How to Grow My Business When I Am Already Maxed out? Phase III Part II

Phase III part II – Challenges and Hindrances

In our last blog post, we talked about the hidden challenges that we all face with our emotions, attitudes, biases and our own ego. Pogo said it best when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Challenges we see —

Now we turn to the many challenges that can easily overwhelm us if we let them.

There are so many that we should categorize them instead. Challenges in our business can be found in:

  1. Money — Cash flow or the lack of capital
  2. Employees – High turnover and low production
  3. Competition – from unfriendly competitors to downright nasty ones
  4. Market changes – customers, the economy, fads, and trends
  5. Management – communications, planning, or lack of, and decisions.

Missing the target

One of the biggest problems in addressing your challenge is mistaking a challenge or problem that is actually only a symptom. When you don’t address the cause of the challenge you can spend a lot of resources and feel good about some visible change, only to have the problem reoccur when you least expect it.

There is a process of consulting that helps management teams and others to push hard into finding root causes to problems and not just surface issues.

Money

Money is almost never the problem. Cash flow and capital is a symptom of too little income, too much outgo, or poor planning of profits. Cash flow is only the yardstick that tells you there is a problem.

Employees

Since we all know you cannot control people, this can be a real problem. There are many potential causes of employee challenges. It could be that you hired poorly, don’t pay well, don’t train effectively or don’t manage your employees.

What we do is look at what can be controlled and what can’t. Can we improve our hiring, training, and managing? I have never seen a company that cannot improve in this area.

Competition

From a strategic perspective trying to find space in the marketplace where you can stay away from sharks would seem best. But the problem is that there seem to be sharks everywhere. Here you need to rely on other strategies to be able to quietly yet effectively move into and navigate safer waters.

While there are many who take the attitude of “I’ll fight them!” you better have a better game plan than they do or you are going to lose. Here is where the phrase “working smarter, not harder” would really apply.

Market changes

In these areas, those who pay attention and are observant generally make out the best. Your competitors have these same issues as you do, so the business that can effectively turn these to their advantage first gets the upper hand.

We all know of Kodak, Blockbuster, and others that are no longer in existence because they could not change and adapt to the changes in the marketplace. There are steps that you can take to be prepared for these changes.

Management

This is usually a difficult issue to address. There are so many hidden influences going on that if this is causing some challenges it is difficult to solve. Not impossible but often difficult.

In a bank client of mine, all of the research I did and my analysis pointed to the CEO as the biggest problem with the many problems taking place. The CEO denied any of them existed. I was able to lead a process that helped the CEO see the issues and make some critical changes.

What about you?

The biggest take away here is to look beyond the apparent problem and look for root causes if you are going to remove or overcome these challenges.

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Three Big Marketing Mistakes Small Businesses Make!

Small businesses complain that their marketing is just not working the way that they feel it should. Here are three big marketing mistakes that small businesses often make trying to grow their business.

 1. Having all tactics, and no strategy

You keep trying things and you keep what works and throw out the rest. But what if you could leverage one tactic off of another? This would boost the effectiveness of each tactic. In order to do that you need to start with a strategy. Focus your efforts and resources to accomplish the most important goals first. This will provide the best results.

2. Not measuring results

Many will say that you really can’t measure the results of marketing, but that is not totally true. Part of the problem is that you have not designed your marketing to be measurable. With a little adjustment many marketing tactics can be measured. Once you see the numbers accurately, then you can make the most effective changes to get the best results.

 3. Not aligning your sales with marketing.

When you treat sales and marketing as two different functions then you lose some of the efficiency that is possible. Marketing and sales must be seen from the customer’s perspective and need to reinforce each other with the same or complimentary message. When both of these are in alignment you will see dramatic improvements in results.

Correcting these three mistakes can really have an impact on your marketing results, which should translate into more income. But some really struggle with making these corrections and getting a different perspective can often make the difference.

Call me (980-241-0189) to discuss growing your business and correcting these three big mistakes in marketing. Or email me at Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com and ask about a Marketing Strategy evaluation for your business. Then get ready to grow!

Crossroads Consultants is a Business Management Consulting company that services small and mid-sized businesses and professionals with profitable growth strategies. Your customers don’t care about your growth. Ultimately, it is an inside job. We can help!



How Can I think About My Future When I Am So Busy Now?

Right now I am so busy that I don’t have time to really think about my future. I work long hard hours now and I don’t see how I can do anything different.

