Tag: business strategy

The 4 Stages of Your Business

Sometimes it is helpful to hear that we are not alone and what we are experiencing in our business is actually the ‘norm’. It is also helpful to benchmark where we are at and what we need to do to go to the next stage.

Here are the common four stages of business…which one do you relate to? As a mentor and coach my role is to help you efficiently move from one stage to the next with minimal fuss and pain. Contact me to discuss how this can happen – it’s usually a lot easier than you think!

  1. Start Up

□ It’s all about survival – doing whatever it takes to make it

□ You’re in “do it yourself” and “it’s all up to me” mode

□ You enjoy the freedom this gives you

□ You get to make decisions on the go and change your mind at a drop of a hat, and it’s okay to do this, it’s all down to you anyway

□ You put out bushfires all day

□ You can cope though, because it’s mainly just you and you know what needs to be done

□ You know everything that’s going on, and you’re the go-to person for whatever is needed

 

  1. Start Up to Initial Growth            

Keep in mind, most businesses don’t ever get out of start-up phase, because the business owner never adapts their style of doing things to allow the business to move forward.

□ Seat-of-the-pants leadership and decision making isn’t going to cut it anymore. (I should know.)

□ You need to become more strategic, and you need to start thinking ahead and planning how it’s all going to happen. People can’t sit around waiting to see which way you want them to jump today.

□ Change your role from doing to decision maker and delegate effectively

□ Learn the difference between delegation and abdication – you don’t give it to someone in the hope they’ll sort it out for you

□ You need to decide which way the business is heading, delegate what needs to get done that isn’t core to your business (sales and marketing) and monitor the progress made on the projects with key performance indicators and regular feedback and reviews so everyone knows where they stand and how they’re progressing

□ You will be the bottleneck if you keep making all the decisions yourself

□ You need to shift from bush fire management to anticipation, planning, design of systems and procedures

Initial growth is often difficult to manage because every step means growing pains and systemising and doing things so that others can as well.

It’s a time in the business where everything is more complex, and you have to rely on others to get things done and to make decisions. Unless you’re across everything in detail all the time, you would only get in the way.

It will actually become physically impossible to do everything you need to do. You will find people will want your time but you don’t have time for them. Bushfires seems to be lighting up everywhere – you put one out and five more appear.

 

  1. Initial Growth to Rapid Growth            

You need to become more of a team builder and planner. Your focus is on getting a management team in place and building a steady and strong infrastructure.

You’re going to become even more proactive in recognising what your business needs and do so before you get to crisis stage.

You need to be thinking in one year horizons and acting in 90 day cycles with weekly and daily focus. You want to hire people who are better at their roles than you could ever be. They are specialists who focus solely on that function or area.

You’re now moving more towards having to make sure your team come together and that there is team cohesiveness.

 

  1. Rapid growth

Your product, service or program is ready, proven and sells. The market is growing and your sales are going up.

Survival is not on your mind – you’re trying to ride the wave, make the most of what’s going on and keep the momentum going.

This is what’s interesting – infrastructure at this stage will be lower than the next stage – maturity. Make the most of this phase, save as much money as you can, maximise profits and pay off your house or any other big bills. When you get to maturity infrastructure will have caught up with turnover and it won’t be as much fun in terms of cashflow!

(c) The Coaching Institute 2016

QUICKEST AND CHEAPEST SALES BOOST

Just finished a session with a wonderful client who is a high-end car mechanic. He generated two weeks of extra work by a few phone calls to old clients.

Mining your database of past customers (and even their friends, family, clubs, networks) IS THE FIRST MARKETING STRATEGY YOU SHOULD EVER DO!

Your list of past customers is like ‘gold in your hand’. It’s a goldmine!

If you need more sales fast.

I’ve rarely seen it fail. It generates immediate results because the customer has already passed that invisible barrier of trust and uncertainty about whether they will get value.

BTW – I should mention the next most important thing you should do before ramping up your marketing spend is work out what you should be selling. What are the profitable products/services? And which ones will take you to your vision?
No point spending marketing dollars and time in order to sell more stuff that will make you less, or steer you away from your vision.

UNFOCUSED? THIS CAN HELP

 

Core Improve Innovate
Focus on getting core right before improving or innovating.

This might help and maybe something to think about over the weekend.

 

It’s the CORE, IMPROVE, INNOVATE model by Sharon Pearson.

In a nutshell…only focus on core business activities and getting them right before you focus on improving your core. Only spend time and money innovating when core and improvements are done.

Core activities is your day to day stuff that makes money, brings business in, processes orders, keeps customers happy, sends out invoices, keeps staff happy etc.

My tendency, because I love innovation, was to get distracted with improvements and innovation and I dropped the ball on ‘core’.

This is like building a house on wet soggy, soft soil that isn’t compacted or even right for the job!

As a result my innovation might work but would fall over because core business was up to scratch.

So…if you are switching between ‘this and that’ in your business and not sure what you should focus on…perhaps you are doing what I used to do and are distracted by innovation or improvements?

This weekend, have a think about your core activities. What kind of shape are they in?

Do They Know Where the Bus is Going?

Business Turnaround Example – and one of the reasons why I love my job.

A client this week has just taken his first holiday away from the business in 6 years. And the staff were absolutely determined to prove they can man the fort, keep the jobs flowing and the customers happy…and prove to the boss they can do it. And they did. And they were really proud of themselves. And so they should be.

