Better Execution Management System

When you implement an execution management system, there are certain things you need to do simultaneously. Taking the following steps will improve the efficacy of the Execution Management System.

  • To begin with, it is necessary that you make short-term plans instead of long-term ones. Meet up on a quarterly basis; decide on the next set of actions and also the way to go about them. When you meet once in a year, the discussions get longer and the strategies more complicated. Consequently, sound executive management automatically becomes least feasible. Short-term plans, on the other hand, are better executed and the entire scenario looks better at the end of the year.
  • Cost reduction exercises are common in every enterprise or market. But more often than not, costs reductions lead to negative impacts on the business model. This is not desirable. So, it is necessary that you review your plan of cost reduction before implementing it. It is found that cost restructuring instead of cost reduction actually helps in better execution of business strategies.
  • When it comes to strategizing and executing of these strategies, business enterprises consider certain Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPIs. But the KPIs determined long back lose significance over the time and hence, bring no real value for the organization. So, the best thing to do is to select indicators that are relevant and matter the most. These can be related to cash position, exposure to short or long-term risks and access to capital.
  • It is not enough to define an objective but you need to implement it. People in the organization have to take ownership and work towards achieving the pre-determined goals. Let people debate, raise issues, suggest modifications and only then accept the objective. Even if this means investing few weeks of time, never stop yourself as the end result will be satisfactory.
  • It is easy to implement strategies and execute them when things go as planned. But it is extremely difficult to even think rationally in times of crisis. Performance coaching, quite popular these days, helps managers keep their calm and stay focused in difficult times. It ensures that plans get executed even with the obstacles.

A Brief Guide to Some Key Issues

One of the first things to consider is what type of legal entity you intend to use. Often people just start and don’t consider what business structure they need until later on. If you have any doubts I recommend you talk it through with your accountant or solicitor.

The basic types of business are a sole trader, a partnership, a limited company or a limited liability partnership. Whilst in some cases the structure can be changed relatively easily, it makes sense to give it some thought before you start. You should also think about your exit plans at this stage, as this may affect your choice of trading structure.

A sole trader is just that. You set up in business on your own. The business is no more than an extension of you in many ways, certainly as far as your finances go. This by far the easiest option for a lot of people, as there is less administration, but it can also be lonely. If you set up on your own look for ways to meet up with other business owners on a regular basis.

A partnership is two or more people working together, your liabilities are similar to those of a sole trader, though bear in mind that usually all partners are responsible for the actions of the others.
If you set up in partnership you should have some kind of agreement defining what the shares are and who gets what in the way of drawings and distributions. This will also cover what happens in the event of a major disagreement, or if one partner leaves for any reason.

Trading as a limited company can have many benefits, in particular it means that the business is a separate entity from you. This means that your liability is limited to the amount of share capital you have in the business. There may also be tax savings depending on your circumstances, but you should never make your decision based solely on tax implications.

There are more costs involved and often more red tape than with a sole trader or partnership. A company has to file various forms as well as its accounts with Companies House, and there is a cost involved in doing this, as well as in preparing the information.

A limited liability partnership is like a cross between a partnership and a limited company. It has a set up like a partnership, but the limited liability of a company. It must file records with Companies House in a similar way that a Limited Company would.

There are many areas to consider when deciding what trading structure is best for you. These include among others, the tax implications, your own financial situation – pensions, mortgage etc, whether you need a vehicle, what type of business you are setting up, whether there is a property involved, or a requirement for a property, how many people are setting up the business and what relationships are required.

The best thing to do is talk it over with your advisors and make an informed decision. What you are aiming to do is find a balance between the various issues that works for you.

Pricing Your Consulting Services

QUALITY

Quality has become an expectation – the minimum you need to be in the game. It is similar to a high school degree – no one cares if you have one, but watch out if you do not. Quality is no longer an effective differentiator. So if you are going on about the exceptional quality of your service in your promotional material and sales pitch, just realize that in your customers eyes, you are not differentiating yourself in any way.

After all, no sane company is going to advertise the fact that the work they do is of average or low quality. It’s all high, isn’t it?

PRICE

There is absolutely nothing positive about competing on price, unless you specifically position yourself as a low-cost provider. Certainly, there is a market for the discount provider, but I believe this only works if you have a very high volume of transactions. As a service provider, the only sensible route is to obtain premium prices for your services.

No matter what you charge, there is always someone, somewhere, willing to perform the work you do for less money. Customers are value conscious, not price conscious. They look to do business with people they feel give them more than they are paying for. So the goal for the service provider is to make sure the customer perceives the full value of the service, not simply the price component.

