Monday, September 10, 2018

Managing Change


Businesses face change all the time, driven both by internal or external influences. Growth, innovation, redundancy, outsourcing, relocation, diversification and competition all can force change in a business.
In is important to make the necessary changes before they are forced upon you – minimising change that can impact on profitability and maximising change that creates opportunities. Most people, in particular employees, are uncomfortable with change because it interferes with their routine and exposes them to the unfamiliar.

Drive Change
It’s better to drive change than let change control your business. It’s also important to identify any need for change early on. Think ahead to where your business needs to be in one, three and five years’ time. What do you need to do to get there?

Prioritize
Decide which changes are most important and focus on the changes with the biggest potential benefits – not the easiest ones to implement.
Aim for continual smaller changes rather than a few large ones. Large changes are harder to digest and can interfere with one another, while small-scale changes are easier to manage.

Network
Change usually involves going into unknown territory, but others will have been there before you, so seek their input and advice. Talk to business associates and learn from the experience of people who have made similar changes.

Communicate
Whatever the area of change, you will need the co-operation of your employees. However, resistance from employees is often the biggest stumbling block to successful.  The key to managing change successfully is to keep staff informed. Start communicating the change as early as possible, so people have time to come to terms with it.


Even small changes can backfire if they’re not handled sensitively. Consult with those affected before implementing any changes. Those involved may be able to suggest alternatives that deliver the same results more effectively or more efficiently.

Remember life in Business is about change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.

I hope these thoughts are of value as you move your organization ahead through change.

Please let me know your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com



Sunday, August 26, 2018

Business Management

Success factors in Business




What separates winners from losers? Business analysts almost daily come up with a list of factors or definition of key success factors.

Here are a few to consider:





1. Plan for success. 
A good plan increases your chance of success by defining objectives, framing costs, forecasting revenue and defining risks.

2. Managing and developing people
 People today want some direction and structure, but they also want freedom and encouragement to develop their skills and knowledge. Effectively managing people requires balancing direction, structure, organization, with liberating forces encourage personal growth, development and creativity. If you as manager/leader err too much in one direction or the other, your organization will be either too rigid or too chaotic.
A strong management group is critical. Entrepreneurs should have the confidence to surround themselves with strong people; this will pay dividends in productivity and growth of the business. Those owners who seek individuals who will follow and not lead will be constrained by their own failings.

3. Strategic focus
 In today’s rapidly changing world, it’s not just enough to have a purpose for existing. Leaders have to focus the organization’s resources on the greatest opportunities, which shift with each new day. Doors open and doors close. Major customers or income sources can change or even go out of business at any time. So it’s necessary for leaders to keep focused on the desired end results such as increased sales and profits, or more satisfied customers, while constantly steering the organization across the stormy waters of the marketplace.

4. Consumer focus
 An unwavering commitment to the consumer is invaluable. Understanding the consumer’s wants and needs provides the best way to gain customer loyalty. Repeat business is the lifeline to continued success. This also strengthens your reputation in the marketplace.

5. Know your strengths. 
An honest approach to management of the business can help generate growth. Don’t waste time chasing dreams or ill-conceived ideas that do not match your core values or strengths in the business.


These are just a sample of key factors for business success. I hope they provide some food for thought in your operations.

Please let me know. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Business Management

Stress Management



As a business owner, every part of your business has the potential to create stress. Slowly developing sales, debt, poor cash flow, employee issues, equipment or operational issues. You think about the business 24/7 and this makes you tires and anxious.
You cannot escape the reality that business ownership s stressful but perhaps the following comments will help with stress management.





1. Positive Focus
Remind yourself of the many accomplishments you may have achieved no matter how small. Stress will increase if you always focus on things behind schedule, unfunded or that need repair.

2. Be aware of your body signals
Excessive heart rates, headaches, anxiety may be signals and suggest a need to find time to wind down.

3. Don’t procrastinate
Do not postpone decision making. Difficult decisions are not made easier because you postpone them. At times conditions may worsen if issues are not resolved.

4. Purge your Brain
Enjoy time away from the job to let you recharge your batteries. Plan periodic vacations or days off. The organization is unlikely to collapse because the boss is away for a short time.

5. Delegate:  
No one has a monopoly on all of the good ideas and ways to resolve problems. Let staff participate as part of team that enjoys successes and faces difficulties on the job as well.

6. Stay Aware
Make sure key support people including those managing the finances keep you up to date. Since cash flow is a key marker make sure expenses are kept under control and systems to improve productivity are reviewed often. A well run business with good information flow is a key to stress reduction. Eliminate surprises.

These suggestions won’t eliminate all of the stress in your business but they may help keep stress at a manageable level. Please let me have your comments.

Gerry@polarisgroupmc.com




Sunday, July 29, 2018

Business Start-up Management

Challenges for Small Business


Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges every business faces whether they are large or small. These include things like hiring the right people, building a brand and so on. However, there are some that are unique to small businesses. Here are a few challenges that may be faced:


1. Client Dependence
If a single client makes up more than half of your income, you are more of an independent contractor than a business owner. Diversifying your client base is vital to growing a business.


2. Cash Management
Having enough cash to cover the bills is a must for any business. To avoid shortage small businesses owners must either be heavily capitalized or be able to pick up extra income to shore up cash reserves when needed. This is why many small businesses start out with the founders working a job and building a business simultaneously. While this split focus can make it difficult to grow a business, running out of cash makes growing a business impossible.


