Archive for category Planning

Doing the hard yards to make a great start in business

Plenty of people have started in business and failed, some failed quickly, others took longer, a LOT longer…

Years of observation and working with business people has taught me a range of things, the main things are how they failed in business, in often not so spectacular ways and what to do about it.

The reasons are often simple.

Business success

It’s all in the planning

  • No plan – No structural or marketing strategy
  • Technical skills to do something but no business ‘personality’ or charisma to really sell, promote or build interest
  • Low knowledge of the purpose and function of business – Profit is one thing, providing a reason to do so is another…
  • Inability to look at the challenges and find ways to overcome them
  • Being busy and working long hours does not always mean you are being productive
  • Not enough start up capital, CASH to really give your project a go
  • Lack of operational systems for when things really get going so you can develop a valuable asset not just a business
  • Research – making and selling a gadget that is about to go off trend and fade is one thing, knowing it is fading is another…
  • Not knowing how much money you NEED to make each week to break even and then how much profit to make, then what to do with it

A seasoned business operator will look at this list and say, hey that’s just the start… and they are right. There is so much to business that this list is just a starting point.

But that’s it, it’s all about starting points. Even people in business after many years find there are new starting points, like when computers started showing up in businesses, a new starting point. A new piece of technology for a manufacturing process… same. And so it goes on.

If you want to start in business, make sure you do something about addressing the basics listed above, sure they can be daunting, sure you will be tested, but you wanted to take the risk, you wanted to make your mark so do it, but do it right.

Regards

Steve Gray

Juggle that business

That’s right juggling…

Juggling business resources

Juggling your business resources

When you know that the business has so many elements it’s almost impossible to juggle them all, you start to realise there must be an answer to being able to juggle at least SOME of the elements.

For those with a big enough business or the resources to do it, you might simply delegate those things that require more time to make sure things are done right. Not all of us are that lucky.

For those who are starting out, or those who want to keep the business alive and happening even though you have a small crew, this planning document is for you.

Download the free PDF file, it’s at the end of the article… It’s just two pages of planning material that you can copy to your heart’s content, then USE IT to get your planning act together. You know what they say… “Work on the business not just in it.” When you realise that’s a truism you want to aspire to, then drag this out and make it happen.

Ok, so it’s a planning calendar with a sheet of questions and query points to get you started. The aim is to get you thinking about the three key areas that make your business tick, then plan to work on each area. If you get stuck you can refer to the questions on the list, then develop  some starting points to go from.

Enjoy and drop me a line to let me know if it works for you or could be altered to make it better!

Planning guide

Regards

Steve Gray

Tags: , , ,

Remember when your business was small and fast, not big and awkward?

eye for work

Image is courtesy of 2nix

Your business has grown and so too has the culture of focusing on being a ‘big’ business.

You now have procedures for everything, policies to deal with all the things that could be a risk to your business and in the process your team have become ‘big’ in their thinking.

On reflection you might just think that you would like to have some of the small business culture you used to have. The sort of thinking that was more ‘seat of the pants’ faster to adapt, faster to decide and that degree of ‘nimbility’ was what got you going, the late nights, the furious work pace made sure your small team were fed with work. Now it just seems big and awkward.

You like so many aspects of that small business approach you want to now use that in your bigger business. You want your people to think faster, be more creative and problem solve like you used to, on the run. You want them to be more flexible and not bogged down by lengthy processes.

Here’s your chance to do just that, think of it as taking a mirror to your business and looking back to see just how these qualities can be achieved again.

Think fresh

When you started out you probably asked your customers lots of questions to figure out their needs, send your teams out to do the same and make it a random thing you instigate throughout the year. If they already do that look at other aspects of the business thinking that could be freshened up. If you hold meetings in the same in house room day in day out, find a new room, in another building, a park, a training venue… Wherever you can have fresh stimulus.

Stimulate learning

In the early days when your business was small, you learnt a lot about many things quickly and you coveted people that could do the same. This ‘learning on the fly’ approach solved many challenges for you, everything seemed like a prototype and I bet your team jumped in to help find solutions. Take a look at the processes involved, perhaps you now need a team when one person was given the job in the early days. Consider doing the same and create a ‘maverick’ a lead person who can jump in and learn, plough though as if there was no hold ups and pass on their findings to the team to develop.

Create what customers want

Go and ask them what they want, and or test a new product or service early in the development process to see if it has ‘legs’. no legs no development. There, you just save the business a lot of money and time… now get on with developing what people want or need.

Provide solutions

Top sales people will soon tell you they sell solutions, so give your people the ability to problem solve and find ways to see what they have is a solution to a customers need, then they will have tangible ways to engage the customers and be seen as a source of comfort in their time of need.

Success is working towards any worthwhile goal, in this simple list of starting points I feel sure you can get back some of that small startup magic and reinvigorate the team to get better results.

Regards

Steve Gray

Is Your Business a Destination?

