How Do I Grow My Business When I Am Already Maxed Out? — Phase IV

How do you grow your business when you are already maxed out?

 Phase IV – Formulating a plan

For those who jump to this article, you cannot effectively formulate a plan if you have not read and follow previous articles. There are critical pieces of the puzzle that you are missing.

Missing information

Formulating a plan requires that you have most if not all of the relevant information. While 100% accurate, up to date information may not be realistic, you must be able to address these areas. To grow your business, you must know three things. But before we get into that, there is a subject that may get in the way of your growth.

Do you have the capacity to grow your business? Can you handle a 30 or 50% increase in your business? How much growth can you handle before you need to start investing in increasing your capacity?  Crossroads Consultants can provide you with a Capacity Analysis to help you understand the costs related to your current capacity and capacity growth. We will assume that capacity is not an issue.

Know what makes you special

Most businesses believe they know this when in reality they don’t. There is a difference between why people come back to you as a repeat client and why they came to you in the first place. You need to know both if you are going to be able to effectively grow your business.

Know who your customer is

Over time we lose sight of what makes our customers different. How has your customer changed over the last several years? What are the demographics and psychographics of your customer base? If you can (and usually it can be done with some work) identify those traits or characteristics that make your customers different from everyone else, you will be much more effective in reaching potential clients.

Connect your message to your audience

First of all messaging is a blend of your value to the prospect and the uniqueness of your client base in how they receive a message. This can be some of the most difficult parts of doing business today. It is an art in crafting the right words to say, and impressions to give to the public hoping to catch the attention of your prospect.

Second, understand the most effective and cost-efficient methods of delivering your message. Billboards still have value for certain types of businesses. The point is to not eliminate a particular marketing method because of your bias or perception of what works. What your prospects think is what is important.

Understanding the correlation between real cost and real impact is often missing. Something like Facebook may seem to be low in cost may be very costly in time. And just because you get a thousand likes on a post, doesn’t necessarily translate into sales or whatever your goal is.

The next step is to create and implement a tactical plan that provides you with the results that you are looking for. While it takes a lot to be able to grow your business if you have the right goals and resources it can be very exciting. We’ll look at that next time.

There are only twenty-four hours in a day and you cannot spend your time doing everything. In the final piece of the puzzle, we will discuss how to make it happen. Reaching your goals without sacrificing your life is the real prize.

Stan Broesder, MBA is a business consultant and owns Crossroads Consultants. He helps businesses to address efficiency and effectiveness issues that affect business growth. Stan can be reached for a free initial consultation at Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

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Is Your Business Losing Money And You Don’t Even Know It?

Just like people who are sick with a terminal disease and don’t even know it, so also business can be running backwards and not know it. Usually this scenario is blamed on the market, new competition, and poor capitalization of the business and a whole host of other reasons. But the reality is someone is not paying attention to some very important details.

Three losses that you may not even realize your business is experiencing:

  1. If your business is not adjusting the price for different circumstances, you could be losing money. Too many times a sale is discounted when it doesn’t need to be in order to make a sale, it’s just easier for the sales person. Also when an order is expedited, or special orders are agreed to without considering the cost of those changes. The sale itself can cause a business to lose money because those who are agreeing to the sale don’t know or care about the real costs.

 

  1. Some companies are losing money on future sales because of poor quality products or service. As an example, how many restaurants have served you poor quality food or delivered terrible service and you have not been back. This cost doesn’t really show up on the spreadsheets but the cost is real. Instead, many businesses blame the economy or something else.

 

  1. Every business has the same problem of limited resources. It is the nature of business and life. The difference between successful businesses and unsuccessful businesses is how they allocate those resources. The better decisions you make the better the return on that investment. When you pay more for capital than you should, or hire people who are not engaged in your business, or go for a cheaper vendor and therefore quality suffers, you could be making some very costly choices.

 

The point is that there are many ways to lose money and eventually the business that don’t fit on a nice profit and loss statement. You must be looking beyond what is visible to be able to make better decisions. At times getting different perspectives on your business from outside sources is like using a second mirror to see the back of your head like at a barber shop.

