Archive for 'growth'

Strategic Planning – The Three Key Elements

For businesses strategic planning is a concept, a mind set and a process. It is looking down the road at what’s around the bend. When everyone around your place is focusing on what’s coming you will all recognize it in time to take advantage of it.

As things appear on the horizon each of you will be asking the question, what’s important about that from your various perspectives. You will be able to articulate the important elements of foreseeable future possibilities so you can all focus on the possibilities each offer. The goal of the business is, after all, to help each of you make your dreams come true.

Strategic planning keeps you focused on the options you now see more clearly, so you can collectively make choices that benefit the company and all of the people involved.

In this brief article I will describe the five key elements of a business strategic plan. It has been my experience that when these three elements are combined into a simple straightforward do it yourself process your company will achieve its goals. This is not rocket science, unless you are building rockets, and will work for companies of as few people as one and as many people as you have on board your company.

Your Strategic Planning Team:
The strategic planning workbooks, textbooks, and how-to books all discuss the importance of the strategic planning team – the implication being that the company must be big enough that there are leaders at every level who can become part of the strategic planning team. Unfortunately that eliminates about 75% of all the companies in existence.

If that includes you do not fear as I am about to show you how you can reach out to the best people possible, individuals with various perspectives whose input will help you create a balanced strategy. In addition these successful people will help you develop and maintain this workable strategy over the long haul. And since they are not going to be charging for their input you will be able to afford an active strategic planning team forever.

I recommend that you connect with members of your industry’s trade association, business owners whose results have been demonstrated over time and whose opinions you trust. The well known power of group dynamics suggests that you limit the size of your strategic planning group to 6-8 people including yourself.

Each of you should also be located outside each other’s traditional marketing areas. If some of you are nearing retirement with vast experience, others in the midst of their careers growing their companies and some who are successors in successful businesses in your industry you will have an important range of diversity. Those who have been around a while can see things coming that are invisible to those just starting out and vice versa.

The Strategic Planning Process:
The strategic planning process should be simple, just three questions to focus on, so you will keep them at the top of your mind. Naturally there are multiple components of these three questions that will become second nature as the process of discussion moves along.

What are you going to sell in the future and how? Each member of your strategic planning team will offer different ideas based on what’s working for them now, what they have already considered for the future and their perspective (such as their Internet savvy or lack of same). ,p>

Who are your target customers and why? Every successful business owner focuses on their market share inside their traditional market. With different perspectives you will be able to expand that traditional marketing area AND focus on increasing your share of each customer. Members of your strategic planning team will open your mind to tactics they are using to sell more products of one kind or another to your existing core customers.

How can you differentiate your company vs your competitors? This often means discontinuing lines no longer profitable that you’re still carrying because you’ve always carried them. It may mean focusing on fewer products and services where your specific capabilities excel. And it most assuredly will mean introducing new products and services recommended by your strategic planning team based on their experiences and perspectives.

Once you and your team have these three questions at the forefront – the qualifiers become automatic. What’s important? What is it now? What exactly do you want it to be? And what’s possible to achieve at the intersection of your goals and your resources?

A Commitment To Action:
With the continual input from your strategic planning peer group you will be able to more easily target strategic opportunities all around you. Opportunities that would have continued to be invisible to you without their well considered input. These actions will, in and of themselves help you choose those capabilities important for your future growth and enhance your capacities for making the most of them.

As you and the other members of your strategic planning peer group put your plans on paper and keep them in front of each other you will develop an environment for continually review and modify your evolving mission statements.

Continually articulating your goals for the future as they are continually refined by your strategic planning peer group will keep the important next steps always in view. Taking action yourself or delegating it to the individuals or teams within your organization who have the power, authority, and accountability for their completion is all that now stands between where things are today and where you want them to be in the future.

If you are seriously interested in your organization’s future you’ll find that there’s really no better way to create and manage your strategic planning process.

Your next move should be to click below and take five minutes to review my recently published report that contains complete instructions for your Do-It-Yourself Strategic Planning process. Article by Wayne Messick, publisher of

Who Do You Think You ARE Anyway?

In order to write a vision for your business, the first step is identifying who you really are and what is important to you.

Not what you DO or have been doing, but who you ARE.

You may be doing things that are really not in alignment with what is important to you in your business. It’s critical to identify any of those discrepancies to redirect your efforts toward a successful venture.

List all the things that you don’t want to see in your business. A great way to do this is to create two columns and make the list of your “don’t wants” on the left and in the right column list what it is that you do want. This is sometimes referred to as the “T exercise” because of the T created by the columns.

