Saturday, December 24, 2016

Business Management

Keep Key Managers

There is a key role for incentives in managing and retaining key executives for the company. Here are some reasons for and examples of how to structure effective incentive programs for management.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

Saturday, December 10, 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 benchmarking 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, November 27, 2016

Business Management

Cash Management – A few Tips

In today’s economy, many small and mid-size companies lack sufficient cash reserves to ride out the storm. Finding new customers is tougher than usual. Raising prices isn’t always an option.

Here are a few tips that may help:

1. Manage your receivables. Try to turn your receivables quickly without antagonizing customers. Advise key customers what you’re up against, and arrange more favorable terms. Ask them, ‘What can we do to get me paid more quickly?’ If you can persuade customers to pay quicker you improve your receivable balance. This creates more money.”

2. Manage down inventories. Growth doesn’t always improve revenues. If the business is seasonable make sure inventories do not exceed needs for the current year’s cycle.

3. Ensure new employee hiring is necessary. Employee salaries are a significant cash drain so efforts to maximize productivity from current employees are paramount.

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. 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.

Business owners should share their cash flow objectives with other key managers to ensure every opportunity to maximize cash savings is realized.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Crisis Management

Do you have a Crisis Management Plan?

No matter the size of your business or the industry in which you work, you never know when a crisis could rear its ugly head. From financial issues to disgruntled employees, you should be prepared for anything that comes your way.
Here are a few tips to consider for your business.

1. Create a mission statement. This will make it much easier to act in a responsible and ethical manner, no matter what type of situation arises.

2. Know your core values. Establishing a set of core values early in your company’s existence is of utmost importance. Not only can this save you in the event of a crisis, but it will help employees better understand what you expect of them.

3. Collaborate with others. While there is nothing more important than forming a strong bond with your employees and clients, don’t overlook others with whom you should forge a relationship. This includes the local police department, community centers, and educational institutions among others.

4. Know your audience. Who are you going to notify in the event of a crisis? Since this depends on the type of crisis, you need to spend time pinpointing your audience for any situation that could arise.

5. Create a crisis management team with a mandate to trouble shoot, identify potential problems and empower them to recommend and enact changes to protect the business.

6. Don’t panic in a crisis situation. As the leader employees want strength. Keeping a cool head may facilitate focussing on the issues and getting a solution right.

No matter what has happened in the past, you never know what the future holds. At some point, you are likely to face a crisis. How and when you deal with this will determine what direction your company takes. I hope these suggestions help.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Business Management

Time Saving Tips for Entrepreneurs

It has often been stated that Time is the scarcest resource a business has and if not well managed the business will not optimize results.
Here are a few tips that may be worth spending your precious time to read.

1. Plan Ahead
At the end of a day, plan time segments for the next day for specific activity so you can start the next day with a prepared schedule. If the activity is important for your success, set aside the time to work on that issue.

2. Focus
Plan to spend at least 50% of your time on strategy and activity that produce most of your results. Try to ignore distractions such as checking email or chatting with associates. These activities break your concentration, interfere with your priorities and are rarely urgent or productive.

3. Don’t Stress over Trivial Matters
If an issue does not have significant impact on the business, don’t get stressed over it. Perfection can be a big time waster.

4. Limit Meetings
Meetings can be essential, but they can also turn into time wasters if they go on too long or happen too frequently. Accept and schedule meetings only for agendas that are meaningful.

5. Say No
Don’t take on tasks just because someone asks you to. If you don’t have the time and it won’t help your business, don’t do it.

These are but a few ideas to help manage one of the most important resource we use – TIME. I hope they help. Let me know

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.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Business Management

let’s Reduce the Stress Levels

Any business person aiming high is going to be stressed at times. But many owners/managers have learned positive ways to reduce stress. Here are a few ideas that may help keep stress under control.

1. Remind yourself of the positives
Usually people are stressed about just one or two areas of their business. If they only took a moment to look at the big picture, they would see that the vast majority of their business is going well. Make a list and refer to it frequently.

