• From Vision to Reality, with ACTION

    Business-Vision

    Search for advice on how to write a business strategy, and the results are overwhelming.

    Look for advice on how to take action, how to implement that strategy…and the results are as disheartening as hearing that 87% of businesses fail to execute their business strategies[1].

    This number is shocking, particularly when you consider how much effort is put into writing a business strategy…and how exciting the big ideas created there can be.

    But it’s not as shocking as this number:

    For every $1 billion spent on business strategy development, $109 million is wasted through failure to execute[2].

    Where does the excitement go?

    Why aren’t businesses converting that energy into action?

    Even among companies that don’t fail—companies that are considered to be “high performance companies,”—33% report delay in action, 34% fail to consistently address a lack of action, and 11% tolerate inaction on a long-term basis[3].

    And to repeat: they are the ones doing well. If your business could bring down those percentages for itself, just think how much you could accomplish.

    How can you do that? How can you create a culture of action among your team members, so that all of the great energy built into your business strategy gets translated to ACTION that increases efficiency and profits?

    Here is a bit of advice for taking the action necessary for implementing your business strategy:

    • View ACTION as a necessity, not as an option. There is only one thing that can bridge the gap between vision and reality, and that thing is targeted action that is aligned with the SMART goals you have set forth in your business strategy. Begin to view action in this way, and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate or to avoid it altogether.
    • See ACTION as more important than your business strategy. Yes, you read that correctly. Think about it: Isn’t a mediocre business strategy that is implemented more valuable than a brilliant business strategy that is not implemented? Just imagine the results you can experience when you implement a brilliant plan.
    • Stop putting perfection before ACTION. All too often, business owners adopt the belief that all operations, all products, all communications…must be 100% perfect before taking any action. They submerge themselves in self-help, in mentoring, in book-reading, and the procurement of mentoring before taking any action. This thinking generally means that no action will be taken, because nothing is ever perfect. Remember that adjustments can be made whilst marketing, whilst making connections, whilst building relationships…without wasting precious time.

    Perfect = Poverty!

    • Stop using the “I’m too busy” excuse. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks of running (or starting up) a business. And sometimes this becomes so consuming that you’ll put it before executing your business strategy, thinking that you must complete those routine tasks in order to keep your business afloat. Always remember this: Without taking action, you won’t be busy for long. Your business will be non-existent. Ask yourself exactly how vital those daily and weekly tasks are. If they are indispensable, hire someone to cover them.
    • Act in the present. Do not dwell on what you should have done yesterday or last month. Do not think about what you will do next week. Instead, be very blunt with yourself about what you can accomplish now, in this moment. No matter if it’s making a phone call, writing an article, submitting a proposal, refocussing a team member…do it now.
    • Understand that ideas—and motivations—go stale. Remember that intense excitement you felt when you came up with your very first business idea? Well, maybe you don’t. You see, immediate action is necessary not just for getting things done, but for motivational and inspirational purposes, too. Every day that an idea sits in your mind without implementation equals a proportionate drop in interest. Before you know it, your brilliant idea doesn’t seem so brilliant any more. Motivation is gone. And you’re on to looking for alternate ideas that are, in all honesty, less likely to be as brilliant as your first. For these reasons, I recommend taking action immediately after your business strategy is written, so that ideas and excitement are fresh, and no opportunity dies in the bread drawer.
    • See ACTION as a competitive advantage. It’s easy to sit and think about what the competition might be doing right now, or wondering how you can match or out-do their actions. It takes courage, however, to focus less on what they’re doing and just do what you do best. Take that step, and believe that you are outdoing your competition with every decision to take action NOW…because statistics say they might not be doing that.
    • ACTION begets ACTION. Once you take action, you may find it difficult to stop taking action. The satisfaction (dopamine rush) you experience from accomplishing something you’ve envisioned is so powerful that you’ll go out of your way to look for more business-enhancing action. This is the only uphill path that will be as easy as a downhill one. It’s the road to success through action, and the more you get, the more you’ll want.
    • Disprove your own self-doubt. Fear and self-doubt are huge players in the condition of inactivity. The voice in your head will tell you, “That won’t work,” “You can’t do that,” “You’re wasting your time,” and more. Make it your objective to prove that voice wrong. Do this enough, and it will disappear completely, slinking into a corner and rarely coming out…as long as you remain active in your business strategy implementation.

    These are just a few pieces of advice you can use as motivation to take action—to take your business strategy from vision to reality. Understand, at all times, that without ACTION, your business strategy is useless. It will do nothing for you or your business. Without execution, the creation of your strategy was a waste of time and resources.

    Are you ready to take action? Are you clear on what actions to take? Contact me for a FREE 30-minute consultation, in which we’ll talk about your next move, and the motivation to get it done.

