Sunday, February 23, 2020

Business Management


Improve Business Through Networking




As an entrepreneur, the benefits of networking are critical to your personal growth and business development.
Small business is all about networking, building relationships and taking action. By surrounding yourself with people who share a similar drive and ambition, you are more likely to move forward as a group.
But that’s not the only benefit of networking. Here are five benefits of networking you and your small business can enjoy.

1. Shared Knowledge

Networking is great for sharing ideas and knowledge. Whether it’s asking for feedback or discussing your point of view, it will help you expand your knowledge and allow you to see things from another perspective.
It is also likely that within a group there will be those who have already been where you are today. This provides you with an opportunity to learn and avoid some of the common pitfalls they experienced.

 2. Opportunities

It’s natural that networking will result in opportunities.  Whether it’s a referral, offer partnership or request for your service or product, it is important to be ready to seize opportunities when they come along.
3. Connections
Remember you are not just gaining exposure to the people in the room, you are building connections with their network too. If someone they know has a need that matches your business, if you have made an impression, you will likely get a referral.
And remember it’s not just a one-way street. If someone in your network matches a business you encounter at an event, don’t hesitate to share their details. It will only strengthen your relationship.
4. Increased confidence
By regularly networking, and pushing yourself to talk to people you don’t know, it will help increase your confidence. This is an important attribute as a business owner, because your business growth is dependent on talking to people and making connections.

5. Raising your profile
Being visible and getting noticed is a big benefit of networking. By regularly attending business and social events, people will begin to recognise you. This can you help to build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person by offering useful information or tips to people who need it. You are also more likely to get more leads and referrals as you will be the one that pops into their head when they need what you offer.

I hope these potential benefits of network help expand you opportunities.

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




Sunday, February 9, 2020

Business Management

Managing Change


We 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. No set of methodologies firs every company but here are some thoughts for consideration.

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.

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.

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, January 26, 2020

Business Management

Incentives for Key Managers


As the year ends and goals are set for the new year there may be a key role for incentives in managing and retaining key executives for the company. Rewards and incentives in the workplace have benefits for both employees and employers
Here are some reasons for and examples of how to structure effective incentive programs for the management group.


1. Monetary Incentives
Monetary incentives reward workers for performance and productivity through money. These incentives include employee stock options, profit sharing plans, paid time off, bonuses and cash awards.

2. Non-Monetary Opportunities
Non-monetary incentives reward employee performance through perks and opportunities. These rewards can include flexible work hours, training opportunities and the ability to work independently. The rewards and incentives are valuable to an employee because they may allow workers to learn new skills and pursue advancement opportunities.

3. Turnover. 
You want to retain key management personnel for a number of reasons. High turnover destabilizes the company and can have severe effects on moral of employees and the bottom line.

4. Enhance Growth.
You want to retain high performing managers to enhance your own company’s growth potential and to keep key people from wanting to look at other opportunities.

5. Setting the Bar
Good managers don’t expect a bonus without achievement but don’t set the bar so high as to be unachievable. That becomes a disincentive to achieve growth.

6. Improve Profits.
Set goals that help improve your bottom line; just achieving new sales records is not a priority if the costs exceed the benefit. Sales executives should be just as concerned about profitable sales as the CFO.

7. Share.
Pay executives for overachieving by sharing profits. As profits goals are exceeded rewards can continue to be major incentives if shared fairly. Reward contribution. Roll plans forward and allow incremental bonuses for achievements in consecutive years. That’s a great way to keep a key person from leaving; that extra bonus for additional achievement may be too juicy to walk away from.
Incentives are important tool to maintain a motivated and dedicated management team and a well-designed plan can bear fruit over the long term. 

I trust these suggestions may help with goal setting in the new year. Please let me have your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroumc.com
   

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Business Management

Maintain the Leading Edge


Long-term business success involves creating, managing and exploiting assets and skills that competitors find difficult to match or counter. Developing this advantage is a continuing process, not a fixed event. Here are tips to help you develop competitive advantage and build barriers to entry.



1. Leadership
The top management team leading your company must develop a vision for the organization; obtain employee commitment to achieving that vision; and build effective relationships with key stakeholders (e.g., partners, customers and suppliers). At the same time, management must be a catalyst for change.

2. Leverage Core Competencies:  
One key to sustaining a competitive advantage is to develop a core set of competencies that customers want and that are difficult for others to imitate. These competencies can be exploited and leveraged to develop new products or to go after new markets. The ability to leverage core competencies across geographic and product business units helps firms to achieve economies of scale and scope.

3. Develop Customer Loyalty: 
Every business seeks satisfied customers who return again and again because they trust a company’s product or service. Their repeat business comes at a much lower cost to you than that of a customer who must be constantly enticed to continue buying or a new customer that takes time to cultivate and switch from a competitor.

4. Attract and Retain Key Staff
Companies must start by investing appropriately to recruit and select top-quality employees. Then they must invest in training and development to continuously build employee skills and develop a corporate culture that promotes loyalty, commitment and cohesion. Finally, employees must be rewarded for skill development. Staff turnover can be more expensive than rewarding existing key employees.

5. Protect Intellectual Property: 
Products, technologies, business methods, patents, trademarks, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property can significantly enhance a company's ability to secure and defend sources of marketplace advantage, even in times of rapid technological change. Intellectual property is a means of creating a proprietary, defensible market advantage.

