7 Tips for a Business Partnership That Works

Business partnerships take on a variety of forms. They may be a long term formal legal commitment or a simple short term venture to test a market concept. The same principles apply in all cases.

Here are 7 tips to make sure the partnership starts strong and stays strong.

1 – Start by creating a shared Vision & Mission

As in any business, it’s critical for the partners to define the Vision and Mission of the venture as the very first step. If all brains aren’t going in the same direction in the same way, problems are bound to arise.

The motives for each partner can be different. The overall objectives and methods, however, need to be the same.

Tom chose to partner with Dominic because each saw the market need for a commercial kitchen facility. Tom was a commercial contractor who had worked on restaurants and catering facilities. Dominic was Manager of a cooking school and well connected within the food preparation industry. Their Vision was a 2,000 sq. ft. facility that would have 3 shifts of production, serve as a test kitchen for the cooking school and contract provider for other long term and project clients.

Tip: Take time to discuss your company’s Vision and Mission with your partners. Look for what energizes and motivates each of you about your business. Give it a purpose and define what the ideal business will look like. Put the joint Vision and Mission in writing and use it as the reference for everything else you do. [Read more…]

Two Steps to a Winning Strategy

Janelle located her executive recruiter office on the second floor of a small commercial building with the window facing the commuter train station platform. She hopes to attract the attention of commuting executives ready for a move or those seeking executive level help. That’s Strategy!

Carlos opened his restaurant on a low rent block at the fringe of an area being actively redeveloped . His low rent allows him to offer good quality, well- prepared food at great prices. He figures people are always attracted to a bargain. That’s Strategy!

Catherine is a real estate developer who decided to identify all properties in an upscale area which has an appraised value lower than tax valuation. She believes there will be several properties among these that are ripe for development. She’ll approach the owners to see if they are open to selling. That’s Strategy!

Strategy is thinking through logical options and asking the question: if I do X (Action) how close will I come to getting Y (Goal). The Strategy you choose [Read more…]

Start with a Vision

Let’s start at the beginning. The most basic thing about any creation is that it started from a thought, a dream, an idea, a passion. As a vision, it is intangible. The next step in making it tangible is to see it as finished in your mind.

The importance of a clear vision cannot be over- emphasized. Think of trying to build a house without first deciding what you want it to look like; with all the details, both inside and out. The same is true in creating a successful business.

To create your Business Vision, begin by giving thought to what you want your business to look like when it’s fully mature. Sometimes it’s helpful to close your eyes as you’re thinking.

The clearer you can make your Vision, the greater your chances of achieving it. The rest of your job then is to make the decisions on a day to day basis that will create it into a tangible reality.

The Vision is the first step in writing a business plan. Jim Horan’s popular book, “The One Page Business Plan: Start with a Vision, Build a Company”, uses the vision as the basis for the rest of the plan. That’s how critical it is.

I find many business owners are really not clear about their Business Vision. They just want to make it [Read more…]

The 7 Questions to Ask Before Planning for Next Year

Before sitting down to start working on your plan for 2007, I suggest you give yourself the advantage of a retrospective on 2006.

A year is actually a long time in business. And often the best prepared plans don’t get carried out for a variety of reasons. One of the most frequent reasons is unexpected challenges and new opp0rtunities that come up along the way. When they do, we can easily end up off our planned course.

Since we are always using our Long Term Vision to guide our planning, year-end is the time to review that Long Term Vision against what you’ve learned during the year. In looking at the past year I find it’s helpful to ask 7 specific questi0ns and use the answers as a reference in creating next year’s plan. It’s a good idea to write the answers to these questi0ns. In reviewing them once completed, you’ll be able to see what otherwise might have been missed.

Here are the questi0ns I ask. [Read more…]

Five Simple Steps to a Thriving Business

Sometimes I think we make having a thriving business much more difficult than it needs to be. I’ve found the sec.ret is to step back from your business and look at the process in its simplest f0rm. As I see it there are five simple steps to attracting, selling and keeping customers or clients. Get these working for you and building a thriving business will become much easier.

Step 1 – Connect

Once you determine who is most likely to value your product or service, you must connect with those people. It’s critical to identify your niche and have all your materials reinforcing the message to your target market. Find out where you’re most likely to reach these people and what will motivate their interest.

