I’ve been coaching entrepreneurs, professionals and small business executives since 1995.
When I first start working with a client I ask, “What is your most critical business concern right now?”
I hear things like:
– Cash flow is a real problem. I can’t meet my expenses.
– The market has dried up. Sales just aren’t happening.
– The market is out there, but I’m not ready to handle the business. I don’t have my systems in place and I have trouble following through.
– I often feel overwhelmed. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
What I’ve learned is that these are all symptoms of a common problem experienced by many people with business decision-making responsibilities. It boils down to disorganized, unfocused thinking and lack of business structure.
My job as coach is to help clients understand and use what I call the Prime Strategies. These prime strategies are the basis on which I have built my business and have helped many clients do the same. For sake of simplicity and understanding, I’ve divided these into six sequential strategic steps.
– Clarify Vision and Mission
This is the first, and most important, step. It’s important to first visualize your business as you’d like it to be when it’s mature. Make it real in your mind; then write out what it will look like. This step organizes and focuses your thinking. Once clarified, this Vision becomes the guiding light toward which all your activities will be directed. It’s simple, yet amazing, as it becomes a powerful magnet to pull your business forward.
Your Mission is what you will do in your business to achieve your Vision. Your Mission might serve an intangible, social or moral cause, or you might be a resource for something that’s recognized as valuable in the marketplace. An example of the latter: to provide creative, fashionable, high quality merchandise for the middle to high end advertising premium market.
– Develop Goals
Goals are statements of what you want to achieve and are the foundation for your structure. These should be observable or measurable items such as total annual sales, market position and share, scope of products/services, etc. You’ll want to consider both long term and short term Goals. Long term might be 3 to 5 years and for short term, think one year. Document your goals so they become the basis for your next steps.
– Create a Strategy to Achieve your Goals
Once you know where you want to go and have observable, measurable goals to acknowledge when you’re there, you need a Strategy to get there. An example of Strategy is deciding you’ll seek alliances and partnerships to reach your market. Deciding who to approach is the next level.
– Write a Plan to Fulfill your Strategy
The Plan is where you flesh out your structure. It’s time to decide who to approach about that alliance. Or you may need to do some research to find these potential partners. Whatever needs to get done gets included in your Plan. Then determine a timeframe for carrying out each element. A start and complete date can be helpful to keep you focused on accomplishment.
– Act on your Plan
If you don’t consciously carry out the actions set out in your Plan, you haven’t translated your Plan into Action. The easiest way to carry out your Plan is to transfer it to your weekly calendar in accordance with the timeframes set out. Prepare each week’s plan the week before. Check it against your overall Plan to make sure you’ve scheduled the time needed to accomplish the task. Not blocking out calendar time for tasks on your Plan is a sure path to failure.
– Monitor Results
At the end of the month, look at what your Actions accomplished. Did you complete the items on your Plan? What were the results of your Actions? Update your Plan based on what you’ve learned. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
The beauty of the Prime Strategies is that they can be applied to any business in any economy.
The real reward of applying the Prime Strategies is being able to feel in control of your business and your life. As such, you’ll experience more personal satisfaction with being in business.
I’ve seen these principles and practices work time after time.
Darlene is a business owner who came to me just before she was ready to close the doors and walk away from her 2 year old business. By applying the Prime Strategies she was able to go from a large cash deficit and long overdue accounts receivable to a consistently positive cash flow and increased long term potential. She has been able to incrementally transfer ownership to a working partner who will eventually be full owner. As she has phased herself out of her business, Darlene has been able to create a new business around her first love – horses, riding and fitness. She already has business knocking at her door and is experiencing renewed energy and enthusiasm.
It’s such a pleasure to watch entrepreneurs go from striving to thriving and gaining the confidence to become true business leaders. Consider what the Prime Strategies can do for you.