Saturday, October 15, 2016

Business Management

Maximize Your Competitive 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, September 18, 2016

Business Management

Is your Business Facing Challenges?

Navigating a business successfully today can be tricky. The speed of economic and technological changes means yesterday’s path may not fit today and certainly may not work tomorrow. Keeping pace with change may separate a company that excels from a company that closes its doors.

1. Integrity
Moral challenges to business in today’s global economy are severe. Businesses struggle to be more successful, to beat last year’s earnings, and sometimes for key individuals to keep their job. There is temptation to cut corners, omit key information in publicity releases, and do what is needed to get ahead. Sometimes this is infectious in an organization and it becomes part of the business.
This can erode trust needed between business partners; without trust business cannot compete effectively and may eventually fail.

2. Resource Management
Cash is king! Wow heard that before.
Seriously, healthy profits look nice on financial statements but if capital expenditures or slow receivable collections are draining cash the business can fail. Professional help in managing business accounting and taxes may be a good idea.

3. Market Entry
It has never been easier to start a business. Anyone can buy a domain name and register a business on line. Staying in business is another matter. Finding a niche within which to operate may be a key, differentiating your product or service with a unique positioning is important.
The key battle is for attention, focus and marketing when buyers can change suppliers with a click of the mouse. Businesses that can master the challenge are more likely to enjoy success.

4. Risk
Another challenge is identifying, assessing and mitigating risks. Lack of problem solving skills often leads management to jump from one fire to another depending on the issues of the day and the urgency of the fire starter.
Developing strong problem solving capabilities at many levels is an important key to success.

5. Staffing
Almost without exception finding, training, and retaining key staff is a challenge for most business. In small business particularly key managers can have a dramatic impact on results so great choices by ownership become paramount. This becomes an even greater challenge in industries that rely on changing technology.

These are a few of the challenges facing business. Care to share others?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Business Management

Is Time Management an Issue?

Do you feel the need to be more organized and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven't accomplished much?
Time management skills are especially important in small business where owners often handle many responsibilities.

Here are a few tips to increase productivity and to stay calm and cool throughout the day.

1. Manage
No matter how organized you are there are only 24 hours every day. Focus on managing yourself and what you do with that time.

2. Time wasters.
It is easy to be side tracked and waste time “surfing the net”, reading emails, interruptions. Track your personal time so you can see where the focus of efforts are and how to improve time usage.

3. Plan.
Develop a plan to focus on changing behavior not changing time. Start with eliminating personal time wasters like taking personal phone calls at work. This will help improve productivity and reduce stress.

4. Prioritize.
Start the day with prioritizing tasks and bench marking performance. If you have a list of 20 items, how many must be done that day? Use the 80/20 rule and spend time on the 20% of activity that generates 80% of results.

5. Delegate.
Every effort should be made to have others share the work load. A review of activity will help determine what can be delegated or outsourced and allow you to focus on priorities. Make sure those delegated to certain tasks are properly trained.

Remember, time is one of the resources business owners have that is scarce, cannot be replaced once spent, and it cannot be borrowed or purchased. Manage it judiciously.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Let’s Reduce Stress in our Business

Being an entrepreneur can be hazardous to your health. Many small business owners believe that the stress of running their business has damaged their health.
This is not surprising when you consider that entrepreneurs work longer hours than almost anybody else. Two thirds of small business owners work more than 40 hours a week.

To make matters worse, most entrepreneurs find it difficult to take time for much-needed rest and relaxation. More than half are afraid to take even a full week of vacation, often because they're afraid to trust staff to continue good service for customers.

Fortunately, there are ways that entrepreneurs can reduce their stress levels and recover both their health and sanity:

1. Learn to Say "No"
When you commit to 10 percent more than you can actually accomplish, it "feels" like you've got 50 percent more, thereby creating even more stress. By not taking on more of a workload that you can reasonably carry, you create more time for meaningful activity and therefore less stress.

2. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Taking on more than your fair share of the responsibility for getting things done leads to fear of things "falling apart" when you take a day off. Giving more responsibility to your employees and contractors--and trusting that they'll get the job done--can take a huge weight of stress off your shoulders.