If you read the heading and thought of a holiday destination you love, even briefly… then I have done the right thing.IMG_2871

Now imagine if your customers thought of your business as a fabulous destination, a place they love to hang out even if it is breifly to get some suplies and head off again. Think about that, you business as a fabulous place to hang out.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

One of my Sisters in law has a fantastic quirky gift/art store postindustrialdesign.com.au and in the front they have a cafe. It’s a fabulous destination, they hold events, have pop up food stores out the front from time to time and people love the place… It’s a bit out of the way for some, but people come from far and wide. I know why they do, because they love it.

I like to brag about the place to others and let them know if they are in that area they can drop in and might just be delighted by what’s on offer.

People seem to readily sign up for their email newsletter, like them on social media and follow their events and antics, their Christmas window display will be the buzz around town each year if the first year is anything to go by and they manage to get rave reviews in weekend magazines, newspapers and the like.

But what about your business?

I want you to now think about your business, even if it’s an online one, is it a destination people really want to go to? Perhaps they will get to the business and be excited by what you have to offer, what you have planned, and or the way you treat them so they feel special.

Many years ago my wife and I went to a shop that have created a wonderful atmosphere by creating a rainforest to wander through, with lots of soft toys and quirky items that hikers, environmentalists and wanderers would purchase. I loved it, each turn revealed another wonderful array of gifts to surprise and delight.

Okay, so you can imagine people being drawn to this magical place, and figure that somehow you would like to entice your customers in some way, by creating a positive destination. So what do you need to consider?

First off, ask yourself why do you want your business to be a destination, is it… More customers, better customer satisfaction, boost turnover, create a promotional buzz, get more Public Relations exposure, to put more pep into the business you love. Whatever the reason you have to appreciate that this reason is the motivation or driver for the idea of creating a better destination.

The key is, enticing people to buy from you more often, by providing an environment conducive to  connecting with them emotionally so they want to be part of what you offer. This is where some key points come in, let’s explore:

Be the best – People will seek you out if you are the best at what you do, your business is the destination, due to the fact no other business can match your quality

You want to be the best – Maybe you need to tweak a few things to get to this point, go on start making a list of the changes you need to make

You want to create an atmosphere people will love – Perhaps your business is the best at what it does but people don’t know it yet. Like the examples given, you can imagine making your business more exciting and enticing to do business with

You want people to sense you are authentic in what you offer – You want to show you can think outside of the square and come up with ideas to keep customers coming back for more.

You want to add spice to the way your business does things – Add events or program promotional activities to make your business a special place to be even if it is for just a short time

So how do you do it?

Evaluate what you have, if you fit into one of the specific categories outlined earlier then you have a starting point to go from. Now make a list of the changes that want to make in each of those areas, Maybe you want to break things down further. Here are some exploration points to consider.

Perhaps it is a marketing thing – You already have a rgreat business, with wonderful things on offer and good quality service, so if it’s a marketing thing to let more people know how wonderful your business destination is then pull out the felt markers gather the team and brainstorm ways to tweak the marketing and then get out the calendar and pick suitable dates for things to happen that will miss the public holidays, festivals etc. Now make a list of the types of things you can program in to make the most of what you have to offer.

Perhaps it’s a strategic management issue – You wanted to do more of the right things, but have not planned a strategy to support the good things that are already happening, what strategies do you have in place to explore and promote excellence which will create a culture to underpin your fabulous destination?

Perhaps it’s the decor that works – The store layout, the training of staff on how to create and maintain the right decor,

Perhaps its the quality outcomes you produce – the way you promote (is it creative, interesting or just a list of what you offer?)

Perhaps it’s some form of event – an in store demonstration, an exhibition,  a meet and greet with a local specialist in your field or a famous personality. Try and consider ways to make the event fun and engaging so people want to come back for more.

You could have

  • VIP events for your top customers and clients
  • Educational events
  • Games and contests
  • Cultural events

Start the ball rolling in some practical way to show your team you want to have a business destination which is a fantastic place to be. Then you can start to measure the effect of the things  you implement.

Remember all of the above points are about getting people in the door, calling to find out more or trolling your website for more information, going the next step is about how you will convert their action into sales. Let’s save that for another time.

Regards

Steve Gray

You need these five things for business success

Business people need these five points to ensure they can be on top of their game, especially in highly competitive markets. Do you have or can you develop these five things?

1. I know it’s good, but will others like it?5 business

What you offer to the world that they will pay you for, is probably the ‘best thing since sliced bread’… You might know or believe that, but how will you find out if others believe it too?

Find ways to connect to your prospects

People are the target market, robots don’t buy, yet… and specific people from within the billions of people on the planet, are who you are after. If what you have to offer is only available to people in a small area, then you need to get in front of more of those people to ask them if they like it.

This could be in social media groups, where you are a member and can post a poll, it could be in a shopping centre where you survey people, it could be via a phone call to specific businesses where  you survey them, perhaps you take what you have to them to discuss it.

Doing this kind of research is vital to ensure you are able to get valid feedback from the target audience, otherwise you could spend a lot of time and money creating something no one wants.

2. My development is vital

And so is yours… Your personal and professional development may mean reading a few books on business, attending seminars, short courses, doing whatever it takes to learn more and sharpen your mind.

