Posts Tagged ‘Business Growth Consultant’
The vast majority of companies are stuck on this bumpy, unforgiving road for these reasons:
The Solution(s) are well-Known but there is an unwillingness to act because
- Inability to make it a priority (focus)
- Unwillingness to act – lack of resolve, sacred cows, ego won’t allow
- Believe that the solution is not affordable
- Previous efforts to solve did not work so confidence that another effort will succeed is low
The Solutions are partially-understood but there is an unwillingness to act because of the same reasons above PLUS:
- A “blind spot” that prevents a thorough understanding of the problem and therefore the solution
The Solutions are not known but there is an unwillingness to act because:
- Unwillingness to act- lack of resolve, sacred cows, ego won’t allow
- Believe that determining and executing the solution is not affordable
There are no viable solutions
- The Company is so disadvantaged/flawed that an exit makes more sense than trying to solve the problems
My experience is that the vast majority of Companies fall into the 2nd Category in that they have an inadequate understanding of all of the dynamics of the challenges and therefore cannot craft an optimized solution.
High Profitability IS achievable by many more Companies but without assistance getting to the root of the issues, the best solutions will never be revealed nor acted upon.
Wouldn’t you rather travel on High Profit Highway?
Here are common ways that Competitors defeat and severely harm companies. I suspect that some of these will resonate with you.
- Stronger brand reputation: a high percentage of buying relies on the perception of brand. Several reasons for this: “keep up with the Jones’s”, risk mitigation (knowing what you are getting) and a belief that it enhances the buyer’s brand and ability to compete
- More & Better Marketing: the companies putting out the right message and with greater frequency often garner a disproportionate share of the business
- Stronger Relationships with Centers of Influence: closely aligned with having a stronger brand & superior marketing, competitors often align themselves with industry thought leaders, media and trusted centers of influence who directly and indirectly promote them
- Superior sales: it’s almost a cliché to say that the majority of even outstanding technical companies underinvest in quality sales people and follow best practice processes.
- Superior Customer Experience: if the incumbent doesn’t have a really strong relationship with the buyer, watch out!
- Complete vs. partial solution: companies who sell some but not all of what Buyers want suffer because of a buyer’s preference for integration and convenience.
- Superior solution: if they have “must have” features and/or benefits and you don’t, they win. Bells and whistles are less of a problem but if you are missing an important feature, you will have a much tougher time.
- Ease of Switching: if it’s convenient, affordable and easy to switch, smart competitors will figure out a way to make switching a smart decision
Grade your Company A=Excellent, B= Good, C= Average and D= not good enough on each of these factors. Ready to proactively mitigate these risks? That’s where a smart Plan comes in.
Accelerate results with empowering beliefs & assumptions. Settling for less is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Only by striving to accomplish something great do we enable a culture of achievement and excellence that leads to greater results. Underlying the “culture of settling for less” are beliefs and assumptions.
For example, if we believe that “the sales cycle in my business is at least 12 months” it becomes true for us because we will consciously and subconsciously behave in a manner that reinforces this belief. Far better to have an “empowering assumption” such as “as soon as I bring a superior solution to a funded buyer with urgent need with whom I’ve established great rapport, a sale will occur.” I don’t know about you but I’m allergic to long sales cycles.
If we think we have the team we deserve, we’re right. But what if our “dream team”, the team that is required to fulfill our business vision, isn’t already on board? Think you can attract them with a “settle” attitude?” No way. Be allergic to mediocre performers. Scrub up and go recruit the awesome team you need.
Want to raise capital? It’s really hard isn’t it? Nah! There are billions of dollars sitting on the sidelines but 95% of opportunities are not investment grade. Are you up to the challenge? Simply bring a very well-tuned, compelling story backed by hard evidence and blow-away strategies and tactics with a high probability of success, proving that you’ll generate a high return for investors and lenders and they’ll chase you. Investors are allergic to non-innovators.
You get the picture. If you don’t aspire to greatness, you won’t accomplish great things. But you can do it. Put an amazing Plan together (I can help), gather an amazing team and you’re well on your way.
Set your “settling” aside & show us what you can do!
Helping a worthy organization demonstrates your capabilities in a tangible way and in an environment where others will want you in their lives. Here are some key tips from my JACOBY Sales Optimizer System (SOS) PlayBook to move you from “doing okay” to crushing it:
- Join an organization where there are many companies who should be good prospects (no point fishing in a lake where there aren’t any fish)
- Make friends with the Staff, find out their most important Goals and figure out where you can make the biggest and best contribution over time (90% of the time in Membership organizations bringing in new members is a really good choice)
- Become a hero by making that huge contribution and being recognized for doing so
- Now, after you’ve contributed, meet with the movers and shakers who are part of that organization. This typically includes Board and committee members and folks you see every time you turn around. Ask them how you can be helpful to them. Make an effort to be helpful to them. Don’t waste their time or yours or go overboard, but help them IF you can
- Congratulations! You are now a recognized mover and shaker yourself & numerous people in the organization will WANT to send business your way
Give, Give & Give Some More. It works!
