Developing Strategy

Asking the right questions ensures the right solutions are applied to the right problems. For example, you are a wannabe farmer who was recently inherited a herd of cows. With no farm experience, you do not know where to begin so you go to a farmer’s conference. In the conference you focused all your efforts on increasing your knowledge of how to make your cows produce more milk. You did this because research showed that milk consumption was up and it was the most cost effective way to increase revenue. You go back to your farm to try all the processes you have learned. After one week of no result, you call one of the conference gurus to express your frustrations. The guru out of compassion comes over to your farm and discovers your cows are all males: Males do not produce milk!

This wannabe farmer failed to ask the most basic question of his business, “What am I working with?” As silly as this may sound, failing to ask the important questions causes entrepreneur to do silly things. As a consultant, I have had clients call me thinking they had one problem only to find out they really had a totally different problem. Knowing the right question to ask is half the battle. Without the right questions, the right solutions can never be found.

The fundamental question of business is, “what does my customer/ potential customer want?” Any business owner has to battle with this question one time or the other. You are in business to satisfy customer needs and the only reason you stay profitable is because your customers find you relevant.

In meeting your customer needs, it is not enough to figure out your customers pain points because sometimes, customers have pain points, but are not willing to pay to get a solution. Sometimes, people get accustomed to living with dysfunction. You have to make a distinguishing factor between what your customers want and what they will pay for. This is done by asking the right questions. The right questions should be focused around the underlying assumptions of existing market strategies: Questions concerning the transfer of real value to current and potential customers should be addressed. Asking the right questions, leads you to solutions that deliver optimal value to your customer while eliminating non value added costs.

Small Business Franchise Opportunities

When investigating a small business franchise, it is important to know the industry related to that franchise. Restaurant chains, supply stores, and many service-oriented businesses have franchises available and the first step is finding a company that you believe in. Your faith and commitment to the product or service that you market are imperative.

Small Business Franchise opportunities in the restaurant industry are extremely profitable. This will not be an undertaking for the faint of heart though. There will be a larger investment monetarily and time wise initially that you would not have with smaller endeavors. However, once established, you will see your profits rising.

There are usually fees or dues paid to the corporation that heads up the small business franchise for operating under their brand. There are also guidelines that you will have to adhered to, in order to maintain the franchise and brand name. These guidelines are different for each company and some research will have to be done in order to make sure you are clear on the details before hand.

Small Business Franchise opportunities will usually require that you sign numerous contracts to the effect that you will adhere to their company restrictions and policies. This is done to ensure that the basic quality and company reputation is maintained to a minimum level. You will have to be open to those restrictions and open to the corporation’s guidance.

Market research is important in any business, but especially so in franchising. Some companies have both corporate owned locations and franchise owned locations. These are generally set up in areas designated by the corporations. You will have to know what area is available to you and whether or not that is acceptable to you.

You will also have to be aware of any conflict of interest clauses with the corporation. It is frowned upon, for example, to own more than one brand of restaurant. This would present a conflict that the corporations would not appreciate. Again, this is where your research and brand faithfulness will help you.

Once involved in a successful small business franchise, it is easy to expand and own more than one location of the same brand. Many franchise owners will typically own between three and five locations, sometimes more. Each franchise will operate, as is own business, so you will need to educate yourself and your management staff about all the accounting and taxation regulations.

Of course with a larger franchise, you will have employees and will need to be aware of human resources laws federally and locally. Finding a good accounting and payroll service will be important if you are dealing with a great number of employees. Most corporations will assist you in this regard, often taking care of the human resources and payroll aspects of your operation for you. Don’t forget that you will need to research benefits and insurance packages if the corporation does not handle this.

Another advantage to franchising is being able to take advantage of the assistance with advertising. If your location is close to a corporation market area, you will share in the rewards of television and other types of advertising. Having the support of the corporation behind you also gives you the added benefit of assistance in the broader points of sales and marketing.

