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Strategic Business Planning – Common Business Start-Up Mistakes to Avoid

It is very common to come across statements mentioning the failure of 9 out of 10 business start-ups within in the first 2 years of their launch. Undoubtedly, the startup phase comes with varying challenges. When challenges present themselves, entrepreneurs end up making some common mistakes. However, with a little better strategic business planning, such errors can be rectified or avoided altogether. Here are 3 very common mistakes that should be avoided:

1. Starting Without a Business Plan

Before venturing into your own business, it is essential that you ask yourself whether you are serious about achieving success or not. If the answer is yes, then you should begin with a properly written plan that is simple and easy to understand. When you write down your plan, you will be able to focus on ways of ensuring that your business does well. Answer important questions regarding the ‘type of customers your business will attract’, ‘spreading the word about your business’ and of course ‘why would people buy from you and how much are you going to charge for your services or products’. Try to keep realistic figures and if everything is done in a planned way, then your business will definitely see growth.

2. Not Doing Enough Marketing

Marketing is a never ending process, whether you are promoting your products/services or yourself. You will often notice small-businesses spending more time in marketing the owner rather than the product. Building relationships help make a positive impact in the market and among potential customers. It leads to winning their trust and they will remember you.

3. Not Having A Unique Selling Point

The most important question is: Why should potential customers reach out to you for your service or product? Why should they choose you and not some other person? What is so special about your product or service?

You need to have good and sufficient answers to these and many more related questions before you venture any further into your business. When you start your business without asking yourself these questions, then you begin to make mistakes. If you dream of owning a successful business, then you must have answers to these questions. For more information on strategic business planning, please contact us.

Thriving in the Wake of the Great Recession: Part 2 – A Way Through

This is the 2nd part of a 3 part blog series on where we take a hard look at organizational survival rates after historic recessions. In last week’s blog, I reported some stark statistics revealed by the Harvard Business Review (HBR). Over the last 3 recessions, approximately 80% of companies had not regained their prerecession growth rates for sales and profits three years after a recession ended. Another 17% of companies didn’t survive…they went bankrupt or were acquired. So where does that leave the few stellar companies that actually prospered during a recession? They left the competition in the dust.

The “new” normal

With the current recession that began in late 2007, most company CEO’s realize the “old way” of doing business no longer exists. Their priority now is to restructure their organizations to cope with the “new normal.” How do leaders go about initiating change and reinventing themselves? By getting their employees on board to champion and lead the way to change.

Improperly trained managers

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many organizations have come to realize they now face a large leadership preparation gap. During the recession no training was conducted while mid managers and supervisors, along with employees, were downsized. No one was supported in their leadership positions or received the proper training to effectively manage teams through unknown waters. Many companies have now turned to work station based training as a cost effective way to bring managers and team leaders the resources and tools they need to succeed.

Listed below are the challenges we touched on last week that most businesses will face coming out of the recession. This week, let’s look at how businesses can find a way through those same challenges.

  1. Business Infidelity – Every company must acquire the secrets to maintain solid business relationships by utilizing strategies to ignite the spark, fire, and passion with their clients, employees, partners, and vendors. Leaders must foster improved business relationships throughout the business to facilitate LOYALTY to create, retain, and sustain healthy positive business relationships.  The HBR study revealed that morale is usually better at companies that stress operational efficiency over massive layoffs. Employees at these companies appreciate top management’s commitment to them and they are more creative in reducing costs as a result. Progressive companies also stay closely connected to customer needs when making business decisions.
  2. Social media – Leverage your human capital to outwardly communicate your corporate values and culture and reinforce your brand.  Empower your employees, improve retention, and attract highly qualified candidates into the fold. Giving your executives a public face on social media can also benefit both the business (via hiring, retention, and growth) AND your executives.
  3. Communication Malfunctions – Understanding behaviors, judgment, and what drives individuals are all keys to helping team members traverse through the stages of group formation. Understanding how behaviors affect different people in each stage is vital to achieving outstanding team performance. Behavioral styles, motivational factors, value judgment, and how they influence individual relationships and team performance, all play a large part in communication and civility, or lack thereof, in the workplace.
  4. Mismanaged Human Performance – Evaluate every job and potential new employee for a better fit and performance potential. Predict which candidate will have a greater chance of performing in a given situation. Use the information gathered to coach and mentor others so they become better performers.
  5. “Hiring to Fill” Quick Fix – True success and excellence come from a strong dynamic team – one built on similar beliefs, strong ethical values, and behaviors that mirror and complement the overall company culture…not one built on ‘gut feel’ hiring decisions. Understanding company culture, identifying the key elements of the position being sought, and determining the profile of an ideal candidate is the foundational groundwork for a successful hire.
  6. Not Recognizing Every Employee is a Salesperson Businesses are always involved in sales interactions.   Making daily decisions to either gain a benefit or avoid a loss are to be expected in the decision-making process. So, it benefits all employees to recognize the unconscious beliefs about sales that hinder profitability in business and how to overcome those negative beliefs easily, effectively, and pain-free.
  7. Can’t Regroup Fast Enough to Retain Valuable Employees – The first task is to capture the emotional commitment of the key leaders quickly. The second is to engage the rest of the employees to champion change initiatives through inspiring stories and communication updates on the change effort progress.
  8. Lack of strategies for Unexpected Changes – Understanding a company’s purpose, which is different from its vision, goals, and objectives, is critical to keeping employees engaged and retained.  Purpose is the meaning, intention, and reason for a company’s existence.  As change happens and businesses evolve, savvy business leaders revisit the company’s purpose, build on it, or change it.  They ask themselves, “Does the reason for which the company was created still exist?  Do I as a leader have the same sense of resolve or determination for my work as I once did?  Does the company’s work give meaning to those who work here in addition to providing a paycheck?”

