How to 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.

Answer the following questions to begin organizing and structuring a framework that will get you on track toward producing the Results you want.

Goals:

What results do you want from your efforts?

Total Revenue?

Sell X Number of products/services?

Generate X% revenue from New Market?

Strategy:

How do you plan to achieve your goals?

Identify and develop an untapped market?

Redefine our brand for New Market?

Plan:

What are the specific tasks to be accomplished? Who is responsible? When does each need to be done?

Actions:

When do you need to start and complete these tasks?  What is the sequence? What is the timeframe for each?

Results:

What are the measurable outcomes from your Plan and Actions?

Compare actual Total Revenue to Revenue Goal

Compare actual Number of products/services sold by target date to Product Goal.

Compare actual percent of Total Revenue from New Market

How close are the Results to the Goals? What succeeded; what didn’t? Each time you repeat the process, you get better at producing the Results you want.

Let’s look at a case in point.

With a background in retail merchandising, Jennifer started her business by purchasing quality overruns from women’s plus size manufacturers and opened a small store near another retailer of plus size clothing. Her intent was to capture some of the traffic attracted by the other store. She took out expensive ads in local papers and the yellow pages, but after six months still wasn’t getting the traffic or the sales she had hoped for. She wasn’t even covering her expenses. She knew she had a product that was needed and desired by her target market; she just wasn’t bringing in enough business.

Of course, Jennifer didn’t really have Goals, a Strategy or a Plan. Her actions were sporadic and without research. She was feeling very frustrated and considering giving up when she made the decision to organize her thinking and focus her actions.

To help organize her thinking she created a Market Research campaign and learned where and how her target market could be reached. Based on this research she created a marketing campaign that included specific, measurable Goals, a Strategy and Plan and specific Actions to carry out the Plan. Here is an excerpted picture of her process.

Goals: (for one year period)

1 – $2,500,000 in revenue

2 – A customer database of 10,000 and 20,000 transactions at an average sale of $125.

Strategy (excerpt from Marketing Plan)

1 a)  Create incentive for existing customers to bring or refer a friend.

   b)  Add online catalog.

2 a)  Hold fashion show and invite the press.

   b)  Capture customer info, including e-mail address and send monthly promos.

Plan:

1 a)  Offer high end accessory item for one referral, 10% discount on merchandise for second referral.

   b)  Use existing online catalog service and start with top 20% of items in each category (to test online market)

2 a)  Select show date, assign coordinator and write plan for show (to include online show).

   b)  Offer raffle of high end accessory in exchange for attendee/visitor info.

Actions:

1 a) Jennifer selected incentive item, ordered enough for marketing purposes, wrote and sent an introductory promotion to a targeted e-mailing list and existing customers. The incentive promotion was added to all marketing materials and promo coupons.

   b)  Jennifer directed research to find a suitable online catalog. Upon selection, she hired a web designer to design the page layout and a developer to set up the shopping cart and manage the site.

2  a)  Jennifer assigned the Assistant Manager the job of coordinating the fashion show, which took place in the early Spring, prior to the Easter Holiday. The show plan included both an in-store and online fashion show of featured items.

   b)  Coordinator developed a data gathering form and had it created in print (for in-store) and online. Database was updated to capture info being gathered.

Results:

1 a) Total revenue the first year was just under $2,000,000. (80% of Goal)

   b) Total number of customers in the database was 9,800 (98% of Goal) with 15,500 transactions (78% of Goal) and average sale of $129. (103% of Goal)

2 a) The fashion shows (using customers as models) received some media attention and produced 380 transactions at an average sale of $115.. A fall fashion show using the same format produced 300 transactions at an average sale of $128.

   b) E-mail promotions using the customer database attracted increased web traffic to the catalog. 60,000 visitors produced 1,650 transactions and 280 new customers. 11% of revenue came from online sales.

Conclusions:

Revenue results were 80% of Goal. Part of the shortfall was attributed to the fact that the online catalog took longer to develop than planned. Catalog revenue (11%) was less than expected. Average sale tended to be very close to target, so this can be used as a good gauge for future revenue projections. With early positive results from the online catalog, expansion of the catalog items and the overall product line should offer potential for additional revenue.

Jennifer was able to get her business on a solid footing with strategies and plans that she knew could produce the Results she wanted.

You, too, can organize your thinking and focus your actions to get the Results you want. Let’s schedule a complimentary phone conversation to talk about your business, your situation and what you’d like to accomplish.