Don’t allow an ailing business go very long without a serious check up from a specialist in business, not just someone who specializes in finance, marketing, accounting or one of the other disciplines of business. There are not many who are truly business specialists. Just because someone ran one business well, doesn’t mean they understand the principles of business that are impacting your business.

Stan Broesder, MBA is the owner of Crossroads Consultants and specializes in helping business professionals to improve the skills, strategies and systems needed to increase profitability, reduce stress and grow a business. For information on creating a smooth running, high performance, profitable and growing business email Stan directly at: Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

Customer Experience is Crown Jewel for Publix

Have you noticed recently the ads for Publix? The whole ad is based on (www.MyPublixStory.com) customers that had a great experience because of “little” things. These are not the normal, deep discounts, super specials or great variety, type of promotions. The whole thing that Publix is promoting is SERVICE. Not just the usual service you see companies promoting. They are promoting exceptional service from the perspective of the customer.

When you promote yourself as giving exceptional quality service, you better deliver. This ad not only is speaking to their customers and prospective customers, it is also talking to their employees. In this promotion it is creating that team feeling and pride. “I work for Publix and WE provide great service!”

Exceptional service is not about giving away the store or being all things to all people. Exceptional service is about understanding your ideal customer to the point that you feel what they feel, you think like they think, and you anticipate how you can make their purchasing experience exceptional.

Before you decide to jump onto the “exceptional service” bandwagon and ending up creating another fad that your employees put up with until you get on to the next brilliant idea, you need to think. Exceptional service does not happen overnight. It takes tremendous planning and work. But when prospects are not thinking about cheaper prices, it really helps the financial side of business.

Most businesses make the mistake of thinking they have great service. Here are a few questions for you to ask yourself.
1. Do think that your service is significantly better than your closest competitors?
2. Do you see your business as having exceptional amount of referrals?
3. Are you getting significantly more referrals than your competitors?

If you are seriously thinking about using an “Exceptional Service” strategy in your business, talk it out with others before making a decision. Of course, I believe we can help.



Stan Broesder is a business growth and marketing specialist with Crossroads Consultants. For over 25 years Stan has helped businesses to grow and to overcome obstacles. Today with digital online marketing Crossroads Consultants is made up of a team of strategic and tactical growth specialists. For more information on growing your business, Contact Stan@MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

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!



Solve your number one problem — Start today!

Solving this one problem makes solving all of the other problems easier. In his book, “Six Disciplines Execution Revolution” Gary Harpst explains that there are really only two things that you have to master to have the life and business that you want.

Have you ever struggled and wished for some help in getting everything done? Have you wanted to have more control in your life? Are you searching for the secret to success, or just how to get through the end of the month?

There are two things to Master. Once you have mastered these two things you can accomplish just about anything. It isn’t real complicated but it does take some motivation. Once you master these things, you will realize that there is almost always someone, or now somewhere to get the knowledge you want or need to succeed. You will also realize there is almost always someone who has the skills that you need to succeed.

So what are these two things? Before that, ask yourself if you want to live a life of chance or intention. Do you believe that luck; chance or fate is the way to live your life or is choice, intention and determination a better way to go? Now don’t just casually give a flippant answer, think about it. Decide right now which way do you believe to be the best for your future? Of course no one wants to put their future in the hands of chance, luck or fate, but what is the alternative?

The first thing that you must master is being able to pull together all the relevant information and to create a blueprint or plan to specifically map out or layout what your future is going to look like and how exactly you are going to get there. It is that simple, just not that easy.