Finding a way through a recession is wrought with perils and dismal survival statistics for most businesses. However, companies equipped with the knowledge and tools to quickly and efficiently regroup are posed to charge out of the recession gates.

Next week, we will wrap up our 3 part series with “What’s Possible” for organizations when they find the formula for thriving and succeeding the Great Recession. Join Dianne, Debra and other industry thought leaders for a break-through telesummit coming December 2012Engagement, Retention & Growth: 10 Strategic Solutions for Sustainable Corporate Expansion and Retention.” We expand on and provide the steps to overcome the challenges, find ways through the recession storm, and the possibilities that await each business as they go from surviving to thriving.

5 Steps to Get Everything You Want this Year.

Success begins with a goal. The goal drives your strategies and tactics in your business and your life. It drives your decisions. It drives the choice of your teammates and coaches.

I believe in living a balanced life. As an entrepreneur trying to achieve balance, your business goals need to support your life goals. I'm going to share with you a goal setting exercise that you can do. It will set you up to achieve your goals this year.

I'm sharing with you the five steps I'm taking right now to achieve even the smallest of my goals.

1. Write down these categories

Write each category on its own piece of paper so you have plenty of room for the next steps.

  • Physical Environment
  • Fun & Recreation
  • Personal Growth
  • Romance
  • Career
  • Money
  • Health
  • Friends and Family

2. Make a list

Now under each of these areas I want you to make a laundry list of all the things you can think of that you'd like to see happen. I don't want you to worry about whether it’s a long-term or short-term goal. We don't care if it’s a strategy or a tactic or a vision. Just write down anything you can think of that you'd like to see in your life and put it in the category for which it belongs.

Here's just a subset of my goals. The full list is 5 pages long and I haven't finished yet.

Physical Environment

(Warning: we have a LOT of unfinished house projects)

  • landscaping and plants
  • fix hot tub
  • swap dishwashers
  • build outdoor kitchen
  • repair cars
  • kids effortlessly helping with chores
  • Hang up pictures
  • Master suite addition to the house
  • fix gutters

Fun and Recreation

  • ski passes
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • beach trip
  • Cabin trip
  • exercise 2x per week
  • learn snowboarding at Erika's Burton board camp

Some of these are visions like the kids effortlessly helping with chores. Some are long term, like a second story master suite addition to the house. Some are specific like attending the Burton Board Camp. No matter.

You will also notice that many of these things I can budget for. Others I can book a timeslot in my calendar for. Some are easily achieved by budgeting and scheduling. Some will take some iterative and interactive work and perhaps some training (like having the kids effortlessly help with chores).

3. Prioritize and sort.

For each category of items, I want you to identify which items are most important to you. Which ones do you want to accomplish this year and which ones can wait? Which items have to be completed before you can do something else?

For example, beach trip is a priority for us. And, at least for us this year, we need to budget time and money for it to happen. My husband needs to take time off of work and I need to plan my client contact around that time so I can truly take off and unwind. To do this we are blocking out time now, 6 months in advance, to make sure that trip happens. We are also looking now at ways to make that trip affordable to us and to set aside money each month to make that trip happen.

4. Book a time slot.

Many of the things on my list are small tasks that can be completed with no additional resources. They just take time. Simply block out some time in your calendar.

We are blocking out 2 hour chunks of time on selected weekends so we can knock of projects on our list. Now we may not decide in advance which projects are to be completed, but by having the time set aside, we assure that some will get done. And, we have set up a weekly meeting where we sit down and review our plans for the week to prioritize and ensure that the important things do get done.

5. Identify a budget.

Know how much you are and aren’t willing to spend to achieve these goals. This will help you identify what financial goals are required to get the other goals on your list. And remember, its OK, that some carry over to the next year. Just make sure you identify which ones you are willing to let go to the future and which ones you aren’t.

Having just completed this exercise, I can't tell you how on top of it I feel. Like I am back in control of my destiny and I'm leaving nothing to chance.

That simple step just raised our energy level a few notches, at a time when it was very much needed.

These same techniques can be applied in your business too. It's just one way to take your business up a notch. Elite athletes know their schedule 6 months in advance. They know which competitions they are attending and how much it will cost. They know how many training sessions they have to prepare. They know the skills they need to win at each level. Nothing is left to chance and winging it.

Let's face it. Sometimes you get lucky. But most of the time success comes to those who aren't afraid to choose to create the planned out calculated road to success.

Can you use these skills to create your own elite program that puts you on your path to success?

What other techniques have you used?

If you would like help implementing these techniques with ongoing support and accountability, take a look at my Expert Emerald Marketing Mastermind Club.

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