If you have management experience with a corporation that offers franchise opportunities and are interested in owning one, some corporations will even help finance the initial investment. Depending on how extensive the franchise is will depend on your up front investment. If you have to construct a building from the ground up, of course this will cost more than purchasing an already existing location. Checking with various banks and financial institutions will be a must to get your franchise off the ground.

Franchise business opportunities are profitable but not without their responsibilities. Proper research and investigation must be done in order to ensure a successful partnership with the corporation that maintains the franchise. Once involved, however, you should be able to reap the rewards and share in the profits with a franchise opportunity of your own.

Steps to Improve Your Business

  1. Show up on time.
  2. Do what you say you will do.
  3. Finish what you start.
  4. Say “please” and “thank you.”

Would anyone argue that doing those four things can do wonders for improving any business? Yet, how few individuals – let alone entire businesses — adhere to them!

I realize that I’m taking a risk talking about this – since there are certainly times when I have failed on all four fronts. But I’m continuing to practice – and every day I’m getting better. Thankfully, productivity is about progress, not perfectionism!

Chris Crouch, creator of The GO System, stresses that we train people how to treat us by the way we act. Recently I was called by a company that wanted to know whether I was interested in appearing on their television program – we discussed the possible options, and the caller said, “I will call you no later than Wednesday.” Remember they called me – I didn’t call them – and two weeks later I’m still waiting. I’ll think twice before I spend any more time talking with them. How difficult is it, when we can’t do what we promise, to say: “I’m sorry. Here’s what’s happening.”

“Finish what you start” is an ongoing challenge for me! Many, perhaps even most, entrepreneurs struggle in that area. After all, we are idea people – and for us, it’s much more fun to think of ideas than it is to implement them. This means it is essential to ask ourselves whether or not we should start something at all – or make sure we are surrounded by people who will run with the ideas. As you’ve heard me say many times, “Together We Are Better!(TM) By the way, if filing all those papers in your life is still on your project list – ask us how you can find anything in 5 seconds or less!

I remember reading an article many years ago by Tom Peters, author of The Pursuit of WOW, in which he described how much extra effort he had taken to fly across the country, on short notice, to complete a consulting contract for a client. Not one of the many people for whom he had made the effort ever said “Thank you.” How many thank you notes have you written lately? It’s one of the best ways I know to be memorable in the eyes of your client and loved by your family.

Consistently practicing these four habits will dramatically improve your business and your life. Start today! Like anything worthwhile, habits require discipline, so more importantly, keep on practicing the “referability habits,” and live in a way that encourages those around you to do the same.

Thinking About More Business

How can I say such a thing? Because for most of us, several more clients or a few additional transactions can turn a mediocre year into a great one. And large scale macro-level trauma and transition don’t really impact our micro-level ability to find that next client or do the next deal. The only place those macro-things matter is in your head, but– for good or for bad–what happens in your head tends to powerfully affect what happens in your business.

Yefim, a Latvian émigré who worked for me years ago told a joke (if you can call it that) from the old Soviet Union. He said, “What’s the difference between an American and a Russian?” “The American expects things to get better, and the Russian hopes they don’t get worse.” Well, after a year or two of lackluster, even dismal, business, you’re probably getting more like the Russian: not sure if things can ever get better. And you’re questioning whether you can expend any resources to do anything about it.

When you believe the world is going to hell in a hand- basket, not taking steps to improve your business seems natural. You expect that clients and prospects will say no to even your best proposition. After a while you simply stop trying.

Thinking about more business starts with thinking such a thing is possible–nay, probable–but if you’ve read this far you still may be a believer. And if you think increasing your business is possible–despite what’s reported on the evening news–then it is time to get busy. No more excuses. Not the weather. Not the season–I don’t care if it is Summer or Christmas or Ramadan. Not even the economy.

So what’s the good news? In 1966, Richard Farina wrote a book called “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me.” Feel that way? Great, because making a difference is going to be easy. You’ve probably been dormant so long, any improvement will look simply marvelous.