I recognize that real architects didn’t just pick up a pencil and start designing a home and overnight create the world’s best residence. But most of them started somewhere back when Crayons were being used, and not today’s computers. It may take a little work creating a plan and then making it better, and learning, and then making it even better. But if you don’t start planning by doing, you will never create the plan that you want. No one else is going to create the plan for you that you want. Jack Welch is credited with saying, and a book is titled: “Control your own destiny or someone else will”

Let’s revisit your decision to put your future in the hands of fate, luck or chance or to put your future in the hands of decision, choice, and intention. If you are not planning you’re taking a chance. I wish you luck, because that is all you have to go on. Or you can plan to succeed; ultimately it is your choice.

Assuming that you have created a plan, “any” plan, what is the second ingredient? Well as difficult as creating a life changing plan is, this second part can be much more difficult. But if your plan is a good one, then this second element is taken into account. Besides having a good plan, The second ingredient that you need is to be able to execute that plan efficiently. That’s right; the world’s best plans will not build a house or accomplish anything for that matter. Someone has to do the work of implementing or executing the plan to see accomplishments.

If the plan is a good one it will take into account the skills and abilities of the person who must execute it. It may include that you take a course in learning a skill or figuring out the best way to hire someone else to do some of the work in the plan. But the work must get done.

So the next time you have a problem ask yourself, “do I have a plan that I can execute to solve this problem?” If not, remember that you are taking a chance. Start with the information that you know. Think about what information you need to know to make the best decisions, and then plan out a way to learn what you need to know. It may only be a step to solving a problem but it is a step in the right direction.

The purpose of this article is to get you to really think and be hones to yourself about planning. Do you think about things or do you really plan? Make it a practice and you will continue to get better at it. We will continue this discussion, you can plan on it, I know I am.

Stan Broesder is a Business Consultant with Crossroads Consultants. He can be reached at 980-241-0189, or you can visit his website: www.MyCrossroadsConsultants.com

How to kill the dreams of a great strategic plan!

Many people say that strategic planning doesn’t work. That if you create a plan one day, it is obsolete the next. Or you have these great plans and then you can’t implement them, so what good are they? But it doesn’t have to be that way. The biggest problem with strategic plans is there is not enough thought put into them because most people just want to get it over with instead of creating a tool that will help them to reach their dreams. There are some strategic plan killers that you need to be aware of.

1. Going through the motions.
When management is in trouble, someone will get the bright idea that the solution is to just create a strategic plan. While it may be a tool for the solution, the mere paper won’t solve your problems. In order for a strategic plan to be effective you have to do it right and within the boundaries of which it is designed to work. Too many business owners sketch out their thoughts with a little input from a couple of key managers and then say “Here it is, our strategic plan!!

2. Preconceived notions and a closed mind.
Another killer is not really having an open mind during the process. The process turns into a “let’s justify what we want to do” instead of pulling the facts into the process and allowing it to generate the best strategy for the company. This may seem minor, but it is also one of the biggest reasons why strategic planning is not done in the first place. “I know where we need to go and what we need to do” I am just having some difficulty figuring out how to get it done”. Exactly! When the strategy is right the “how” is almost obvious.

3. Power plays, agendas and politics.
Too many times the process is crippled by those who have their own agenda in mind. From the beginning they have determined to figure out how to get a project, or program into the plan so that there department is better off and they are the hero with their people. But power plays compete against others also with agendas. One member in the process knows what you want and will indicate to you that you better support his agenda or he will make sure yours is killed along the way. Or after what you did to him last year, now it is pay back and you are out as far as they’re concerned. When individuals on the team think they are more important than the company, its purpose, values and all stakeholders, you will end up with a plan that will fail.

4. Not thinking about implementation.
When your plans are designed without thinking about how the plan is going to be implemented you are in for trouble. Part of the process is to assess where you are as far as your assets, resources and opportunities. Looking at your strengths and weaknesses, you determine where you can position the company to have the greatest competitive advantage. If you try to claim a position that you do not have the skills and knowledge to defend, you are going to have a difficult time. You have to think about those who will be implementing the plan.

5. Lack of creativity.
Closed minds, agendas, power plays, going through the motions, and no thought about implementation will cause a major lack of creativity. Each one of these killers will kill the creative thinking process that is needed to create a good strategic plan. That creativity will help to strategically position the company where it can best defend itself in the market place and enable it to grow into higher profit margin territory. It takes open minds that are free of reprisals, political consequences and preconceived agendas.