Its accepted fact that many customers will equate high price with high value – especially when there is very little else to judge your value on.

Wise consultants know that if they price their services at the low end of the market, customers do not take their advice seriously. On the other hand, if you charge rates on the upper end of the spectrum, the customer will hang on every word you say and has a higher probability of implementing your suggestions. This of course has a proviso that you are offering a great service, rather than a mediocre one.

Sometimes the biggest hurdle to get over when considering charging premium pricing is our own attitude. Do any of these sound familiar?

‘I can’t charge those prices – my customers will all walk away!’
‘My service isn’t worth that much’

As long as you stay in that mindset, you’ll never make the transition to high end pricing. You must truly believe the value of what you offer – after all if you don’t, why should your customers? More on this below in a discussion about articulating the value of what you do.

If you are selling good advice, and your customers listen carefully and implement it – they will be more successful and thus will value you that much more. It is a cycle that spirals upward: The more you charge, the more people follow your suggestions, the more profitable they become, the more valuable you are to them. This is a vicious circle that you definitely want to be part of.

SERVICE

The third component of your offering is service. In today’s world, service is the ultimate differentiator and separates successful companies from mediocre companies. People will pay a premium for excellent service, and want to do business with companies who provide it. They want to build up personal relationships, know that their needs are understood, and do business with people who demonstrate integrity and value long term associations.

Successful businesses are in the relationship building game, and everything they do is aimed at strengthening connections and affiliations with potential and existing clients. This is where each of us can be different. No one can imitate our personal style and success at building and maintaining relationships.

Businesses to Buy During a Recession

Recession-proof businesses may also be determined by where you live. A flourishing real estate market like Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord in North Carolina may do well for home decorators or businesses that cater to young families. In the areas hit hardest by the recession, businesses that cater to job training and self-employment may be more likely to succeed. This is why when someone asks about good businesses to buy during a recession, a good response is by to ask them to do a thorough analysis of their local market. Sometimes a simple evaluation can generate the best ideas.

Another way to identify good businesses to buy during a recession is by reading up on the latest buying trends in magazines like Consumer Reports and finding out if the hottest products and services are available in your area. Are less people dining out at sit-down restaurants and favoring café-style eateries like Panera Bread instead? Are people keeping their old cars longer or doing their own home repairs? All of these trends will point you toward a specific type of business model.

Once you have identified some good businesses to buy during a recession, the next step is to look online to find existing businesses for sale by industry. By using online business for sale directories you can locate businesses for sale and learn more about the best opportunities in your area.

Finding a good business to buy during a recession will not be quite easy. However, there are points that you should consider like the fact that groceries and essential commodities and items could be a better business than luxury items. Also, by making a thorough analysis of your local market, you will find that there are those that flourish even during recessions. Next, you can consult magazines like consumer reports to find out the hottest products and services in your area. Lastly, search online business directories to locate businesses for sale in your area.

Small Business Grants

There are many types of grants offered by the Governments and other financial institutions that include individual grants for personal necessities, business grants for starting new business, education grants for funding education and many more. Grants are always a feasible option to support existing business or financing new business in all fields. While the United States government does not offer direct grants for supporting small business there are many state development agencies, non-profit organizations, intermediary lending institutions and local government, which offer grants to expand and enhance small businesses.

Small businesses always play a significant role in the economic growth of a country and that is the reason governments are always ready to offer financial resources to facilitate small business. You can receive small business grant to start up any type of business. From carpet cleaning, photocopying, private tutoring services to day care business you name any business and these agencies have the grants for you. All U.S. citizens and residents are eligible to receive U.S. Federal Government, State Government and Private Foundation-funded grants and loans. Apart from this these grant programs do not require credit checks, collateral, security deposits or co-signers. Small business grants are easily available. Anyone who is 18 year old and thinking about going into business for himself or wanting to expand his existing business can apply for the grant. Grants varying between $500.00 to $50,000.00 can be obtained from these agencies. Usually there are larger payments for business start up costs. If you are an entrepreneur than you can use the privileges provided by the government. Small business grants are the ideal way to fulfill your dreams of becoming a business owner.

Solving Problems with Inside Help

Employees are a good source of knowledge that is often left untapped. But savvy entrepreneurs realize that their employees have been hired in the first place because they have the skills and talents that make them assets to the business. Employees can be invaluable in solving problems that may arise, particularly in production or with personnel issues. Utilize this inside pool of knowledge to help solve your problems when appropriate.

Schedule regular meetings with your employees so that all problems can be aired – brainstorming works wonders and a fruitful meeting will produce loads of suggestions about how to do things better, how to avoid further problems, and how to enhance the working relationships between all staff levels.

Involve your key employees in budgeting, goal-setting, and planning. Realize the value of sharing information with them and do so when appropriate.

Give your employees the tools to grow by assigning tasks and responsibilities that help them reach their full potential in your company. Most importantly give them the freedom to carry out their duties. The bottom line is profitability so make use of their knowledge and experience in every way you can.

Seek out those employees with special talents and encourage them to acquire more education and training to excel in that field or further develop their skill set. Create an atmosphere that is not only performance-oriented but people-oriented, too!The feeling of a job well done and a pat on the back can go a long way… always praise and reward top performance.

Statistics will tell you what is happening. For example, your daily website traffic analysis cannot be over-emphasized.
Analysis will help lead you to the reasons why problems exist and can potentially help you solve those issues. Statistics and records, whether related to your website or any other area of your business are not to be used in isolation but as a tool to make comparisons that will help you more effectively manage your business and reach profitability.

Successful use of records and stats whether online or offline, means making comparisons that indicate trends: Sales are up this month versus the same month last year, or comparison against other points such as sales are down compared to budget forecasts, or are up more than the industry average, and so on. Wherever possible use percentages to highlight changes and to help make comparisons. It’s also imperative to analyze your business in terms of demographics. Proper use of this information leads to the development of new products and services, and helps a business to know when to pull the plug on those offerings that have become tired and outdated.

All businesses have “hot buttons” which signal the pulse of the company. Symptoms of business health or sickness don’t always show up in the normal records. In addition to overdue receivables or outstanding payables, check out your back-order position, customer complaints, absenteeism, or staff turnover. Understand what the “hot buttons” in your business are and monitor them monthly, weekly, or in times of crisis, daily.

Business Start Ups

Being aware of what your staff is capable of. Some of your staff will be single hit players.  Others will hit doubles.  Some will hit or make the triple play, while others will hit home runs. Your employees (players) look to you, the business owner, (their coach), and learn from you. They will look to you for direction (signals), on how they should respond (play the game).
The season (your first year in business) gives you the opportunity to assess your staff (your team) to ascertain where they work best. Do you need to make changes (change the line-up). Obviously, some will perform better than others. It’s up to you, as the leader (coach) to decide who belongs in what position, where their strong points are, where their weaknesses are, and how to utilize them to the best of their abilities. Be sure to set up staff (team) meetings.
How successful your team is (your business) will be determined by the end of the season. Are you just one of many new businesses in your area, or will you make the playoffs (distinguish your business, find your niche, make a name for yourself in your area).
Making the playoffs and/or winning the championship means your business has made it. You paid your dues.  You’re in it for the long run. You’re part of the business community (recognized by the other teams).
Now you’re ready to play every season. You use spring training of each year to feel out the other teams (find out what your business competition is doing) and make any adjustments you need to keep your business (team) in the thick of things for the coming year.
If you listen real carefully you’ll hear……”Let’s play ball!”

Ownership versus Management

Q. Should the daughter of the owner who stands to inherit a portion of her father’s company have any say-so in the management of the company?

A. No, unless she also is a member of the management team.

Q. The owner’s daughter married one of the company’s outside salespeople. How long should the owner’s new son-in-law continue to work in the business before he’s promoted to sales manager?

A. Until he has earned the respect of the other members of the management team and until he becomes the most qualified person for the job. It’s extremely demoralizing to other employees when family members are shown favoritism.

Q. My two sons each own 25% of the business. One is an outside salesperson and earned $92,000 last year in commissions; the other is a buyer and I pay him $51,000. The buyer son says that I am treating him unequally. How do you recommend that I respond?

A. The rule in family matters is to treat kids equally, but in business the rule is to treat the kids equitably. Pay offspring who work in the business on the basis of their value and contribution to the business.

Q. My daughter, still a 25% owner in our business, used to work here full time as our retail store manager, but now that she has two small children, she only comes in occasionally to work on special assignments. When she comes in the store, the store manager who replaced her says she still tells the retail sales staff what to do. When I spoke to her about it, she said that –as an owner — she feels she has the right to say anything she wishes to anyone she wishes. What’s your opinion?

A. Violating lines of authority is one of the biggest mistakes an absentee owner can make in a family business. She is totally out of line when she usurps the new store manager’s authority. She should never issue a directive to an employee who reports to another manager. If she observes something that the manager needs to know about, she should ask the manager’s permission to make a suggestion, and not make it as if she were still an authority figure.

Q. My brother and I are 50/50 owners. I am CEO of the company and my brother has been sales manager for six years. Our sales have gone down for two years in a row and our market share has plummeted. What should I do?

