How Can I Fix My Business Partnership?

I’ve found there are lots of people in a long standing business partnership who are not satisfied with the status of the relationship. They may feel stuck, frustrated, angry…or all of these. They know they’ve been silent far too long, but just don’t know what to do.

What can cause such a change in a relationship that started out with high hopes and good feelings?

Here are some of the situations I see most often. Do any of these apply to your partnership?

One partner feels like he’s carrying the bulk of the workload.

This may have happened because there wasn’t an agreement about who would do what. Job roles, responsibilities and accountability have not been discussed.

Expectations are not being met. [Read more…]

Use Strategic Alliances to Grow Your Business

Many of today’s successful businesses are built on strategic alliances — a collaboration of resources for the purpose of gaining an advantage in the marketplace. This is especially true of virtual businesses, which are usually based on a network of people in different locations, with defined roles, in a temporary or evolving organization. In order to grow you need others.

If hiring an employee or contracting for service is not the right solution, a strategic alliance or partnership may be the answer. Engaging a “partner” in the process means you will share risks. Responsibilities and rewards.

Strategic alliances are a great way to create or test new business ideas without a huge expense, but it does require attention and good management to succeed.

Here are the steps I use and recommend following when seeking strategic partners.

Envision the Goals you want to accomplish.

Be as clear as possible. Then ask yourself what it will take to achieve these goals? If you see you can’t do it alone, find the resources you need elsewhere. [Read more…]

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…]

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…]

7 Questions to Ask Before Launching a New Product or Service

The economy has been good to many small businesses this past year. Many are ramping up for expansion through introduction of a new product or service. This can be an ideal way to grow your business if you do it strategically.

To help increase your odds of success, I suggest you analyze your business and market history. He.re are seven questions that will assist you in analyzing your information and creating a growth plan.

1 – Is my business already on a solid foundation?
If your systems, processes and personnel are not ready, efforts to expand will overload your capabilities and set you up for failure. Make sure you are ready to handle the orders, deliver the product or service and collect your money in a systematic and timely fashion.

Also, make sure you have one or more strong indications that there is a market for what you plan to offer. Strong past $ales of something similar or a part of what you are expanding are usually a positive sign. Be careful you don’t fall in love with an idea and disregard the warning signs that the market won’t support 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…]

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…]

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…]

Common Business Challenges: You’re Not Alone

If you’re in business, you’ve got challenges. Some are priority; some can be deferred. Some will take time; others can be handled quickly and easily. Some will require a financial investment; some will not. They are all challenges because they are holding you back in some way.

Rather than see a challenge as a negative, I find it’s helpful to think of it as an opp0rtunity. It usually means choices must be made, and that’s where it can get sticky. Sometimes we feel stuck because we’re unsure about the right course of action. When the problem continues, we feel the stress and so does the business.

Some of the types of challenges I frequently hear about from small business owners are:
– sales – how to get more
– time/organization – not enough time, chaos mode, overwhelm
– cash flow – unpredictable and uneven income and expense
– staffing – conflicts, poor delegation and job matches
– technology – not adequately supporting operations

Anything sound familiar? [Read more…]

Six Steps to Fiscal Fitness

Having a business that’s operating on sound business principles is absolutely essential if you expect to build a thriving business. One of the key elements of a strong foundation is fiscal fitness. A business that tries to grow without a strong foundation is heading for disaster. If your business isn’t “fiscally fit” – you might eventually find yourself dealing with that other “f” word – “failure”.

We all know the value of physical fitness. Well, the same principles apply to fiscal fitness. As with physical fitness, it’s good to start with some measurable goals; then create and act on a plan to achieve them.

Being able to meet expenses when due, without borrowing, is a measurable goal worthy of your efforts. The key to meeting this goal is effectively managing cash flow. That probably means pumping up income and slimming down expenses. You need to know the measurements that are meaningful to your business and then weigh in on a regular basis to see how you’re doing.

Here are the six steps I recommend to achieve fiscal fitness for your business. [Read more…]