Monthly Archives: December, 2015

Creating a One-page Strategic Plan that’s Easy to Understand

December 30th, 2015 Posted by Strategic Planning, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Creating a One-page Strategic Plan that’s Easy to Understand”

The strategic planning process is one of the most important aspects of starting a successful business. The trouble is, most entrepreneurs dislike taking the time to make proper plans.

When you formulate the vision for your company, it’s easy to get wrapped up in where you will begin and where you could go. That’s because having a business idea is exciting, and imagining where that idea could take you is even more so.

we had a strategic planning meeting last nightNow, take that excitement a step further, have fun with it, and develop a strategy. Spoiler alert! If you have an existing business, you should have both a Strategic Plan and a Business Plan. If you are a start-up, or planning one, create the Strategic Plan first because you may not need a Business Plan…yet!

Why Do I Even Need a Strategic Plan?

Whether you have an existing business or you’re starting a business, you can’t become too enamored with the beginning and the end. Just like anything in life, the journey is far more important than the start and finish. The strategic plan represents the journey. More to the point, it is the method by which you close the gap between your vision and today’s reality.

Many people make the mistake that a strategic plan is only developed when the business is started, but the fact is, a strategic plan is necessary throughout the life of the business. What’s more is that, once you have your initial team assembled, you will find it is hard for them to envision exactly what is going on in your head. You have to establish a set of procedures that will carry you all to your end goals.

And that is where the one-page strategic plan comes in handy.

But Why One Page?

The U.S. Tax Code is thousands of pages long, and not easy to understand. A Haiku is 3 lines long, and far too ambiguous for many to comprehend.

So in the case of your strategic plan, a single page will do. It’s the perfect length for a resume or a checklist, and it’s the perfect way to express your vision as well as your plan to achieve it.

In fact, I’ve even got a free template of the one-page strategic plan all set up for you in our Resources section of the website. It’s easy to download and fill in, and even easier to understand.

So Let’s Get Started on Your Strategic Plan

Once you have the template downloaded and in front of you, notice that there are sections for your vision, goals, strategic objectives and strategic initiatives. Each of these sections is an integral part of what your company will become, and each is further explained in the Business is ART book.

In the meantime, you can use the template to fill in your specific goals, set objectives that will help you reach those goals and even assign initiatives to your team. Remember that nothing is achieved by simply planning. Everything requires action and it is for that reason that my template includes a place for you to identify Strategic Initiatives. These are the projects you will undertake in order to achieve your strategic goals and objectives.

Achieving Your Vision

Articulating your vision and creating a strategic plan are only the initial steps in running a successful business. In order to achieve and maintain your success, you also have to revise your strategies and track your performance metrics to see what is working and what isn’t. All of this can be achieved by using the Business is ART software.

Additional Resources

The strategic plan was the topic of one of my online radio broadcasts. Find the Business is ART show at TrueChatInc.com and look for Segment 10, entitled “Strategery”. In this segment, I walk you through the template and provide you with some tips and pointers.

How to Build the Perfect Team for Your Business

December 23rd, 2015 Posted by CEO, Delegate, Employment, Leadership, Manager, Relationships, Strategy 18 thoughts on “How to Build the Perfect Team for Your Business”

pile of plastic toy menWhile you should rely heavily on strategic planning to get ahead in the business world, if you don’t have the right team in place to implement your business strategy, you are going to go nowhere quite fast.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting a new business or have been in your industry for several years, hiring the right people can make a huge difference in your chances for success.

But how is this done?

Building the perfect team, like running a business, is just as much of an art as it is a science. And it’s something that a lot of people struggle with, even if they have been running a successful business for years.

This is because a lot of people don’t really understand what makes a good business team. Is it talent, creativity, or something else?

Hire Based on Your Needs

Every year, around the beginning of November, something quite amusing happens: the NFL trade deadline comes and goes.

It’s a time when most fans closely watch news outlets, looking to see who made what moves for which players. It’s also a time when you see diehard fans pulling their hair out because their favorite team’s general manager just traded away their best wide receiver for a couple of draft picks two years down the line.

But once the tears fade away, you can usually see why the trade was made.

Perhaps the receiver was struggling with an injury, or perhaps he was getting older, his contract was about to end or he was costing too much money.

Or maybe the team didn’t need him because they have several other receivers who are putting up great numbers.

The point is: the best hire is not always the best hire for you.

You have to identify what your team needs. You can’t just indiscriminately scoop up the most talented individuals in your industry. You have to focus on building a well-rounded team that can handle every situation.

