Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of dismissing the value of planning for your business. Every well-run business needs to manage strategy, tactics, milestones, metrics and essential business numbers.
Do it right, and planning is easy to do, great for managing and developing accountability.
Remember these two key points:
- Good planning doesn’t require a big, formal, traditional business plan document. A lean business plan is much easier than a traditional plan. It just consists of bullet-point lists and tables. You can do it yourself.
- What really makes the difference is keeping the plan live. It doesn’t take more than an hour or two per month. The planning process means you track results, review, and revise often enough to keep your plan fresh.
by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting
Should you grow your business? It is a simple question with an assumed answer. The answer, of course, is YES! But, I am not sure it is quite so simple.
Before you invest your hard-earned money and time, think about what you want to accomplish and why. Then, carefully consider your options.
Decide to Grow
We have all heard horror stories of businesses that over-extended, only to lose it all. If your expansion strategy is not well conceived or executed, it could be a costly misadventure, both in terms of money and focus on the existing business.
If your business is well-established, has a loyal customer base, is reasonably protected from the competition, profitable and affords you the lifestyle you have sought (both in terms of discretionary income and time) then think hard before you take on an expansion strategy. Understand your goals – both financial and personal, before moving forward. Continue reading
I read with interest how Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, described his philosophy around “Day 1.”When asked what Day 2 looked like he described it as “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that’s why it is always Day 1.”
Personally, I love this approach. I mentioned it recently to a group of entrepreneurs in the Emerging Leaders class here in Seattle and it seemed to fit in perfectly with what they are working on. They have all been in business for 3 or more years and are now creating new strategic growth plans for their businesses of the future. In order to do this without all the “constraints” that experience and beliefs dictate are “true,” we have to look at it as Day 1, and then consider – what will you do differently?
Think of it like Groundhog Day. You get to keep doing it over and over again but with a different template, different knowledge, and a different environment. If you were recreating your business, what would Day 1 look like now? Who’s to say you can’t give it a try? Continue reading
by Gerri Detweiler
Carolyn Walters’ small business clients know they can ask her more than just tax questions. While “tax is the heart and soul of what I do,” she says as the owner of Financial Solutions Accounting and Tax in Greensboro, NC, she has expanded her business to offer a variety of different services.
“The challenges that small businesses have usually end up in my lap one way or another,” she says with a chuckle.
Walters wants to be the first resource her small business clients turn to when they have questions about small business financing and credit. “Quite a few of my clients are looking at ways to expand and grow their businesses, and that takes money,” she says.
Some of them have the funds they need to grow, but others will need to borrow. And even those who don’t have to borrow may find it advantageous to do so. “If you can get credit at low rates and still maintain the integrity of the business goals you are trying to accomplish, it may make sense,” Walters says. Continue reading
A hundred people at an event heard the word “Strategy” as part of a presentation I gave recently. Likely there were at least a hundred different interpretations and mental pictures that lit up for the attendees, some very related and others quite different from the others. Each was a product of their experience, education, beliefs and prejudices. This fact gets to the heart of effective, and ineffective, communication….always a challenge, but a well known one. As Valeria Maltoni has written, “There is more to semantics than meets the eye.”
Just like having a solid business plan, having a marketing strategy that supports and advances that plan is crucial to success. Many programs, classes, books, and online tools (along with tips and suggestions of varying degrees of helpfulness….) may help you assemble a business plan that will pass muster and get you going. To many entrepreneurs and business owners, though, marketing strategy embodies a different kind of geography in their thoughts and can have too many connotations to list. Nonetheless, here are two thoughts you need to consider, regardless of your particular definition:
- Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. – Japanese Proverb
- However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. – Attributed to Winston Churchill
What does a strategy get you? It can establish a specific direction, a foundational launch pad, for your business, focus your resources, generate a plan that is both effective and agile, and give you a reliable way to “gut check” your direction and efforts over time. Most business owners I have met are world-class technicians, but struggle with strategy.
Rather than building a small business from the ground up, buying an existing company offers the opportunity to move along the path to entrepreneurship more quickly. With all of the startup tasks already taken care of, a staff in place, an established customer base, existing vendor relationships, and processes and procedures laid out, you have a head start.
But that doesn’t diminish the importance of doing your research before making the decision to buy. Acquiring an existing small business requires substantial examination so you can avoid the many pitfalls that befall eager entrepreneurs who leap before they look. Continue reading