Sunday, April 16, 2017

Business Management

Do you Have an Effective Business Plan?

Business Plans are a useful tool in managing and growing the business. The complexity of the plan varies with the size and nature of the business but here are a few ideas to improve your plan and areas of focus.





1. Don’t delay.
Too many business owners only create a plan when banks or investors insist on it. Find the time even if you are too busy getting things done. The busier you are the more you need a plan. Don’t spend all the time just putting out fires; the entire business may be lost if you focus on one burning issue.

2. Shorten the planning horizon. With the speed of change today the 5 year plan has become obsolete. Shorten the timeline to 3 years. You can have great vision and well developed strategy but unless you can connect the dots between where you are today and where you want to be you will fail.

3. Manage what you can measure. Knowledge is power. Monitor the right information and your plan will have a greater chance of succeeding.

4. Be Cash Flow sensitivity.
Most business owners seem to focus on profits instead of cash. The reality is that businesses spend cash to operate, not profits. Understanding cash flow is critical. If you only get one report to manage the business make sure it is a cash flow chart.

5. Support a strategic exit
Finally, at some point, the owners of the firm may decide it is time to exit. Considering the likely exit strategy in advance can help inform and direct present day decisions. The aim is to liquidate the investment, so the owner/current investors have the option of cashing out when they want.
Common exit strategies include;
Initial Public Offering of stock (IPO’s)
Acquisition by competitors
Mergers
Family succession
Management buy-outs


Investment decisions can be taken in the present with one eye on the future via a well-thought-out business plan. Given that valuing firms is notoriously difficult and subjective, a well-written plan will clearly highlight the opportunity for the incoming investors, the value of it and increase the likelihood of a successful exit by the current owner.

Thanks for your interest. Let me know your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Business Growth

Benefits of Networking





As an entrepreneur, networking is a key activity that is not only fun, but critical to your personal growth and business development.
Small business is all about networking, building relationships and taking action.
Building a successful business takes a lot of time and drive, so it’s good to have a network of friends and associates to draw energy from and keep you going.

Here are some of the key benefits of expanding your networking activity:
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.

2. New Opportunities
It’s natural that networking will result in opportunities. The thing you will not know is when or how they will materialize. 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.

4. 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 recognize 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.

5. Friendship
This one is more personal related rather than business related, but is a big benefit none-the-less. Many friendships form as a result of networking because you are all like-minded business owners that want to grow your businesses, and you meet and help each other regularly, so naturally strong friendships tend to form. Some of my strongest friendships have been started from networking.

I trust this was of interest and helps remind you of the benefits of reaching out to others as part of your growth strategy. One never knows where the next great idea may originate.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Business Management

Leadership – How do you stack up?



Great leaders may sometimes be born that way, there are certain traits that great leaders share in common that anyone can practice and adopt to become more effective.
What qualities are those? Well, to be a highly effective leader, you must ...


1. Inspire Action
Paint a vision of the future that inspires your people to do whatever it takes to get there. The best leaders also remove organizational roadblocks that constrain employees’ natural creativity and initiative.

2. Be optimistic
We all want to work with and for people who lift us up into the clouds instead of dragging us down into the mud. Make sure to seek out the positives in your people, helping them overcome their own feelings of self-doubt and spreading optimism throughout your organization.

3. Have integrity.
The top thing that employees want from their leaders is integrity. Be honest, fair, candid and forthright, and treat everyone in the same way that you yourself would want to be treated.

4. Have Confidence
Highly effective leaders know deep down inside that they and their team can accomplish anything they set their minds to. Failure is not an option. Tentative leaders make for tentative employees. If you’re confident, your people will be too.

5. Communicate
In any organization, knowledge is power, and great leaders ensure that every employee, from the very top to the very bottom of the org chart, is provided with complete and up-to-date information about the organization’s goals, performance, successes and failures. To achieve this level of connection, you should also provide ample channels for two-way communication between employees and managers, actively soliciting their ideas for improvement and rewarding employees for submitting them.

6. Be Decisive
One of the most basic duties of any leader is to make decisions. Highly effective leaders aren’t afraid to be decisive and to make tough calls quickly when circumstances require it. Once you have all the information you need to make an informed decision, then don’t hesitate--make it. And once you make a decision, then stick with it unless there is a particularly compelling reason for you to change it.

No matter what type of organization or industry you're in, it's possible to become a more effective leader, inspiring your people to give their very best every day of the week. I hope these ideas provide insight into ways to improve this facet of managing. Please let me know your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Business Management

Great NEW Branding Tips

In this week’s blog I am happy to endorse a series of books authored by one of my associates,
Ed Roach, a person for whom I have a great deal of respect in the Brand building business.
I recommend it to any business organization looking for a fresh approach to reviewing and renewing their brand.
You won’t be disappointed by taking the time to get a copy.
 
Branding Expert Releases Third Book in a series providing the reader with valuable tips they can use right now!




These books are packed with straight forward no B.S. branding wisdom bundled to easily steer any business in a positive direction.

 “101 Branding Tips,” “101 MORE Branding Tips,” and  “101 More Branding Tips AGAIN,” offer a wealth of practical advice that small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) can immediately use in the branding of their business.

 The books are  different in that they focuses their attention entirely on small to medium size enterprises.

If you’d like a copy email Ed directly for more information.

ed@thebrandingexperts.ca



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Business Management

Do you communicate well in business?



Effective communication is a vital tool for any business owner. Your success at getting your point across can be the difference between sealing a deal and missing out on a potential opportunity.