2. Clarify and prioritize objectives
Clarity enhances serenity. If you’re stressed by how much you have to do, get precise about exactly what tasks must be done. Once you’ve created your list put a circle around the truly crucial tasks. Most of the time stressed executives have exaggerated just how much they have to do.

3. Breathe deeply and relax
Take a deep breath. Then as you exhale imagine all your problems and stress leaving you. Do this just 3 times and your feeling of being stressed will dissipate significantly.

4. Focus on helping others
One of the most effective techniques for reducing your stress is to take the focus off yourself. When you start devoting time to helping others around you inevitably spend less time thinking about your own problems. It may seem strange to connect the two, but the truth is many people who are stressed in the corporate world are so partly because they are incessantly thinking about their own issues and situation, rather than others. We need to balance the two.

I hope some of these techniques help. By proactively acting to improve circumstances we regain a feeling of control and possibility. If we continue acting we soon get a change in our situation and the situation improves.
Please let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


Essential Entrepreneur Skills to Succeed

What does it take to be successful starting your own small business?

Here are some skills every successful entrepreneur has in common:

1. Resiliency. The ability to weather the ups and downs of any business since it never goes exactly the way the business plan described it. This skill enables the entrepreneur to keep going when the outlook is bleak.
2. Focus. After setting a long term vision, knowing how to “laser focus” on the very next step to get closer to the ultimate goal. There are so many distracting forces when trying to build a business that this skill is not easy to master.
3. Invest for the long-term. Most entrepreneurs are not patient and focus only on what comes next, rather than where the company needs to go. Overnight success may take 7 to 10 years. Entrepreneurs need to stop, pause and plan on a quarterly basis.
4. Find and manage people. Only by learning to leverage employees, vendors and other resources will an entrepreneur build a scalable company. They need to learn to network to meet the right people. Entrepreneurs strive to guarantee they will get honest and timely feedback from all these sources.
5. Learn. Successful entrepreneurs realize they don’t know everything and the market is constantly changing. They stay up to date on new systems, technology, and industry trends.

I hope these thoughts help you plan for a successful venture. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Business Management

Business Staffing Options


There are several issues to be reviewed when determining how a business should hire replacement staff. Here are a few considerations.

1. Permanent or Contract help?
Staffs usually provide more continuity and stability but add to cost due to employment taxes and         perhaps benefit programs.
Staffs may provide the advantage of employee loyalty and an edge in more positive morale and           productivity.
Contract people can be terminated at any time negating the costs of severance programs.
Contracting can add flexibility by allowing the adding or deleting of staff as demand requires.
Hire a contract person as a temp. If the person works out you can make the job    

2. Promote from within or add new employee?
Promoting from within does enhance employee morale and loyalty to the company. Employees           who see the company as interested in career development and loyal to staff tend to make a                   greater effort in supporting company goals and success.
Introducing new employees from the outside does provide a fresh approach to some positions             and can re-energize the company. Also, securing new outside talent may reduce the cost of                   training and development of current staff.

3. Full time vs part time staffing
Businesses should be careful not to add staff too soon. Temp or part time staff can be used as the         business grows and changes to permanent positions can be made as the business matures.
If the business has seasonal peaks and valleys, use of part time staff provides the flexibility to             adjust to demand.
In some situations, job sharing can provide the opportunity to maintain a larger pool of                         employees who are familiar with the work but prefer to work part-time.
Let growth, profitability, and demand dictate when to expand permanent staff.

I hope these ideas provide a little insight into options for staffing as the organization grows.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Keys to Succession Planning

You can only be the “superhero” in the business for so long. Succession Planning is a purposeful and systematic effort within the business to ensure leadership continuity, retain and develop knowledge, create sustainability, and encourage employee growth and development.

Here are a few thoughts to help with planning:

1. Structure
What will the chain of command look like when a key executive or owner leaves the business? If the owner drives the business do the managers inheriting that role understand the depth of work the owner did? The relationships developed and maintained? How decisions were made?

