Weather the Storm of Constant Change by Strengthening 3 Balance Sheets

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Balance Sheet|Weather the Storm of Constant Change by Strengthening 3 Balance SheetsThe COVID-19 crisis has put an exclamation point on the idea that we live in a world of perpetual whitewater. Whether caused by a pandemic, an economy in free fall, an unforeseen change in the competitive business environment or a problematic geopolitical issue, the world in which we operate is volatile and unpredictable. Success, even mere survival, hinges on being prepared and nimble enough to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

Everyone wonders when we will get to the “new normal.” It may be preferable to call it the “next normal.” Whatever becomes normal as we progress through COVID-19 is just temporary — like after 9/11 or the financial crash of 2008, there will be another major disruption following in the not-too-distant future. We need to evolve amidst an on-going sequence of next normals without capsizing.

How do you survive, or even thrive, in a world of continuous turbulence and change? The organizations that have best weathered the COVID-19 storm entered it with strong balance sheets in three functions: Not only do they have a strong financial balance sheet, they also have strong balance sheets with their team members and strong balance sheets with their customers.

Regardless of what the future looks like, to be prepared and to weather the storm of perpetual change, you must prudently steward all three balance sheets. Navigating through the next normal requires that you:

1. Have a plan. The plan must include both your purpose and your strategy.

Purpose creates the True North for the organization — what you aspire to contribute. People want to contribute to something bigger than themselves. Your purpose defines what that something is. Purpose attracts talent and aligns and energizes effort. What is the organization’s higher calling? Why does your organization exist? Why does your organization matter?

Strategy defines how your organization positions itself in the marketplace to create unique value for your target customers. What do you provide or do differently that causes customers to buy from you versus anyone else?

2. Execute your plan. You can’t just have a plan; you have to execute your plan — and most organizations don’t do that well. Some 75 to 80 percent of organizations fail to achieve the results they expect from their strategies.

In a rapidly changing world, execution is critical to survival. It’s vital to maximizing your results and building your triple balance sheet. The ability to execute your organizational strategy smoothly and successfully is what provides the financial, human and reputational capital you need to navigate the next change and to be able to invest in adapting quickly to the next, next normal.

To execute effectively, you must align the actions of everyone in the organization to the purpose and strategy. This means:

  • Having the right people in the right roles with the right capabilities. Think through the performance in each current role, the potential for future roles and the capabilities that need to be developed for both current and future roles. Then, connect that assessment to development efforts that help people build the capabilities you’ll need for success in the future.
  • Aligning your systems, structures, processes and culture to the purpose and strategy. For example, how well do the compensation, rewards and recognition and promotions systems in your organization align with your strategy?
  • Keeping a scorecard that drives performance. Ensure scorecards with quantitative measures of performance, results and trends over time are visible and available to everyone in the organization. This allows them to make adjustments mid-course that can affect the outcome.
  • Following-up and following-through. To both generate learning and create rigorous accountability for performance and for living the values of the organization, schedule regular updates to analyze performance gaps and adjust the plan for moving forward.

3. Just lead, dammit! Leaders deliver results by fully engaging their teams in the effort. They build organizations of people passionate about and wanting to contribute their best to the company every day. In order to build a strong balance sheet with their teams, great leaders forge deep connections to their team members. They:

  • Communicate often and openly. With rapid changes in the environment, leaders need to communicate often and openly. Failure to do so creates a vacuum that people will fill, often by making stuff up. Leaders should convey a realistic picture of the dynamic environment of the market where conditions are likely to change rapidly.
  • Create dialogue, not diatribe: One-way, top down communication stifles the kind of multidirectional communications required to fully understand and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. As a leader, you can’t possible have all the answers — too many unknowns and even the “knowns” can change. It’s critical to be clear about what you do and what you don’t know.
  • Empathize with their team’s point-of-view. Constant change can put people on edge. Show sensitivity to the emotional and real challenges individuals on the team face. Hear the question behind the question, or the key point behind what team members say.
  • Are authentic. People want their leaders to be real. They appreciate honesty, even if it’s painful or upsetting. Being authentic builds trust, which is vital for ensuring that your organization is strong and resilient. Most importantly, it sets the right example for others to emulate.

4. Build resilience. Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Regardless of how good your plan is, or how effectively you execute, you’re going to get punched in the mouth! In a world of perpetual whitewater, you have to be prepared for the next punch, the next wave, the next rapid or the next life-threatening obstacle.