The Last Step Before Making a Decision

Are you searching for new ideas? Hoping to find something that will boost your business? Or maybe you’re at the point of considering known options, needing to make a decision soon.

We get caught up in the day-to-day and become ingrained in the culture of our business and our industry. It can be difficult to see beyond what we know. Of course, it’s critical to do your research and analyze possibilities. There is, however, another step we often overlook or dismiss because it’s not academic or scientific. After gathering all the pertinent information and analyzing the options, the next step is to remove yourself from the situation and environment and allow your mind to relax. From that place you can get a sense of how you “feel” about the choice you are about to make.

Business descision on a starry night.Those who have spent long periods of time on the sea say that time alone on the deck on a starry, moonlit night is a great place and time to allow the mind to wander. If you’re a business captain, without access to the real ship deck, the next best thing is to find a place where you can be alone, have the time to relax, and feel inspired by the environment. It might be as simple as the deck on your home or apartment, in the woods, or at the beach. The key is to be alone so you can relax your body and mind. Your objective is to relax and become as mindless as possible. No thoughts about anything. Some might call it a meditation.

To prepare for this time alone, think about the options before you. Ask yourself if there might be another option that you hadn’t thought of before? Ask if the decision you are about to make “feels” right. Then go to be alone for at least an hour. Just open your mind to your environment, relax and see what happens.

I talk a lot about structure, systems and analysis. That’s what the Prime Strategies are mostly about. These are definitely important aspects of any business. But for new ideas or making decisions, allowing your subconscious, your intuition, to kick in can produce some amazing results. If you don’t feel that an option is right, don’t go with it even if the analysis says it’s right.

Before I make any important business decision, I give myself time to look at all possibilities, then check to see how it feels. Checking with your gut is a wise step before finalizing any decision.

This technique works for finding new ideas and resolving problems as well as making decisions. In the Prime Strategies Captains School training, you will learn how to use this technique in your business development and decision-making activities. Once you learn to use it you’ll never be without it again.

How Can I Save This Sinking Ship?

Sinking ship with crew member bailing it out. Business metaphor.What causes a ship to sink? A leak in one of the systems? Too much weight? Hit by an unexpected object?

You’re on the high seas on the way to deliver a valuable cargo. Suddenly you get word from below that the ship has developed a leak that unless stopped could, over time, cause the ship to sink. What’s the most effective first reaction? Plug the leak? Find the source or cause? Protect your valuable cargo?

Or perhaps in your exuberance to maximize your profits you’ve taken on more weight than the ship can manage. It’s riding so low in the water that eventually it will be pulled down below the surface.

Of course, it could also be an undetected iceberg.

As captain of your business (your ship) you may be faced with similar situations.

A System Leak?

A business leak might be an employee skimming from revenue. I once had a client whose bookkeeper loved to gamble and would “borrow” money from the incoming cash, and of course, never pay it back. These kinds of leaks are insidious in that it’s often hard to even know there is a leak until things become bad. The business owner needs to have systems in place that match products and/or services provided to expected income. Yet, many small businesses do not.

Too Much Weight?

An overweight business has more expenses than income. It’s easy to forget that often the money doesn’t come in until well after the expense must be paid. If not corrected early, the business will find itself sinking deeper and deeper each month. At some point it’s too late. This business ship can be saved by preparing a monthly budget, observing expenses and income on at least a monthly basis. Considering the long term effect, it’s imperative that expenses must be brought down until the income can match them. Additional capital funding sources may be a short term answer, but eventually it has to be paid back.

An Unexpected Hit?

Then there’s the big lucrative client who had been buying from you for years. Suddenly, there’s a better mouse trap somewhere else and they are gone. Of course, you can try to get them back, but meanwhile the expenses go on. Having a strategy for dealing with the unexpected will help you get to the issue immediately.

These situations deal with systems, budgeting and crisis management. Every business at some point will likely experience similar situations. The answer to all of them is the same:  having a solid business management system. That means having time-specific measurable goals, a clear plan of action, consistent monitoring and decision-making based on results.

Now, don’t panic. This stuff is not hard to do. It’s just a matter of learning the techniques and tactics to run your business proactively rather than reactively. I’ve packaged a new six-month semester course called Captains School, which covers the gamut of what it means to function as captain. It provides the training, tools and support to give you the confidence to consistently make sound business decisions.

Aren’t you tired of bailing water?

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Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you’re getting that “sinking” feeling, send me a note and I’ll be in touch to schedule a phone call.