Take a good hard look at your team. What type of person do you need based on your key performance indicators?

Remember, your main goal is to build a team, not a roster of talented individuals.

Hire Based on Culture

A good business culture makes a great business team.

While hiring based on qualifications is all well and good, you want to make sure to build a team that is passionate about your vision and the culture in which you want to build within your organization.

If you are looking to maintain a team-based environment where people bounce ideas off one another, you shouldn’t be looking to hire a person who prefers to work alone in the corner of the room.

The most important step in doing this is to clearly outline your business vision. If your employees don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish, they cannot help you get there.

Once everyone is one the same page as you, involve them in the hiring process. Let them sit in on interviews with potential employees and ask them for feedback on every candidate. You want to hire the most qualified candidate who also fits best with your team.

Remember, a team that is happy, works well together and is passionate about your vision is the most productive team.

Moving Forward

Once you have your team built, you want to make sure that they stay with you for the long run. Although this is another topic for another day, here are a few quick tips to keeping your team happy and productive:

  • Challenge them.
  • Reward them for their accomplishments
  • Listen to their wants and needs.
  • Give them the tools that they need to succeed.
  • Show them that you care.
  • Don’t just hire someone that can do the job today, hire someone that can change as the job changes.

While these tips can help you get started, so much goes into building and maintaining a great team that it would take an entire book to tell you everything there is to know. Thankfully, the Business is ART book is available for you to purchase (you’re welcome), and in the meantime, you can satiate your appetite for success by checking out our Freebies section of the website.

As a leader you are always on display

December 21st, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Manager, Owner, Relationships, Significance 0 thoughts on “As a leader you are always on display”
Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Portions of this post appear in the book Business is ART. The post in its entirety previously appeared at the former Business is ART Blog site on November 4, 2014. I was recently reminded of it from a post by fellow consultant and blogger Matt Monge (@MattMonge) of The MojoCompany and thought it bears repeating.

As a leader, you are on display at all times.  How you behave sets the tone for your business or organization. This goes for general behavior as well as momentary behavior.

Always be cognizant of how others are reading you; because they are.  Every second of every workday, your employees (and clients) are reading you.

One morning, after having had a significant disagreement with someone in my personal life, I let that disagreement influence my workplace behavior.

When I got to the office, instead of the usual, “Good morning.  How are you?” type of greeting to which people had become accustomed from me, I entered the break room with a scowl on my face.  I didn’t look at or engage with anyone. I simply poured a cup of coffee and hurried back to my desk.

Later, one of the most trusted members of my leadership team, and someone I am proud to still call a friend, knocked on my door and suggested that we needed to talk in private.

He closed the door and asked in a very concerned tone, “Are we going to announce layoffs?”

The question stunned me. We were growing. We were profitable. I didn’t know where this was coming from.

“No.  Why?”

“There’s a rumor going around.”

“How did THAT get started?”

“Some employees were in the break room this morning and said you wouldn’t even look them in the eyes, so, they started speculating on what was wrong.  Then they concluded you couldn’t look them in the eyes because you are going to lay some of them off.”

I started the rumor.  I did.  Not knowingly or intentionally, but, because I was not paying attention, it led employees to speculate as to what was causing my “unnatural” behavior, and they “naturally” concluded I was about to chop some heads…probably starting with anyone lounging about the break room!

The good news was, we dramatically cut back on the cost of coffee that day. The bad news was, we lost a lot of productivity due to gossip and worry.  Worse, I lost at least some degree of the faith and trust of some of my employees.

That is a very, very hard thing to win back.  Who knows how long after I tried to assure everyone that cuts were not on the horizon had they assumed I was not being honest with them?

It was probably a long time.

How to Track Your Performance Results

December 16th, 2015 Posted by Key Performance Indicator, KPI, Strategy 2 thoughts on “How to Track Your Performance Results”

measuring kpisThe main idea behind the Business is ART process is a multi-step method that enables you to put your business on a path towards healthy growth by:

  • Articulating what it is you want to accomplish through formal plans
  • Revising those plans as you go along
  • Tracking your progress by measuring key performance indicators

When it comes to following these three pillars, most businesses stumble on number three: tracking your progress.

While it seems like articulating a plan and revising it to be better are the most important steps in the process, they really fall flat if you don’t track your company’s performance. Too many businesses fail because they focus too much on strategy and not enough on analysis.

It really all comes down to one simple fact: it is impossible to formulate a proper strategy or adapt to change if you do not identify what is and isn’t working for your company.