2. Business Organization
This is the nuts and bolts of how you are going to handle the transition. Everything from transfers of ownership to identifying key management roles needs to be outlined and planned. The most important part of the plan is to ensure key people have enough time to ease into their new roles.

3. Continuity
Succession Planning is about continuing to identify the Stars in the business that will support the business mission and continue to deliver value that the current ownership has spent a lifetime developing. It is important to identify and refine key positions in the business and develop depth in the manager pool as the business grows. Successful succession planning happens when key employees fully embrace their roles and owners or other key managers are able to transition out of the business.

4. Benefits
Succession Planning is more than just protecting your business, it’s creating a legacy. Succession planning has the power to transform how a business manages the future of its talent base at all levels to positively impact bottom line results. Done well, it drives ongoing, proactive dialogue among owners, senior executives and other managers that identifies and tracks individual talent in key positions. The organization can then put key contributors on a growth path where they can be most valuable to the company.

I hope the thoughts help develop your business and provide insight into the benefits of looking forward to planning a way to ensure continuity of the business. Please let me know your thoughts;

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Business Management

Need Coaching?

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 situations where a coach may help:

1. Development of managerial skills for owners or senior managers.

2. Refocusing management to a strategic vision and plan.

3. An objective business performance review of results against planned objectives.

4. Improving operations by reviewing decision making processes and staff communications.

An independent coach can facilitate change with some of these issues if the environment welcomes an outside, fresh perspective. If the process is not welcomed by all participants the results will be more than counterproductive so owners should proceed carefully to ensure success.

I hope these few thoughts help as you develop and grow your business. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Business Start-ups

Avoid those killer start-up errors

Are you planning to start a new business?  There are many hazards that might be faced and avoiding these can help improve the chances of success.

Here a few hazards new entrepreneurs should try to avoid.

1. Under financing: lack of sufficient funding is probably the most common reason new businesses fail. Many entrepreneurs fail to assess the burn rate of the capital they have. One costly step is hiring too many people. Try paying people with equity rather than salary, you will end up with a much more committed team and preserve cash. Don’t overspend on equipment and technology you really don’t need to get going.
Also, many start-ups fail to realize that few customers pay promptly; this can severely impact cash flow.

2. Starting without a plan: enthusiasm over a good idea is over-rated. An idea is only an idea and without a well-developed business plan chances of success are minimal. It is also very difficult if not impossible to raise financing without a plan.

3. Fear of Failing
It is natural to have some fear that the business will not succeed and certainly problems will arise and challenge your business acumen. However, if the concept is strong and validated you should not let fear of failing stop you from trying to live your dream.

4. Inflexibility: with start-ups you have to be prepared to change on the go. Rarely does the plan get executed without a hitch. Marketplace dynamics, competitive behaviour and economic conditions can dramatically impact the plan. Ability to react and change plans may be a key to survival.

These are some hazards you may face in starting a business. There are others but avoiding these may help improve your chances of a successful start in business. I hope this helps you get underway. Let me know.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Business Management

Leadership Principles Worth Following

There are universal principles at work behind every choice, every interaction, every word that is said and every action that is taken. Understanding these underlying principles will help you grow and prosper as a leader and as a person. Here are a few to consider:

1. Fairness
Fairness is a principle that’s understood by children everywhere, but as we grow up, we each may develop our own individual concept of what is and isn’t fair. On your team, there needs to be a common understanding of fairness, and it needs to be defined, communicated and demonstrated by you as the leader every day.
When you make decisions, be open and honest about how they were made and why. People may be resentful or mistrusting of decisions that have been handed down arbitrarily or without input and explanation.

2. Honesty, Integrity and Trust
The people on your team want and need to trust you. They want to know that you’ve given them all of the facts and that nothing is being hidden. The way to gain that trust is by being honest and living with integrity.
When you do make a mistake or a bad decision, disclose it. Don’t blame someone else, lie or pretend it didn’t happen. Be honest about it and move forward.

3. Potential
Everyone is capable of being and doing more than they are now. Everyone on your team – whether they’re a rookie or a subject matter expert – needs to feel that you see his or her potential to grow, acquire new skills and develop.
People look to a leader to evoke that from them, inspiring and allowing them to grow, evolve and fulfill their potential. Don’t restrict their growth by assuming they’ll adhere to your predictions of how they’ll act, think or talk.

4. Respect and Dignity
Respect is difficult to earn and easy to lose. Adopt the “golden rule” – treat people how you want to be treated. Treat each team member with respect and dignity for who they are and for the work that they’re doing. Recognize and embrace their differences and diversity.
Earn respect by acting with dignity and showing that you have respect for yourself. Be a role model and hold yourself to a higher standard on a daily basis.
Reward people in public and correct them in private. This will protect their dignity and reinforce that they can take risks. They’ll know that if they do make a mistake or fail they won’t be publicly disgraced for it.

These ideas can help develop your leadership skills. Please consider them as you develop your business.
I would enjoy your comments.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Business Management

Business Ethics

One of the more important attributes for small business success is practicing 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.

In the research study, "Does Business Ethics Pay?" by The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), it was found that companies displaying a "clear commitment to ethical conduct" consistently outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct.

The following are excerpts from that study that I believe merit consideration:

1. Be Trustful: Recognize customers want to do business with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core of a company, it's easy to recognize. Trust defined, is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, and truth of a business.

2. Keep An Open Mind: For continuous improvement of a company, the leader of an organization must be open to new ideas. Ask for opinions and feedback from both customers and team members and your company will continue to grow.

3. Meet Obligations: Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your power to gain the trust of past customers and clients, particularly if something has gone awry. Reclaim any lost business by honoring all commitments and obligations.

4. Have Clear Documents: Re-evaluate all print materials including small business advertising, brochures, and other business documents making sure they are clear, precise and professional. Most important, make sure they do not misrepresent or misinterpret.

5. Maintain Accounting Control: Take a hands-on approach to accounting and record keeping, not only as a means of gaining a better feel for the progress of your company, but as a resource for any "questionable” activities. Gaining control of accounting and record keeping allows you to end any dubious activities promptly.

6. Be Respectful: Treat others with the utmost of respect. Regardless of differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of distinctions, always treat others with professional respect and courtesy.

Recognizing the significance of business ethics as a tool for achieving your desired outcome is only the beginning. A small business that instills a deep-seated theme of business ethics within its strategies and policies will be evident among customers. Its overall influence will lead to a profitable, successful company.

I believe there is merit in the values expressed in this study. Please let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Small Business Management

Issues Facing Small Business

There are a variety of issues facing new and growing businesses. Here are a few to owners should be aware of to ensure growth continues.

1. Cash
Finding it and managing the cash flow. It’s 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 under performing company you can’t get it. The majority of companies don’t manage it well.
Most businesses 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. Ineffective Leadership 
This issue takes many forms. It 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 behind him or her either through recruitment or by outsourcing. This eventually causes the company to stop growing and eventually could lead to failure. Directors should always remember their core role and responsibilities.

4. Sales/Marketing Effectiveness
This leads back to planning and leadership. Many businesses have not taken the time to decide what their USP is. They try to compete in conflicting areas, such as lowest price and highest service. One takes away money and the other adds cost. Part of the planning process for a new product should include a very clear answer to one simple question, “with all of the products and service available to my customers why should they buy from me?”

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, February 21, 2016

Make Effective Decisions

Effective executives do not focus on making a great many decisions but rather try to make key decisions well founded. They concentrate on what is important. They try to find the constants in a situation, to think through what is strategic. They want to know what the decision is all about and what the underlying realities are which it has to satisfy.

Here are a few steps to consider to improve decision making for the organization.

1. Classify the Problem
Is the issue unique, exceptional or generic? Or is it the first instance of a potentially recurring situation. A fundamental issue may generate a decision process different from a single stray event.

2. Define the Problem
What is this all about?” “What is pertinent here?” “What is the key to this situation?” Questions such as these are familiar. But only the truly effective decision makers are aware that the danger in this step is not the wrong definition; it is the plausible but incomplete understanding of the facts to consider.