Thriving through an endless stream of “next normals” requires that organizations are tough enough to adapt regardless of how difficult the circumstances. Resilient organizations:

  • Have strong, consistent core values. Values like integrity, respect and trust provide stability amidst the upheaval and shape a culture that enables everyone to take action in an environment of uncertainty.
  • Generate trust. Leaders must believe and trust that everyone will act in the best interest of the organization, and team members must trust and believe in their leaders and the organization as a whole. This is critical to enabling the kind of dialogue necessary to lead through uncertain times. With trust, people closest to the challenges are given the responsibility and latitude to act without waiting for direction from above, where leaders often have less information about the conditions on the ground.
  • Constantly learn. Rapid change requires constant experimentation in how to adapt to that change. Instilling responsibility throughout the organization often results in mistakes and errors as people learn what works and what doesn’t. Resilient organizations have a “fail fast, learn fast” mentality that allows them to adapt to change faster than others.
  • Foster accountability. People perform their best in an environment in which results matter. Accountability reinforces whichever results matter. And, there must be accountability for playing within the core values of the organization, or people quickly learn that they don’t matter, which, in turn, erodes the fundamental trust necessary to create success.

Being prepared for the “next normal” requires building your balance sheet financially and with your team and your customers. To do so, you have to have a great plan for success, execute that plan effectively and constantly work to build a resilient organization. None of this is easy in a highly competitive, rapidly changing environment. But the reward for getting it close to right is earning the opportunity to adapt again when the next wave hits.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Sean RyanSean Ryan is a world-renowned business consultant, speaker, trainer and executive coach. As the founder of Whitewater International Consulting, he has worked internationally with companies such as Disney, Nucor Steel, FedEx and Nestle Waters of North America/Perrier Group of America. With more than two decades of industry experience, Sean is highly regarded for his ability to guide organizations through complex transformational change in what he describes as “a world of perpetual whitewater”. His new book is Get in Gear: Seven Gears that Drive Strategy to Results (Productivity Press, Aug. 20, 2020). Learn more at

The Importance Of Staying In Your Lane As A Business Owner

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Staying in your lane|The Importance Of Staying In Your Lane As A Business Owner However, staying in your lane isn’t always an insult, and it can actually be very beneficial for your business.

What does staying in your lane mean?

Basically, it means that you don’t try and do things that you aren’t good at. Or, more accurately, you focus on your key strengths. Lots of business owners will try to tackle too many things, which means you end up exposing your biggest weaknesses.

As a business owner, you must realize the importance of staying in your lane, rather than attempting everything by yourself. It may seem like you’re lazy, but the following points do a great job of explaining why this is the best approach to management:

Everyone focuses on their strengths

If you stay in your lane, it means you focus on what you’re good at. You might be an exceptional salesperson who captures leads like no other. It’s what you built your whole career around, so it makes sense to devote your time to closing sales. If you don’t stay in your lane, you waste time doing things you’re not good at, meaning your business misses out on your sales skills.

The same goes for other aspects and individuals within your business. If your employees focus on their strengths, you will see an improvement in performance. This is why things like IT outsourcing services have become so popular in modern times. Business owners are starting to recognize that they’re not adept at dealing with technical IT issues all the time. Instead of wasting time trying to fix IT issues, they outsource to people who are actually good at it. Everyone stays in their lane, leading to a massive boost in productivity and efficiency.

Fewer mistakes and errors

If you were asked to translate something, with very little knowledge of the foreign language, what do you think would happen? You’d give it a go, but there’d be countless mistakes and errors. In fact, you’d continue making mistakes until, eventually, you get the translation right. By contrast, what if someone fluent in that language was asked to translate it? They’d get it right instantly, saving a lot of time and minimizing errors.

You can apply the same principle to your business. If you’re doing things that are out of your comfort zone, you’re bound to make mistakes. There’s no avoiding it as you aren’t experienced. But, if you stay in your lane and focus on your strengths, there will be fewer mistakes. It’s the same for everyone else in our company, meaning your business makes fewer mistakes and errors on the whole. Again, this translates into improved performance, but the lack of errors can also boost your customer service.

In conclusion, business owners should identify their key strengths and stick to them. If you’re not good at something, find others that can fill the void. When everyone stays in their lane, a business operates far more efficiently.

How to Start a Painting Business From Scratch

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Start a Painting Business|How to Start a Painting Business From ScratchIf you’re handy with a brush and paint rollers, you may want to consider going into business for yourself as a professional painter. Your startup costs will be negligible and there’s a huge market out there for you. What do you have to lose?

However, you may feel a bit hesitant to jump on this opportunity if you don’t know the first thing about starting a business. Don’t worry, learning how to start a painting business isn’t incredibly difficult. And we’re here to help.