Here’s the secret.

There are only three ways to grow your business: you can find new clients, you can have your clients buy from you more often, and you can have clients–old and new–buy more each time.

“You mean that’s it?”

Listen closely, grasshopper. This little formula can yield great insight into how to approach your business right away–if you let it. Want help? Answer the following questions.

What ways are you currently using to find new clients now? Go ahead–make a list, even if it’s only in your head. Are those ways working? (No–probably not, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.) Are they the same ones you were using a year ago? (Shame on you–they weren’t working a year ago, why should they work better now?)

What new products or services have you introduced in the past six months to help your current clients? (You haven’t– no one’s spending any money.) Of course not, they already have all the stuff you sell they think they need.

What new combinations of products, or products and services, or subscriptions, or renewable services, or… It boggles the mind how many ways there are to increase the value of each individual purchase. How many of these new offers have you made to your prospects and clients in the past six months? (I’m not even going to wait for your answer.)

If you meditate on each of these questions like a Zen Koan– you will assuredly invent at least two–and perhaps many– new ways to increase your business.

Of course, these aren’t the only things you can do, but they are a great start.

Can’t come up with any ideas? Let your clients do the work for you–after all, it’s in their own best interests. Do a survey–call up 10 or 20 and find out what they need from you that they can’t get. Even simpler–use one of the online survey tools like surveymonkey.com or zoomerang.com.

While you’re at it, you may want to insure that your core product still makes sense. After all–clients aren’t buying it like they used to. That can only mean a few things– either you’re doing a bad job telling people why they want it, or they just don’t want it.

Both of these problems can be fixed, but it’s important to make sure you’re fixing the right one. If you fix your marketing and tell people about something no one really wants you’re just wasting money. On the other hand, if your products really are right for the market, but you’re not communicating effectively–you might end up changing your products unnecessarily.

I hope you realize from this simple exercise how easy it is to quickly begin generating new and increased business. Just ask yourself good questions and invent some good answers. After all, that’s what thinking is.

Then take those thoughts and put a few into action.

Make Functional Business Plan

An expert’s marketable strategy ought to comprise of four particular parts:

  • your identity and who is best served by your (statistical surveying)
  • an arrangement of objectives or points alongside deadlines (unmistakable objectives)
  • a depiction of the way to accomplish objectives (advertising)
  • an assessment shape to outline advance

There are basic advantages in having an arrangement set up along these lines. Initially, and possibly most vital, you will have a point of view to track your work, to know its progressions.

Most all new business administrators, and particularly specialists, know that it is so natural to get covered in the everyday materials and assignments. Simply working at the jobs needing to be done, working through the most squeezing things that need to complete, can wipe out from your visual perception the genuine bearing and reason for your business.

No vision or losing your business vision can be deadly to another counseling business. Additionally, it can happen genuine fast to begin specialists since such a large number of work alone. Without a mentor or quick accessible associates to ricochet thoughts off, it is anything but difficult to lose point of view. A marketable strategy is one of the surest approaches to keep your bigger picture in core interest.

The second advantage is a useful method for measure. Your objective might achieve some customer work in six months, or diminishing office printed material by half, or going up against 50 new customers, or producing 500 asks. On the other hand something similarly valuable. Be that as it may, regardless of what objectives you spell out in a strategy for success, when they are associated with particular timetables you have a strong intends to investigate the advance of your work.

Program Planning and Control

In general, Earned Value Management is a technique to measure project performance and progress objectively and many industrialized nations utilize this technique in their procurement programs, including the United States.

Each program designed to win a government contract requires comprehensive solutions to enhance the costs, schedule, regulations and technical challenges. Oftentimes, the companies bidding for government contracts do not have appropriate knowledge and experience, as well as the right people and tools to maximize their competitive advantage. That is unfortunate as in many cases all attempts are defeated not because the company is not competent for the government contract, but because it did not proceed in compliance with all governments regulations and because the Program Planning & Control have not been established effectively.