One idea can really set your business apart

But where can you get the idea? Learning more about things can give you vital mental connections to a whole range of options and possibilities, you might explore five ideas and then settle on one that provides you with the solution to your challenge. Make time to learn more, so you can do more, be more and have more.

3. There’s only one me…

You can’t do everything, as much as you might like to. You can however work smarter and not harder. Outsource some of the work you currently do that you don’t want or need to do, to ensure you have the time and energy to do what you need to do properly.

Teams can do more than an individual

The internet has given us Virtual Assistants, and a range of ways to utilise the services of others by contracting various services out and of course you could always hire a staff member to do the things your business needs to do.

4. What do I do with all the ideas I have?

You have got your brain into action and the ideas are flowing thick and fast. Know that you will only be able to make a few of the ideas become reality

Start a journal

I have a Journal to keep track of a range of insights and key information I have learnt along the way, the same can be done for ideas. It could be a simple word file on the computer that you add to and review from time to time, or it could be a wish list on a whiteboard in your office. Whatever it is, start recording the ideas, prioritise them and then work to take action on the key ones.

5. Me time, business time and them time, how will I juggle all this?

There is only one you right, this can create a range of pressures on your time, business, family and yourself. Finding time for each is very useful to keep a balance and keep you happy. So schedule time for everyone, including yourself in your diary.

Time is in short supply use it wisely

While this is easy enough to say, it’s not necessarily easy to do. Outsource tasks to free yourself up, delegate tasks to your staff, even if you feel you might have to check it later on and tweak some details. Of all the things business people say is important, it’s having a balance in their lives, now you need to make sure it happens.

Regards

Steve Gray

Business Planning – Failure is NOT an option

Perhaps one of the reasons businesses fail is not having a tangible plan of action, so why don’t people create a plan? Why don’t people get a grip on the systems that make a business saleable, why don’t a whole bunch of things happen? Simple because humans are running the show.
If a robot was given the right sort of software in it’s ‘head’ it would come up with a plan before it did anything, store it in it’s memory and perhaps even print it out incase of power failure, or a hard disk wipeout.
There is too much ‘blind faith’ that our business idea will work and if you don’t need to get money from a bank or investors then no planning seems to happen.

One page or two?
One page is better than nothing, two pages might be better still! In fact it probably doesn’t matter how many pages the plan is, just so long as a plan is in place for you and your team to follow.

What goes into it?
Lot’s of things can go into it but the basics should be around the objectives you want to achieve, the strengths of the business, or the business idea. and the methods you will use to achieve these aims.

Strategy, what strategy?
Just like your favourite sports team has some form of strategy to how they will play the game, so should you. How to do better than your competition, how to promote more for less cost, how to use online media to get more interest in the business, how to get more staff to gladly turn up and help you out, without the hassles!

Do I start here?
Yes do it now, jot down what you want, so you can set in place a mental plan of action to take place. Think about what you currently earn per hour, what if you were to double that, would that be good? Would that be enough… now jot down that figure and aim to find ways to make it a reality.

Do I carry this on and for how long?
You have written down one or three goals, now add to the list, keep coming back to the plan, add to it, tick your achievements off, create more pages of info, ideas, options and strategies. Make that plan your lives mission to ensure it is loaded with great info, great options and strategies to be well worth its weight in copper, its worth much more than gold!

Are we there yet?
That depends did you write anything down? Did you do some other research on what else to put into your plan? Did you still have a fun time doing it even though you may have not started out with a fun time in mind! The end point in the journey may not be reached especially if you are completing tasks and building the business to do more, be more, create more.

Enjoy being in business and the thrilling adventures it takes you on, but at least have one page of objectives to work with.

Regards

Steve Gray

Persistence pays

signpost marketing

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles from freedigitalphotos.net

You know that when you learn something new, persistence pays, if it’s a musical instrument, practice practice PRACTICE! it’s that ability to ‘keep on keeping on’ that pays dividends.

The same with some aspects of business, being able to continue with somethingthat might seem a little tenuous at times can pay off.

Marketing is one of those areas. Some people place an advert and hope it will yeild results on the first go, often it takes 8+ placements of that advert to get some form of result.

Social media is a key marketing tool these days for many businesses, and being persistent with the posts you make is therefore a useful thing to ensure people notice your business.

Think about the ways you can leverage this to your advantage, and tackle some of these ideas as well:

  • How can you be persistent with Public Relations material to try and get free advertising and being seen by the media as an expert in yoru field so they can come to you when they want to know about your line of business.
  • How can you plan to ensure you have a marketing activity happening at least once a week? and no having a website up 24/7 is not something you should count on for this activity…
  • What is ‘best practice’ in your industry? and  how can you match your marketing efforts to this?
  • What innovative ways can you get the business name out to more of your target market? Think promotional products, think stand and hand out samples in retail, think, research explore and come up with some that are cost effective and useful
  • Which company local to you is your biggest competitor? How can you beat what they do in their marketing to take some of their market share?

Being persistent in  your marketing efforts is the same and persistence in  your management, leadership, operational tasks and compliance issues. you have to do it, you have to make sure it’s working and now is the ideal time to start!

Regards

Steve Gray

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

error: Content is protected !!