A. Whether your sales manager is an owner or hired hand, the sales manager is accountable for achieving the sales budget. Unless you’re prepared to see sales deteriorate further, give him a deadline to get sales moving in the right direction. If he fails to meet the goal the two of you agree on, you have little choice but to replace him.

Create a Customer Respite

The best Chief Marketers continually seek that Razor’s Edge of Differentiation between their small business and the competition. Package is often overlooked as route to achieve a true degree of difference in the mind of the small business customer.

But it doesn’t have to be. A few small adjustments and your small business can really outshine the competition.

Of course, there’s the obvious–is your business clean? Is your merchandise easy to find? How about lighting and signage? Though often overlooked, these are typically the first areas to seek out and improve upon when microscoping your company package. But package is about more than how efficiently a customer can navigate your store. It also affects how she feels during those few precious minutes she is inside your 4 walls. The best Chief Marketers manage to build Customer Respite Areas within their businesses.

Consumers need a break from the kids and the spouse and the job. Sometimes they’re desperate for just five minutes to unwind the jaws of the tension-vise that’s wrapped around their head during the course of the day, loosen their collar, and relax just a little.

Yes, they’re at your business to accomplish a transaction with you; probably something as mundane as dropping off their dry-cleaning or picking up a gallon of milk. But you know very well they can get a similar product at a competitive price elsewhere in town. So why not entice a few customers into your store by offering them something your competition down the street isn’t–a Customer Respite or a Surprise Upgrade!

Our next article will help you learn how to create both Surprise Upgrades and Customer Respites with minimal time, money and effort.

Remember: Brand (who you are) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + People (customers and employees) = Marketing Success.

Hire and Manage Employees

Build Respect

Integrity is possibly the most important trait you should possess. Employees must be treated equally and fairly, as should every customer and vendor. You must remain professional at all times, using diplomacy and tact to discipline undesirable behavior. In addition, you must always lead by example.

Here are some tips for building respect:

  • Set the example — be certain that you remain in compliance with all company policies.
  • Keep a positive attitude. If your employees are to stay positive you must set the example.
  • Smile and be cheerful, but do not tell jokes or play pranks.
  • Remain professional and somewhat impersonal at all times.
  • Do not share personal matters with any employee.
  • Do not give advice regarding personal matters – refer employees to professional counseling.

Hire Right

It is imperative that you hire honest, hard working individuals with proven track records – not just any warm body that walks through the door. Never lower your standards to fill a position – your other employees will question your integrity and resent you for hiring a problem that they have to deal with on the job. It is your responsibility to hire individuals who can easily adapt to your company policies. Therefore, you must obtain a complete history on your job candidates. Be certain that your application forms request employment history for the past 20 years – include the statement “Attach additional sheets if necessary” on your application.

Thoroughly check references. When calling references, ask for “Human Resources” instead of the person listed on the application (some applicants will list a “friend” – not management.) If Human Resources can only provide the dates of employment, ask if the applicant is re-hirable. Then ask if the person listed as a reference on the application is qualified to by the company to be a reference.

A stable work history and home life are essential elements required of your staff. Obviously if the applicant has not held a job for at least one year, nor has viable reasons for terminations, the potential for problems in your company are high. Of course there are exceptions; certain young people may make exceptional employees, but have no substantial work history. In this case you should check school references and religious leaders, then go with your gut feelings.

Provide Clear Direction

It is imperative to have an employee handbook which includes complete job descriptions and company policies, because without clear direction each employee will have a different perception of what their responsibilities are based upon their past work experiences and personal ethics. Warning certificates and regularly scheduled performance evaluations are essential management tools which assure compliance with company policies and procedures.

Evaluate Performance

Evaluating performance is an essential part of your job. It is mandatory that you provide regularly scheduled performance reviews, and that they be filed in the employee’s personnel record for future reference. A formal evaluation should be conducted annually for all employees. New employees should have a formal evaluation at 6 weeks and 6 months.

It is of utmost importance that you give feedback based on specific standards and achievable goals to which all parties agree in advance. Therefore, an employee handbook must be provided to each new employee. The new employee must sign a compliance agreement which will be filed in their permanent record. Employees are then held accountable to follow every policy in the handbook, or they must resign. Should an employee be required to resign, then your personnel files will be proof to deny a claim against your company’s unemployment benefits account.

Set Goals

Part of the performance review is to set goals for the employee. Using the evaluation worksheet, comprise a list of improvements the employee must strive to accomplish before their next review. For example, goals for a cleaning technician might be to improve their attention to detail and increase their speed. Goals for the office assistant might include better accuracy in record keeping and improved efficiency of written communications.