One of the best ways to begin thinking about your organization’s long-term strategy is to start with a simple statement: “We believe….”. It’s eye-opening to clearly outline the organization’s fundamental beliefs – why you are in business, what challenges you see in the world, and how you plan to solve them.
I firmly believe that a big, bold vision is what motivates people. Telling your team that five years from now your organization will look pretty much the same as it is today, serve pretty much the same customers – even though the need and/or the market is growing – is pretty much NOT motivating. Your employees will do basically the same things they do today. You will not attract big investment or donor dollars. You will NOT see excitement in the marketplace. You probably won’t attract those massively talented people you want.
If you and your company have outlined a solid strategic plan and it seems to be moving at a glacier’s pace (or worse), you need to figure out why. Here are some of the biggest issues I’ve seen (and some ideas on how to beat them). Think about these and see if you as the leader are experiencing any of them:
So, your business has been successful and you want it to continue growing. Who doesn’t? But you should know that there are a number of pitfalls most growing businesses run up against. Some are things you can foresee and some are not. And many of them can be significant enough to derail your company’s growth – or even kill it completely. Here are just a few of the challenges you will probably face as your organization grows.
How many times have we approached a situation with expectations, read the signals around us, and then just lost it when our expectations and the signals we read don’t match with reality. Are we able to adjust? Are we able to get the results we want by taking a different path? Sometimes we are so married to having things go a particular way that any variation throws us off. We give up. We panic. We freak out. We shut down. As a leader, you have to read the signs around you...and then adjust your approach as needed.
I believe we should all trust our intuition more than we do. I’m not suggesting we make reckless decisions. I’m saying listen to the inputs and the advice and in the end make the decision that just feels right. And, yes, sometimes that will go against the market research or go against what brilliant (ahem) strategists might advise you to do. More often than not you will make the right decision. Trust yourself more often.
Entrepreneurship and small-business ownership is glamorous, right? Well…..sure….ummmm……..more often than not. OK, let’s just say it and get it out in the open. Sometimes running your small business can be a real challenge. The glamor of day-to-day business – selling, churning out products, making deliveries, and (maybe our fave!) doing the accounting – is not lost on you! So, who can blame us if every once in a while we need a little jumpstart? More than your daily venti latte can deliver. We need excitement. Something to be enthusiastic about. We need something to get our (business) motors running again.
One of my favorite definitions of "strategy" is “Strategy is the creation of forced choices“. I thought this was a wonderful way to describe it. Properly developing a strategy does mean that we are choosing a path and it does mean we are giving up other things. And that’s the beauty of it! Too often I see organizations work without a strategy for many reasons (or excuses). Let's not be afraid to be more targeted and not try to serve everyone.
Visualizing the future. A waste of time. Can’t be done. What’s the point? Do these sound familiar? I hear them all the time. And I completely disagree. In my 20+ years of being a management consultant, a business advisor, and an entrepreneur I have found that organizations that take the time to develop a clear, concise long-term vision typically find that the benefits far outweigh the investment.
When you implement a customer feedback system it’s critical to look for these types of disincentives or areas that could lead to false, misleading, or incomplete information. Or if you have a process already in place you need to look at it critically and identify where problems might lie. Here are some ideas to make sure that your customer feedback is not being unduly influenced.
Well, we'll finally back in town. Colorado was a blast - cold weather and some snow. Just what some of us from a warm climate like Texas desperately need! And I guess we brought some of that cold weather with us too. Last weekend's high temperatures were in the 30s - cold for Houston. But in true Texas fashion, today's high is 80. Yikes! Annnywaaay.....here are some recent articles for business owners and business leaders you shouldn't miss.
You’ve seen the ads zillions of times. Wow! Awesome pricing! A great deal! A special bundle. And then waaaaaaay down in that tiny little fine print at the bottom: “New customers only”. I don’t know about you, but if I am a current customer of that company I always think “What about me?”. Why do people who aren’t even a customer get the best deals? What about people like me that have been a customer of yours for months or years? Do we ever get special treatment? I argue that companies should start to spend a little less time trolling for new business and invest a little more time taking care of those loyal customers.
Hey guys! I home you're having a great Monday so far. For many of us it's the beginning of Thanksgiving week so it's a little bit slower....or it's frantically busy with everyone trying to get things done before everyone disappears for the holiday. To get your week started off right, as I typically do, I wanted to share some of the best reads I have come across in the last week. So here ya go!
The other day I was running on a trail that passes behind the parking lot of a local library branch. At that moment a big waste truck was picking up the library’s trash bin at the back of the parking lot. As the truck’s big arms lifted the dumpster and emptied it into the truck most of the trash dropped in as it’s supposed to. But some didn’t. Some trash was strewn across the parking lot. What did the truck driver do? He backed the truck up (even driving over the top of some of the trash that had fallen to the ground) and drove away to the next stop on his route. I started thinking about what the library staff would think when they arrived and saw that trash in their parking lot. The word “thrilled” didn’t come to mind. Another idea popped into my head. What did that truck driver understand his job to be? What if he saw his job another way?
Ah, growing your business. For many of us that has a really nice ring to it. But over the years I’ve seen enough companies grow to know that it’s not all roses all the time. Every phase of a business has its challenges. As I recalled that conversation and my experience seeing a number of companies grow I thought you might find it helpful to think about the less-glamorous, sometimes challenging side of business growth. This post outlines a few things to look for - and how to deal with them..
Over the years I’ve conducted numerous market research projects for my clients. There are so many pieces that have to be done right to make the study a success. And you won’t be surprised to know that one important piece is the thing at the center of the research…the questionnaire. Constructing it well makes a lot of difference to how much you learn. So, here are a few tips to help get the survey’s questionnaire right.
Hey guys! Welcome to another week - and Halloween! Fun news. I just spent the morning in jury duty. I know. I know. There are surely more exciting ways to spend your morning. But I have to admit, it was nice to see so many people from all walks of life there answering the call and doing their civic duty. It may not be a part of our democracy we love, but it is one of the foundations of our unique judicial system.
Although I'm getting a later start today I still wanted to share with you a bunch of great things I read (and a few I wrote!) over the last week or so. Here goes! Enjoy!