President Abraham Lincoln had not a drop of protection in place on the night he was assassinated. This is almost incomprehensible given his importance to the nation and the savagery and scale of the Civil War which was barely ended – many Confederate troops remained in the field and many hostile people lived in and near Washington DC.
If not for good fortune that night would have also featured the demise of Vice President Andrew Jackson, Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant and Secretary of State William Seward because Booth’s goal was not simply revenge but “shock and awe” that would have permitted, at the eleventh hour, a reversal of fortune and installation of the Confederate Government in Washington DC.
Our critical infrastructure industries including banks, utilities, healthcare and others are under a much subtler form of attack. Recent successful attacks on several of the largest banks proves that they are not adequately protected. Those who intend to do harm are getting smarter and more sophisticated and we have yet to raise our game adequately to the challenge. I believe that we will but hope that it happens before rather than after something truly horrible happens.
James Swanson’s “Manhunt” describes the assassination and “12-day chase for Lincoln’s Killers.” I recommend it to every C level Executive and Director as a wake-up call to protect your house.
Don’t be intimidated, you can be a great CEO if you are willing to plan, focus and execute on the right things your business requires. Know that you don’t have to be an expert at everything but you do need to know what needs attention.
Here are 5 battle-tested recommendations to get you on the right path:
- Create a Compelling Vision – create a story for your business that explains the important problem you solve for your customers and how you solve it. Make sure it’s truly unique. Customers are attracted to businesses that are doing special things – it’s a rarity in today’s business climate.
Example: a CEO created a skin and hair care product line in response to her son’s severe dry skin condition. Her journey took her to Western Africa where she buys shea butter directly from rural women who produces it from the fruit of shea trees. Her vision is to support many more of these women by selling amazingly moisturizing products. That’s a goose-bump Vision!
- Cover all Business Bases– you don’t have to be great at everything yourself to be a successful CEO but you do need to get the people and resources in place that will enable success. George Washington surrounded himself with talented people he knew our nation needed. All businesses need varying degrees of expertise in Managing, Strategic Planning, Marketing, Sales, Operations and Finance. Grade yourself “A, B or C” on each of these and you’ll know where to get help. For some you’ll want to hire talented and experienced people and for others it may be smarter to outsource to experts.
Example: a husband/wife partnership built a great recycling company except for one thing – they didn’t devote enough time and resources to selling over the years to bring in enough sales to cover their overhead and they lost a great deal of money. They sold the business because they ignored a key success factor – sales.
- Build a great team – you will hear of most great CEOs that people like working for and with them. They bring out the best in others by challenging them, supporting them and holding them accountable. Your team includes not only employees but also outside resources. Hire the best, help them grow and prosper and keep them. That’s the ticket!
Example: Steve just couldn’t let go of any decision-making which of course meant that his senior team could not experience the professional growth to match the maturity and growth of his business. Guess what? He’ll now have to replace some people as the needs of the business have outgrown them.
- Set high expectations – small businesses are vulnerable no matter how good they are so requiring excellence in all aspects of the business will not only raise everyone’s game but also play a role in protecting you for the long term. Don’t settle for mediocrity – that’s a recipe for failure.
Example: the owner of a small advertising agency could never get monthly financial information from her controller in a timely manner despite asking and asking. Without that information, it was impossible to adjust to changes in the business in a timely manner and her business suffered because of it.
- Embrace Change – like it or not, change is going to happen both within your business and in the market you serve. If you don’t expect it, you’re going to be like a deer in the headlights. On the other hand, if you respond to it better than your competitors, you may create advantages for your business. Coach your team to embrace change too so everyone is on the same page.
Example: a hardware store lost significant business to online retailers when a number of the products they carried could be purchased for less money online and with no sales tax. It took a while but they woke up and made the adjustments necessary to recapture that business.
Great CEOs are made not born. It helps but is not necessary to have a dazzling personality. You CAN do it by embracing these best practices, working hard and treating people well.
Make every day count!
As in life, some business decisions carry very significant consequences and others don’t matter a great deal. Nobody has all the answers so it’s good to have a thought process to follow in making decisions, particularly when there is a lot on the line.
3 Common Decision Situations
Many business decisions will fall into one of these categories:
- Deciding “yes” or “no” to a proposed action, proposal or idea, or
- Modifying it so that it becomes a “yes”, or
- Choosing between more than one option
Not everything in business should be a complete surprise. If we stay informed about our markets we should be able to anticipate some of the things coming our way. Having a good Business Plan which is reviewed at least annually gives us time to focus and reflect on some of the “what if” scenarios we may encounter.
Criteria for Making Decisions
You’ll make better decisions more of the time if you develop a list of criteria that you use to guide your thinking. Here are some to consider:
- Financial Impact & Risk- what investments are required and what returns do you expect on them? What happens if things go wrong? Also, what is the cost of not doing it or choosing another option?
- Operational impact & Risk– what is the impact on how your company operates? Will productivity improve? Will people or processes need to change? What operational risks are there?
