Posts

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Three Important Points to Include in Your Business Plan

Business plans are a prelude to success, and failing to create one is a mistake that too many small businesses make. Not only can a great business plan help you achieve success by driving your efforts in a more calculated manner, but it can also help you gain the funding that you need from either banks or investors. Of course, there are as many business plans as there are individuals, and as such many business plans fail to capture all of the key elements they need to help their business succeed. To help you achieve a good business plan that will help you succeed, ensure you include these three points:

Market Analysis

If you do not conduct any market analysis, you are failing yourself as a start-up. You need to know not only who your competitors are, but who your local competitors are, and more importantly what the local consumers are like. If you open up your business in an area that has very few members of your demographic you are doomed to fail from the start. There are two kinds of market analysis you need to conduct as a result. The first is into the industry itself; who are the main players, what technologies do they use, where can you fit into that market, and so on. The second market you must analyze is your customers. Know who they are and what they want so that you can market to them more effectively.

Ensure Your Practice Adheres to Applicable Laws

Every business is subject to laws and regulations, from how they work to how they manage their data. It is important that you include how your company is not only going to excel, but also how it is going to excel within the parameters of the law. With law firms, for instance, Redbrick Solutions offers consultancy to ensure your firm complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) if you work with or within the EU. This, in turn, will allow you to offer more security and assurance to your clients as a result.

To ensure your company does comply with the laws that regulate it, you must first ensure you know what those laws are. Contacting a consultancy law firm or hiring a specialist in your industry can help you know the laws that apply to you and teach you how to adhere to them.

Budget

When it comes to creating a business plan, budget should always make an appearance. Without accurately understanding where the money will be coming from and where it is going, you cannot make any guarantees for the success of your business. You need to do cost analysis and prove to either investors or to yourself that you can survive until you get your first few clients in through the door. Either through savings or through money-saving activities like managing the entire business by yourself until you have enough income or notoriety to hire someone else, you need to know how you will pay for your business.

Never underestimate the power of a good business plan. It can help you circumvent easily avoidable challenges and see your business succeed.

Tips For Making Your Business Strategy A Reality

Creating a business plan takes a lot of time and hard work. Don’t let your efforts go to waste by failing to come up with an approach for executing on your strategy. It’s an entire process that takes careful monitoring and a willingess to recognize when what you’re doing isn’t working.

As the leader of the company, you have to stay patient and understand the best way to go about making your plan a reality. While it’s a lot of pressure on you, how you handle the implementation process of your strategy will depend on if it’s successful or not. Get excited about it because once you figure out how to elevate your company, you’ll have a lot to celebrate.

Get Input as you Create it

It’s too little too late to ask your other colleagues and leadership team what they think of your business strategy after it’s already done. Get their advice and buy in early, before you try to execute on the plan. You not only want to make sure you’ve covered all of the necessary points, but you want high-level people in your company to have your back and offer their support. They’re going to be instrumental in helping you make your business strategy a reality.

Set Realistic Goals & Include Details

Set achievable goals you know are within reach with extra work on your team’s part. For example, if you want to improve business communications with your customers, then find a unique means of communicating with them. While emails are okay for some businesses, moving into business texting can prove more effective and efficient. Not only do customers nowadays prefer texts over phone calls, but it’s also a quick means of booking appointments, canceling meetings or sending a complaint or positive review. For more information on business texting, contact Text Better.

Select Priorities

Your business strategy is going to be long and in depth. Don’t let that stop you from taking control and understanding what this means for you and your team. There’s going to be a lot of work to get done and not enough resources or time to do it. Be smart and prioritize your goals and projects, so you’re focusing on completing what’s most important first. It’s not a good idea to throw your entire plan at your leadership team and expect it all to get done when it’s not humanly possible. Approach it from an organized standpoint, and explain exactly where you want everyone to be focused initially. Put some of the other objectives on the backburner or save them for next year.

Assign Leaders to Specific Objectives

Your business plan isn’t going to go very far if it’s all on your shoulders. You need people to help you out and take ownership of the goals you’ve documented. Play to people’s strengths and assign the responsibilities based on who’s good at particular tasks. Make sure each goal has a leader matched with it and that they’re aware of what’s expected of them. Delegating the work will free up some of your time and allow your business strategy to take off in the right direction.

