Working On Your Business – next steps…….

Michael Gerber suggests in his book The E Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work And What to Do About It, that it’s a myth that most businesses are started by entrepreneurs. Gerber suggests that many businesses are actually started by a person suffering from an ‘entrepreneurial seizure.’ That is, instead of creating a business that works independently, we create a business that can only work with us in it. This is when the day-to-day running of the business takes us over.

So, once you have stepped back and looked at what you are doing In your business and made some decisions about what you want and have identified some specific goals to achieve, you will need to take action:

The next step is to look at developing simple systems for some of the key functions that your business depends on. Many people are aware of the concept of the ‘This is How We Do it Here’ manual like that in a McDonald’s store franchise. In a small business owners can feel nervous of the work involved in creating this kind of manual, I will always encourage making a small ‘baby step’ approach and look at documenting say 2 key functions a week. This means extracting information that we usually just keep in our heads about the way something is done.

One of the benefits of writing it down, is that once done – SOMEONE ELSE can perform that task and importantly for those of us who become control freaks as owners, is that you can document not just what has to happen but to a degree you can define HOW it is to be completed too.

Once you start to put simple systems in place you will begin to see a number of other benefits:

  1. You can more easily delegate to people in your team if you have one and that can really motivate them to be more involved in your business.
  2. The unwritten rules of your business can be clearly defined and everyone can understand the culture of your business more easily, what you do, how you do it and the standards you set in the delivery of your products and services.
  3. Customer service processes will become more efficient and you will become more effective, so that your business doesn’t suffer from unexpected breakdowns.
  4. Once the business is independent of you it has more value as well.

Now, I won’t pretend that this process is easy – it’s not! You are already overworked and under pressure and this work does mean more in the short-term – but this really is a classic case of short-term pain – long term benefit.

Why not have a go? You may surprise yourself….

If you try and get stuck – email me or give me a call 07760 767025 and I will make some suggestions about strategies to help.

Frozen Ps – Systems Development and Implementation – Alternatively – If you would like to know more or you know that you need to do this but do not want to spend the time or resources on making it happen then please get in touch, as this is a project management service that we offer our clients and with our help you can ensure that it is implemented, we have the resources and the know how and we can help you short cut the process and save you re-inventing the wheel!

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Work On not IN your Business

Is this you?

You run your own business. You spend your time mostly sorting things out, answering phones, replying to email, or talking with team members, fighting fires, juggling all the elements of your business at once – winning new work, selling, managing all the day-to-day operational elements and juggling money, cash flow, chasing debt and income.

You are in early, leave late and regularly forget to stop to eat or eat at odd times grabbing snacks to keep you going. And then you take work home. In any small business this might have to happen occasionally in busy times but for you it’s become the routine.

Sound familiar?

This is what working IN your business means.  So what if you could work ON your business, you may have heard this phrase but what does it mean in reality?

If you were able to take a few steps back from your business and look at it objectively, saying, “If I wasn’t’ here what would happen to my business? What do I want to happen? What needs to be done differently to stop me having to work in it all the time?”

Imagine taking some time away from day-to-day tasks and looking at your business in the long-term. Putting plans in place to make the most of the opportunities that currently you miss because you are bogged down just getting by.

This is what is called working ON your business.

Think about why you went into business in the first place. What ambitions did you have then?

Perhaps, financial independence, persona success, being your own boss, building a legacy to pass on?

How many of those goals have you actually attained?

Interestingly most of us  fall into business and suddenly we are so busy with admin and firefighting that we stop looking forward.

Steven R. Covey, in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, says to “begin with the end in mind.” In other words, whenever you start a process, understand exactly what the end point is before you start.

So, why not decide to set aside some time for looking ahead – you may be surprised at what that will do for you and your business dreams.

Do you believe that only Start Ups need a business plan?

Many business owners do think that and some survive without one and that’s OK while everything is running smoothly. However there are some equally good reasons to develop one especially when you are established.

Many objections stems from a perception that a plan is set in stone and sometimes viewed as a major hassle to develop.

Certainly start ups should have a plan but so do existing business owners as you can hold too much information in your head and allow some of those perceptions to guide your decision making.

The process of planning can unlock little (or large) pockets of potential than bad habits can cover up and hide. The process of planning can help you revisit targets and goals and review the resources you have and need to keep your business on a successful track.