Keep reading for everything you need to know.

1. Research the Local Painting Market

Before you dive headfirst into the professional painting industry, you need to make sure there’s room in your community for your company. You also need to find out more about the costs of doing business, who you’re going to market to, and how much you can expect to earn with your company.

Ask yourself some important questions:

  • What is the local competition like?
  • What are they doing right/wrong?
  • How can I be better/different?
  • Who will I market to?
  • Do I have a niche in the industry?
  • How much money do I need to get started?
  • What are the costs of day to day operations?

Successful businesses are built on in-depth market research.

2. Create a Business Plan

Next, you need to create a business plan to serve both as your business blueprint and as your means of financial assistance. Creditors, lenders, and investors will want proof that you know what you’re doing. They’ll use your business plan to determine your credibility and the potential of your business.

Make sure it includes:

    • An executive summary of the business
    • A description of the business
    • Your market research and analysis
    • The structure of your company (organization and leadership)
    • A description of your services and products
    • Your marketing strategy and analysis of your target audience
    • Your funding requests
    • Financial projections of your business (ranging from the first year to several years)

Don’t skimp on your business plan, there’s a lot riding on it. It needs to be thorough and well-researched.

3. Get Financed

As noted, learning how to start a painting business may mean getting the startup funds you need. With your business plan in hand, apply to your bank for a small business loan. However, if you get rejected here, all is not lost.
There are several other options, such as:

  • Private investors (friends, family)
  • Angel investors
  • Crowdfunding campaigns
  • Personal loans
  • Trade future services for startup funds
  • Etc.

If you have poor credit and bad luck with investors, get creative to earn money to finance your business.

4. Take Care of the Logistics

Once you get the funds you need, you can start taking care of the logistics. For example, you can start procuring the official certifications you need to operate legally. In most states, you need a specific license to be a professional painter on top of the business license you need from the city.

You’ll also need to look into liability insurance for painters. This will protect you financially if you inadvertently cause damage to a customer’s home or business.

5. Start Marketing

Finally, learning how to start a painting business and make it successful means learning how to market to potential customers. You must strive to gain brand recognition within your community. They need to think of your painting business logo when they think of professional painters.

Here are our top marketing suggestions:

  • Build a user-friendly website
  • Perfect your website SEO
  • Get on social media
  • Use PPC and SEM marketing
  • Create a blog on your site

Experiment with different methods of marketing to determine what works best for your business. Don’t be afraid to invest resources in building brand awareness.

Looking for More Tips on How to Start a Painting Business?

Are you new to the world of entrepreneurship? Don’t feel bad, everyone has to start somewhere. Fortunately, there are people like us around to help.

Our blog is designed to help people like you carve their way into the business world. Whether you want to know how to start a painting business or are looking for the best marketing tips, we can provide answers. Be sure to check out some of our other articles before you go.

Top Reasons Why Selling a Small Business is a Good Idea

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Selling a small business|Top Reasons Why Selling a Small Business is a Good IdeaIf you’ve ever considered selling a small business, look no further.

People sell businesses for a variety of reasons, but most of them revolve around getting away from something. While you may think that you’d only sell a business if you’re getting a lot of money, many people sell theirs because of personal issues.

Running a business is difficult, so you may find that it isn’t worth getting stressed out. You could also have a falling out with someone in the company, making it difficult to focus on what needs to be done. So how do you sell your business and justify it?
Read on to learn some of the top reasons why selling a small business is a good idea!

Avoid Potential Losses

One of the main reasons why people sell their small businesses is because they want to avoid losing revenue. A loss in revenue is bound to happen at some point in a company’s lifestyle, but it’s best to get out if the revenue is in a constant decline.

Several things can cause your business to start losing revenue. If there’s a shift in consumer interest for a certain product, your business may come out short. This is why it’s crucial to monitor consumer trends at all times to prevent this from happening.

Your business can also suffer if the economy declines. When an economy declines, people are more concerned with holding on to their money rather than spending it. In cases like this, revenue losses are inevitable.

While you can change your business up to try and keep the interest of customers, you could also sell it to avoid further losses. Understanding how to sell your business will make this process easier because you can get a lump sum of money instead of hoping your business turns around.

Seek New Business Partners

When starting a small business for the first time, it’s common to see an owner partner up with investors. Unfortunately, not all business partners are compatible, and disputes can make it hard for an owner to continue operating the business.

If you have business partners that are constantly disagreeing with your decisions, the best thing you can do may be to sell your business. While this is a drastic decision, you’ll have to do it unless you have the money to buy out your partners.