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

4. Stay Fit. Learn to relax, stretch and find some quiet time to ward off anxiety. Find the time to exercise regularly; being in shape helps deflect stress. A well balanced diet also improves fitness levels. Finally, get enough sleep to allow the body to restore itself. Deadlines may be more flexible than you think.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Let’s Maximize Profit

There may be many options to choose from that can help you improve profitability. Analyse your strengths, weaknesses and capabilities for ways to improve. Here are a few measures that can have a surprising impact on profitability.

1. Examine key performance measures: Falling sales, shrinking working capital, and rising costs are key indicators to monitor.

2. Manage your costs: more effective purchasing can improve margins. Eliminate waste of materials and time.

3. Review sales to long term customers: you may find out some customers are not as profitable as you thought.

4. Increase productivity: Staffs are the largest cost center in most businesses. Increasing employee effectiveness can improve profits.

5. Review sales: ensure you are targeting the most profitable customers with the right product mix.

In most cases, a combination of these measures will give a boost to profitability. Incorporate these measures into your business plan and review frequently.

Be diligent and execute, execute, execute.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Business Management

Crystalize Growth Options – Use Strategic Planning

A few thoughts on how strategic planning can help grow your business.

What is it? Why do strategic planning? When is the right time for strategic planning?

Strategic planning is undertaken to define the precise mission of the organization, prioritize opportunities, maximize resource utilization and help manage growth. It is also a very useful tool in satisfying succession planning needs.

A strategic plan is a coordinated and systematic way to develop a course and direction for your company. Basically, if you don't have a strategic plan, it's akin to navigating unknown territory without a map. And without a map, you're lost in a highly competitive business environment that will inevitably throw these challenges your way: increasing globalization, unpredictable investment patterns, more demanding clients and the dizzying speed of technology. A rule of thumb is that if there's uncertainty on the horizon, which there always is today, the greater the need for strategic planning.

Since no two businesses are alike, the process you choose to do your strategic planning should fit the nature of your business. You can adapt it to suit your needs. If you're a small firm, a brief strategic plan might be appropriate. If you're a bigger company, a more detailed plan on various aspects of your organization may be more effective.

Don't confuse a strategic plan with a business plan which is a much broader document and includes a strategic plan, a marketing plan, financial plan and operational plan.

Prepare and define the scope of your planning by reviewing your motivation, costs and means. Plan your way to the future.

I hope these suggestions provide some of the options and steps to consider as you grow your business. Let me have your thoughts:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Business Management

Facing the Challenges

There are many problems that are encountered by business owners when managing their business. New entrepreneurs are often not prepared for the problems coming their way or understand that problems are an everyday part of every business.

Here are some common faced problems in new businesses:

1. Financing
Money is one of the major causes of problems that can lead business to failure. For a new business, the biggest mistake is expecting instant profit. Young and eager entrepreneurs often start up a business with little money, assuming they will earn big and then invest that money again in their business. Many business start-ups do not expect much profit for at least two years. Prepare for the worst case scenario. Before starting a business, ensure that you have enough money to sustain the business for at least two years. Start slowly and patiently.

2. Time Management
It is essential for new businesses to manage their time wisely. Planning in advance and ensuring everything is done on time is very important for the prosperity of any business. Ensure the schedule you are making is achievable. Give yourself enough time to perform a task with accuracy. Plan your future projects. Utilize calendars and planners to make sure you don’t miss an appointment or a deadline. Spending time effectively can actually save you money and even earn you more revenue.

3. Lack of knowledge/Skills
This is one of the top mistakes made by entrepreneurs. It is important that you have ample knowledge about the industry you are entering, your competitors, your target market, current trends, marketing techniques as well as financial know-how. You must possess the skills needed to start up a new business. If you are not prepared, educate yourself or acquire the expertise needed. The level of success achieved can depend on having the required knowledge and skills. Never assume you as owner you can manage every issue without support or advice. The most successful owners hire strong smart support staff,

4. Missing the larger picture.
Owners should recognize the need to work on the business and to not get trapped working in the business. Let staff handle day to day activity. Owners should focus on larger issues and determine what issues need attention. Communicate with managers and ensure reports on detail are received while you develop broader growth strategies.

Please let me know your thoughts on these challenges; there are many others that could be considered.