Track Progress

Don’t propose your business strategy, assign leaders and then forget about it. You need to have consistent follow up and tracking of progress if you want it to be successful. Have regular meetings with your leadership team, document comments, questions and the current status for each goal. Use your discussions as a time to draw your attention to any red flags or see where you may be excelling and will need another goal to replace the current one. This part of the process is all about open dialogue and holding each person accountable for their role.

Be Open to Changes

Your plan isn’t going to work if all you wrote is set in stone. You have to be willing to flex and open to changes others are proposing along the way. It’s nothing personal; it’s business, and if you don’t want to hear it, you risk the proposed strategy falling apart. Remain levelheaded and remind yourself that when you’re writing the business strategy that it could change in the future. Of course, you’ll want reasons why a particular aspect isn’t working or needs to be changed. Always look for the evidence before you perform corrections or make additions.

Communicate to the Entire Company

Although there may be details only appropriate for your eyes, you should plan on sharing the gist of the business strategy with the entire company. This will help your employees better understand how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture. They won’t be agitated when they receive what feels like a random assignment because they’ll know it has to do with the direction the company’s heading. Hold a meeting to dive into the strategy and answer any questions your staff members have.

Listen & Observe

If you want to experience success and make your vision a reality then you have to always be listening and observing. Hear what other people have to say, use their feedback to improve what you’re already doing and monitor progress closely. Your job is never done; it’s continuous and requires your involvement and leadership on a regular basis. Instead of always doing the talking, sit back and take in what ideas are being tossed at you and if you think you can use them. Read between the lines and pick up on what would have been missed opportunities without your attention to detail.

Believe you can bring your goals to life and you’re halfway there. Focus on the details and executing on what needs to get done first. It’s important to have the support of the other leaders in your company if you want to see your strategy become a reality. Continue to work hard and piggyback off of what goes right so that you can do more of that in the future. Remember that it takes a team effort and solid leader if you want to achieve success.

How to make a business plan and actually stick to it

Whether you are a long-term small business owner or just starting in a complex market, then there’s no time like the present to start penning your latest business plan. However, writing a plan and sticking to it are two very different elements. No matter the size or nature of your business, it’s always good to get something down on paper to help drive your business decisions and check that you have all bases covered. From generating more sales, to getting those ideas off the ground, read on to find out why you should be making a business plan, and more importantly, how simple it is to stick to it.

Check out the competition

Whether you are opening a coffee shop, a new bookstore or even a consultancy, be sure to undertake a full and in-depth market analysis. Now, this doesn’t have to cost you too much – you can do the groundwork yourself if you know what you are looking for. Café owners will want to scope out competitors’ prices, unique selling points and even range of snacks and goodies on offer. Whereas if you are offering higher-end services or products, then you will want to make sure that your range has a serious wow factor. Be sure to include this step in your business plan to ensure that you are fully aware of how you want to direct the future of your company and roll with it – remember, it’s best to do your homework rather than blindly entering an established market.

Get your finances in order

Drawing up a business plan, no matter the size of your business, and actually sticking to it, is going to require having a solid financial base. Getting your application papers in order and lengthy approval times can spell disaster in today’s fast-paced market. However, times are changing. Companies such as Betterfunds offer a range of loans to meet your business requirements. Not to mention, you could be the happy recipient of some much-needed funding in a matter of hours. Having a solid cash income is key to getting your business plan off the ground – don’t cut any corners.

Marketing and sales

Be sure to include marketing and sales as key priorities for your business plan – after all, generating new leads and acquiring new clients is essential to you, and your business, to succeed. If you haven’t already considered it, then make sure to explore how digital marketing can help propel your company into the future. Social media is increasingly becoming essential to the success of companies worldwide, so don’t get left behind and do go digital. Secondly, you will want to check that your marketing and sales teams are working effectively together – just like two spokes in a wheel, these departments are key to helping you gain and keep new business opportunities. Finally, have another look at your business plan. If you’ve stuck to it – congratulations! You are well on the way to business success.

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article

Green Your Business: A Sustainable Vision or Money-Making Fad?