Then reach out using a strategy that will take advantage of networking, online and offline marketing, unfulfilled market needs, and the strengths you bring to the business.

Step 2 – Follow up

We know it’s important to follow up with new connections wherever they come from. The problem is [Read more…]

Delegation & Teamwork

Regardless of the business you’re in you’re not going to be able to build a viable, thriving enterprise without the help of others. This is where some entrepreneurs get stuck. Many of us fall into the rut of trying to do it all ourselves even as the business grows. And that’s where problems can begin.

Alfred Peet, founder and former CEO of Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc., admits his biggest mistake was not being able to delegate. Quoted in an Inc article, he said, “I know exactly where I want to go, but I can’t explain every thought, every idea I have for the future of this company. Many people left. I was burnt out, so I had to sell. Do you know what it’s like when you’ve given so much, there’s nothing left?” He sold Peet’s Coffee in 1979 after 13 years in business.

Burn-out takes its toll and the business feels the stress.

Don’t let your business take over. I want for you to take back control of your business and get it to support you – rather than you supporting it.

That’s a huge change in thinking.

In order for that to happen [Read more…]

Five Questions to Help Create an Effective Marketing Plan

Questi0ns can be a wonderful tool. In planning, the key to success is knowing the right questi0ns to ask. That certainly applies when it comes to creating a Marketing Plan.

Answering the following questi0ns will provide you with information needed to create the framework for an effective plan.

What is your value message?

This is the first and most important questi0n you can answer. Until you know what value you wish to communicate about your product or service, attracting customers will be unfocused and difficult.

Consider how you’re different from your competitors. Your message must clearly state [Read more…]

Get the Results You Want

One of the greatest enemies of getting the results you want is disorganized thinking and unfocused actions. Look at the image on the left.

What do you see? Disorganized thinking and unfocused actions. When operating in this mode, there’s lots of activity, but little is accomplished.

To get the results you want, those assets and actions have to be aligned and directed, like the image on the right. Look at the strength and power these two elements add.

Entrepreneurs tend to have lots of good ideas, usually function at high energy and are often impulsive. But what has the potential for a solid business often falls apart for lack of organization, structure, focus and direction. Actions are frequently taken haphazardly and sporadic without a goal or a plan.

The objective is to align assets and actions so they all go in the same direction – toward your goals. The sequence of steps is to identify and organize your assets (the value you provide to the marketplace), create a clear message and then strategically plan and take calculated, directed actions designed to lead to your goals.

In order to get the Results you want, you must align your Goals, your Strategy, your Plan and your Actions. Actions implement the Plan, which carries out the Strategy, which leads to your Goals. Therefore, Actions ultimately should lead to Goals. To the extent that Results match Goals, your Actions have been on-target and successful. [Read more…]

Three Keys to Finding the Gold in Your Business

Gold is certainly a hot commodity in today’s economy. Any gold you have is worth more today than it was a year ago. I’ll bet you have some gold you’re not even aware of, right there in your own business. Let’s see if we can find it.

If you could make twice the income in half the time, would that be as good as gold to you? Would that increase the value of your business? Sounds like a marketing rant, doesn’t it? Well, there are three basic underlying truths that, once learned and applied, will allow you to make more money while you work less. Here they are.

Simplify

Spend more time on goal-oriented activities, less on non-essentials. You want your daily activities to be adding value to your business and taking you closer to your goals. Block out specific time on your calendar for these activities and make sure they get done first. E-mail, telephone and personal interruptions steal a lot of time. Dedicate specific time to these tasks also; just work hard to keep them from interfering with your goal-directed actions and time. [Read more…]

Ca$h Planning: Key to a Stable and Profitable Business

Like it or not, your ca$h flow picture is a report card on how well you’re managing your business.

Business management includes making sure you have the ca$h you need to cover expenses as they occur. Ca$h flow planning is a must if you want to be in control of your business. It’s only when you’re in control that you can become a stable and profitable business.

Good ca$h planning requires review of historical financial information, including a look at business cycle and sa/es cycle. Cred1t policies and practices, marketing plans, periodic expenses, de6t and ca$h access need to be considered as well. The concept is to control what can be controlled and to manage what can’t.

In order to do that, you will need accurate and timely information and know how to interpret what you see.

Ca$h Planning Basics: [Read more…]