The First Step in Creating a Successful Business

Successful Business blueprints and 3-D chartBy now you know how important it is to create your business goals, strategies and plans as the precursor to taking action. But there is something that comes before all that; it’s your business Vision.

Think of it as if you were going to create a painting or build a house. You would envision what the end result would look like. You’d know what you are going to create before you started. You’d think through the details. The same is true in building the business you want; one that will satisfy your needs and fulfill your dreams. So how do you get started with that?

Close Your Eyes and Imagine… Five years from now, what do you see? An expanding, bustling empire? A business just as small as the day you started it? Do you have hundreds of employees or just one? Have you already cashed out to lay  on the beach, drink mai tais and reminisce about business ownership? Or are you actively working in the business either full time or part time? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not ready to move past this part, so get creative. Let your mind wander, see yourself and your business as you would like to be. Consider the kinds of services or products you’ll be offering, who will be your customers, your work environment, the support services you will have, the bottom line profit you will make. You might even consider writing yourself a personal letter from the future (5 years from now) detailing all of your business successes. Or just write freely about your hopes and dreams with regard to this venture and see what comes out that you didn’t already know.

When All Else Fails…Use the Q & A method. Entrepreneur.com suggests asking yourself some straightforward questions if you’re still having trouble with your Vision. Questions such as:

  1. How much am I willing to sacrifice to see this succeed? My own money? Long work hours and no vacations? No income for possibly years?
  2. If this venture doesn’t work out, then what?
  3. What annual revenues do I expect this business to make?
  4. Will this serve a niche market or sell a broad range of products and services?
  5. If I decide to delegate responsibilities, which will remain mine and which will I share?
  6. Could I work with a partner or investors? How comfortable am I under authority?
  7. Do I want to keep this business in the family and private or do I want it to someday go public?


Test Your Idea Against Two Major Components

Financial: If your business makes no economic sense now, it likely never will. Put your idea against financial challenges such as whether or not ( and when) you expect to see a return on your investment, what the projected profits over time might be and if you can devote yourself wholly to this venture monetarily.

Lifestyle: Your business will require a big commitment from you, but if you feel comfortable once you’ve figured out the details, you’ll know what you’re in for. Consider where you’ll live, what might happen if you get sick, if you’ll earn enough to maintain your desired lifestyle and if your family is on board with your choice.

Don’t Waver! If you can make it past this envisioning phase, then you’ll also have tested your commitment (and passed!), so remember that when things feel overwhelming. Having a clear Vision of where you are going with your small business can exponentially improve your odds of success, so take one step at a time and stick with it. Don’t lose sight of your Vision.

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Want professional guidance in creating a Vision with potential for success? In 30 minutes you will have a Vision that will motivate you and become the guiding light for your future success. Request your free 30 minutes here.

If you’re experiencing challenges in your business and not sure where your priorities should be, consider downloading the Business Challenges Checklist help you see where you need to focus now.

Getting Started on the Right Foundation

Business Foundation blocks with HELP at the top.The harsh reality of starting a business is that the odds of failure are very high. Forbes reports that nearly 80% of small businesses don’t survive past 3 years with that number rising to 95% in cases of online businesses.

This stark reality exists because many people try to build their own business in the hopes it’ll make them rich quickly without first building a foundation upon which to grow a lasting business. The stronger the foundation, the more likely the business will survive and thrive.

YFSmagazine walks us through three basic steps to take to build a solid business foundation and avoid becoming a statistic.

1. Divide Business Functions

To manage and grow a new business, you have to be a jack of all trades. This means knowing everything from payroll to marketing, customer service to HR and technology to product development. Since there’s so much to do, it’s important you don’t play favorites. Make sure you’re giving the proper time to each segment of your business and not neglecting the more stressful tasks.

You may want to delegate functions and tasks you don’t like to do or are not competent doing to a contracted specialist or a part-timer. They can help lessen the burden, but being in a position to do so probably won’t come overnight.

By compartmentalizing your business functions you’ll also grow stronger psychologically and be in a position to hand off elements as the business grows.

2. Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan

The research shows having a solid business plan can double your chance of success.

YFS says to begin with an executive summary before branching into a company description. Then refine your products and services, market analysis, marketing strategy, management summary and financial analysis. I believe it’s better to create your plan first, then go back and write the executive summary and company description. After working through all the elements it will be much easier to summarize into a comprehensive introductory document.

The financial analysis should make clear how your business is being financed now, and how it will be financed in the future. Getting a clear understanding of this early on will increase the odds of you meeting your goal .