To be an environmentally-friendly business seems to be the way to go, lately. They say it’s good for both your company and the planet; by encouraging this kind of vision, you’ll show the market your most holistic and educated side, they say – and the market will thank you for it. It’s true that a lot of good will come from a business that’s going both green and paperless at once.

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article
Photo courtesy of Pexels

It’s healthy for the community, the employees, and your company’s finances at the same time, and seems almost too good to be true.

Beware of coloring your company in this new shade, however, if your heart isn’t in the right place – at the end of the day, the market might end up punishing you for putting on a show. We found the steps to success for your business so that both you and the planet can benefit from it without any backlashes.

Saving money or the environment?

Although you probably nibbled at the thought of becoming more eco-friendly when you heard that it’s great for PR, you need to focus on the right aspects of it. This is particularly relevant when communicating the new green vision to your employees; is it a vision of saving money on energy or is it to create a healthier community for your consumers? Your employees needs something to work towards – a mission if you will, and you need to take the lead in creating the right kind of company culture.

Start by encouraging opinions and ideas on how you can go green together. You’re likely to receive various tips, and these should be taken into consideration so that everyone is included in the new vision. Otherwise, you risk looking like these eco-friendly measures are just for show.

Swap the food in the cafeteria for organic versions, make use of any meatless Monday suggestions and use natural cleaning detergents over potentially harmful types. There is a lot you can do to include the entire company and create a vision where everyone feels included.

Set an example

As the leader, you need to be the one to take the first step. Nobody will give you a smile of approval if you preach eco-friendliness but drive to work every day. The same goes for any other behavior in the office; encourage your team to always shut off their computers at the end of the day, make sure no taps are dripping, and welcome further suggestions on other changes you should make.

StrategyDriven Strategic Planning Article
Photo courtesy of Pexels

It’s great to be able to make a profit out of being eco-friendly – for those willing to invest a bit in the beginning, it’s also a reality. It’s easy to recognize the once doing it for the PR and those who are in it for the right reasons; just keep an eye out for that sour expression when they need to spend money on something they wanted to profit on.

The truth is that we sometimes need to spend a bit to make a difference. Consider replacing your old electronic appliances for newer models that save energy, have a look at a commercial tint for your office windows, and transfer to a cloud-based system to reduce the number of hard copies you produce.

The great news in all of these changes is that it will save you a lot of money in the long-run. Many of our more harmful habits are tied to overconsumption and a general waste of resources; cut down on these, and the resources will stay put. Read more about ways to maximize your business’ profits at Michael Banks or have a look at this excellent article to cut down on the expenses.

Reach out

Your goal is to make a difference in the community, so reach out to other businesses with the same green mindset – you can do more together, you know. Plus, it sends a clear signal to your community that you’re going green for more reasons than financial ones. Sustainable visions that hope to benefit more than just the company’s wallet tends to encourage innovation; by teaming up with similar companies, you drive the innovation further.

Throw events together and find ways of making business more effective in order to save both time and money.

A robust and honest business vision is able to benefit your entire company for many years to come. It works by unifying your employees, investing in their health and happiness, and ensuring that they have a safe and healthy environment to work in. Jump on board the green wagon because everybody else is doing it, and you risk being punished by both your employees and the market you’re in.

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor Hank Moore

Mentoring and Lifelong Learning

StrategyDriven Big Picture of Business ArticleProfessionals who succeed the most are the products of mentoring. I heartily endorse that find a great mentor. I have had many excellent ones in my long career and have in turn mentored hundreds of others.

The mentor is a resource for business trends, societal issues and opportunities. The mentor becomes a role model, offering insights about their own life-career. The mentor is an advocate for progress and change. Such work empowers the mentee to hear, accept, believe and get results. The sharing of trust and ideas leads to developing business philosophies.

The mentor endorses the mentee, messages ways to approach issues, helps draw distinctions and paints pictures of success. The mentor opens doors for the mentee. The mentor requests pro-active changes of mentee, evaluates realism of goals and offers truths about path to success and shortcomings of mentee’s approaches. This is a bonded collaboration toward each other’s success. The mentor stands for mentees throughout their careers and celebrates their successes. This is a lifelong dedication toward mentorship… in all aspects of one’s life.