Whether you are looking to track marketing metrics, sales or employee performance, you can do so effectively by:

Knowing What to Track

Ask yourself what you should be tracking and why? If you can answer both of these questions honestly, you’ve discovered your key performance indicators.

There are a ton of tools that can be used to track the almost infinite amount of data in the business world, and knowing which metrics are worth tracking really is half the battle. It’s up to you and your team to decide what needs to be improved in order to for your company to perform better.

Some metrics to consider tracking are website performance (traffic, leads generated, conversions, etc.), efficiency (how long it takes to complete a task) and sales numbers.

Measure More Often, or Don’t

Not all performance metrics are created equal, and some don’t need to be measured as frequently as others. Keeping too keen an eye on certain numbers and statistics is an easy way to waste time and resources, so it’s up to you to ascertain what to measure and how often.

Gauge the sensitivity of your metrics. How much can a certain number change in a month. If it fluctuates heavily, then you should be measuring it on monthly or even weekly basis. If you notice little to no change over several months, it’s definitely something that can be measured quarterly or even annually.

Other things to consider when choosing how often to measure a metric is how much it costs to track it, how accurate you need your measurements to be (measuring more frequently leads to increased accuracy) and how important it is to your company’s performance.

Keep Yourself on Track

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information on performance metrics, you need to discuss how you can change your strategy in order to perform better.

A great way to stay on track is by organizing weekly or monthly meetings with your team. Here, you can discuss what is and isn’t working, and how you can improve as a business. Having employees track their time on projects can also go a long way in gauging the efficiency of the work that they are doing. It will also keep them focused on what they have to do, accountable for their performance, and will help you see where time is being spent inefficiently.

It’s always great to stay updated on new tools and best practices for measuring metrics. You can do that by signing up for the free newsletter or tuning in to the BIA talkshow. Additionally, Business is ART provides you with more than 50 pre-defined metrics to help get you thinking about which metrics are best for you.

What have you done…lately?

December 14th, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership, Relationships, Significance, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “What have you done…lately?”

significance, do for othersYears ago, comedian/actor Eddie Murphy had a funny bit about relationships in which he quoted the Janet Jackson song “What Have You Done for Me Lately” saying that’s exactly what people say to one another all the time, always being sure to add and emphasize the word “lately.”

I once heard a speaker giving a presentation that sort of touched on the same subject, telling the tale of a man who didn’t understand why his wife thought he had stopped loving her.

The marriage counselor asked “Well, have you told her you love her?”

He said, “Yes!”

“How often?”

“Once.”

You might be wondering why I chose this particular photo for a post entitled “What have you done…lately?”

It’s simple really. The wall and the vine are each doing something for the other. The wall provides a place for the vine to grow. The vine, in return, provides the wall with beauty that goes far beyond its plain painted appearance (even if a vine turns out to be poisonous, it looks pretty nice).

In the December 13 edition of my personal blog, entitled #Significance, I explore doing things of significance and ask the reader what he or she has done of significance. It goes on to explain that “significance” doesn’t necessarily mean big, costly or grand and that many times the things by which we are remembered are the little, day-to-day things. Ultimately, I reach the conclusion that it really is not what you say or do for others that is of significance. It’s the passion and emotion with which you do it.

The whole subject has inspired me to try a little Facebook experiment and I am even willing to pay a little to boost the post. Starting Wednesday December 16, I will launch “Good Works Wednesday,” encouraging people to share what good works they are up to and how they do things of significance on a regular basis.

Read the entire post at #Significance by clicking here, and as you do, ask yourself what have you done of significance…lately?

 

Three Pillars of Behavior

December 8th, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Relationships, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Three Pillars of Behavior”
Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Photo courtesy of gratisography.com

Plato said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

I refer to these as the three pillars of Behavior Management.  At work, if your Behavior Management strategy does not address all three of these pillars, there is an increased chance that you will not get the results you would like (or need) from your employees.

My opinion is that most people in the workforce want to do a good job that they can be proud of.  Most employers want exceptional performance from their employees.  If this is true, then already there is a chasm.  What is “good enough” in the employee’s mind may not be good enough in the employer’s mind.  So how do you bridge the gap?

Start by considering these three pillars.  What does the employee #desire? What gets the employee to feel a positive #emotion about the job and the company? And finally, what does the employee #know?  This goes beyond knowing the job and is a critical piece that should seem obvious, yet is often overlooked.

As an example, the employee desires to do good, quality work because it makes him/her feel good about him/herself, and that makes him/her feel happy (emotion).  But the employee “knows” there will be no recognition or reward from the employer beyond a paycheck.  What is the likelihood that employee will burnout and performance will suffer in the long run?

