Each month we publish an email newsletter. It might address an issue one of my clients has faced or how current events might affect your business. A couple of sample articles are below.
Investing Time In Your Success
By Dave Ferguson
Many of the business owners I talk to remember the sales opportunities they have missed, their inability to hire the right people, the lack of time they have to connect with past customers, and the money they've misspent on marketing that hasn't paid off. Yet, the clients I work with see look at their experiences differently. They see a huge return on their investment of time because they were acting based on creating and following a plan. They then used their results as an opportunity to improve their planning, their procedures, and their profit.
For business owners, planning should be strategic. Like a military general, your mission is to win the war. You look at the field of battle and develop plans to achieve your targets. You might not win every battle, but by achieving most of your targets you will reach your goal.
In business, the field of battle is constantly changing, your targets are moving and so is your competition. You can't continue doing what you've always done, unless you are willing to get what you've always gotten. Strategic planning in business is looking at the whole competitive landscape, recognizing what is happening now and making some assumptions about what will probably happen in the future. Based on that planning you can position your resources where they will be most effective and take action at the right time.
Strategic planning isn't difficult. When I work with people I use a five-step process. We begin with an understanding of the company's vision. What do you want the company to look like in a year, or five years? Though you might not realize your ultimate vision, you can't achieve lofty goals by aiming low.
The next step in the process is to develop your mission - describe what you do, how you do it and for whom. You should have lofty goals, but we'll narrow our focus to be more effective and create a high probability of success. You can't do, or be, everything for everybody.
The third step is to set specific goals for the year. While gross revenue is important, net profit is even more so. Yet, revenue and profit are dependent on customers and transactions. How many customers will you need and what average transaction amount will allow you to achieve your goals? How many prospects will you need to work with to convert them to customers?
The next step is one that is frequently ignored. We need to look at how the goals will affect the company in terms of resources over the coming year. If you want to increase sales by 20 percent, do you have the people and capacity to handle that increased load? How will your marketing approach and budget need to change to generate those new sales? Will new training or equipment be required? How will all the changes affect cash flow? What will need to be done and when?
The last step in the process is to re-balance the goals and the resources. The approach here is to optimize the use of resources and make sure the goals are achievable. Business owners often want to maximize every resource, but their resources are interdependent. Employees can't act until people make decisions or provide information, funding is limited, and your customers will make decisions when it suits them. While we can't maximize effectively, we can optimize. To optimize means to choose the most advantageous approach, balancing the goals and the resources with the schedule to achieve the best results given the limitations of those resources.
The strategic plan, when completed, becomes a framework for creating the more detailed planning and projects that become the daily activities that support the goals. Conflicts are minimized and costs are controlled. Results become more predictable. Isn't that an investment worth making?
Focus on Sales
People do business with people. Do you have the right people representing you?
Every business has it's own personality, it's what stands behind every transaction. In the beginning it probably had the personality of its owner. But, over time, that personality needs to evolve into one that reflects the vision of the organization. As you add people to represent you, make sure their personality reflects your vision for the organization, not just your vision for their role.
Dave Ferguson, President and Head Coach
Lake County Business Coaching, Inc.
Libertyville, Illinois 60048
Updated January 11, 2021