It’s easier to identify what is important to you if you think of what it is that you don’t want first. We just seem to come to better choices that way. The important thing is to identify quickly what you do want without putting too much emphasis on the negative.

Areas to consider in this business analysis sound very much like ones you would include in a newspaper article: Who, What, What, Where, Why and How!

What products or services are planned? What image is important to you? What is your role as the owner? With all of these questions, first write what you don’t want to have and then write the reverse to clearly identify your desires.

Next, you need to consider the location, the Where. What is the location of the business? Where do the customers come from? Where will various parts of your business be located?

The next W is the Who. You need to determine whom you don’t want as customers and then clearly define who your ideal customers would be. Other considerations in this category are possible strategic alliance partners, and advisors who could be a support to your business growth.

Timing of your startup including completion of necessary facilities and systems is the “When” of the equation. A difficult area for many businesses is determining when it is the right time for expansion and delegation of responsibilities to allow for growth. The challenge is to do this without overextending their financial resources.

Probably the very most important category for consideration is the Why. Why are you creating the business? Just as important is the question of why your customers will buy what you are selling.

The How plays a key role in the climate of the business. How do you envision your interactions with employees, suppliers, and customers?

Taking all these categories through the process of writing what you don’t want to see in your business and turning them around to the clear choice of what you do want will bring you to a list of desired characteristics. From this you can pull together a summary and then condense it into just a statement.

An example of a vision statement might be, “Within the next five years grow Widgets International into a $5 million international widget company providing custom-made widgets of excellent quality to makers of patio furniture.” You can choose this simple format or one that is worded more in your writing style.

With the vision statement, you have a clear description of what you see your business doing in five years. You could also write this for a shorter or longer time frame.

All of the steps you worked through in this process will help you as you develop the rest of your business plan.

Your next step is to create a mission statement. The mission statement gets into more of the implementation of the vision you see. It is broad and then is broken down into the necessary goals, strategies, and plans to carry out the mission statement.

Step by step you are refining what you really envision in your business. You can start to answer that question, “Who Do You Think You ARE Anyway?”

Exuberant Productivity Coach, Suzanne Holman, MAEd, works with financial service professionals, realtors, and self-employed professionals determined to make every hour they work truly productive so they have quality time and abundant energy for fun and family!

For a FREE Exuberance Assessment and tips for increasing your productivity and having a more satisfying life, visit Exuberant

The 10 New Rules of Branding

By Derrick Daye on Walmart

1) Brands that influence culture sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth.
Look at Google. They are changing the way we behave online. Nike is a brand that has become a part of all culture. If you get into that split screen, you become part of the lexicon of life.

2) A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in, vanilla is out.
Love or hate Fox News, you know where it stands on issues. And Ben & Jerry’s is more than just ice cream; it’s a company that stands for a cause. Younger consumers have grown up in a consumer world. They’re flexing their muscle, and they want their brands to stand for something.

3) Today’s consumer is leading from the front; this is the smartest generation to have ever walked the planet.
Today’s consumers are more discriminating and more experimental. They have very strong opinions on brands, and a lot of brands are getting consumers involved. Take Converse and the Converse Gallery, where consumers can make a 24-second film that will run on their site. It’s consumer-generated creativity and a natural savviness.

4) Customize wherever and whenever you can; customization is tomorrow’s killer whale.
The second advent of the Internet has consumers wanting something all their own. Consumers say, ‘I need something that is mine, not mass-produced for everybody.’ The best example is Apple’s iTunes Website. Instead of buying a CD, consumers are buying the tracks they want and putting them on their iPods. Look at Starbucks, which creates whatever beverage a consumer wants, and Nike, which allows you to design a shoe online.

5) Forget the transaction, just give me an experience; the mandate is simple: Wow them every day, every way.
Apple and Coach found that the best way to give consumers a brand experience wasn’t just to sell product in store but to control the entire experience. This is why they build stores in major cities. Looking for the other brands to soon be involved in the ‘experience.’

6) Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about presentation.
There’s an “option overload” in the supermarket aisles, and anything that simplifies that for consumers is welcome. If I’m a consumer and I stand in front of a shelf, I see a wall of product. Brands are beginning to recognize that you have to be clear about what they are selling at the point of purchase.

7) You are only as good as your weakest link; do you know where you’re vulnerable?
Today’s younger consumers show zero tolerance when a brand makes a mistake. If a Website isn’t good enough, they will ignore your brand, and if you get negative PR about something, it will stick no matter what you do to rectify it. Brands like Wal-Mart and Nike are still connected to negative PR about alleged abuse of foreign workers.