Two mistakes employers make in this regard are:

  1. A paycheck should be incentive enough to do a good job (see “chasm”).
  2. Incentive and reward beyond the regular paycheck means more money.

Neither are necessarily true, and there are all kinds of ways to address them, but that’s another topic for discussion. In the meantime, if you focus your Behavior Management strategy on these 3 pillars, you will be way ahead of the competition.

You Must be Crazy

December 7th, 2015 Posted by Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership 0 thoughts on “You Must be Crazy”

Do you have to be crazy to be an entrepreneur or a CEO (or other type of leader)? I mean, think about it. You’re putting yourself in a highly scrutinized spotlight. You’re putting your livelihood and assets on the line, putting relationships at risk, and probably spending a lot of money you don’t have just to get started.

Sounds crazy, right?

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Well, it turns out that there are some personality traits typically viewed as negatives that might actually help people to become entrepreneurs and leaders. Indeed, bi-polar disorder is often referred to as the CEO Disease because some of the very characteristics of bi-polar behavior are present in many of the world’s most successful CEOs, like Ted Turner and Steve Jobs.

A pet peeve of mine is that when someone is a little different or struggling, especially when they are kids, we rush to label or medicate them. Well-meaning people think they are doing the right thing, but what they could be doing is stifling that person’s ability to become the next great leader (or masking a “problem” instead of treating it, thereby creating larger and potentially dangerous circumstances).

The trick is recognizing, encouraging and even teaching leadership and entrepreneurial potential early, although it is never too late.

The “crazy entrepreneur” is the subject of the December 7 edition of  my weekly newsletter, The Weekly See 7.

Why Making Money Shouldn’t Be Your Only Business Goal

December 2nd, 2015 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Goal, Inspiration, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Why Making Money Shouldn’t Be Your Only Business Goal”

There are many ways to define business success that don’t involve the amount of money your company makes. While profits are great, and cash on hand is necessary for any business to have, becoming absorbed in the amount of money your company is bringing in will ultimately lead you down a bad path.

business leaderThis time of year inevitably conjures up memories of an old codger who cared a bit too much about making money: Scrooge. Whether you prefer to picture him as an old man or an old duck, the lesson to be learned is still present: profits define neither happiness nor success.

Allegory aside, there actually is hard data to prove that profit margins are not the best business strategy. Instead, business leaders who find the right balance between customer service, employee happiness and the community find even greater success. This is exactly why the 1-page Strategic Plan Template (available for free on the Freebies – Featured Resources page) emphasizes 4 major strategic areas: Profitability, Client Satisfaction / Engagement, Employee Satisfaction / Engagement and Social Responsibility.

Look to the Leaders

If you want to see the prime example of operating without profits in mind, you need only look to the largest online retailer in the world.

Amazon doesn’t operate on profits. The company hasn’t posted a substantial profit margin in the more than 20 years that they have been in business.

So what does Amazon focus on? The answer is cash flow.

good business leaderAmazon keeps its cash flow in a closed loop, meaning it invests nearly every last bit of money that the company makes into new initiatives, technology and ultimately the company itself. This is part of the reason why the retail giant is able to keep its prices low. It is also the reason why it has been able to lure in some of the best talent from multiple industries.

What You Should Be Focusing On

To say it in a single word: growth.

To use a few more words: healthy, sustainable growth.

One of the best strategies that you can focus on is retaining customers, that is, retaining the right customers. The right customers for your business are usually those who will continue to invest in your product or services for years to come.

If you offer services that range in value from hundreds of dollars to multi-thousand dollar deals, consider that it is far more worth it to pursue accounts that are worth more money, rather than focusing your time and resources on several smaller accounts that don’t amount to more than a higher value account.

This is sustainable growth. It will allow you to grow as a company, both in profit and clientele, without stretching your resources beyond what you can afford. Just remember to keep clients coming back by treating them right.

How do you achieve that?

Treat Your Employees Right

There are two quotes from Richard Branson that sum this up quite well:

  • “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.”
  • “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

It is important to build a talented team that can help your company grow. It is even more important to focus your efforts on treating your employees right. That way, they can focus on treating your customers the way they deserve.

All of which is far more important than your net profits.

Be a Great Business Leader

All of this stems from you being the best business leader that you can be. For more information on how to lead your company down the path of success, check out the free resource page on business leadership.

For even more information on how to run a successful business, check out the Business is ART book.

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