highly supportive community of business owners who recognize they can achieve far greater success and prosperity by seeking the help of their peers guided by an experienced facilitator.
In Denver, there are already more than 900 Make-it-Flyers. As the first franchisee in California, Dianne believes California small business owners will also discover how Make-it-Fly can help them achieve significant business growth and increased profits.
Paradoxically, it’s in tough economic times that Make-it-Fly might be able to help business owners the most.
“Especially right now,” Dianne said, “small business owners have to be more creative. They need to find different ways of doing what they do. Because a lot of people’s businesses are slower, this is the perfect time to spend more time on their businesses, going beyond the day-to-day stuff and really rethinking their business models for the long haul.”
Advisory board graduates also can join alumni boards made up of different members with whom they can continue to brainstorm and set goals. In Denver, it’s almost impossible not to run into a fellow Make-it-Flyer, which automatically removes networking barriers that have traditionally stymied many businesspeople. Dianne is also preparing to host the first of several Make-it-Fly Cafes for Make-it-Flyers and their guests beginning in August.
“The problem with many entrepreneurs and small business owners is they spend way too much time working and not enough time living,” Dianne said. “Without Make-it-Fly, you just think that’s what you’re supposed to do because you’ve never learned any other way.
“Make-it-Fly changes all that.”