3. Create a Realistic Budget

The Houston Chronicle reports that small businesses can spend $5,000 and up on one year’s worth of insurance alone. Your specific cost will depend greatly on a number of factors, including the type of industry you’re in, your location and how many employees you have.

Add the cost of marketing, product shipping and overhead like vehicle maintenance and office space rentals  and your budget can be consumed very quickly. Use social media and build a solid website to help lower your marketing costs; with the internet providing a much less expensive, often free, environment for you to reach your target market, you should use it whenever possible to cut down on costs.

You will  also want to invest in an accountant to help you get the most out of your budget, including expert knowledge on tax write-offs.

There is a lot to consider when taking the leap into small business ownership but the better foundation you lay down, the better your chances of long term success.

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If you’re putting together a business plan and would like help with creating a budget, I’m happy to help.

10 Common Mistakes Made When Handing Down the Family Business: Part 1

Family Business Handoff helpIf you’re beginning to plan for the days ahead when you finally retire and allow the next generation to take over the family business, take heed to these first 5 of 10 common mistakes business owners make during the handoff.

1.  Not planning early enough for your succession

Passing down your family business is something that needs time and attention in order to run smoothly. You might be anticipating retirement, but to ensure a successful transition, plan even further ahead in case of illness, disability or even death. Since the success of your business handoff relies heavily on your family’s participation, experts suggest planning several years in advance.

2.  Assuming your kin will mobilize automatically

You can’t jump to conclusions about the next generation’s desire to take over the business. They may want to break from tradition and start their own business, or enter a new field entirely. Avoid presumptions and have open talks about all of the possibilities well enough in advance.

3.  Not seeking professional guidance in your exit planning strategy

As a business owner you should know when it’s important to seek out advice from professionals or people who may be better equipped to handle such circumstances. The end of your career as the owner or president of a company should be treated with the same delicacy and attention as any other part of it. There’s a lot to consider for yourself, for the business and for the family members who will continue to run it. Consult someone with experience in this spectrum who can help guide you through the transition making sure all your bases are covered.

4.  Filling key positions based on family politics

Deciding who will fill what role won’t be easy. This is where family life and professional life collide and it’s a tricky situation to be in. You want to be open to peoples’ differences and allow their strengths and weaknesses to find their way into the perfect role to help move your business forward.  Don’t be shy about making your choice based on what counts: who’s right for the position. Your son may want to be president but he might not have what it takes. Don’t let emotion overrun your professional thinking.

5.  Expecting the same passion as you have

You built this business from the ground up with your own blood, sweat and tears. This business consumed every aspect of your life and your dedication went into making it the success it is today. Your family might be excited to step in and continue the tradition but they may not have the same fiery passion that you have about it. While it won’t be easy, you’ll have to be accepting of that. See things from their point of view and trust that what they can bring to the table will be enough.

Handing off your family business is something that takes time, planning and a lot of consideration, but you’ve come this far so you know you’ve got what it takes. There are more mistakes to be wary of during this adventure so join us next time as we complete the list.


If you’re a late-life entrepreneur seeking support in business planning and management techniques, Prime Strategies can offer the necessary guidance and expertise to help you reach your goals.

BUSINESS CHALLENGES: How to Face Them with Confidence

If I say “business challenge” what comes to mind? Most people have a negative connotation of the word “challenge”. But we know that with every challenge comes an opportunity.

Think of meeting a challenge as facing a crossroads in your path. Take one direction and the outcome will likely be A; take the other and the outcome will probably be more like B.

In order to reach the best decision, you must be clear about your Long Term Vision and Goals. Only then can it be a sound point of reference for decision-making. If clarifying your Vision and Goals is one of your challenges, you might consider working with a trusted advisor or coach. Operating without a Vision and Goals is like setting sail without a destination port.

Considering Vision and Goals before reaching a decision will not only make the decision easier, it will become an opportunity to take an active, positive step toward them.

Here are the questions to ask when identifying a challenge.

–          How does this challenge affect my Long Term Vision and Goals for myself and my business?

–          Based on that, what are the most logical options to resolve the challenge?

–          What will be the probable outcomes of each of my options?

By answering these questions in sequence you’ll have the most critical point of reference at hand as you’re considering your options and their ramifications. You’ll obviously want to select the option that will most favorably affect realization of your Long Term Vision and Goals.

Sometimes challenges are such that your Vision, Mission and Goals will need to be rethought.