    [1] http://www.businessknowhow.com/manage/thirteener.htm

    [2] https://www.pmi.org/~/media/PDF/Business-Solutions/PMI_Pulse_2014.ashx

    [3] Harvard Business Review, March 2015, Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, Charles Sull

  • Sat Nav for Business Growth Strategy

    Isabel Knich coaching

    Your business growth strategy is what you want and need to do to achieve the growth you desire.  Is it devised after thorough and extensive industry and market research to identify what is required to increase your access to more customers, more talent and more capital—the three things that most companies need to grow their business.

    As we have discussed in earlier blogs, in order for your business growth strategy to succeed you need to have some key elements in place:

    • You need to know WHY you’re in business…your desire.
    • You need to establish a clear VISION for where you’re going…your destination.
    • You need to identify your core VALUES that will show HOW you are going to deliver your vision…your drivers.

    After you have put these elements in place, it’s time to create your PLAN:  WHAT you’re going to do to move toward realising your vision.

    Your plan is the map showing the route you need to take to get you to your desired destination.  It sounds obvious to have a map or to use a sat nav to get to a place you have never been to before, but it is astounding the number of businesses who don’t have any sort of plan for getting to their desired destination. But then, many businesses also don’t know where they are heading. Remember that a having a vision in place is crucial.

    In many cases, stopping to take the time to create a plan isn’t a priority for management.  However, as you may have experienced in your car, finding your way when you are lost without a map is really very hard. You need that map; you need that sat nav—you need it to make the plan that will get you there.

    So what sort of plan do you need to create?  There are many different types of plans that you could use. The best ones, however, are those that are clear, short and easy to follow.  They should plainly state your destination, which can vary depending on the time frame, but the goals or outcomes that you want to achieve should be clearly stated as objectives.

    The specific strategic goals in your plan are then the places you know you need to get to on route to reach your final destination. They are your pit stops; the necessary stopovers that will contribute to the success of the arrival at your final destination (your vision).  For each goal, it is important that the objective is clearly stated with a timeframe (for more information about setting SMART goals, click here).  After all…

    A goal without a plan is just a dream.

    Do you want to turn your business’s dreams into reality? If so, then read on to learn how you can achieve your business growth goals with the help of a strategic plan…your Sat Nav for your business.

    Sat Nav for your Business

    As any good sat nav should, your plan will represent the fastest route by which you can get to your desired destination. It will help you to stay on track and, most importantly, get you back on track if you lose the right road along the way.

    To keep you focused on the right path, your plan should include the statement of your why, your vision and values. These help to keep the focus on the bigger picture and create a greater context for the actions that you and your team need to take to achieve your vision through your plan.

    Here are a few points to flesh out what I’m talking about:

    • Every strategic goal should have a champion—that is, someone who is committed publically to making it happen. The goal champion is accountable for the achievement of the goal (albeit not necessarily for all of the actions to ensure its delivery).
    • Every strategic objective or goal should be accompanied by specific milestones to achieve it over the months ahead. This helps create focus points along the way.
    • The entire business plan should be reviewed regularly with the team, (monthly at a minimum) to ascertain whether the work toward each objective is advancing and what obstacles need to be overcome to keep moving forward.
    • Progress on actions taken for each goal should be measured every month to continue progress in each area.
    • All employees, not just ‘the team,’ should be made aware of the business growth plan. If people know where they are heading and that there is a plan to follow to get there, everyone is much more likely to want to engage and support the champions for each goal so that the objectives are delivered.

    A business growth action plan is a well-defined and specific step-by-step set of actions for implementation. Whilst you may go off-course some of the time, your plan will help you to stay focussed on where you want to get to and help you get back on track and determine the next action. With the right plan, this creates the structure and discipline for efficiency (doing things well) and effectiveness (doing the right things) to achieve your goals and vision. Your plan—like a sat nav—will always be there to guide you and take you to where you have decided you need to go.

    Are you ready to design your plan for WHAT you need to do to realise your business growth strategy? Or are you ready to improve a plan that perhaps hasn’t been working so well for you? You may be wondering where to start, what road to take first, and how to strategise your route for the fastest and most effective way to get to your destination…your goals and vision. Please contact me via email or phone for a free 30-minute consultation. We’ll talk about how you can get clear on the plan for growing your business, with a sat-nav-type guidance system that will guide your business in the direction of unprecedented success.

     

     

  • Every Business Growth Strategy needs a Why

    What is your why?

    Does your organisation have a business growth strategy? Is it the guide for all your business activities and supported by clear intentions and purpose? Or is it the product of obligation?