Communication is also important within the business. Effective communication can help to foster a good working relationship between you and your staff, which can in turn improve morale and efficiency.

Here are some suggestions for consideration:

1. Listen
It's one thing to ask good questions - it's another to really take on board the answers. Active listening means paying attention to the speaker – both to verbal and non-verbal cues. It is vital to make sure you don't let your attention wander. Important pieces of information can be missed if you are not alert and engaged. This can lead to misunderstandings later on, or possibly embarrassing situations where you appear to have forgotten something you have been told.

2. Non-verbal Communication
Body language can back up the words you use and how you say those words, but can also betray your true feelings if you are uncomfortable in a conversation. Looking people in the eye when talking to them is a good way to let them know you are listening to them and interested in what they have to say. Eye contact can also convey sincerity and confidence, which is often important in business situations.

3. Respect Cultural differences
The world is shrinking. Companies not only hire foreign employees, but they also work with more colleagues abroad. As a result, management needs to be culturally sensitive and aware of the subtle differences in the way people of different nationalities interpret words and gestures.

4. Trust your staff
When employees feel as though they have control over their job, they feel a sense of purpose and are more invested in the entire process. Autonomy breeds innovation and job satisfaction. Babysitting, on the other hand, makes employees feel as though the company doesn't consider them competent enough to do their job. They feel insecure and unmotivated. Provide your workers with the tools they need to get their job done, and then give them the freedom to do it.
Communication effectiveness can have dramatic effects on employee morale and productivity. Always work towards maintaining high standards and rewards will be there. Please let me know your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Business Management

How Satisfied Are your Employees?




In most organizations the most important asset is the staff. There are many ways to maintain and improve the level of satisfaction employees feel as part of the organization and many steps can be taken without spending vast sums of money to attain this goal. Here are a few to consider:

1. Inspire
Explain your vision, mission and values. Motivated by their own intrinsic sense of purpose, 1 most people would be willing to help their employer be successful. But to do so, employees must first understand and then believe in what your organization stands for, and know how their individual efforts contribute to the achievement of that mission.

2. Train
Provide the training and tools needed for success. Clearly, employees need to know how to perform their duties, and be equipped with the right tools to get the job done efficiently. In today’s digital world, developing and delivering high-impact training programs (whether in-person or online) has never been easier. Beyond training for today, think about building employee capability for tomorrow.

3. Communicate 
Keep employees informed on company goals, issues, and how individuals can contribute to the overall success of the business. Show trust, accountability and expectations through clear communications. Listening to employees is another key way to show they are part of the team.

4. Encourage initiative
Empower employees to take the lead. It’s easy to fall into the trap of simply telling employees what to do. A more enlightened approach may be to explain what outcomes you’re expecting them to achieve, then encouraging individuals or teams to determine their own way to achieve the desired results. A culture of innovation requires leaders to allow their people to make mistakes, while encouraging and supporting their efforts and celebrating their successes.

This is a short list of some ways to keep employees satisfied and thus helping the organization achieve its goals. None of the suggestions need break the bank but the return can be substantial.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Business Management

Business expansion Options


At one time or another, every business goes through a growth spurt and, whether it’s a multi-national corporation or an entrepreneurial enterprise, expansion is a tough process to navigate.
The real danger for any expanding business is that it does so too quickly or in an uncontrolled way. When this happens, cash flow and customer satisfaction are usually the first casualties and, in extreme circumstances, these can result in the demise of a once flourishing business. The trick is therefore to manage the growth process so you reap the benefits in the medium- and long-term.



  • Plan your expansion

It may seem obvious that any entrepreneur going through an expansion phase should do so with a game-plan, but many businesses expand in reaction to circumstances and don’t draw up a solid plan. Without this roadmap, it’s easy to get lost along the way, making changes to your business that are either too costly or not well thought out.


  • Don’t over-expand

While planned expansion can take a business to a whole new level, over-expansion is one of the biggest dangers of a growth phase. It’s easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and to expand beyond the needs and the financial capacity of the business.
As a rule of thumb, plan capacity based on a five-year projection of demand and allow an additional 10% of capacity over and above that for periods of heavy demand or for partial down-time in any part of your business. More than this could be very risky and leave a business with overheads it can’t cope with.


  • Get professional financial advice

Whatever the nature of your expansion, there are financial implications for the business and it’s always best to seek professional advice. If you need to build or purchase your own premises, for instance, it’s important to speak to a financial institution that has experience in this area.
For plant and equipment, you may need to consider a flexible financing option, either a loan or a combination of a loan and an equity investment. Perhaps leasing is an option. Again, an institution with experience in the field and in your own industry is essential.


  • Develop a Project Management Schedule for the expansion

Again, this may sound self-evident, but many businesses expand without treating the expansion like a project – one of the most significant it will ever undertake.
Managing the process is as important as planning it and it’s important to commit to this in a formal way, building in the appropriate checks and balances.


  • Keep your customers informed

Expansion of any kind can cause disruptions in your day-to-day operations and it’s important that your customers know what to expect. Before commencing an expansion, tell them what you’re planning and what the expected completion date is. If possible, tell them what disruptions to expect and how you’re intending to deal with them.


  • Announce the completion of your expansion

Once the expansion phase is complete, it’s important to let both existing and potential customers know about it. Tell them about the increased capacity of the business and the additional products and services you can offer. Develop a special marketing drive to announce the occasion and send out media releases, especially to the local and regional press.

Celebrate this moment in your business – it’s one of the best marketing opportunities you could ask for. Thanks for reading. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com