Faced with a challenge to go out on his own when his partnership fell apart, John Douglas, had to rethink his Long Term Vision and Goals. He was one of two architects who had built their business on mutual interests, without consideration of how each would function in the business. When they realized they were at an impasse, they decided it was better that each go his own way.

By taking the time to review what he wanted for himself and how the business could be a vehicle for him to express his best self, he found it easy and rewarding to clarify and write out his Long Term Vision and Goals. He now can face other challenges with the confidence that he’ll have this as his guiding light for making any decision.

The final decision for any challenge, of course, is just the beginning of the next phase – Goal Setting, which is then followed by Planning, Taking Action and Evaluating Results.

As you can see we’re bringing the challenge into the Planning Cycle.

By considering the challenge against a meaningful outcome, we now know what questions to ask and how to determine what needs to happen in order to keep on track toward Goal Achievement. Use of Short Term Goals creates interim milestones that tell us we are on track toward our Long Term Goals and Vision.

Identify the challenges you currently face. Write them out, prioritize them and consider the likely options against your Long Term Goals and Vision.

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TALK ABOUT YOUR CHALLENGES:

Are you serious about resolving your challenges with a positive outcome? Are you open to discussing how coaching might accelerate your progress?  Let’s spend half an hour talking about what your want for yourself and your business. Just talking about it will bring things into focus and help you get on track. There’s no charge and no obligation. Send me an e-mail and we’ll schedule a mutually convenient time to speak.

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP SERIES:

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT USING OPERATING RESULTS

OK, now it’s time for your report card – your business operating report card, that is.

Not only have you planned, you’ve acted on your plan and calculated how you would cover the cost of these plans by creating a budget that included: Directly and Indirectly Related Expenses, Overhead, Timing and Projected Return on Investment (ROI).

Now that you’ve taken the actions that were on your calendar and you’ve budgeted for them accordingly, you’ll be able to see how well these actions produced the desired results.

The intent is that everything will come together as planned. In the real world, we know that doesn’t always happen – sometimes not even often. Your challenge is to see if you can determine why things didn’t go as planned and to come up with a way to do better next time. By continuing to improve your planning and budgeting skills, your chances of achieving the desired results go up accordingly. That’s when you’re truly LEADING your business. You can say this is where I want the business to go, how much profit I want and have a strategy and plan to make it happen.

As you begin to monitor and manage your business operating results you’ll probably see a change in your perception of yourself and your role as business owner/leader as well. You’ll be amazed at the confidence gained in being able to make sound business decisions.

Here’s what I suggest you do.

1 – Take an in-depth look at your business report card – your financial statements. We’re operating on the assumption that you have a system in place that will provide you with accurate, timely financial reports. I recommend a monthly review, a quarterly review and an annual review. You have to do the quarterly review for tax purposes anyway, so it’s a great time to consider the quarter as one-fourth of your operating year. What has happened in this period will likely set the framework for future quarters. Make adjustments to your plan as needed based on results achieved.

2 – When doing your monthly review, check back over your calendar for the past month. How much of your plans were actually accomplished? Is there a need to make budget changes because plans fell behind? Why did that happen? What impact will it have on revenues and costs? Question each finding that is different than expected.

3 – Compare each line item with previous months as well as next month’s projections. Look at increases and decreases. Three months in a row of increases or decreases may indicate a trend. Be sure you know why this is happening. If it’s not what you want, create a plan and take action to alter the trend.

4 – Adjust next month’s plans after determining how much of the old plans should be brought forward. Make any budget changes and transfer your first two week’s plans to your weekly calendar. Then each week break the plans down into specific actions by day. Actually give a time slot (can be an hour or a whole day) to actions that will require time. How can you expect to get things done if you don’t schedule for them?

5 – It’s this monthly review, planning and action that allows you to stay on your toes and nimble enough to make changes before negative trends become hard to reverse. It’s how you know what’s going on in your business and it’s a solid foundation for daily and periodic decision-making .

6 – Transfer each Quarterly Budget to an Operating Summary Spreadsheet. Many accounting packages can provide this for you or you can create something yourself. You want to compare three months’ results with corresponding monthly projections. You’ll be able to see right away where you were off and can zoom in to look for what happened.

7 – Compare Quarterly Reports and then look at all of them sequentially for the past year. This gives you a lot of valuable information for creating next year’s strategy, plans, actions and budgets. Having accurate documentation in this fashion not only helps you make better business decisions it shows any outsider (investor or lender) that you are in fiscal control of your business. It goes a long way toward building your credibility and the confidence of the outside party.