The most significant lessons that I learned in my business life from mentors, verified with experience, are shared here:

  1. You cannot go through life as a carbon copy of someone else.
  2. You must establish your own identity, which is a long, exacting process.
  3. As you establish a unique identity, others will criticize. Being different, you become a moving target.
  4. People criticize you because of what you represent, not who you are. It is rarely personal against you. Your success may bring out insecurities within others. You might be what they cannot or are not willing to become.
  5. If you cannot take the dirtiest job in any company and do it yourself, then you will never become “management.”
  6. Approach your career as a body of work. This requires planning, purpose and commitment. It’s a career, not just a series of jobs.
  7. The person who is only identified with one career accomplishment or by the identity of one company for whom he-she formerly worked is a one-hit wonder and, thus, has no body of work.
  8. The management that takes steps to “fix themselves” rather than always projecting problems upon other people will have a successful organization.
  9. It’s not when you learn. It’s that you learn.
  10. Many people do without the substantive insights into business because they have not really developed critical thinking skills.
  11. Analytical and reasoning skills are extensions of critical thinking skills.
  12. You perform your best work for free. How you fulfill commitments and pro-bono work speaks to the kind of professional that you are.
  13. People worry so much what others think about them. If they knew how little others thought, they wouldn’t worry so much. This too is your challenge to frame how they see you and your company.
  14. Fame is fleeting and artificial. The public is fickle and quick to jump on the newest flavor, without showing loyalty to the old ones, especially those who are truly original. Working in radio, I was taught, “They only care about you when you’re behind the microphone.”
  15. The pioneer and “one of a kind” professional has a tough lot in life. It is tough to be first or so far ahead of the curve that others cannot see it. Few will understand you. Others will attain success with portions of what you did. None will do it as well.
  16. Consumers are under-educated and don’t know the substance of a pioneer. Our society takes more to the copycats and latest fads. Only the pioneer knows and appreciates what he-she really accomplished. That reassurance will have to be enough.
  17. Life and careers include peaks and valleys. It’s how one copes during the “down times” that is the true measure of success.
  18. Long-term success must be earned. It is not automatic and is worthless if ill-gotten. The more dues one pays, the more you must continue paying.
  19. The next best achievement is the one you’re working on now, inspired by your body of knowledge to date.
  20. The person who never has aggressively pursued a dream or mounted a series of achievements cannot understand the quest of one with a deeply committed dream.
  21. A great percentage of the population does not achieve huge goals but still admires and learns from those who do persevere and succeed. The achiever thus becomes a lifelong mentor to others.
  22. Achievement is a continuum, but it must be benchmarked and enjoyed along the way.

These are my concluding pieces of leadership advice. Know where you are going. Develop, update and maintain a career growth document. Keep a diary of lessons learned but not soon forgotten. Learn the reasons for success and, more importantly, from failure.

Good bosses were good employees. They have keen understanding for both roles. Bad bosses likely were not ideal employees. They too are consistent in career history. Being your own boss is yet another lesson. People who were downsized from a corporate environment suddenly enter the entrepreneurial world and find the transition to be tough.

Poor people skills cloud any job performance and overshadow good technical skills. The worst bosses do not sustain long careers at the top. Their track record catches up with them, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.

Good workers don’t automatically become good bosses. Just because someone is technically proficient or is an exemplary producer does not mean that he-she will transition to being a boss. The best school teachers do not want to become principals, for that reason. Good job performers are better left doing what they do best. Administrators, at all levels, need to be properly trained as such, not bumped up from the field to do something for which they have no inclination.

Truth and ethics must be woven into how you conduct business. If you do not “walk the talk,” who will? Realize that very little of what happens to you in business is personal. Find common meeting grounds with colleagues. The only workable solution is a win-win.

Leadership and executive development skills are steadily learned and continually sharpened. One course or a quick-read book will not instill them. The best leaders are prepared to go the distance. Professional enrichment must be life-long. Early formal education is but a starting point. Study trends in business, in your industry and in the industries of your customers.

People skills mastery applies to every profession. There is no organization that does not have to communicate to others about what it does. The process of open company dialogs must be developed to address conflicts, facilitate win-win solutions and further organizational goals.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.