However, those partners don’t need to give up their share of the company if they don’t want to. Before selling the business, ask them if there’s something you can do to take over their shares. If they own large portions, it’ll be much harder to buy them out because they have a larger impact on the business.

Change Your Lifestyle

Running a business of any kind is tiring as it requires more time than a full-time job. When you own a business, you have to dedicate your lifestyle around it so that you can be prepared if your business needs something.

For example, if you own a retail store that runs out of stock for a popular item, you’ll need to decide what the appropriate action should be. If a plethora of customers are trying to purchase it, you’ll miss out on a lot of income if you’re not around to take action.
Should you decide that running a business takes up too much of your free time, you can sell it to help you change your lifestyle.

Instead of having to keep track of everything and work with business partners, you can start focusing on other things that mean more to you.

Health is something that many people have in mind when they answer the question, “Why should I sell my business?” While running a business comes with many benefits, it can also be deteriorating if you’re someone that wants to focus on your wellbeing.

Invest In Other Things

It’s best to expand your portfolio so that you don’t need to rely on one source of income. The best time to sell a business is when you decide that you’re ready to use that money towards other things. Many people don’t know what happens to cash when selling a business, but it goes directly into your bank account.

Selling your business will give you a plethora of cash that you can then use for things like stocks, real estate, and starting another business. Small businesses typically don’t cost too much to start, so you can most likely jump back into another one if you have an idea for something else.

If you do have an idea, it’s best to sit on it for a while until you figure out how you’re going to approach it. Should you decide to sell your business to help you fund another business, you’ll need to know how much the other business will require to start. From there, you can decide how much you want to sell the business for.

Consider Selling a Small Business Today

If any of the reasons in this article sound appealing, you should consider selling your business. You’ll get a lot more freedom to do other things and you can relieve yourself from stress relating to the business. All you’ll need to do is think about how you want to approach the sale.

Creating something like a “selling a business checklist” will help you put together a list of things to do when you’re ready to start selling a small business. You’ll need to think about how much you want for the business and what you plan to do with the money.
Check out our articles to learn more about running your own business!

Five Tips To Enable Your Start-Up For Long-Term Success

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |New Start-up|Five Tips To Enable Your Start-Up For Long-Term SuccessStarting a new business is very challenging. Just as you begin to make progress, a fresh new challenge awaits you around the corner. Getting caught up in the difficulties of the short-term running of a business can be detrimental to long-term success.

Many start-up owners don’t realize the task that faces them when establishing a business. In most cases, the reasons for starting a venture are due to personal circumstances and work preferences. Too often, owners or management are short-sighted, leading to quick failure. 90% of new start-ups fail, and less than half of business last longer than five years.

Your start-up doesn’t have to contribute to the above statistics. By taking some strategic actions in the early stages, you can give your company a strong chance at survival. If you’ve launched a new business and are eager for success, here are five tips to enable your start-up for prosperity in the long-term.

1.Create a business plan and stick to it

Business plans are key to long term success, particularly for start-ups. In fact, research has shown that companies that operated using a business plan were almost twice as likely to experience growth and success than those that didn’t.

A business plan should be the first course of action. It outlines the goals and strategies of the start-up. It also includes detailed market information, competitor analysis, logistics, operations, and financial projections.

Your business plan should be referred to when making key decisions, and it must be adapted if circumstances change.

2. Source funding

Depending on the type of business that you’re running, you may need significant revenue to get it off the ground. If you have employees, they need to be paid regularly, meaning healthy cash-flow is a necessity. While you may have the financial means to operate on a monthly basis, don’t neglect the importance of cash flow. 82% of businesses fail due to cash flow problems.

3. Professional financial advice

Calculating financial projections, dissecting accounts, and managing cash flow can become extremely overwhelming very quickly. Many start-up owners don’t have experience in this field, making the financial side of the business even more stressful.

Considering U.S. banking history, you should seriously consider hiring a professional financial advisor to guide you through important financial processes. This can save you in the long-term and can prevent unnecessary losses due to inexperience.

4. Establish a clear target market

Having a clear idea of who your customers are is an absolute must for start-ups. It’s essential to know your audience, their interests, and what they seek in a product or service. Marketing plans and strategies should be customer-focused and targeted ads should be a key feature.

Never settle when it comes to your customer base. Always seek to expand through lead generation and various marketing techniques.

5. Be data-driven

Through website analysis and social media insights, a modern business generates a lot of data. This data should be thoroughly analyzed to gain a deeper understanding of customers and the market.

Look to analytics to guide your start-up with executive decision making. Analyzing the right information can lead to significant long term success.