The Business Edge Blog

December 6, 2012

#1 Critical Ingredient for Sustainable Growth

growing plantSustainable Growth

There is an almost magical component to sustainable business growth, but it’s not obvious, and most business owners are not spending the time on it to reap the greatest rewards.  The key word is “sustainable” – you can have growth without this component, but it won’t be easy.

When you think of business growth…what comes to mind?

Great marketing?   Really effective sales?  New products?  Super flashy advertising?  Signing a huge new client?

All of these contribute to business growth, but there’s a more fundamental attribute found in sustainable, successful businesses. It can make the difference when it comes to taking your business beyond the brute force stage (where you’re putting in a lot more than you’re getting out).

That secret ingredient is Systems!

What are Systems? Simply put, effective Systems are a combination of written processes, tools, automation and applications that allow you, the business owner, to get things done the right way without actually doing it yourself.  A successful business is made up of a whole series of systems that work together in a seamless way, generally without any direct input or oversight from the owner.

Want to get a quick read on how well you’re doing when it comes to Systems in your business?  Here’s a short quiz you can use to judge your progress in Systems.  Score yourself from 1 to 10 on each statement…10 if you are in alignment with the statement, 1 if you aren’t even close.

#1 – As the owner of the business, I fully understand that my primary role is to ensure that the business is run by systems (step-by-step processes and procedures).  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#2 – All of the functions necessary to successfully run my company have been clearly identified and documented in a company operations manual.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#3 – We regularly consider outsourcing options to reduce expenses and increase efficiencies.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#4 – We regularly review our systems to ensure they are as efficient and effective as practical in delivering the desired outcome.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

#5 – I’m confident that my employees would know what to do if the leadership team or I were not present for an extended period of time.  Score _____ 1 to 10.

What’s your score?

How did you do?  This quick quiz certainly isn’t comprehensive, but it will give you a pretty good idea of where you and your business stand from a Systems perspective.  There are several key ideas represented here:

  • Do you view your primary role – where you spend the most time (as the business owner) as purposely building your business…and the systems that run your business?
  • Are you documenting everything down to a level that a new employee could jump right in?
  • Are you and your team consistently looking for ways to improve?

So how did you score?  If you scored above 40…then you’re in pretty good shape…keep up the good work!

If you scored between 30 and 40, then there are some things to work on, but at least you’re headed in the right direction.

If scored between 20 and 30, you at least understand it’s important, but you have some work to do.

If you scored less than 20, then it’s a good bet that you feel that you don’t have time to read this post and you are working really, really hard all the time…and your business is at risk!

When you’re ready to unleash some magic and start building systems into your business, the best bet is to carve out some time – schedule it – and identify the big components of your business (where your business comes from, how you close business, how you fulfill your sales, and how you collect business income from sales).  Once you’ve got this defined, in writing, then you can start digging into the details of each over time.

Make sure you get your employees involved…they probably know the details in a lot of areas better than you do and they’re going to have to live with whatever system or process is developed – so include them in the solution.

Get an outside perspective – consider hiring a business coach or joining some kind of advisory board like The Boardroom to help you focus and get some insight that might be hard to come by on your own.

What is your experience with developing business Systems?  I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comment section below.

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December 13, 2011

Goal Setting for Success in 2012

Step #1 Defining Success –

One of the key things that I find helps determine success for my clients as they head into the new year is a clear plan.  Don’t get scared off – I am not going to ask you to create a formal business plan – I’ll save that for a later post.

First I’ll ask you to fast forward in your mind to December 31st 2012.  If we were sitting together on that day, what would you say that would convince me that 2012 was a success for your business?  Is it the number of new clients?  Is it the end of year income statement?  Is it being able to take time off while the business keeps running?

Step #2 Focus on Success –

Once there is a definition of what “success” for 2012 will look like, we have a place to focus throughout 2012.  How can the goal be broken down into milestones throughout the year?  Let’s say the goal is to gain 52 new clients.  Using simple math, that would mean adding 13 new clients a quarter.  Now we have a yardstick to know if we’re on target or not.  Every quarter, take a count.  Is what we’re doing working, or do we need to try new tactics to reach the 52 mark by December 31st 2012?

If we need 13 new clients every quarter to get to 52, and there are 52 weeks in a year, we can work on gaining 1 new client a week.  How many people do we have to reach to create 1 new client?  If the closure rate is 1:1 or 100%, then we only need to talk to 1 new person a week.  If the closure rate is 25%, then we need to make sure systems are in place to connect with 4 people a week to lead to signing on 1 as a new client.  What strategies are in place to get you in front of those 4 new people every week?  Are you doing public speaking, presenting educational nuggets in person?  Are you blogging?  Are you faithfully networking in places where your ideal clients will be found so that you can increase the closure rate?  On December 31st 2012 it will be the things you put in place now and throughout the year that will make the success measureable with those 52 new clients!

Or….if your goal is to be able to step away from the business every once in a while without affecting the success, try it in small bites.  If you’re gone for an afternoon what comes up?  Can you develop systems to address that issue and issues like it so that they don’t require your personal involvement?  Get the systems in place and try being gone again.  Keep increasing the time away and quickly create systems to deal with the issues that come up.  By December 31st you may be on a beach with your business successfully running back home!

Share with us your vision of success on December 31st, 2012.  I look forward to seeing your business grow!

September 6, 2011

The #1 Business Lesson from Not Having A Barbie

Business and Barbie

When I was growing up my Mom decided that she did not want me to have a Barbie.  She felt it set unrealistic expectations of what I would grow up to be and the life I would desire.  She probably was right.

Some business owners (regardless of Barbie ownership) don’t understand that it takes hard work and a good plan to get to the point that there is a red convertible in the drive, closets full of clothes, a house with many rooms, an RV and endless other toys for time off.  Sometimes they get frustrated and quit because they are not reaching the expectations they had for their business success fast enough.

Do you have a business plan?  Seriously – even if you have been in business for a decade or more – do you have a sense of where your business is compared to where you planned it to be at this point in time?  What expectations do you have for the future?  How will you get from where you are to where it is you plan to be?  Some business owners “make it” and it looks easy, like Barbie’s life.  The rest of us need to know where our customers will come from, how to reach them, how to serve them well, and how to set up systems and procedures as we grow so that we are not the limiting factor in the business.

It’s starting to feel like the end of the year with the fall weather.  Reflect on where your business is relative to where you had planned for it to be this year.  If you are not where you hoped to be, there is still time to make a difference.  In planning for next year, set aside time to develop a business plan.  It does not need to be as formal as a banker would like to see, but something that helps outline action steps you need to take and that you can refer to throughout the year and make adjustments as you go along.  Need help?  Let me know.  This is where a Business Coach can help!

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