Posts Tagged ‘progress’

6 Tips For Growing Your Business in 2015

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

January is the month for New Year’s resolutions, freezing cold and, for many, a new fiscal year.Tips to successfully grow your business in 2015

Everyone wants to ‘do better’ in 2015 than in 2014 and, for business owners, ‘doing better’ is shorthand for growing.

I don’t know how often, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been asked something like “What are your top 6 tips for growing successfully”.

The answer depends on a number of things.

That said here are some of the things that the companies I’ve seen grow successfully have in common.

Those companies are:

1.  Very willing to try new things (innovate, adapt). However they don’t bet the farm. They do limited scale tests of new products and ways of doing things first. Ones that work are rolled out quickly; ones that don’t are killed – just as quickly.

2.  Always trying to be better – than themselves. They are continually looking for ways to, for example, improve their own quality, do things more quickly and become more efficient. They don’t compare themselves to others, they just want to the best they can be.

3.  Following a strategy or plan. They know where they want to be in 3 – 5 years but don’t expect to get there by following a straight line. They try to keep growing steadily in good times and in bad.

4.  Skilled at turning their plan into results. Knowing what success will look like makes it easier for them to set priorities and allocate the resources and funds to achieve them. They link every individual and every department’s work to the company’s goals and hold themselves accountable.

5.  Able to spot trends earlier than most of their competitors. They stay close to their customers and suppliers, monitor their competitors and watch for developments in technology.

6.  Working from a solid foundation. All of their core business processes – sales, marketing, operations, finance and HR – are tried, tested and automated wherever possible. They find, hire and retain smart people who are a good “fit” with their culture and values. They are fiscally cautious, never over extend themselves and can fund their growth.

Here’s the rub. All 6 are much easier to talk about than do.

But if you start on them now you can make some progress this year. And if you need some help just give us a call…….

 

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy 3 Leadership Tips From A Great Scotsman

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Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn

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The Keys To Executing A Strategy And Getting Results

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

I really liked a recent post in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).The keys to executing a strategy and getting results

It said that the main requirements for successfully executing a strategy are:

  1. Clear goals for everyone in the organization, that support the overall strategy
  2. A way to regularly measure progress toward those goals
  3. Clear accountability for that progress.

That’s a very nice, clear, succinct way to put it.

I must admit that I was a little relieved when I saw their next sentence, which said that these 3 “are the basics”.

That clarification allows the discussion to continue, so that additional factors can be included. The authors themselves went on to say that good execution also requires facing reality and a strong culture of execution.

Those are 2 of the points made by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in “Execution”, one of the best books ever written on the subject.

On the other hand, I was pleased to see the 3 main requirements.

Why? Well, they correspond nicely with the 4 Risks I’ve talked about in recent posts. Here’s how.

Risk #1 – No Clear Growth Path:  The ‘overall strategy’, mentioned above, incorporates the path a company takes to grow to size in the future.

Risk #2 – No Link To Action:  A key step in linking a strategy to action is to develop clear goals. The best goals are specific, measurable, and attainable and have deadlines. They are also a result of prioritizing everything that has to be done so that limited resources can be allocated to get the best return.

Risk #3 – No Buy In:  Giving every employee clear goals, which support the overall strategy, is an important factor in getting buy in. Involving employees in developing those goals is another. A third is frequent, ongoing communication so that everyone understands how achieving their goals will help the organization achieve its goals.

Risk #4 – No Accountability:  A process for measuring progress toward goals and regular review meetings are the foundations for accountability. They enable the reasons for progress – or lack of it – to be assessed objectively. Those accountable can be recognized, paid bonuses, even promoted – or they may leave the company.

So I’m delighted that the main requirements for successfully executing a strategy, identified by the WSJ, are the same things we have been helping companies with for over 12 years.

 

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy 5 Traits Effective Business Owners Share

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Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn

Risks 3 and 4 to Growth – And How To Avoid Them

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

During the last 12 years we’ve worked with well over 100 companies ranging in size from less than $1 million to over $300 million in annual revenues. They were

  • In a variety of industries, from manufacturing to software development.
  • All at different stages in their lives, for example in some, growth had stalled, while others were growing quickly – too quickly.Risks 3 and 4 to business growth and how to avoid them

In a recent post, I talked about the 4 things we’ve done for the ones that we know, with the gift of hindsight, achieved the results they wanted.

Was their success solely attributable to what we did for them?

I can’t prove that. But I can say this, ignore these 4 things and you will not get the results you want and your company will not achieve its potential.

Last week, I talked about 2 of them – having a clear growth path and linking it to action – in some detail. Here are the other two.

3.  Get Buy In

How often have we seen a team of committed people do the apparently impossible?

When people participate in the development of the growth path and understand the role they must play in making it a reality, they become fully engaged in achieving the company’s goals.

