Posts Tagged ‘owner managed’

2 Key Questions Every New Product Must Answer

Friday, June 10th, 2011

1. It Failed!

Everyone can think of companies – large and small – that have committed resources and spent money on new products/services only to fail.

Does anyone remember Sony’s Mini-Disc or the Apple Newton? Then there are those high profile classics New Coke and Crystal Pepsi.

How do large, credible organizations make mistakes like these?  And if they can do it, what chance do smaller, owner managed companies, with significantly less resources, stand?

2. Here’s A Reason Why.

One reason for these lapses is that the team members making the key decisions (who often spend most of their time in the company’s offices not in the field) believe passionately that the idea is going to work. That’s because, when you’re close to something it’s easy to become convinced you’re right. And when you feel that way you tend to push on regardless.

Maybe their research was faulty, or maybe they just didn’t do any.

Or maybe they didn’t take the time to take a step back and ask the question “What role can our product/service play in the market?” before committing resources to the initiative.

That’s not just a marketing strategy question – it’s a business strategy question. Because if it’s a bad idea and it fails, money and other resources that could have been deployed elsewhere are wasted. And the reputation of the company as a whole – and the people backing the project – is damaged.

3. Products Have To Earn The Right To Exist.

A company’s new products have to earn the right to exist. They do that when the answers to the following 2 questions are “Yes!”
• Do the products provide value that is perceived to be unique compared current offerings?
• Can they generate sufficient revenue, profit and cash to be sustainable?

As a business owner you can find the answers to the questions in a couple of different ways.

The first is by posing them in the early discussions about the products. Finding the answers will generate a lot of the information that will be required to assess the target market, develop a marketing mix, complete financial forecasts and weave them all together in a business case. So it’s hardly a waste of time!

The second is to wait and look for the answers when the business case has been completed.

4. The Important Thing Is………

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. The important thing is to choose one and use it.

If you proceed without answering the 2 questions then you are taking unnecessary risk with your money and other resources – and your reputation.

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6 Tips for Getting Better Results in 2011.

Monday, November 8th, 2010

In a recent blog posting I wrote that business planning has started/is starting/should have started for 2011. Then the other day I came across these 6 tips which I pulled together at the end of 2008.

At that time, you may remember, there was a deluge of bad news pouring from the newspapers, Internet and TV all day, every day. Some forecasters were saying the economy would rally in late 2009, others were saying it would take years before we saw an improvement.

I made the point then that, when so much of what is going on around you seems out of control, it’s easy to stop focussing on the things that are under your control. So, since uncertainty is still with us, I thought it was worth freshening up the Tips.

Tip #1 – Remember that we have always had to deal with uncertainty when developing plans and strategies. It may be true that there is more uncertainty now than in the past. However, don’t forget that no one has ever been able to accurately predict the future with any degree of consistency.

Three ways to deal with uncertainty are – keep digging until you find the best information available before firming up assumptions; put flexibility into plans and strategies; and think through contingency plans (e.g. plan for the best, worst, and most likely outcomes and be ready to deal with all of them). A fourth technique is to review, and adjust, goals more frequently.

Tip #2 – Make sure that you actually implement your plans and strategies. According to an Ernst & Young survey, 66% of corporate strategy is never executed.

In our experience implementation is handled just as poorly in owner managed companies – which generally have fewer employees (who are often located in the same premises) and which have fewer departments and layers. All of which should make communication and coordination easier.

There are a number of reasons why strategy implementation fails and the remaining tips will help you avoid them.

Tip #3 – Develop detailed Action Plans for execution. Involve key people when figuring out your goals for 2011 – and they’ll buy into what has to be done.

Compare the goals with the current situation and gaps will appear. Then ask them what – specifically – has to be done to close the gaps, by whom and by when. The answers to those questions will form the basis of your Action Plans for 2011.

Tip #4 – Avoid attempting too much, for 2 reasons. Firstly, there may be a long list of things to be done to close the gaps and no company has the resources to attack them all. So, prioritize the things which have the most impact on your goals and focus on them. You can go back and tackle the others later.

Secondly, you want to stay flexible enough to respond to whatever happens.

Tip #5 – Commit enough resources to completing the priorities. Business owners are inclined to tackle too much at once. They also try to do everything in the minimum amount of time – while spending as little money as possible.

Think about the priorities this way. You’ve invested time identifying reasonable goals and figuring out what has to be done to reach them. That effort will be wasted unless you commit the resources required to complete those action plans.

Even if you are allocating too many resources, you’ll complete the job ahead of schedule. Who doesn’t feel good when that happens?

Tip #6 – Follow up regularly and in a structured way. There are also 2 reasons for doing this. First, because no one can accurately predict the future you have to make time to compare what you thought would happen with what has happened and adjust for reality.

Second, what could be more important than making sure you complete the action plans that will lead to achieving your goals? Not dealing with the day-to-day problems, which always seem to be “urgent”. Prevent them getting in the way of the “important” priorities by making time to review progress toward your goals once a quarter.

The odds are that you’ve heard each one of these tips before. But the reality is that a gap exists between hearing – even knowing – the right thing to do and actually doing it. That’s why 66% of the companies surveyed wasted their time.

Winners eliminate the gap.

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