8) Social responsibility is no longer an option; what’s your cause, what’s your contribution?
Consumers now expect corporations to get involved in cause marketing. Businesses are doing a better job at getting behind causes, for example, Timberland (“Take a stand against genocide”), Target (“Every day Target gives back to the community”), eBay (its Giving Works program, for starters), and GE (which this year launched its Citizenship Report, an annual report of sorts regarding the company’s environmental and safety initiatives). Not all businesses promote these efforts, however, because they’re worried their efforts will be seen as commercial.

9) Pulse, pace, and passion really make a difference; had your heartbeat checked recently?
We’re in a crazy world. We keep piling more devices upon us. The more you have, the more you need. If your business does not have a high metabolic rate, you’re not going to survive. Companies like Google move fast, and that means the older, slower companies are doomed.

10) Innovation is the new boardroom favorite.
Brands are inspired by Apple more than anyone else. They transformed the music business, and people are taking what they did seriously. Procter & Gamble and GE are driving this and have made innovation the core of their corporate strategy.

by Robyn Knapp

Winners in business play rough and don’t apologize for it.

Toyota has steadily attacked the Big Three where their will to defend was weakest, moving up the line from compact cars to mid- and full-size vehicles and on to Detroit’s last remaining profit centers, light trucks and SUVs. All the while, Toyota has dared its rivals to duplicate a production system that gives the company unmatchable productivity and quality.

Dell is similarly relentless, and ruthless, in dealing with competitors. Last summer, the day after Hewlett-Packard announced weak results because of price competition in PCs, Dell announced a further across-the-board cut – delivering a swift kick to a tough rival when it was down.

Wal-Mart is well known for its uncompromising stance toward suppliers. In 1996, Rubbermaid, a $2 billion business that a few years earlier had been Fortune’s most admired company, ventured to contest Wal-Mart’s pressure on suppliers to lower their prices – and Wal-Mart simply cut Rubbermaid off. (Newell acquired a struggling Rubbermaid in 1999.) Wal-Mart doesn’t pull punches with competitors, either. In recent years, as Kmart floundered in bankruptcy proceedings, Wal-Mart rolled out a knockoff of Kmart’s Martha Stewart product line, putting pressure on one of the tottering retailer’s few areas of success.

Hardly anyone would dispute that Toyota, Dell, and Wal-Mart have epitomized corporate success over the past decade. But the raised eyebrows they provoke – recent BusinessWeek cover articles have included “Can Anything Stop Toyota?” “Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?” and “What You Don’t Know About Dell” – suggest there’s something not quite kosher about the way they achieve that success.

That’s because Toyota, Dell, and Wal-Mart play hardball. What do we mean by this? Hardball players pursue with a single-minded focus competitive advantage and the benefits it offers – leading market share, great margins, rapid growth, and all the intangibles of being in command. They pick their shots, seek out competitive encounters, set the pace of innovation, test the edges of the possible. They play to win. And they do.

Softball players, by contrast, may look good – they may report decent earnings and even get favorable ink in the business press – but they aren’t intensely serious about winning. They don’t accept that you sometimes must hurt your rivals, and risk being hurt yourself, to get what you want. Instead of running smart and hard, they seem almost to be standing around and watching. They play to play. And though they may not end up out-and-out losers, they certainly don’t win.

This may reflect the recent emphasis of management science, which itself has gone soft. Indeed, the discourse around a constellation of squishy issues – leadership, corporate culture, customer care, knowledge management, talent management, employee empowerment, and the like – has encouraged the making of softball players.

“Hardball”, George Stalk, Jr. and Rob Lachenauer, Harvard Business Review, April 2004. Visit CJPS-Enterprises for more information.

At CJPS Enterprises, we specialize in execution. Getting things done. Our approach is designed to give your company an unfair advantage. We have years of experience in the medical industry, a long list of contacts and access to the leading minds in healthcare. We’re catalysts, analysts, managers, negotiators – experts in every aspect of raising capital and facilitating breakthrough growth. Visit us at

Survey: Small companies cut hiring plans

The share of small businesses planning to hire in the near future fell in February, the survey by the National Federation of Independent Business says, underlining weakness in overall job growth during the month.

NFIB says 13% of the 725 small companies surveyed last month planned to hire in the next three months, down four points from January. Despite that shift, the trade association says in a note: “Overall, job creation should continue to be reasonably strong, assuming owners can find a few qualified applicants or that higher wage offers convince some individuals to re-enter the labor force.”

The NFIB survey results followed the U.S. Labor Department’s report on Friday showing companies of all sizes created just 97,000 jobs in February, the fewest in two years.

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