Is it time to save your business?

Save your Business?The economy is in the tank and there’s no sign of when things will get better. Some small businesses are doing well…and some are not. To do well now, or even survive, every business must review its market, its business practices and its finances. Big changes may be needed to realign the business for success in this market. And if the down economy has compounded previously existing problems, it may be time to save your business…before it’s too late.

I say before “it’s too late” because I feel really bad when I have to tell someone I can’t help them. They’ve waited too long. Sometimes it’s just too late – and there’s nothing left to work with. You don’t want to find yourself in that situation.

It’s important for business owners to identify the Warning Signs that spell trouble ahead. Unfortunately, many don’t recognize these signs early enough to take corrective action…before it’s too late.

So tell me: what is not going well for you right now? Would you answer “yes” to any of the following questions? Be honest. This is meant to help you take a hard look at your business. [Read more…]

Are you prepared to lead?

LeaderTo lead is a verb. It implies action. The leader acts, the follower reacts. The leader is the one who steps out in front and says “Follow me; I know a better way.” If he’s convincing or trusted, those who relate to the message will follow.

There are those who say leadership can be learned — and I definitely agree with that. There are, however, natural strengths and talents within each of us which are not the result of learning.

If given the opportunity to make our choices without outside influence, we’ll select certain activities on which to spend our time and dedicate our undivided, disciplined attention for long periods just for the pleasure of the experience. These are the points from which we can learn to lead. This is where we really are the experts and where we do have something to offer.

Leading from our strengths and passions is the soundest foundation upon which to build a business. It’s extremely valuable to be able to call upon these personal qualities for a level of credibility that can’t be achieved from anything that we’ve learned externally. [Read more…]

Planning: The Roadmap to Success

Think of a plan as a map. It’s meant to be a guide. The planning process helps us focus on the “how” of what we want to accomplish. It organizes our thinking, identifies the steps and gives us tools to monitor how we’re doing.

Those who create and write plans have a much better chance of success, yet so many people don’t follow through. Why not? We may think there’s little value in spending the time to create a plan. Also, it’s unfamiliar territory and we’re not sure what we need to do. We may carry the plan in our head, but it’s always in an abstract state. We want to take it from the abstract to the next stage of realization – putting it in writing.

Let’s assume you have taken the steps that lead you to the point of needing a plan.
After you’ve decided what you’re going to do (goals) and how you’re going to do it (strategy), you’ll need to decide the specific actions that will fulfill your strategy and lead you to your goals.

How do you know what actions to take? Keeping in mind your goals and strategy, together with the business intelligence you’ve gathered and evaluated, brainstorm a number of possible actions. You might review these with key staff and advisors; then select those that seem to have the most potential to produce desired results. At this point it might be a good idea to discuss your plans with the people who would be involved in carrying out the actions. This could save you money, time and unproductive actions. [Read more…]

How Do I Find the Right Business Partner?

Having a partner presents a complex mix of interpersonal and business issues, and both need to be addressed for it to work.

If your primary interest is having someone to brainstorm with and to help your business move forward, there may be other options besides a partner. A consultant or coach may be able to fill that role. In that case you’d have the benefit of an objective dedicated mind but would still make the final decisions.

Likewise, if additional capital is needed now, there may be alternatives to giving away your hard-earned equity. Debt is usually preferable to equity unless the partner can add significant value to your business. If an equity partner can open a sizable new market, take on critical responsibility or provide access to valuable resources, it may be worth serious consideration.

Base your decision to have a partner on sound logic and reasoning. Be careful of just wanting to dump responsibility on anyone who will agree.

The purpose of the partnership should be clear in your own mind first. Then you’re ready to determine the qualities and assets a potential partner would bring. A partnership is usually a long term arrangement, so think long and hard as to whether or not you’re ready for that level of commitment. [Read more…]

How to Add Innovation to Your Business

Earlier this year a client in the executive search industry told me she was beginning to see the need for executives who can bring innovation to their position. Based on her research she chose to add innovation as a practice specialty. Her article summarizing findings are on my blog at http://primestrategies.com/?p=615 .
Innovation

Doing a bit of my own research I learned there’s an amazing body of knowledge on the subject.

Innovation is certainly not a new business concept. Jack Welch, former GE leader, was known for introducing innovation into the corporate culture there. His mission was to create the world’s most competitive enterprise. One of the ways he did that was through innovation.

