Whether you have an informal notion of where you are taking your business or a formal plan based on sound business practices….business vision is subject to distortion from “rose colored glasses”! Plans are not static, they are a continuing process and as such subject to ongoing “forks in the road”…and like Yogi Berra said so well…when we get to one…take it! Which road to take? Is the vision focused, working? Here are TEN ways to make sure “the road less taken” is the road more profitable!
Find Time- Heads down rowing hard is admirable. However, working hard alone won’t get your business to where it can go! Force yourself to find the time to think, calmly, objectively and without the bias of the day’s grind. The long view is the clear view. Symptoms are not the issues….somehow, anyway possible you need to find a way to pull back and see the forest! Observation: The process of finding more time, might lead to delegation of tasks to people who should be doing them anyway…and more time for the rest of your life!
Fundamentals- While every business is unique, certain things hold true in every business. Ignoring basics is a dangerous path to follow. Your product needs to solve a real problem, in a unique manner, cost effectively….and at a profit. Internally, adequate capitalization, policies and procedures must be in place. Avoiding fundamental issues will only delay their inevitability. To-Do: Make a list of these key issues and be sure that your business vision addresses each now….otherwise you will be dealing with them at some future date!
Forget the Numbers- Most strategic planning processes start with a spread sheet and endless columns of numbers….leave this until the very end of your thought process. What does the market need? What is its size? Do we provide it better than anyone else? What expansions of our product offerings can we realistically provide? Can we do this at a profit on a continuing basis? Only after a business truly understands its markets and its place in these markets can it start to…run the numbers! Approach: Think of your products in terms of how they differentiate from other solutions to the problems they solve, the level of differentiation and barriers to copying your products.
Benchmarks- With the plan crafted and actual results realized…knowing what is acceptable and expected is key. What metrics are key to the business and guiding it along its planned path? Most businesses do not manage against effective measurements. Many rely solely on their monthly accounting reports Having a “dashboard” is key to guiding a business, having the right dials on the dashboard is crucial! Design: Track primarily those numbers in your daily affairs that directly relate to achieving your long term goals.
It don’t mean a thing- …”if it ain’t got that swing” As the old Duke Ellington song says….you’re in business to provide a product that the world truly needs…constantly challenge yourself to make sure THIS is the focus of your business vision. Absent a needed product or service nothing else matters. With such an offering, all other segments of a business are in a support role. Observation: Your customers are constantly challenging you, much better to do it yourself in advance of their finding a better solution!
(to be continue on Wednesday...)