|Strategic Planning Information|
The Power of Planning
I am surprised how few sales professionals, independent consultants, and small business owners take the time to plan the strategy for their business. Most people spend more time writing out a grocery list or planning a vacation than they do planning the direction or outcome of their business. Many will determine a vague or general idea of what they want to accomplish but very few actually identify the specific action steps they will need to take in order to achieve their goals. I'm not suggesting you create a 25-30 page business plan like a good friend of mine writes every year, but I do recommend that you begin outlining the goals you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there.
It is one thing to set a target for yourself, it is quite another to actually plan how you will achieve it. When I establish my annual goals (which get more challenging every year), I ask myself, "How will I accomplish these goals?" This forces me to plan the tactics, strategies, and actions I need to undertake in order to achieve my targets. For example, if your business relies primarily on referrals, identify what you can do to increase the number of referrals you receive.
In her book, Get Clients Now!, author C. J. Hayden suggests using a monthly tracking sheet. This means setting specific monthly goals, planning what action you will take to generate new business, and tracking your progress. She suggests that you engage in a minimum of ten different marketing activities each week. This can include; networking, prospecting, cold calling, sending mailers, speaking, etc. A speaker I know spends most of his Monday planning and strategizing his week, determining exactly what activities he will execute in the upcoming few days.
How should you plan your business? It all depends on what you want to accomplish and what is important to you. I know I could probably increase my revenue significantly in the next 12 months, but it would require spending less time with my family. Only you can determine what is important. And this will change depending on what stage of life you are in. What is important to you now may be completely irrelevant six months from now. Here are five key areas to plan.
Revenue. If you are like most businesses, you likely have more than one product or service. Therefore, breaking down your sales into specific categories makes sense. This allows you to track your progress in each area and see where you can improve year over year. Plus, I can also determine the products or services I should stop selling because they don't generate very good sales.
Profit. Obviously, determining your gross sales is important. More importantly, though, is the amount of money you have left over at the end of the day. In other words, what profit are you going to generate? A professional speaker I know plans his business by deciding what profit he wants to earn by each year. He then creates his plan backwards to determine how he will achieve this. Remember, you can incredible sales but still go out of business.
Expenses. Controlling expenses is a critical aspect of running a profitable and successful business regardless of the size. All large organizations budget expenses but most independent business owners "wing it" and pay the bills as they come in. If you want to increase your revenues, you need to know how much it will cost you to generate your targeted sales. I remember talking to another trainer a few years ago who had learned this lesson. She began analyzing all of her expenses and found several areas she could trim. This freed up cash which she used to market her business. The result was more revenue with no additional out-of-pocket expense.
Vacation or Personal Time. How much free time do you want for yourself in the next year? I have learned that it is very easy to get sucked into the vortex of running a business and forget to take a vacation or personal time to recharge my batteries. Block those days in your calendar early in the year. This signifies a commitment and allows you to plan your business around these personal days. A friend of mine spends most of his summer scuba diving so he plans the rest of year accordingly. He works extremely hard but this frees up almost 3 months for him to partake in his favorite past-time.
Personal Development. I have found that the people who invest in themselves consistently outperform those who don't. Identify the skills that will help you become more successful. Determine what books, programs, courses, or people can help you learn these skills and take action.
Planning does take time. However, it is time well invested. Make the time in your hectic life to create a plan for next year's business. Review it regularly and make the necessary changes as you progress forward. You'll be glad you did.
Copyright 2004 Kelley Robertson. All rights reserved
Kelley Robertson, President of the Robertson Training Group, works with businesses to help them increase their sales and motivate their employees. He is also the author of "Stop, Ask & Listen ? Proven sales techniques to turn browsers into buyers." Visit his website at http://www.RobertsonTrainingGroup.com and receive a FREE copy of "100 Ways to Increase Your Sales" by subscribing to his 59-Second Tip, a free weekly e-zine.
Mining Market Data
With a heightened awareness of opportunity, ideas can often be generated by market research. The National Women's Business Center (NWBC) defines market research as "a systematic, objective collection and analysis of data about your target market, competition, and/or environment with the goal being increased understanding. Through the market research process, you can take data?a variety of related or non-related facts?and create useful information to guide your business decisions.
Defining Go for It Business Goals
Many business start-up kits or consultants will tell you one of the first steps to starting a business is to define your business goals. Your goals may differ from the goals of another individual, for example; some people want freedom to do what they want to do, whenever they want, and without having to report to someone else. For others, the goal might be financial security. For another, flexibility or creativity might be their goal.
Microsoft Great Plains in Agriculture ? implementation highlights
In this small article we'll concentrate on farmers associations and non-profit state-sponsored organizations, dealing with subsidized state and federal programs distribution and management ? loans to farmers and rural communities. As we realized this is relatively narrow market niche and it is almost ignored by software developers. In the typical case you should take generic ERP application, such as Microsoft Great Plains and integrate it with legacy systems or create custom piece in Great Plains to serve your association needs.
ACTION PLANNING: Action Planning is a process to develop strategies for changes in the organization based on an analysis of the problems which precipitate the need for change. It is a collaborative method of planning which involves the people working in the organization and permits the people who will be influenced by the decisions and change to have influence on the product or outcome. Action Planning assumes that people will support that which they help to plan and create. Unless those involved are committed to that which they are changing, the plan does not have much hope for success. Recent studies indicate that employees who are a part of the planning and problem solving/decision making process will take on additional organizational responsibilities to implement the plans.
The Top 10 Priorities That Guard Your Five-Star Reputation
Making money doesn't make your reputation... your reputation makes you money. Gala Gorman
In Business Planning, Competition is Good
When developing the competition section of your business plan, companies must define competition correctly, select the appropriate competitors to analyze, and explain its competitive advantages.