The goal of innovation is positive change, to make someone or something better; to increase value in some fashion. Today’s thinking is not just about managing change; it’s about leading change.

As the leader of your business it’s up to you to set the stage for innovation.

Research the market.
Consciously be alert for new ideas that might be applied to your business. Reading what others have done (in any industry) can often trigger your thinking. Surf the internet for innovative ideas. [Read more…]

The Keys to Finding Good Help

Audrey had been looking for a Field Supervisor for months. She’d taken referrals from friends and family, posted at the colleges and on Craig’s list. So far, no one had met Audrey’s expectations. I was concerned that she would become discouraged and hire the wrong person to fill the job or would give up and continue to spend her own precious time doing the supervisor’s job. So I helped her see why she wasn’t attracting the right candidates.

The first thing she did was write out exactly what she wanted from this person. From that she created a specific and clear job description that was able to attract the right candidates. Once she posted it she finally found someone she believes will meet her expectations on the job.

The success of a small business is dependent on having good help. Without it, the business just cannot go to the next level. [Read more…]

7 Strategies to Recession-Proof Your Business

We don’t yet have confirmation that we’re in a recession, but the media are certainly leading us to believe it’s imminent. I’ve spoken with a number of small businesses who are already starting to feel a slowdown.

That tells me every small business needs to take a hard look at the status of their business to make sure it can withstand a downturn. The secret is to have your Plan address spots where you may be vulnerable. Prevention n0w definitely beats fixing things after they become difficult to turn around.

Following are top strategies for weathering a downturn. They are actually good business practices in any economy.

1. Get your house in order.

Start by solving as many problems as possible n0w. Unresolved problems hurt even more in difficult times. Get your cash under control. Choose strategies that conserve and manage it. If you need help, get it ASAP. [Read more…]

The One Page Marketing Plan

I’m so excited about this new One Page Marketing Plan I want to share the first part with you now. If you begin to see what it can do for you, I hope you’ll get it for yourself.

The purpose of the One Page Marketing Plan is to simplify the steps of creating a practical plan you can put to use immediately. It can be used to support a marketing campaign or to carry out your overall business plan.

We start by gathering pertinent information and answering specific questions. We give you explanations and examples to direct your thinking plus simple tools that provide a structure you can use over and over again. You are both learning and doing at the same time.

When you actually put the Plan to use, you’ll not only see positive Results, you’ll have started a new habit that will prepare you to reach the next level in your business. [Read more…]

A Small Business Community’s Success Story

I’m still high from the energy and positive feedback we’ve had from the Third Annual Small Business Summit 2008. Support and enthusiasm about making it happen was apparent from last year’s Summit, but we didn’t know we’d have a sell-out and fill the house. Last year we had 360 attendees and this year it was 450.

As a small business community in one of the nation’s major business centers, it’s clear that we are a vocal and expanding group. The Summit concept and community now has a life of its own. People tell us they look forward to attending each year and many ask what else we’re doing. Here’s a quick glimpse at how it happens and why it’s a success.

It all started in the Spring of 2005. I had read articles and posts by Ramon Ray, http://smallbiztechnology.com, for several months and finally decided to attend an event where he was speaking. I was impressed by his presentation and the fact that he focused on small business technology. It’s a critical element of any small business, but not really my strong suit. I wanted to know more about his work, so we decided to meet for coffee. [Read more…]

Are You Operating From: IF or WHEN?

“The more clear and definite you make your picture, and the more you dwell upon it, bringing out all its delightful details, the stronger your desire will be. And the stronger your desire, the easier it will be to hold your mind fixed upon the picture of what you want.”
Wallace D. Wattles, The Science of Getting Rich (first published in 1910)

IF or WHEN? Two little words that mean so much. IF implies an uncertainty as to whether or not something will happen. WHEN implies it will definitely happen, it’s just a matter of timing.

When we’re operating in IF, we’re not committed. We’re still questioning, “can I reach my goal?” There’s no forward movement and it may actually feel like we’re going around in circles.

When we’re operating in WHEN we’ve made the decision to reach our goal. It’s just a matter of WHEN. We may not know exactly how we’ll get what we want, but the fact of having made the decision removes any doubt that it will happen. The “how” will come much easier because all future decisions will be taking us in the direction of our goal. [Read more…]