3 months ago this boss was seriously contemplating throwing in the towel.

He felt he had no more fight left in him.

It was a ‘fight’. Doing anything, when you don’t know how to, can feel like a ‘fight’.

He certainly knew how to do his trade real well…but he didn’t know how to manage his people. As a result he had staff that were milking the system, not on time, moody and threatening to leave.

The solution was not hard or complicated. And it’s a solution I’ve seen work wonders time and time  again. It’s so effective and quick, it’s like magic.

First step was the boss brought me on board – but that isn’t the magic part. I assessed the situation, interviewed the team and identified the issues.

The major ‘fix’ I want to share in this post is the need for your staff to know where they are going.

An analogy I like, is to think of your business as a bus and it’s taking you and your staff on a journey…preferably to a destination you want.

When the staff don’t know where the bus is going, they start to get fidgety and think about getting off the bus.

Add to this confusion poor driving by the boss and you have a situation like my client in this example.

The major turnaround by the staff was due mainly to the following:

1. We met with them and found out their career goals and what they liked doing and wanted to do more of, and what they wanted to do less of. We then rewrote their position descriptions with these changes and included a career plan which mapped out their growth in the business.

2. We implemented team meetings every week initially and then reduced this down to every two weeks. These meetings focused on hearing from the staff what needed fixing or changing, and sharing with them great actions taken by the team, number of jobs completed and updates to strategy and where the business is heading.

Both of these actions have given the staff the certainty they wanted in where the bus is going. They are no longer on a mystery tour. One way of looking at this is appreciating that your team are sacrificing time in their lives they can’t regain…how would they feel if they didn’t know where it was taking them?

The two actions have

Let your staff know where the bus is going
Your staff need to know where the bus is going.

given them a sense of belonging, significance, contribution and growth.

One particular staff member who was really playing up and looking for work is now busting his butt, cooperating, hitting targets, going the extra mile and even telling others they should come and work for the company.

If you are having staff issues, and you are not discussing their goals, their challenges, their opportunities and where the business is going, this could be why.

As always, I’m just a phone call away if you need some advice or want to run an idea or issue past me.

CLEAR – Business Development Steps – Part 1

Love this time of Year! 🙂

I’m enjoying a nice morning with no work pressure, a great coffee, birds singing and it’s not cold or too hot. I find this time of year is such a great time to start planning 2017.

If you are wanting to do some strategic business development thinking for 2017, I’ll be sharing a few tips and strategies over the next couple days that will help. And as always, PM me or email if you have specific questions.

Step 1: WHERE’S YOUR DEPARTURE POINT?

It would be absurd to go into a travel agent and say,

“We want to go to New York…can’t confirm which airport we will be departing from…but can you tell us your best deal and route?”

First step in planning your #businessdevelopment is to know your starting point. Second most important step is to know where you want to go. I find many businesses are good at knowing the target, the destination but fail to reflect on the starting point. Therefore their strategies are no where near as effective as they could be.

You may have read my CLEAR business planning acronym in a previous post.

  • Customer
  • Looking for?
  • Earnings?
  • Actions required?
  • Responsibility

Checklist for the priority topics to cover as a minimum in your planning.

The CLEAR business development system is quick, simple and helps you cover the essentials and identify your starting point as well as where you are going.

Customer

Who were your best and most profitable customers in 2016? Make a list. It helps the brain process data when it’s on paper because you only have so much RAM (working memory) in your computer-brain to hold ‘stuff’ and think of new stuff.

Typically a business has around 3 different core customer types. Generalisation but I find most businesses will have the ‘B’ customers, the ‘bread and butter’ customers that are steady, always there and generate a large portion of revenue. Bread and Butter B customers keep the cashflow going, keep the business machine oiled.

Then there are the ‘A’ customers that are Awesome and buy big and pay well and are profitable. They tend to be less frequent or less in number, but still essential.

Then there are the ‘C’ customers that cost you time and money to service. You know the ones. 🙂 They might be Cocky or Complainers and take a lot of your time. Remember, you CAN’T buy more time! once gone it is gone. Therefore what would be more beneficial to your business…to spend time on the A and B customers or the C’s? Every 20mins with a C customer is time you could have been wowing an A and B customer so they become raving fans and recommend you to more A and B Customers.

Get clear on which customers you want more of and the percentage mix of A and B and C customers.

For example, I’m a big fan of working less and earning more. Therefore I recommend:

1. Reviewing the ‘C’ customers you need to cut loose. You can do this by raising the price of the current deal they are attracted to or currently on. They will leave of their own accord…and you will be grateful! One of the best ways to increase productivity and profits is to reduce your C customers.

2. Look at what you are doing, saying, promoting to attract the C’s. Fix it!

3. Look at your own thinking. It all starts with you and your thoughts. This can be a harder one to tackle and identify and you may need my help. Do you believe you only deserve C customers?

Now you have cleared up your plan for the C customers, estimate your current number of A and B customers (preferably on paper) and decide how many you want to have in 2017.

I suggest 3 month goals. For example:

By March 2017 I have 5 A customers, 15 B customers.

By June 2017 I have 8 A customers, 27 B customers

etc etc etc

I’ll end here.

In summary, get clear on where you are starting. Identify your current customer mix. Make a plan to reduce your C customers. Set targets for the number of A and B customers you want.

In Part 2 I’ll cover the CLEAR step of identifying what your customers are looking for.