Sound Program Planning & Control, as well as Program & Technical Management are absolutely vital to evaluate and bring in qualified teams of people, deliver integrated cost and schedule management solutions and use the right tools and technology to maximize the success. All of the above described skills can typically not always be facilitated within the company itself so if you need help from an outside consultancy, there’s always that option as well.

It takes decades of experience building up effective program planning and control solutions, supported by proven processes, templates and guides. You will ideally need to show the following advanced skills and support in various areas:

  • Support throughout the entire program, from pre-proposal to program execution.
  • Knowledge of federal regulations and procedures necessary to produce compliant products.
  • Cost and schedule management, as well as assessing risk and opportunity within the program.
  • Providing technical installation, training and support for desk top and enterprise scheduling software.
  • Assistance with required CCDR cost reports to the government.
  • Establishing a compliant EVMS to meet all government guidelines and requirements.
  • Fast and flexible approach to program design and problem solving.
  • Proven track record of success and excellence.

One good tactic is to conduct a mock EVMS review similar to the one the government will carry out. This might seem trivial at first, but a mock review can reveal and identify possible problem areas and correct them before it is too late. You can either do this internally, or hire a non-biased 3rd-party.

Before embarking, your organization must understand the challenges the procurement environment poses to a private enterprise, and demonstrate experience and expertise in Program Planning & Control. This pre-planning will be a valuable asset in the entire process of winning a government contract.

In competitive procurement environments, EVMS requirements are complicated and challenging to navigate. However, if you know the items that the bid necessitates, you can either perform them yourself or obtain the help from a strategic consultancy. Here are a few advantages of tapping professionals.

About Resume Home Business

A resume writing service is one of the top home businesses that allows owners to put in there own hours and get extremely rewarded for there work. There are no special skill sets, college degrees, or fancy computers needed to operate. A resume business can be operated right from the comfort of your own home, with as little as your current computer, printer, and a little ambition.

When starting any home business, keeping initial start-up cost to a minimum are very important. The number 1 mistake entrepreneurs make when starting a new home business is acquiring debt. With a resume business, your computer is your most important asset.

Once you have a portion of your home designated to operate your business, you can began thinking about how you are going to get clients. A great way to start is with your local newspapers, yellowpages, and flyers. While you don’t have to keep your business local, it always helps to start out my networking locally this way you have direct contact with your customers.

Maintain great custom service as networking is your best form of advertising. Happy clients tell their friends, who in turn become customers. Keep yourself organized and maintain financial records.

Problems with Partnerships

That’s the “official” definition. I describe it as absolute futility between consenting adults, who probably should have know better in the first place.

So what exactly qualifies me to be so flippant about a business entity that millions of people of which are actively engaged? My experience in partnerships goes way back to my college days. I was assigned, or chose, various partners for projects and remember quite vividly what transpired. One of us, mainly me, would do most of the work and yet both of us got the credit. While the details may be sketchy, the outcome was crystal clear. Now fast forward to my adult life.

I’ve had a few business partnerships and, once again, seemed to have been the dominant worker between the two of us. The concept is always wonderful. We decide to market a product or service and formulate a plan. I, possessing an advertising degree and background, will devise a promotional program while the other guy, I’ll call “Fred,” will do whatever they do best. So we divide up the chores and set to work. I would do the requisite research, statistical analysis, cost projections, and media studies, while Fred was responsible for sales and product production. After a week or two, I’m ready with my end and we meet to discuss our progress.

Or lack of progress on one of our parts, I’m afraid. It’s not that Fred didn’t put out any effort, because he surely tried, it’s just that spending about ten minutes actually thinking about the product didn’t equate to fulfilling his end. So, without being bitter or petty, I called him a lazy moron and asked him to do his fair share. He looked hurt, but understood my subtle point and agreed to do more. Lifting his little finger would be more, I gentle explained, and we set up another meeting a week hence.