Advisors and consultants are often criticized for pointing out the obvious but all that is happening is that the work you do and the way that you are doing it is being looked at with a fresh perspective. Something you can all do by stepping back even for an hour or two, to work on planning rather than the day to day doing. It also means that making improvements does not have to be as much hard work as you think. Many conversations I have with clients running established businesses reveal that that they have stopped doing the things that made them successful in the first place.

A good business plan is your most important management tool.

Writing things down helps bring a little clarity and helps avoid missing the obvious that slip through cracks. Then over time all those little things build up, you find yourself fire fighting and then get hit by an unexpected challenge and have to spend valuable time getting back on track.

So, first steps:

  • What made you successful?

Are there actions you have just stopped doing over the years perhaps because you have become too busy?

  • Regular meetings with your team, keeping everyone up to date with your ideas and plans, successes and challenges?
  • Marketing activity that built your business, have you identified the steps that really work for your business?
  • Have you set and written down some specific, challenging and realistic goals for 2012?

You don’t have to overcomplicate – you just need to make a start

The Benefits of Planning to Improve Business

So, you are working away dealing with queries, answering emails and calls, meeting clients and trying to engage new prospects. There is a long list of activity you have tried to complete over the last few months but you never seem to make any tangible progress. Every so often you think about your early days when you had all that excitement of running your own business, all those hopes and dreams of independence, making a decent living and being in charge of your own destiny.

With your head down fire fighting it becomes more difficult to see how, even if you could you can change the path you’re on, what you can do about this in a practical way that will work.

This is where the process of planning has its value, I am not just talking about ‘writing the plan’ – I am talking about taking an opportunity to put the brakes on for a while, stepping back and taking a good hard look at your business and how you run it. You might be very pleasantly surprised at what can happen. So what is business improvement?

The way you work can include some bad habits and unless you stop, take stock and review you just don’t notice, sometimes until those bad habits lead to unexpected challenges that seem sudden but have actually been bubbling along under the surface for a while. Like losing a customer or staff member, sometimes you might be offered a business opportunity and it’s hard to decide if you should take it, just because you don’t know if it’s a good fit? or you may be trying to develop a marketing campaign but not sure where to begin.

All of these business events are entirely normal – how successfully we respond to them depends on how much preparation or planning we have done.

So, how do you set about planning.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Set aside  some quality time – preferably away from your business environment where you can think more clearly without distraction
  2. Divide your time into specific areas – Big Picture thinking – your vision – what you want the business to achieve, the actions that you need to take to make that happen, the resources you will need to support the plans and how you want the business to run – your unwritten rules and then operational areas like, operations – how you deliver your products and services, marketing and sales, finance, admin and legal, systems and processes, people/HR and contingency planning.
  3. Have someone with you – you can do this with your partners, team or an independent person you trust to give you good feedback.
  4. Allow yourself the freedom to browse ideas without limitation
  5. Use flip charts or mind maps for recording ideas – there is enormous value in seeing ideas become tangible by writing them down
  6. Understand what is happening in your business right now – the good, the not so good, the opportunities that are there waiting to be developed and the actions you can take to safeguard your position.
  7. No. 6 is important because you are developing key information about your business performance that provides a benchmark for where you are right now – which means that you can measure your success in changing your business over time  against that data.
  8. Highlight some key priorities for change, document simple actions steps to address them and schedule them against a timetable. Select 2-3 for immediate action and timetable lower priorities accordingly. Use a format that you are comfortable, excel spreadsheet, word document or project planning tools if you prefer.
  9. Take action – do it….. any time you invest in planning is a complete waste of time if you don’t do anything as a result.
  10. Monitor what happens and tweak as necessary.
  11. Instil this way of working so that review and continuous improvement become a way of life.
  12. Make better use of the specialists you use to help you in your business, for example discuss with your accountant what extra management information can be provided that gives an up to date financial snapshot of your business?
  13. Outsource activity that you identify you really shouldn’t be spending your time on
  14. Look for quick wins, these are very motivating and help you stick at change! An example would be to review your client list and make contact with any that you haven’t spoken to in a while, or go back and follow-up on interest shown that you have just let slip. 

The process of planning can seem daunting but the steps outlined are quite straightforward and can add huge value to your business. Once you take back control you will find that you can make more informed judgements about your business, your decision-making will become easier, you will identify opportunity to make more money, to look after your customers and clients better, motivate your team and work more efficiently. All of which makes for a successful business and a much happier and motivated owner!