8 – It can be very helpful to have someone who’s knowledgeable walk you through it the first few times until you become familiar with what is included in each item and report. That’s a great role for your business coach to play. Having a mentor through some of the details can make a big difference in how quickly it falls into place for you. The important thing is that you become comfortable with what your numbers are telling you.

It’s wonderful to watch clients’ reaction when they finally “get it”. They’re much more confident in their decisions and actually look forward to their monthly financial statements to see the results of the decisions they’ve made. The bottom line is the ultimate report card and that’s what we’re all trying to improve.

Once you’ve changed your involvement in your business from being reactive to being proactive you are truly a BUSINESS LEADER. And you’re now in a great position to enjoy the rewards!!

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP SERIES:

Business Fitness: What It Is, How to Get It and
Why You Need It Now

Business Leadership Fitness Checklist.Few business owners start their business with the leadership attitude. It’s more often a leap of faith based on past experiences, knowledge and interests.  Learning to think of yourself as a business leader is a process that takes time and directed intent.

Through the process of envisioning, you’ve refined and defined what you want your business to become.  Now take that vision and apply the fitness metaphor.  See your dream business in a state of being sleek, strong, stable, flexible and attractive.  That’s what we call “business fitness” and it’s the foundation for long term success.

In the first article we talked about refining and defining your business vision.  Just like a builder would envision the finished house or an artist would envision his finished painting before applying the first stroke, the business owner needs to envision what the business will look like when it’s mature.  Once this is clearly in focus, it’s important to write it so it becomes a reference as the business evolves.

In the last article, we analyzed your business to see where it is at the present time.  Using your vision and your analysis, let’s apply the fitness metaphor.  You’d want to be able to answer “yes” to the following questions.  If you can, your business is in a state of fitness and you are ready for growth.

Sleek 

  • Are you concentrating on the critical elements that determine the condition of your business – such as Gross and Net Revenues, Accounts Receivable, Inventory, Fixed and Variable Expenses, Unexpected Expenses, Cost per Unit Sold, Cash Flow, Net Profit/Loss, Cash Reserve or Debt?
  • Have you clearly defined your market and targeted your marketing efforts to the most likely groups?
  • Have you identified and eliminated all unnecessary expense?
  • Is your inventory and/or accounts receivable as tight as possible?

Strong

  • Are you consistently able to pay off debt?
  • Is your cash reserve growing?
  • Are your revenues and earnings increasing?
  • Do you cut your losses early because you are closely monitoring results of action taken?
  • Have you identified your strengths and are concentrating resources on them?  Are you well supported in your areas of weakness?

Stable

  • Do you do a monthly review of your income and expense statement and make decisions for future action based on bottom line results?
  • Does your monthly income always cover your expenses?
  • Do you have a feeling you are in control of your business?
  • Do you have the documentation necessary to show the strength of your business should you want to borrow capital or attract investors for expansion?

Flexible

  • Have you diversified your core business enough so you are not totally dependent on one product or service?
  • Are you aware of what’s happening in your industry and its position within the global economy?
  • Do you pursue joint ventures, partnerships and other alliances that will forward your business goals?
  • Are you open to new ideas and suggestions?
  • Are you in a financial position to take advantage of new opportunities?

Attractive

  • Does your product or service provide a real and clearly understood benefit?
  • Does your marketing and public relations activities make you look attractive to do business with?
  • Does your customer service reinforce your attractiveness?
  • Are your communications clear and on target toward your vision?
  • Can others see that your business is doing well?

Answer all these questions about your business and compare it to where you want to go (point B).  The question now becomes how do you get from point A (where you are now) to point B?  Guess what?  That’s the subject of the next article in this series.

Help! I Want to Dissolve my Partnership

dissolve partnership photoA client, we’ll call her Susan, had a business that was struggling financially and operationally. She was totally disgusted because her partner of 10 years was no longer carrying his weight and didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation. She was so stressed she was seriously considering liquidating the business if things couldn’t be changed for the better in a very short time.

What to do? Her first commitment had to be to herself. Susan was able to realize that it was up to her to take command of this situation. She was coached to create some measurable goals with time frames. She decided she wanted to give the business and her partner one last chance. Susan knew she must bring her partner, and eventually her staff, into the picture in order to get their buy-in.

She created Job Roles for herself, her partner and each of her staff (Office Manager, Buyer and 2 Salesmen). Because of the longstanding relationship between her and her partner, we agreed it was best if I met with the partner and her to present things up to this point. Preparing for this was anxiety-producing for Susan, but [Read more…]