It’s a week later, and a weak later on his end, once more. He still has done very little, blaming everything from the weather, the kid’s needs, his wife’s needs and the dog’s needs. Fred says it’s been a rough week. I’m sympathetic and call him a really, really, lazy moron and feel that this partnership is in big trouble. After a few more weeks, we get a business divorce.

Closer to the recent past, I formed another ill-advised partnership to start a new business from the ground up. This time, as a change of pace, I would be head of sales and responsible for contacting businesses. I would collect payments and my partner would produce the marketing material for each business. So, I began the selling and signed up several accounts. Each time I turned in a check, I asked about the promotional literature we were supposed to be supplying. Al, I’ll call him, said he was working on it.

This went on for months. Each time I promised the business some advertising, Al would come up with some excuse as to why he wasn’t following up.

“We need more businesses. It’s too expensive. I’m redesigning the program. My dog ate my homework.” No wait, that last one was for my wife, who’s a college professor. Anyway, you get my drift. Will you be amazed that we are no longer partners? Once again, one of us did all the work. Now you might say I didn’t give the partners enough time or specific instructions. But you would be wrong. I was more than patient and, trust me, they knew exactly what they were doing, or, in most cases, not doing.

My obvious advise at this point is to walk, no, run away from anyone asking you to join them in a partnership. It will only lead to frustration and disillusion before actual dissolving the whole affair. The hardest worker will always be resentful and feel like they’ve been taken advantage.

Achieve Good Business Etiquette

Meetings can either be informal, or more formal. Informal meetings may not take place in the office, whereas formal meetings will mostly likely take place in a meeting room, and have a slightly stricter image. However the standard etiquette rules still apply for both meeting environments.

Normally the person who has called the meeting should conduct roles. The main role to be appointed will be the chair person for that meeting. The chair persons role is quite senior as they have to decide the time, place and agenda for that meeting. They also have to make the purpose of the meeting clear to the attending colleagues, how long it will last, and what is expected of them. During the meeting, the chair person must keep to the agenda planned out, trying to stick within the time allocations and try and get away from any tangent subjects that may arise. It is also good etiquette for the chair person to appoint someone to document the outcomes of the meeting, so these can be distributed between the colleagues at the end of the meeting.

The most important rule is to prepare well, days prior to the meeting. Whether you are conducting the meeting or have been invited, you need to plan any information, reports or discussion topics that may arise. If you are the one conducting the meeting you need to make sure the schedule and agenda for the meeting is thoroughly planned; outlining the discussion topics, and time allocations for each point. These need to be distributed to colleagues a couple of days prior to the meeting, so they have time to plan their points around the agreed agenda.

Punctuality is key when it comes to perfecting good etiquette. You should always try to arrive early, that way if the meeting does get underway a little early, you are already there and prepared. During discussions, and topical debates, always allow a more senior member to contribute first, this shows respect for people higher up in the company than you. When you do feel like it’s your appropriate time to speak, speak briefly and clearly, addressing the points you wish to make and remember to never interrupt another colleague when their speaking. This is inconsiderate and rude, and you will be seen as being disrespectful.

Great Business Standards

For me, having my own business is a freedom and a privilege that I was unable to experience in the corporate world. As a business owner, I feel entitled to make my own decisions about how my business should be run. After all, I’m the boss!

Your business should be run the way you see fit. If you have employees, you can of course (if you wish) take their needs into consideration as well. If, on the other hand, you are a sole proprietor like me, having strong standards can go a long way towards keeping you happy and satisfied in your career.

What is important to you? If you haven’t already done so, think hard about this. Make a list of the important things in your life, and base your business standards around them. If maintaining a good balance between your business and personal life is important, create a standard that allows you to stop working at a reasonable hour each day in order to spend time with your family. If going grocery shopping on Wednesday mornings is what you prefer to do, work that into your schedule.

I think you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. Create a solid set of business standards today. Then stick to them. Remember, you’re in control of your business and your life.