Maybe you are finding yourself with this attitude about your business or career. There are so many things to do now, how do you add more to it? Brian Tracey once said, “There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.”
Here are five things that can change your future.

1. Decide. What it is that you want? Call it a purpose, objective or goal, but write down what you really want to accomplish either in your business or life.
2. Take Stock. Figure out where you are right now. Describe your life and business. This includes your resources, the environment that you are in, the friends and contacts that you have. Everything that has value or might have value is important to recognize.
3. Anticipate. What are the obstacles that are currently standing in your way for reaching your purpose or goals? What is very likely to stand in your way in the future? Keep the future obstacles in mind as well so that you can prepare for them and not allow them to sabotage your plans.
4. Plan. Put together a plan that is flexible and yet realistic in being able to achieve the goals or purpose that you have set out to accomplish. Most people stumble right here. They think that a list of goals is a plan. But there is more to it than that. You must include time frames, costs (financial, energy, skills, etc.) support from others, etc. if you are going to put a realistic plan together.
5. Execute. Flight plans and road trip plans don’t do any good if you don’t get the car started or go to the airport. You must ACT if you are going to reach your goals. If you procrastinate in any area, understand that it is an obstacle that you must find a way to overcome or you will be stuck right where you are. Action focused on the plan is the key. Change plans carefully and if necessary. But keep moving forward.

You can achieve so much more than you ever thought possible when you put a plan together and develop the skills and systems to effectively utilize the resources that you have and will have in the future.

Who has time to get it all done?

When we are working at 100% now, who has the time to expand a business or increase marketing, sales, etc. We have plans for growing our business but who has the time to implement the ideas?

This is much more common than people realize. We have cut back expenses to the bare minimums, which means we as the business owner are going to carry as much of the load as possible and wonder when will we be able to invest just a little bit more time and money to help grow the business.

If we do invest a little bit to grow the business will it be enough to move forward and create the needed cash flow to keep that investment going? And can we sustain the pressure and weight of adding more to our plate on a daily basis. Even if we hire someone on a part-time or contract basis, we will need to manage that person and project.

So how do we get ahead? How do we get to the point that we can reduce the stress, increase the cash reserves, and free up just a little bit of time?

There are several profitable initiatives that can be implemented in almost every business to capture some elusive cash flow and profit. The question is do you know what they are and can you implement the initiative yourself or will you need help?

Your concern should be to find the quickest return on your investment so that you can continue to invest and find additional and bigger cash flow and profit gains.

A. Low or no profit Products and services

One place to start would be to search for low or no profit products and services and to eliminate them or make them more profitable. Anywhere from 20 to 40% of all products and services fall into this category. Often it is subsidized by other products and services and we don’t even know it.

 B. No or low profit customers

Another possibility would be to find the low or no profit customer and show them why the cost for keeping them as your customer is higher than others and then renegotiate your price with them. While this may not be possible every time, many times a customer will accept a change in what they are being charged if they understand that it needs to be a win-win for everyone.

 These are just two initiatives that a business owner can use. There are many more to consider. Once you can squeeze a some extra from your business you can continue to develop plans to really grow your profits. 

If you have any questions about how you can implement these cash flow and profit initiatives call Crossroads Consultants at: 980-241-0189.

Time to get organized?

What if you had the time to do all that you needed to do? What would you do? We have all heard the statement that time is money and the even more important “time is life”. But the question is what will you do with your time?

Many of my clients and business professionals I talk to complain about not being organized, not having the time, not having the information they need when they need it, missing deadlines, and feeling like they are just being run ragged. Most people do not realize that being organized is not a gift that a few people have, but is actually a skill set which can be learned and developed over time. The question is, are you working on developing that skill? It is something that I also struggle with and work on.

 Being organized is not about being neat, or making your office look pretty. But it is about being more effective in your actions and operations. It takes effort to be organized and it may not be an efficient task, but the return on our investment will be much greater because of our effectiveness. Being organized means that you have the information you need when you need it, about being on time for meetings with the proper resources. Being organized is first about doing the right things and then doing them right.

So what are you going to do to become more organized? There are a number of good books out that can help you develop this skill set. Go to a library or bookstore and look for books on organizing. This must be a conscientious decision and an investment of time and energy. Learn this skill and it will pay back many times in the future. Right now there is a little “Mini Edition” out called, “Organizing for Dummies”. For $1.00 at Staples, it might be one of the best investments you can make.