Designing an Efficient Distribution System
Let us look at a few of the big distribution networks in the US that we use today. The US Post Office for instance is a huge complex chain of symbiotic relations ships with vendors to deliver by truck, work with FED EX for air, previously that airmail idea started commercial aviation. The reason it grew big and evolved so well is because of the special teams and companies and individuals from the first air mail carriers to the Wells Fargo Coaches. A much better system than Paul Revere; although he was very simple with only two possible signals 1 or 2 "if's" scenarios. Let's face it 1's and Zero's or 1 or 2 ifs are different than today.
Take A Systems View To Ensure Your Business Stays Healthy
How are you feeling today? Good, not so good, great? Let me ask the same question in a different way: How is your gastro-intestinal system functioning today? What about your lymphatic system? How's the old circulatory system flowing along? Are all your bodily systems aligned, in sync, and cranking at peak performance?
Are You Ready To Go International?
Although North Americans were the dominant population on the Internet, that has now changed, and the rest of the world has caught up rapidly. And while English is still the most widely used Internet language, it's not the language of choice for many, many Internet users.
Business Problem Solving
Is there really anything as a problem? Does chaos or challenge mean you have a problem? I am under the belief that such things as other call problems are indeed the life-blood of opportunity and the louder it knocks the greater the gain. Embrace chaos. In my many years in business I loved a good challenge; let me recommend a good audio book incase you find yourself embattled with what you believe to be insurmountable problems:
The Six Sigma Method and Design of Experiments
Six Sigma is becoming a proven approach for businesses and organizations to improve their performance. The spectrum of companies actively engaging in Six Sigma today is wide from industrials like Celanese, Caterpillar, GE, Honeywell, and 3M to service/retail organizations like Starwood Hotels, Sears, and Home Depot. Six Sigma has even started in the financial industry with Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase initiating major deployments in the past two years. Probably the most exciting area is in the public and healthcare sectors with success stories emerging from city government and John Hopkins Medical.
10 Ways To Make Your Business Unique
1. Largest Selection -
2 Simple Steps Before Starting Your Business
There is so much small business information available today that it's easy to be bogged down by the sheer volume of it all. Where does one start? Well, it's safe to say not all the information you'll receive will be of equal value. So it's important to be discerning when you're thinking about applying any suggestions to your new business. In many cases, you'll find some suggestions don't match your business type, management style, budget, or industry. This could lead to wasted dollars spent and time lost. So learning how to research and compile information will be key in developing a plan that is tailored to fit your business needs.
Vendor Relations Strategies Sample Outline
One of the quintessential parts to any business is your supply chain. To insure that the supplies are there when you need them; in this new day and age of "just in time" distribution where very little sits on warehouse shelves until you order it you will need excellent vendor relations. Without the help of your vendors a small customer need turns into a astronomical problem and if you cannot solve it or serve your customer, you will indeed lose that customer to someone else who will. Someone who has constantly maintained a close relationship with their vendors in fact and can get what they need quickly with a simple phone. You say; "you wish it was that easy!" Yes, I hear you, yet I have seen over the years that with the proper vendor team, you can do anything, build anything, create anything and move forward faster than any competitor ever dreamed of. How do I know? Well, I built a multi-state franchise company with no outside investors from the smallest of small businesses, that's how.
Insurance Requirements in Franchised Companies
Franchised companies often require what some believe to be excessive insurance requirements. This is because so often if a franchise is sued for any reason that the Lawyers go after the big money of the franchisors and name them in the lawsuit. It is amazing that a lawyer can write garbage in a lawsuit and file it in court and if you do not hire another lawyer to fight them, you could lose your entire life's work and company. But our legal system as most entrepreneurs agree is a complete joke and more closely represents the extortion tactics of the mob than any legitimate sense of fairness or truth. This is why franchisors must require huge limits of liability insurance and additional insured certificates as part of the franchise agreement.
Why Six Sigma Will Work in Healthcare
If ever there were an industry where we want zero defects, it's healthcare. Patients, medical professionals, and healthcare administrators all want mistakes eliminated and quality and efficiency improved. Although most industries have undergone some type of data-supported, systematic, quality-improvement process, healthcare still has not. Medical and technological advances continue to outpace process and education adjustments. Demand and expectations for medical care are increasing. Inefficiency also leads to(causes, brings about, etc.) overcrowded emergency rooms, customer complaints, and lost revenues.
Strategy Without Tactics is Futile
From time to time there seems to be a flurry of studies and surveys on effective communication in the workplace. As a communication specialist, I'm always eager to read these studies, but am often disappointed with what I see. That's because they all seem to be about communication strategy.
10 Critical Facts to Put On the Cover of Your Business Plan...
In most business plans, no matter how striking the idea, the covers are critically important. The majority of investors may flip to the executive summary, if they get past the cover, when deciding whether or not they are interested. Exactly like the front page of a daily newspaper, a business plan cover puts the important highlights of the proposal upfront for potential investors to read.
8 Ways to Earn More Without Working Harder
Conventional wisdom has it that there are only three ways to grow your business: find new customers, increase the amount of each sale to existing customers or get customers to buy more frequently. But I've seen business owners go blank when presented with those three options. So here is a more useful list of ways to increase your total revenues without in most cases having to put in more hours at the office.
Under Construction During the Storm ? A Hurricane Guide for Businesses that are Under Construction
As a business owner, you've likely created a hurricane plan for your business and your family, but did you overlook your construction project? Don't worry, you're not alone. Most people don't even think about preparing their construction site because it's not written into their "construction timeline." But when a hurricane threatens, general contractors usually get panicked phone calls asking about potential damage, delays and cost.
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