If all this still seems daunting then I have developed a new service! 

Improve your business in less than 120 minutes for only £99, guaranteed value or your money back! No quibble….

We will cover all areas of your business and some!  For information: Visit frozenps.co.uk or call Patricia direct on +441582 733327

You will be required to complete a questionnaire about your business online (60 Minutes), this will be reviewed, analysed and recommendations prepared and we will discuss in a SKYPE call (Minimum 60 Minutes), so that you can implement the outcomes with ease .

5 Top Tips for Business Success

Here’s a question for you:  Do you enjoy your business?

  • Yes – absolutely
  • Most of the time
  • It has its moments
  • Not really
  • Can’t stand it but have to get on with it

This is a question I ask all my new clients, it may surprise you that many business owners actually find themselves struggling to enjoy their work. Many of the challenges we all face are because of business issues, rather than related to the skill, training or passion that your business is based on.

Generally we start a business based on those skills and tend not to be trained in understanding the key functions of a business and understanding how to make them work effectively. So, winning work, cash flow, dealing with difficult situations and people and lack of planning and resources become obstacles to greater success.

So, here are my top 5 tips for business success this year by helping you refocus your efforts , boost confidence and revive your energy for 2011:

  1. Business Planning – set aside at least 2 hours a week for ‘bigger picture’ planning, consider what it is exactly you want to achieve, what resources you need in place to make it happen, a timetable allocating activity, who will do it and deadlines. Break the activity down into small actions steps – so that you know what you have to do today to bring your goals closer and make what seems impossible, POSSIBLE.
  2. Marketing and Winning More Business – review how you won your work best since you started out and then repeat and do more of what works, avoid over complicating your activity. Many opportunities for business are lost because we focus on chasing new work in isolation, rather than prioritising looking after the customers you already have- why not ask your existing customers for referrals?
  3. Manage Your CASH – implement a simple easy cash flow system, Keep a tight control on costs, invoice more quickly, follow –up late or slow payers and if you are uncomfortable doing this – OUTSOURCE this.
  4. Market What Makes You Different – consider seriously, why your customers choose to buy from you, obtain constructive feedback about how you are really different from your competitors. Regularly use case study and testimonial to sell your services, they are much more powerful.
  5. Manage Yourself – analyse how YOU spend your time, a real wake up call for me early in my business life was checking how many hours a week I was actually being paid for! I had a diary full of meetings scheduled and none of them generated income. Consider any bad habits you may have developed and prioritise the time to do work you love and outsource everything else. Don’t forget to celebrate success and keep learning. Build a trusted support network around you and COMMIT TO TAKING ACTION…..

Do You Manage Your Business or is Your Business Managing You?

Many owners have ideas and plans for how they believe their business will develop over time and sometimes the reality of setting up a business doesn’t match those original ideas. There are many factors that impact progress – some positive and some negative: Here’s a few

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Unclear message
  • Competition
  • Lack of difference
  • Lack of market (products or services that you are convinced will sell and yet no sales)
  • Lack of resources
  • Unexpected growth
  • Timing delays
  • Cash flow
  • Initial expenses exceed your budget

The process of planning and developing a business plan is a good way of looking ahead and planning for the development of your business. It can help you stay on track when distractions come your way.

I have outlined some key areas of management information that may help you manage your business more effectively. See how many you can agree with!

Your Business:

  • I know the  business /market I am in
  • I know what I will sell
  • I know who will buy and why
  • I know why those customers will choose my business

Your Market:

  • I know exactly the opportunity there is for me and my business – where my potential customers will come from and why they need my products or services
  • I have researched and understand what my market place will look like over the next couple of years
  • I have planned an effective method of retaining my customers loyalty
  • I have implemented a method of ensuring the highest levels of customer service in my business
  • I have established a way of capturing data from prospects and customers so that I can market and communicate with them effectively
  • I can clearly define my ideal customer
  • I have researched and understand my competitors – how they operate, add value, differ from me and the way they charge for their products and services
  • I have a resource team around me to help provide me support and specialist information that will enable me to manage my business well – for financial and legal guidance.
  • I have set up systems to manage cash in my business
  • I have set targets and will monitor progress against these

If you are starting a business, or managing an existing business – this checklist is a great starting point for ensuring that you are on the right track. If you have some observations/suggestions and ideas about items to add to the checklist then please do get in touch.

Release the Power of Your Ps!