Some of the things which make that happen are:

  • The owner and management team get representatives from across the company involved in building a picture of what the company will look like in 3 years time.
  • The picture, and annual goals, is communicated throughout the company – repeatedly.
  • Departmental and individual goals are linked to the company goals.
  • Progress toward goals and targets is communicated and updated continuously.

4.  Accountability For Results

Moving a company or division along a growth path involves identifying and completing a number of initiatives, made up of specific, measurable steps or actions.

The individual who has overall responsibility for each initiative and those involved in completing the steps, must be held accountable for the success or failure of their efforts.

This is achieved by:

  • Using a process – it can be a simple Excel spreadsheet or a sophisticated, cloud-based execution management system – to track the progress of each step.
  • Holding regular, quarterly meetings to review progress and adjust plans and budgets where necessary.
  • Reflecting every individual’s performance in their compensation, promotion – or even their continued employment with the company.

So how can you tell how well your company or division is doing all 4 things? I’ll tell you more about that next time.

 

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy Sustainable Growth – How To Achieve It

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Jim Stewart is the founding Partner at ProfitPATH. He has been working with business owners for over 16 years to increase profits and improve the value of their companies. LinkedIn

Strategy, Gambling and Uncertainty

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The argument that strategy has become irrelevant and obsolete in our fast changing, unpredictable world is still, unbelievably, being promoted.

Beware of it. It’s just plain wrong.Strategy - a way to deal effectively with inevitable uncertainty

Business owners and management teams who buy into it limit their ability to grow and to make money. They’re playing with their own and their employees’ futures.

The people behind this “pop”, flavour-of-the-month thinking, are confused. They don’t understand either strategy development or execution.

Last week I read a great blog post which, I think, puts the case for strategy very succinctly and clearly. And while I’d like it to put an end to the “no strategy” lobby it almost certainly won’t.

In Placing Strategic Bets in the Face of Uncertainty, Roger Martin hits several key points:

•    Strategy isn’t about turning uncertainty into certainty. No one can do that because no one can accurately predict the future.

•    Strategy is about making the best possible, most informed choices that can be made now. Then responding quickly and with flexibility if those choices don’t pay off as hoped.

•    If a business owner and his/her team don’t develop and share a desired “future state” for the company how can progress toward it be tracked? And without that reference point, how will they know what matters and how to make sense of what actually happens?

•    Only by making assumptions about what has to happen in order for their desired state to be reached, can the team determine what has to be monitored – to see if the assumptions become reality.

•    In other words having a strategy is the only way to figure out what to pay attention to. And if you don’t know that, how will you be able to respond quickly to developments, which will prevent you achieving your aims?

•    Strategy is helpful (to say the least) in two ways.

o   First, the owner and her/his team are able to closely monitor their assumptions, see deviations quickly and take appropriate action immediately.

o   Second, they have a logical base or structure to which they can apply new data, updating their original thinking. This also allows a faster, better response than having to keep rethinking and recreating their approach.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Strategy isn’t a way to get rid of uncertainty. It’s a way of dealing effectively with inevitable uncertainty, by making and updating well-considered bets about the future.

Persistence and Execution…..

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

This is a true story, it did happen.

A few years ago I was on a team that had to cross a river of fast-flowing, freezing cold water without anyone getting hypothermia. And it had to be done in a certain amount of time or there would be unpleasant consequences to face.

One of the team was appointed leader and quickly solicited input from the rest us before announcing his plan. We got to work and, for a while, things went well.

But then it began to look like the plan wasn’t going to deliver the outcome we needed – just as sometimes happens in business. The leader tried to adapt his plan several times and in several different ways. It still wouldn’t work.

By this point we were very short of time.

He continued trying to modify the plan. His team became more demotivated, and distinctly less supportive, as the minutes ticked away. As you’ve no doubt guessed…..

We didn’t make it – and there were unpleasant consequences.

The river crossing was a leadership exercise, part of our officer training program. The leader didn’t graduate. You can argue that it’s not the same as losing a company – or even losing money – but it was pretty traumatic for the guy.

Until then I’d always been taught that persistence was important. However, even though our leader persisted, we weren’t successful. Clearly, there was such a thing as too much persistence.

But how much is too much?

When do you call a halt without, in retrospect, wondering if you quit too soon, a question every business owner has to answer more than once? Like most entrepreneurs we work with, I’ve developed my own guidelines for dealing with the “persistence versus pigheaded” question.

But Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s 12 Guidelines for Deciding When to Persist, When to Quit are really good and very useful.

I particularly like the “interim” measures she proposes – are there signs of progress; has there been concrete achievements; is resistance declining? Nothing happens as quickly as we think – and plan – it will. So it’s important to look for indications that we’re on the right path.

It’s always good to get some fresh insight………….

If you enjoyed this post you’ll also enjoy Bad Strategy – How To Spot It.

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