3. Fatigue
The hours, the work and the constant pressure to perform wears on even the most passionate individuals. Many business owners, even successful ones, get stuck working much longer hours than their employees. Moreover, they fear their business will stall in their absence, so they avoid taking any time away from work to recharge. Fatigue can lead to rash decisions about the business, including the desire to abandon it completely. Finding a pace that keeps the business humming without grinding down the owner is a challenge that comes early (and often) in the evolution of a small business.

4. Owner Dependence
If you get hit by a car, is your business still producing income the next day? A business that can't operate without its founder is a business with a deadline. Many businesses suffer from founder dependence, and this dependence is often caused by the founder being unable to let go of certain decisions and responsibilities as the business grows. To meet this challenge a business owner merely has to trust that he can give over more control to their employees or partners.


These are some of the challenges a new business faces and the challenges should be considered before leaping into a start-up. A competitive drive is often the catalyst to start a new business but time invested in a well thought out plan will be rewarded.

Please let me know your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Managing Change in Business







When implementing change in an organization no singe methodology fits every company. Here are a few ideas that may help facilitate change in your business.



1. Address the “people side” of the business.
Any significant transformation creates “people issues.” New leaders will be asked to step up, jobs will be changed, new skills and capabilities must be developed, and employees will be uncertain and resistant. Dealing with these issues on a reactive, case-by-case basis puts speed, morale, and results at risk. A formal approach for managing change — beginning with the leadership team and then engaging key stakeholders and leaders — should be developed early, and adapted often as change moves through the organization.


2. Start at the top.
Because change is inherently unsettling for people at all levels of an organization, when it is on the horizon, all eyes will turn to the CEO and the leadership team for strength, support, and direction. The leaders themselves must embrace the new approaches first, both to challenge and to motivate the rest of the institution.

3. Involve every layer.
As transformation programs progress from defining strategy and setting targets to design and implementation, they affect different levels of the organization. Change efforts must include plans for identifying leaders throughout the company and pushing responsibility for design and implementation down, so that change “cascades” through the organization. At each layer of the organization, the leaders who are identified and trained must be aligned to the company’s vision, equipped to execute their specific mission, and motivated to make change happen.

4. Communicate the message

This stage cannot be overly stressed. Clear communication of objectives, involvement of staff at the early stages, and empowering them will facilitate involvement and buy in for the company.

5. Prepare for the Unexpected
No change program goes completely according to plan. People react in unexpected ways; areas of anticipated resistance fall away; and the external environment shifts. Effectively managing change requires continual reassessment of its impact and the organization’s willingness and ability to adopt the next wave of transformation.

It is obvious to most business owners that people matter. Sometimes however the organization gets lost in plans and processes rather than facing the difficult and more important people issues. Making the initial steps to involve the entire organization starting at the top will help achieve success.

Please let me know your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Business Management


Tips for Successful Networking






Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship. Networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.





Here are a few tips to consider:

1. Set goals to achieve in networking meetings
Pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.

2. Hold volunteer positions in organizations
This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that help you.

3. Ask open ended questions
Questions that ask who, what, where, when, or how as opposed to those that can be answered yes or no open up discussion and show others you are interested in them.

4. Be a resource
When you are known as a strong resource people turn to you for ideas and references and this strengthens your visibility.

5. Be clear when identifying your needs.
If someone askes “how can I help you?” be certain you have a clear answer.

6. Follow referrals
When you receive a referral follow-up quickly. This is a reflection on the person giving the referral. This respect will help obtain further referrals you may need.

I hope these suggestions help you improve the use of time spent in networking sessions. It is rarely productive to merely meet and chat with the same contacts at every session merely because it may be more comfortable.
Please let me know your thoughts: gerry@polarisgroupmc.com



Sunday, June 3, 2018

Business Management

STRATEGIC PLANNING



Strategic planning is an investment in the business. 

Let’s review a few key factors on Strategic Planning that can help business owners determine the value of this process.


1. WHAT IS STRATEGIC PLANNING?

- A planning tool for management to formulate high-level business strategy.
- the foundation for the development of a more detailed Business Plan.
- Strategic Planning is top down: Strategic – Tactical – Operational.


2. WHY DO STRATEGIC PLANNING?

- To define the precise mission of the firm.
- To measure the competitive environment.
- To prioritize external opportunities and assess potential threats.
- To help manage growth.
- To focus on key objectives.
- To satisfy succession planning needs.
- To focus on internal strengths and overcome weaknesses.
- To formulate strategy to maintain a competitive position.


3. WHEN TO DO STRATEGIC PLANNING

- When the business needs to establish guidelines for a new or updating of a Business Plan.
- When a review is needed to maximize resource utilization.
- When the business needs to prioritize growth options.

4. WHAT ARE THE GOALS FOR STRATEGIC PLANNING?

- Quantify objectives for the business.
- Establish indicators of achievement.
- Develop an implementation plan.
- Assign responsibilities and accountability.
- Identify resource requirement for plan achievement – financial, personnel, equipment, facility, products.


Creating, articulating and sticking to your vision is the single most important job you have as a leader. Strategic planning isn’t a one-time event. Once you’ve laid out your strategy, it’s crucial to stay focused over the long-term.

I hope you are able to plan for success.