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:

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.

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.

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.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Business Management

Make Better Business Decisions

Every business owner has to make tough decisions with uncertain outcomes. That is the nature of the job. Making a decision is one of the most powerful acts for inspiring confidence in leaders and managers. Yet many bosses are sometimes squeamish about it. Some decide not to decide, while others simply procrastinate. Either way, it's a cop-out -- and doesn't exactly encourage inspiration in the ranks.

Learn how to make better decisions. You'll be viewed as a better leader and get better results overall. Here are some tips for making quicker, more calculated decisions:

1. Stop seeking perfection. 
Many great leaders would prefer a project or report be delivered only 80% complete a few hours early than 100% complete five minutes late. Moral of the story: Don't wait for everything to be perfect. Instead of seeking the impossible, efficient decision makers tend to act without all the answers.

2. Create a constructive environment. 
For successful decision making, make sure you establish an objective, involve  stakeholders, hear others opinions, and ask the right questions.

3. Expect the Unexpected
No matter how much analysis and planning you do, you cannot predict the future. Things happen so your plans should be flexible enough that you can adapt to the unexpected, without throwing everything off course.

4. Seek out help when you get in over your head.
If you think you know everything, you are doomed to fail. If you don’t have the time or resources to delve into a particular issue, or don’t have the technical background, or just want a second opinion, then by all means bring in outside experts to help you.

5. Don't problem solve, decide. 
A decision can solve a problem, but not every problem can be solved by making a decision. Instead, decision making often relies more on intuition than analysis. Deciding between vendors, for instance, requires examining historical data, references and prices. But the tipping point often rests with your gut. Which feels like the right choice?

6. Communicate Your Decision, and Move to Action. 
Once you've made your decision, it's important to explain it to those affected by it, and involved in implementing it. Talk about why you chose the alternative you did. The more information you provide about risks and projected benefits, the more likely people are to support the decision.

An organized and systematic decision-making process usually leads to better decisions. Without a well-defined process, you risk making decisions that are based on insufficient information and analysis. Many variables affect the final impact of your decision.
I hope these few ideas help improve your approach to decision making in your business. Please let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Conserve cash – Improve profits

As an entrepreneur, one of the key factors that keep a business running is liquid cash or operating capital. When a business has cash flow it will always be in a position to pay suppliers, meet payroll and pay for other expenses.

However, many owners go without cash inflow into the business. The main reason why businesses get into this position is due to a lack of ways to conserve cash.

Conserving cash is not always easy. If you think so, then tell us why many entrepreneurs fail? Can a business increase cash flow and maximize profits at the same time? Yes, here are key steps for doing so.

1. Spend wisely
Make sure that purchases are made for need to have not nice to have items. Items should have  a good use in the business producing revenue where possible.

2. Hire only when necessary
Employee salaries are a significant cash drain so efforts to maximize productivity from current employees are paramount.

3. Lease equipment or buy used
Leasing vs buying can be an important option since equipment purchasing can be a serious cash drain. If an option exists to buy gently used equipment it may be a profitable option.

4. Plan ahead
Make sure you forecast financial activity. A plan outlining expected revenues and expenditures is vital to understanding cash needs. You certainly want no surprises on cash flow activity.

5. Renegotiate leases
Rent is often a sizeable fixed cost that can be negotiated. Speak with your landlord; there may be an opportunity to downsize or even temporarily obtain rent reductions. Landlords often prefer to accept lower income than losing tenants.

6. Go to the clouds
If your business is large enough to have in-house servers you are aware of the maintenance costs. If business is increasing this may be a cost effective way to create additional capacity without buying expensive new servers.

7. Exchange Goods and Services
Look for vendors who are also in need of certain products and supply the products to them in exchange of products that you lack to run your business smoothly. By exchanging products for other products( barter trade), it means that you will be able to conserve cash in the business.
Business owners should share their cash flow objectives with other key managers to ensure every opportunity to maximize cash savings is realized.
I hope there few ideas provide new thoughts on ways to improve profits for your business. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Business Management

Business Ethics

One of the more important attributes for small business success is managing with carefully developed principles of high ethical standards. When practiced throughout the organization it becomes part of the image of the company and can be an important factor in overall success and how the community views the business.

The following principles incorporate the characteristics and values that most people associate with ethical behavior.

Ethical executives are honest and truthful in all their dealings and they do not deliberately mislead or deceive others by misrepresentations, overstatements, partial truths, or any other means.

Ethical executives demonstrate personal integrity and the courage of their convictions by doing what they think is right even when there is great pressure to do otherwise.

Ethical executives are worthy of trust, demonstrate loyalty to persons and institutions by friendship in adversity, support and devotion to duty; they do not use or disclose information learned in confidence for personal advantage.

Ethical executives and fair and just in all dealings; they do not exercise power arbitrarily, and do not use overreaching nor indecent means to gain any advantage nor take advantage of another’s mistakes or difficulties.

Ethical executives are conscious of the responsibilities of their position of leadership and seek to be positive ethical role models by their own conduct and by helping to create an environment in which principled reasoning and ethical decision making are highly valued.

Certainly there are many other attributes that may be considered. I hope these few examples serve as suggestions for how your business might be governed.
Please let me know your thoughts: