Sunday, June 16, 2019

Business Management

Critical Steps to Crisis Management




Unplanned events can have a devastating effect on small businesses. Crises such as fire, damage to stock, illness of key staff or IT system failure could all make it difficult or even impossible to carry out your normal day-to-day activities.
At worst, this could see you losing important customers - and even going out of business altogether.
But with good planning you can take steps to minimize the potential impact of a disaster - and ideally prevent it happening in the first place.

Here are a few ideas to consider:


1. Plan
It's essential to plan thoroughly to protect yourself from the impact of potential crises since you may lack the resources to cope easily in a crisis.
Failure to plan could be disastrous. At best you risk losing customers while you're getting your business back on its feet. At worst your business may never recover.


2.  Identify a spokesperson
If the crisis could potentially impact the health or well-being of customers, the general public or employees, it may attract media attention. To ensure your company speaks with one voice and delivers a clear consistent message, a spokesperson must be identified as well as prepared to answer media questions and participate in interviews.


3. Collaborate
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. Continuity
You should draw up a business continuity plan setting out how you will cope if a crisis does occur.
 It should detail:
- the key business functions you need to get operating as quickly as possible and the resources you'll need to do so
- the roles of individuals in the emergency
Making the most of the first hour after an emergency occurs is essential in containing the impact. As a result, your plan needs to explain the immediate actions to be taken.

5. Communicate with customers and suppliers
You do not want customers and suppliers to learn about your crisis through the media. Information on any crisis pertaining to your organization should come from you first. Part of the crisis communications plan must include customers and suppliers and how they will be regularly updated during the event.


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



Sunday, June 2, 2019

Business Management


Leadership Principles for your Business Success




Effective business leadership demands a captain of the ship, not just someone who's standing by the helm. Leadership is active, not passive.
Cool-headed, farseeing, visionary, courageous - whichever adjectives you choose, leadership is a winning combination of personal traits and the ability to think and act as a leader, a person who directs the activities of others for the good of all. 
But you can't be a leader just by saying you are. Business leadership, like leadership of any kind, needs to be worked at. 

Here are a few principles that merit consideration:

1. Create a Vision
Vision is essential to good leadership. Vision provides direction and without direction, there’s not much point to all that planning; your small business will still flail about. Create a Vision Statement for your business. You may wish to become the “Preferred” supplier in your field. To become the Preferred supplier in addition to offering high-quality, reliable products and services, you must provide a great customer experience. Preferred suppliers create a competitive advantage by servicing their customers better than their competition.

2. Plan proactively
The core of business leadership is being proactive rather than reactive. Sure, leaders are good in crises - but that doesn't mean they sit around letting crises develop. Leadership involves identifying potential problems and solving them before they reach crisis proportions. Good leaders analyze and plan and adapt their plans to new circumstances and opportunities.

3. Embrace a culture of continuous improvement
Share with your employees that your expectation is for them to continuously improve their part of the business. Ensure they have the needed resources to do their jobs and don’t micromanage them.
If your company doesn’t continually improve, it will fall behind its competition. Even though continuous improvement is led by the CEO and other senior leaders, it is driven by employees at every level within the company. 

4. Staffing
Businesses are as successful as the people working in it. Great leaders who created successful companies have one thing in common: they surround themselves with talented, courageous, loyal people. Hire people with good critical judgements who are unafraid of making decisions. Once you have recruited them, invest in their development through training, coaching and fair compensation.


Learning to be a leader isn't easy because it takes a conscious commitment and consistent effort to develop one's business leadership skills. The advantage for the business however can be immeasurable.
Please let me know your thoughts: gerry@polarisgroupmc.com


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Business Growth

Keys to growing your Business



It is known that only half of new start-ups survive more that 5 years and only one third make it to 10 years.
In order to not only survive but grow, here are a few ideas you may consider.





1. Establish a value proposition
For your business to sustain long-term growth, you must understand what sets it apart from the competition. Identify why customers come to you for a product or service. What makes you relevant, differentiated and credible?

2. Define your target market with laser accuracy. 
Many businesses have drifted along and survived on low hanging fruit; perhaps it is time to refocus. Take a step back and define your market strategy. Where is your best bang for the buck? Are you headed for where the market is going? Imagine where you want to be in 3 to 5 years and what the business can become. Without this, you’re shooting blind hoping to hit the target.

3. Define your key indicators.
Changes must be measurable. If you’re unable to measure a change, you have no way of knowing whether it’s effective. Identify which key indicators affect the growth of your business, then dedicate time and money to those areas.

4. Focus on your strengths.
Sometimes, focusing on your strengths rather than trying to improve your weaknesses can help you establish growth strategies. Reorient the playing field to suit your strengths, and build upon them to grow your business.

5. Engage your employees and listen. 
Your employees can be a goldmine of ideas. They know your customers, your market, and your operations. Actively encourage them to come up with ideas to improve revenue generating operations, product innovation, cost cutting measures, etc., and listen to them. You’d be surprised at the level of ideas you’ll generate simply by asking. This also gives your employees a great sense of inclusion.

There are many other principles that could be added to this summary. I hope these have provided some suggestions that you find of interest. Please let me have your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Business Start-up Management



Keys to Launching for Success








Business owners don’t often think about basic operating principles when launching a new business but here are a few thought starters to ponder on what fundamentals might help drive the business successfully.



1    1.  Plan for success.
A good plan increases your chance of success by defining objectives, framing costs, forecasting revenue and defining risks.

2    2. Measure risk
In early stages you can have an appetite for greater risk as there is lots of time to recover if you misstep. As the business and ownership matures perhaps a more prudent approach to risk taking is appropriate.

3    3. Management strength
A strong management group is critical. Entrepreneurs should have the confidence to surround themselves with strong people; this will pay dividends in productivity and growth of the business. Those owners who seek individuals who will follow and not lead will be constrained by their own failings.

4.   Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Whether it is with investors, customers, co-workers, or business partners, you have to over communicate.
Listen carefully, communicate regularly, and try to be clear and concise.

    5. 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. Value every     individual for their unique skills and contributions.

6   6. Build a network
The activity of building a network of contacts within the industry and the local business community will be invaluable in the long term. Attending networking events and community activities can expand awareness of the business and expose potential future consumers to your products or services.


There are many other principles that could be added to the list; these should provide some input to how you operate your business. Please let me know your thoughts. Gerry@polarisgroupmc.com





Sunday, April 21, 2019

Business Management

Key Leadership Traits for Business Owners


Are you a leader just because you own and operate a small business? No. Effective business leadership demands a captain of the ship not someone just standing at the helm. Leadership is active, not passive. Leadership is a combination of traits and the ability to think and act like a leader. Leading and directing the activity of others for the overall benefit of the organization.


Here are a few traits of strong leadership:

1. Plan
The core of business leadership is being proactive rather than reactive. Leaders are good in crises - but that doesn't mean they sit around letting crises develop. Leadership involves identifying potential problems and solving them before they reach crisis proportions. Good leaders analyze and plan and adapt their plans to new circumstances and opportunities.

2. Vision
Vision provides direction and without direction, there’s not much point to all that planning; your small business will still flail about. So if you don’t have one already, take your first step towards business leadership by creating a Vision Statement for your business.
     
3. Communicate
One of the best ways to avoid disgruntled employees and a dysfunctional team is to communicate clearly with everyone. Always let your workers know what’s going on and what you expect out of them. Also, give them insight into the bigger picture so they know your company’s overall goals and vision.

4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes 
 You aren’t perfect. Nobody is. It’s impossible to run a business without making mistakes, but great leaders understand that mistakes will be made. That’s just part of being an entrepreneur. It’s how you rebound from those mistakes that really count.

5. Surround yourself with smart, talented people 
As a business leader, it’s important that you build a well-rounded team. You should understand your own abilities—your strengths, your weaknesses—and surround yourself with talented individuals who possess the skills you lack.

Learning to be a leader isn't easy because it takes a conscious commitment and consistent effort to develop one's business leadership skills. I hope these tips help develop that skill and contribute to greater business success. Let me know your thoughts. Gerry@polarisgroupmc.com




Sunday, April 7, 2019

Business Management

Do's and Don’ts in Managing your Business


It has often been said that employees rarely quit companies. Instead, employees quit their managers or supervisors by leaving the company. Increasing positive and reducing negative managerial behavior will go a long way towards improving employee engagement.
When your talented employees are engaged, they are able to perform better and improve your business.
Here are some Do’s and Don’t’s to consider in order to get managers and supervisors started in focusing on ways to and improve manager’s performance.

1. Do Innovate – don’t rest on your laurels
             The most successful businesses are more innovative in a variety of ways.
            They offered new products and services more often.
            They adopted new technology more quickly.

2. DO what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.
There is no better way to communicate the message that you are accountable for your promises and that everyone in your company should be accountable as well.

3. DO admit your mistakes…… 
...and take the blame for failures.

4. DO recognize your team.
You can never underestimate the power of simple recognition for a job well done.

5. DO smile and laugh.
Have some fun. But, be genuine; programmed fun and faked laughter is worse than doing nothing.

6. When appropriate, laugh at yourself; it will humanize you.

At the same time………

1. DON'T get angry.
   Getting angry is easy. Anyone can do that. Anger does not belong in your managerial kit bag.

2. DON'T be cold, distant, rude or unfriendly.
    Especially in difficult times, employees take cues from their managers and need to hear from        them. The team will judge managers by their action, moods, and behaviors, not by their intent.

3. Don’t rely on too few customers—diversify
    Many companies run into trouble at times when they lose a single major customer.

4. DON'T BS your team.
    This includes saying things that you don't believe in. This includes hiding information and            just plain lying. By the time each of us is in our early 20′s, we have all developed very well-tuned BS detectors.

5. DON'T avoid taking responsibility for your actions.
   You are the boss. As such, you are accountable and the buck stops with the boss. You are trying to develop accountability throughout your company. So, lead by example.

These are just a few ideas to help structure a positive working environment. I hope you share these with your team. Let me know what you think. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com



Sunday, March 24, 2019

Business Management

Know your Competition



In order to compete effectively and outperform competition you need to know their strengths and weaknesses. Your product or service has to be unique or stand out against prime competitors.







To test your competitive intelligence; ask yourself:

1. Product mix
What products do you offer that competitors don’t offer? Is there a market void you can fill? A good competitive analysis will help determine best options.

2. Training
Are your employees as well trained to service customers as your competitor? Can your employees answer questions about your competitor’s products? Can you identify competitive weaknesses? Are you vulnerable in any way?

3. Promotion
Are you familiar with competitive messages? Check their websites, brochures and promotion material to understand their positioning and how it affects you. Does your competition spend more advertising and promotion that you do? How does that affect how you compete?

4. Supply lines
Do you know your competitors customers, suppliers and distributors? You need to know how strong their relationships are to know how you can compete most effectively.

Understanding your competition not only allows you to understand where you compete best but may offer the opportunity to collaborate in areas in which you do not directly compete. A competitor may be willing to refer customers to you if you offer a particularly unique product or service. This can only happen if you know your competition and develop a relationship of trust between you.

In the end use this knowledge to strengthen your own position and build your strategy and a place in the market.

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


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Business Planning

You Can Reap Benefits of Strategic Planning 


Strategic Planning is a process to produce innovative and creative ideas which serve as the core framework for the company and designing its’ future. It provides a road to follow for success.

Strategic planning can have an immediate impact on the business; here a few benefits than can occur.


1. Make your future happen.
It is the difference between being proactive or reactive. Not every situation can be foreseen but you can make decisions and react to changing market conditions with the end in mind.

2. Establish direction.
Clearly define the purpose of the organization and establish realistic goals and objectives which can be clearly communicated to employees.  Provides a base from which progress can be measured, employees compensated and boundaries established for effective decision making.
 
3. Make wise business decisions
How do you distinguish between a good idea and a great idea?  Without a clear vision of what you want to achieve, and a mission or purpose for doing it, everything seems like a good idea.  What project do you invest in?  How should you prioritize?  Having clarity about what you want to do, who you need and how to get there will focus limited financial and people resources.

4. Increased profitability and market share
Focused planning and strategic thinking will uncover the customer segments, market conditions, and product and service offerings that are in the best interest of your business.  A targeted approach to markets and opportunities will guide your sales and marketing efforts, distribution and other business decisions which ultimately may mean more profit to the bottom line and a stronger market position.

5. Unique differentiation:  avoid “me too”
Companies often get used to looking at their competitors and their best practices and then trying to duplicate them that it becomes harder to tell the companies apart.  They all start to look the same with less distinction in unique value.  Strategy means having a unique differentiation that sets you apart from your competitors.

6. Increased job satisfaction. 
Consistently one of the top reason for leaving a firm is the lack of job satisfaction.  People need to have a motivation to come to work and feel like part of the team.  Employees are often the greatest source for innovative ideas.  The purpose and meaning of work gives a new focus and reason to show up each day if they participate in developing the Strategic Plan.

I hope these ideas provide some clarity on the benefits of developing an overall plan.

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

Monday, February 25, 2019

Business Management

Do You Have Time Management Issues?



Business owners and managers often struggle with managing time efficiently. There are many root causes for time waste that can be addressed to improve effectiveness of the business.





Here are a few thought starters:

1. Project assignments. 
Have you assigned the right person to the right job? An employee may appear to have a problem managing time but they may be in a role or doing a job they are not suited for.

2. Delegation. 
As owner/manager do you have poor delegation skills or do you not delegate in order to maintain control? The need to do everything yourself can dramatically impact your time management. Delegating is not abdicating.

3. Meetings. 
How many meetings held are really effective? A lot of time can be wasted in unnecessary or poorly organized meetings. Make sure agendas are prepared and followed.

4. Training. 
Do staff members need training to perform better? What appears to be a time management issue may be a training need.

5. Planning. 
Are the business’ plans well defined? If direction is unclear staff may struggle to know how to prioritize work activity. Make sure time is used to critique time used and avoid time wasters like email, calls, breaks and other non-productive activity.

These are samples of business issues that may mask what appear to be time management issues. There can be many others; examination of each may uncover root causes of poor productivity.

If you have thoughts to share please let me know.

Gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Monday, February 11, 2019

Business Management

Start-up Challenges in Business





Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges every business faces whether they are large or small.






Here are a few challenges that face many new business ventures.


1. The Market
There is not a compelling enough value proposition to cause a buyer to actually commit to purchasing. Is this product/service “nice to have” or “need to have”.
The market timing is wrong. You could be ahead of your market by a few years, and they are not ready for your particular solution at this stage.
The market size of people that have interest and funds may simply by too small to support a viable business.

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. Money Problems
The majority of small businesses that fail do so because of lack of cash. Often, this is because owners borrow based on their ideas of a successful business, instead of borrowing for a worst-case scenario. A start-up business owner needs to be optimistic, but often is too optimistic about seeing profits. Without adequate cash flow, slow sales or a downturn in the market can end the business before it has a chance to gain momentum.

4. Fatigue 
The hours, the work and the constant pressure to perform wears on even the most passionate individuals. Many business owners, even successful ones, get stuck working much longer hours than their employees. Moreover, they fear their business will stall in their absence, so they avoid taking any time away from work to recharge. Fatigue can lead to rash decisions about the business, including the desire to abandon it completely. Finding a pace that keeps the business humming without grinding down the owner is a challenge that comes early (and often) in the evolution of a small business.


5.  Trying to Do It Alone
A common problem for most entrepreneurs is the belief that they can handle all of the start-up’s operations by themselves. It may be a cost-effective way to run the business, but operating the entire business on your own may not be a wise decision or the best use of your time. Many small-business start-ups may not require full-time employees. But it's a good idea to have at least two teammates, a lawyer and an accountant, ready to help. With experienced, reliable assistance, you can avoid common business mistakes. When it is time to hire staff, be careful in your choices. Employees are a crucial component in the success of your business.

I hope these thoughts help you plan for a successful venture. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone. Please let me know your thoughts. gerry@polarisgroupmc.com



Sunday, January 27, 2019

Business Management

Let’s Maximize Profits



Profits are the lifeline of small businesses. As your profits increase and become more predictable, your small business has a greater chance of surviving—and most businesses don't.
Most of the time, small business owners can't afford to wait for the results of long-term, large-scale changes to their business model.
As much as possible, if you want to turn a bigger profit as a small business owner, the quicker you can do it, the better.
The following simple changes can help you maximize your profitability right away.

1. Convert One-Time Clients Into Recurring Clients
There are many reasons why converting your customers into repeat clients can quickly   improve your profitability. Recurring customers tend to spend more and purchase more frequently than new customers.

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

3. Manage your costs
    More effective purchasing can improve margins. Eliminate waste of materials and time.

4. Encourage Referrals
    If there's one marketing channel that can maximize your profits, referrals would be it.

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

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.

I hope these suggestions help you focus on improving results. Please let me have your thoughts: Gerry@polarisgroupmc.com

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Business Management

Want to be Quantum – Safe with Your Cyber security?








Cora Cybersecurity Inc is a company developed by our guest blogger, Joe Latouf.

Here is an interesting brief outline that should attract your interest.


Cora Cyber Security Inc. has pioneered Quantum Safe Cryptography. Current standards of encryption can and have been broken and when Quantum Computers become more commonplace a new standard of security will be needed.

Cora Cyber Security can provide QUANTUM SAFE CRYPTOGRAPHY TODAY. And it is UNBREAKABLE.

Cyber criminals cost the global community  over $700 billion annually.

CORAcsi has developed Quantum Safe Encryption that is:

Fast – cyber hygene is an important consideration. When users do not have to wait for files/data, the temptation to “bypass encryption” is removed.

Central Control – unlike decentralized peer to peer networking technology like “blockchains” Cora is centrally controlled. Ownership of the data/solution is well defined.

Secure – both today and tomorrow. Let potential adversaries spend the time, energy and money to record your transmissions. Even quantum computers, when they mature, will not unCORAFY (decrypt) your information.

These are but a few insights into how you can strengthen your organization’s protection against cyber theft.

For a demonstration on how to secure your business, don’t procrastinate.

Call Joe Latouf, President, Cora Cyber Security Inc. today for a demonstration on this exciting leading edge technology.
Cell: 519-968-1338
Email: jlatouf@coracsi.com