6. Stay Flexible: 
Sustaining competitive advantage requires a continuous rethinking of current strategic actions, organization structure, communication systems, corporate culture, and asset deployment. In short, every aspect of a firm's operations must be examined frequently in order to maximize their long-term health. Strategic flexibility gives any firm the ability to respond quickly to changing conditions and thereby develop and/or maintain a significant competitive advantage.

I hope these ideas help maintain that competitive edge that is key to continued growth of the business. Please share your thoughts: gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Business Management

Issues Facing Small Business Today




2019 is in the history books and in spite of an improving economy there are many continuing issues facing business today.
Here are a few that as owners you may wish to address as you strive to grow your business.







1. Cash
Cash is hard to get and there is never enough. If you are a fast growth company you can rapidly outgrow your available sources, if you are an underperforming company you can’t get it. Many companies don’t manage it well.
Businesses often experience some problems getting paid on time by their customers and with debt recovery. Good credit control helps to prevent this becoming a serious problem.

2. Lack of a Clear Plan
Most businesses don’t know how to plan. Lack of a plan worsens the cash problem by wasting cash chasing tempting diversions, and throwing money at problems. Equally important is revising your plan according to changing economic and business conditions and to ensure your survival in weaker economies.

3. Technology
The pace of technological improvement is running at an exponentially increasing rate. This pace makes capital investment in technology as much an asset as a handicap because a competitor may wait for the next-generation technology, and then use it to achieve an advantage. The ability for even the best of technologists to stay informed about emerging technology is in conflict with the need to master a company’s current technology. The problem to be solved is to develop a long-term technology strategy while remaining flexible enough to take advantage of unforeseen technology developments.

4. High Overhead
Overheads are one of the biggest small business challenges, and excessive overheads have driven many otherwise good companies to the wall. Resolving them involves paying close attention to what customers actually want and providing products or services sharply tailored to suit. And don’t forget to ask yourself hard questions, such as whether you need that new car or printer, or whether it’s just for show…

5. Ineffective Leadership 
This issue takes many forms and is frequently in the form of depth of leadership. The founder of the company is too much hands-on and a) does not concentrate enough on his primary role as a leader rather than a manager; and b) fails to enlist support of competent managers and staff either through recruitment or by outsourcing. This eventually causes the company to stop growing and even leads to failure.

I trust these ideas provide thoughts to resolving some issues faced daily by many businesses as they strive to develop and grow.
Please share your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Benefits of Mentoring



As a business grows owners may be in a position of managing more and more areas of the business that they are less familiar with. The owner’s original background may be manufacturing but now oversees finance, sales and HR issues.

An experienced business advisor may help develop these skills and improve decision making as the business grows.





Here are a few examples of the benefits of mentoring:

1. Expert Advice
 Above all, business mentors have “been there, done that.” They can offer you expert advice and guidance based on actual experiences — successes and failures included.
The insight that business mentors can provide because of what they’ve been through with their business ventures, and over time, is tremendously valuable from a practical standpoint.

2. A Different Perspective
Consulting with a business mentor can be a great way to gain a different, fresh perspective. It’s easy to get caught up with your ideas to the point of questioning, confusion or second guessing – and having a sounding board in a business mentor is a great way to work through some of those kinks and broaden your own outlook.

3. Improving Key Skills
Mentors are not consultants who focus only on key business results. A mentor can help develop an owner’s business management skills, improve communication skills and facilitate further growth in the business.

4. Networking
With all that experience likely comes a vast network of industry connections. Your mentor can help open doors so you can meet people – potential partners, customers and decision-makers in your target market.

There are many other benefits, and if you’re just getting started down the path to business ownership – or have been there for some time – and are looking for some guidance, consider reaching out to a business mentor to help you along the way.
You’ve got nothing to lose – and a world of business insight to gain. I hope you find these ideas have merit. Please let me know. Gerry@polarisgrpoumc.com



Sunday, December 1, 2019

Business Management

Improve Time Management


Time is one of the resources business managers have that is scarce, cannot be replaced once spent, and it cannot be borrowed or purchased. Here are a few tips to help manage it.






1. Prioritize Activity
To help you determine what needs to be done immediately and what can be tackled later, ask yourself: "How much time do I have to make this decision, contact this person, or complete this assignment?"

2. Delegate Tasks
It is common for all of us to take more tasks than our desired potential. This can often result in stress and burnout. Delegation is not running away from your responsibilities but is an important function of management. Learn the art of delegating work to your subordinates and get more achieved.

3. Calls and email
 Try not answering the phone every time it rings or reading an email just because it shows up. Few issues in business require an instant answer and you will be more efficient if you schedule time to return calls and email inquiries.

4. Overcome Procrastination
Procrastination is one of the things that badly affect productivity. It can result in wasting essential time and energy. It could be a major problem in both your career and your personal life. Avoid procrastination at all cost.

5. Plan the unexpected 
It is inevitable that the unexpected will occur so leave open time in the morning and afternoon schedule to deal with “fires”.

6. Plan Strategic time 
Plan ahead for weekly, monthly, and quarterly business reviews. It is important to continuously review and understand the business issues and if you fail to block off time some emergency may pre-empt the time and your plan will be postponed or eliminated.
 
7. Downtime 
Casual time over lunch can be useful for strengthening relations with employees, customers and suppliers. Use that time judiciously.


Remember that it is difficult to get everything done and best results are achieved from those priority activities that are the focus of the business and future growth.
Thanks for allowing me to share your time with these tips. Gerry@polarisgroupmc.com