3. Make the Right Decision
The effective executive has to start out with what is “right” rather than what is acceptable precisely because a compromise is often necessary in the end. But if what will satisfy the objective to be decided is not clear, the decision maker cannot distinguish between the right compromise and the wrong compromise. There has to be certainty in what the objective is and goal to be accomplished.

4. Provide an Action plan to execute the decision.
What does the action commitment have to be? Who has to know about it? A decision will not become effective unless the action commitments have been built into it from the start. In fact, no decision has been made unless carrying it out in specific steps has become someone’s work assignment and responsibility. Until then, it is only a good intention.

These are but a few considerations that I hope help a business structure strong, positive decisions to improve operations.

Let me have your thoughts:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Let’s Increase the Value of our business

Most businesses with under $1 million in revenue (which is most businesses) sell at a very small multiple of earnings when their owners decide it's time. Typically they get two or three times their pre-tax profit, if they're lucky. How can you get more juice out the company you've spent years developing?

Here are a few ideas that may help grow that important valuation.

1. Recurring revenue: demonstrate that your customers come back to purchase regularly and you'll drive up the value of your business because buyers will have confidence your sales will continue long into the future.

2. Revenue growth rate: acquirers will look at your top line revenue growth and project how large your business will grow in the future. Revenue growth rate may be even more important than profit growth for driving value. Buyers know how to squeeze margin to increase profitability but it is difficult to replicate the formula you have that makes someone want to buy your product.

3. Positive cash flow: if your company takes in money before it has to spend it, buyers will pay more for your business. Acquirers look at opportunities by measuring the return they'll get on the money they need to invest. If your company generates cash, they will not have to put much of their own into funding your day-to-day operations. The less cash they inject, the better the potential return on their investment.

4. Succession: You may want to consider firming up plans for a successor to your leadership position. Having a second-in-command will help you show the business can continue on successfully without you. If you can't afford an entire management team, at least find and groom your right hand person.

5. Differentiate: you'll get a higher multiple for your business if your product or service is truly unique in the market. Acquirers will graft your product onto their distribution channels and estimate just how big your company could be in their hands. That only works if you have a truly different product or service.

I hope these few tips provide some insight into steps you may take to present a positive opportunity as you reach a stage where you may want to move on to newer challenges.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Business Management

Challenge Employees for Growth

Managers should never manipulate employees to attain a certain level of performance and the challenge is knowing how to ethically motivate and encourage behavior that produces the results any company hopes to achieve.

Here are a few ideas to help employees perform to their highest potential.

1. Why
Employees need to know why the work needs to be completed, what the goal is, and how they can contribute. Management should share their vision and how each employee contributes to the overall success.

2. Develop
Opportunities to advance usually correlate with improved performance. Allowing employees to determine how they can improve their job and build challenges for the future should be encouraged. This can raise overall standards.

3. Clarify compensation
Performance increases when employees understand their work is compensated commensurate with contributions made to the business. Communicate with employees so they understand how performance is measured and rewarded.

4. Seek Input
Management does not always have to develop the answers. If you enlist support from employees that will generate increased enthusiasm and commitment.

5. Build employee confidence and loyalty
Encourage positive communication among all employees and eliminate where possible negative criticism of staff and their work. Develop goals that challenge staff without creating unreasonable demands and trust employees to participate in goal setting. If employees own the objectives they will gain greater feelings of achievement and this buy-in also develops stronger loyalty to the firm.

6. Include opportunities to learn, fail, and grow.
Employees are motivated by learning. Sometimes this involves taking risks and perhaps failing. This can be a positive experience for the business and the employee if the lesson learned helps move the business forward in an atmosphere where employees are encourage to continue efforts to improve.
These are but a few opportunities to provide a work environment that can challenge employees to play an increasingly important role in growing the business. Take the opportunity to grow the business and employees together.

Let me know your thoughts:

Sunday, January 10, 2016

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.