- Brand Impact & Risk – how will your brand and business reputation be enhanced or hurt by the decision?
What if You Lack Information or Expertise?
You’re willing to use the above criteria to make the decision but you don’t know how to calculate the financial impact and/or risk. Now what do you do? Well, if the decision is really important you engage outside assistance to help you. If the decision is not so important, you make an educated guess.
Two best practices to address this are (1) to get advice and counsel from your internal team as they may be able to shed light on the subject and (2) have a skilled business advisor or multiple advisors who know you and your business and can lend their assistance when you need it. You can accomplish this with a formal Board, an informal Board of Advisors or a trusted business advisor.
Schedule your Annual Planning Meeting, create your list of criteria for making decisions and line up your Advisors and you’ll be well on your way to making better decisions.
Make every day count!
Projecting Capital Needs
The process for determining your capital requirements is called financial forecasting. The skills and experience required to do this well include understanding financial statements, being able to reasonably estimate your future revenues and the Gross Profit on those revenues and knowing your payroll and other expense and equipment needs that are coming up.
If this is all “Greek” to you, get someone to assist who is willing to not only do the work but teach you over time to participate in the process so that you can move toward high confidence and ownership of the assumptions
This is not rocket science but mostly adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
The Cash Projecting Process
- Revenues: we project revenues with a combination of tactics including understanding what our average sales have been recently, looking at orders we already know about and expect and taking time of the year into account (for many companies, sales dip in the summer).
- Gross Profit: for each $1 of sale, we have direct costs to deliver that product or service which is typically materials and/or direct labor.
- Operating Expenses: payroll and non-payroll including marketing, sales, finance, operations and administrative costs. By reviewing what we’ve been spending and our upcoming plans we can easily project the coming months.
- There are several other factors that influence our Cash position:
- Working Capital: Except for credit card payment which clears in a few days or cash upfront payments, there is often a lag between when we sell something and when we get the cash – often 30 days or more. Conversely, when we buy things for the business and don’t pay immediately, we are reducing our need for cash
- Equipment Purchases: when we buy new property, plant or equipment, we use capital to do so and then depreciate it (recognize the expense) over some period of time. Purchases decrease our pool of cash.
- Financing: borrowing money increases our Cash and paying off loans or making distributions to shareholders reduces Cash
Collected Revenues, new Loans/Investments and proceeds from selling Property, Plant and Equipment increase our Cash position.
Expense payments, loan/investment pay-downs and purchases of Property, Plant and Equipment decrease our Cash position.
You CAN learn how to do this yourself in time. Make it a Goal for the short-term to at least understand the process while you get assistance preparing the projections. You’ll be glad you did.
Make every day count!
Ready to create better messaging for your business? A great place to start is to assume that your audience has the attention span of an asparagus plant. You have very little time to capture their interest so you better make it good.
Here are some best practices to ensure that your messaging works well.
- Put yourself in the Audience’s shoes – know their needs/wants first before trying to sell to them. Do whatever research is necessary to get there
- Touch an emotional cord – elicit a smile, an approving nod or evoke something that concerns them (FUD = fear, uncertainty & doubt)
- Give them a new perspective – tell them something valuable that they don’t know, dispel a common myth
- Make the value tangible – reduce cost 20-45% is better than “make a difference on your bottom line”
- Be confident – earning trust relies on believing that you can be relied on to produce results
- Less is More – be concise
- Disrupt… delightfully – throw them off their game in a pleasant way
- Use unique phrases – do not say what your competitors say, at least not in the same way
The above list enables the simple acronym PTGMBLDU …… just kidding, sometimes acronyms can be used in refreshing, innovative ways…… otherwise skip it!
Get the message and get the business!
Watch this simple demonstration of the incredible energy that Color brings to just about any process. We all know how well it serves Marketing/Branding by helping evoke emotional responses and memory of the Brand but today’s message is about helping YOU and your team stay motivated and focused on the right things.
There is a natural flow to business development for service companies (and this can be readily adapted to fit Product companies as well). It goes like this:
- Networking in organizations where desired prospects congregate leads to building relationships with influential/trusted community leaders known as Centers of Influence (COIs) whose opinions matter to the community at large
- Building a strong portfolio of COIs will, in time, become a consistent source of Prospects
- Meeting with Prospects leads to Clients
- Happy Clients refer others and become an additional source of business
Let’s take this rather obvious process and add some color.
Color-Coding my Calendar yields valuable information instantly:
- If there isn’t a lot of Client Work scheduled, I need to reach out to existing Clients and make sure that they are well-served on known issues and find if there are additional needs to be addressed. Second, I need to connect with existing Prospects and schedule more meetings
- If there is not enough Prospect Meetings, I need to pursue those already in my pipeline and schedule more COI Meetings and attend more Networking Events
- If I don’t have enough COI Meetings, then I need to attend more Networking Events to meet and begin to build relationships with more of them
As my dad said when we purchased our first color television: “I’ll never go back to black and white.”