The problem is that no one in the process walks into a strategic planning meeting and announces that they have an agenda, closed minds, etc. They come in with smiles, enthusiasm, and say all the right things. It is the facilitator of the meetings that must keep a watchful eye to make sure that the pure process isn’t hijacked along the way.

Strategic planning is one of the best tools that management can use to secure the long-term viability and security of the company. Follow the process and make sure you have a skilled facilitator who cannot have an agenda beyond a successful strategic outcome.

Which way to go? Too many choices!

On Friday morning you see a pile of tasks on your schedule that kept falling over from each day during the week. Two items on Monday dropped into an already full Tuesday, which then dropped 5 items onto Wednesday. Now on Friday it is way more than you can do and you hope you can push it out over next week and so you dump it on to Monday.

Too many opportunities
In business today there are so many opportunities and choices and things to do. All of them are urgent and important, at least it seems that way. So how do you handle phone calls, complaints, emergencies, emails, proposals, bills, critical undelivered materials that you need to get your project completed, and on, and on, and on?

The Big Rocks Story
There is a great story that is often told in seminars that deal with planning and time management, but most people miss the point. It is generally called “The Big Rocks” you can read the story <here:> or go to: http://www.successfulacademic.com/ezines/apr252005.htm

There will always be more to do than you can possibly get done, more opportunities, no matter if you see them all or not. The key is developing your skill of prioritizing. It is a matter of being able to look at all of the tasks, opportunities and urgencies and determining which are the most important to do at this time. Okay, I would agree it is a little more difficult than that. But if you look at a few key principles of setting priorities you will at least improve your skills and start making great strides in the right direction.

Not values again!
Deciding what is most important is where you start the process. And in order to do that you have to decide what your values are. “You have got to be kidding, really?!” It is like the old joke when a robber meets a couple out for a walk. The robber jumps out from the bushes and says “your money or your life!” So the man grabs his wife and shoves her toward the robber who is stunned and says, “What are you doing?” Too which the man replies, “I thought you said my money or my wife”. Yes values are important. You wake up in the middle of the night because you thought you heard something. When you get halfway through the house you realize there is a fire at the far end of the house, what do you do? 1. Grab your most recent Sports Illustrated, 2. Rescue the fish 3. Get the marshmallows or 4. Oh, yeah, wake up your family.

Life isn’t that easy, but it helps to understand ahead of time what your values are and even which are more important than others. Loyalty is a very important value, but is it more important than integrity? You get two big project opportunities, but you cannot handle both. You must decide which has priority, money or an opportunity to expand into a great developing area of your industry. Again the choices won’t be that easy. In fact, the problem is that the choices are subtle, and NOW. The choices that are the most difficult are the ones that demand your decision right now and the consequences are sometimes obscured.

Watch your emotions
Too many times our emotions play a role in our prioritizing skills. When we don’t have our values down clearly it is an opportunity for our emotions to create conflict and frustration. Having a clear understanding about our goals and our values is critical to being able to prioritize our lives.

Learn to see end results
In developing our ability to prioritize our opportunities and tasks we need to develop our ability to see the value of the outcomes of our efforts. To be able to think through the effects of our work and the value of those results is critical and is missed by a lot of people. We’ve all known someone who could buy things at garage sales or from the classified ads and could turn them around and make money on them. They would see a motorcycle or boat along the road with a for sale sign on it and the next thing you know they bought it and then sold it within a week for a nice profit. How do they do that? It isn’t luck. They know the value of certain items and they know a deal when they see it. What happens is some of us try that and lose our shirt and scratch our heads. You have to know the value of the outcome.

Clearly understanding your goals and your values and understanding the consequences of our choices, while keeping your emotions in check, are important to being able to prioritize your life. Creating the discipline to follow through on what you know is best, and to do the most important thing now is the key to success.