    There are two types of business growth plans. Allow me to explain:

    1. The business growth strategy that is drafted to answer questions asked by lenders and investors and to tick the box “Yes we have a business plan”: This strategy is created solely for the purpose of satisfying the demands of people outside your organisation. It is usually very detailed, pages long and extremely dull. Once created, your 25-50 page business growth plan then languishes on a bookshelf forgotten and gathering dust.

    2. The alternative business growth strategy is one created for and by those within the organisation, to focus them on fulfilling strategic aims, as well as the purpose of the organisation: This business strategy is usually short (1-5 pages), and often visually centred and definitively designed to inspire. This business strategy is not sat lost on shelves or hard drives, but is ever-present, referred to regularly and used to guide and motivate staff to implement and deliver the strategic goals of the business.

    Is your Business Growth Strategy Destined for Failure?
    Sadly, most business strategies fall under category #1 – the business plan drafted simply to satisfy an obligation. This type of growth plan is generally a list of what you are going to do and how you plan to achieve certain targets. More often than not this type of business plan is lacking a clear purpose or a clear reason why your company is doing what it’s doing. Without a clear why this type of business growth strategy is likely to fail.

    Your why is the passion in your business. For a business to grow it not only needs structure (e.g. a typical business plan), it also needs passion to motivate staff to want to accomplish that growth.

    Your business growth strategy must be derived from your why. Without a clear purpose for coming to work, people are just turning up. With a strong sense of why, your staff members have a clear reason or purpose for coming to work and evidence proves that people who enjoy coming to work are more productive and creative.

    Once you have a clear why, your business growth strategy is then simply a description of the route (the how and what) your company intends to follow in order to create that future.

    Your Business Why:

    Why are you in business? Why do you believe what you’re doing is important? Why do you believe you are changing people’s lives?

    Why are you investing a large portion of your life in this business? And why is the thing you believe in driving it?

    The answers to these questions will help to form your why. Your why is shaped by the thing you love to do (your passion) and the thing that you wish to change. Making money is never a viable why. Search deeper for what having the money means to you.

    The why does not come from looking ahead at what you want to achieve and figuring out an appropriate strategy to get there. It is not born out of any market research and it does not come from extensive customer interviews. Your why comes from deep within yourself.

    “Great leaders are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand
    they must win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.”
    Simon Sinek

    Why is the starting point for creating your business growth strategy. Once you are clear on your why, you will be able to identify what you will do to realise it and how you will do it.

    The outcomes (or what you will do) can be mapped out easily because when you know why you’re doing it, you’ll be clearer on how to achieve your vision and on how to differentiate your business from the competition. Your how will be based on your mission, your company values and the people in your organisation.

    It is crucial that you do some business soul-searching to identify your why before creating your business growth strategy. However, once you have done this, you may be surprised at how simple it is to draft that strategy (and to carry it out), because you have a clear path of intention.

    Do you have a business growth strategy? Are you concerned that it isn’t fit for purpose? There are steps you can take to inject the right elements into your existing business strategy, or you can rewrite it so that it better supports what you really want to achieve in your business.

    If you would like help with your business growth strategy or business plan, you can contact me by email or through our Contact Us page. I would be happy to spend 45 minutes with you on the phone discussing your business growth strategy—to see how it can be improved to help you grow your business to the next level.

    Failing to plan is planning to fail.

     

  • This is your Mission – should you choose to accept it!

    This is your Mission – should you choose to accept it!

    I talked in an earlier blog about the benefits of having a business plan and how having a business plan is necessary to know where you are going in business and to help you to steer the course to success.

    Whilst most business owners know the value of having a business plan (even if the vast majority don’t actually have a business plan), many do not understand the value of having a clear Mission statement – or in fact many aren’t really clear what a Mission statement is.

    A Mission Statement is a short statement – usually a short sentence or two that clearly defines your company purpose and primary objectives. Having a Mission statement can be the driving force and focus behind the business. It can be the beacon for you and your employees as a reminder of what you are doing and why you are doing it.

    How to create a Business Mission Statement
    Creating a Mission statement that clearly expresses your business purpose and primary objectives can take time. However going through the process can often help business owners to get clarity about what it is that their business is about and help them to reconnect with their passion and motivation in being in their business.

    The challenge for you as a business owner is to create a Mission statement that accurately reflects your passion and values and declares how you are going to make a difference in the world.

    Process for Creating an Inspiring Mission Statement

    1) Plan enough time to create your Mission statement – a few hours to a full day.
    2) Set a date in your diary for creating your plan – make sure it is going to happen.
    3) Involve others connected with the business – this can give you valuable insight as to what you provide for others and help to generate lots of creative ideas.
    4) Be prepared – get the things ready that you will need for brain storming e.g. a suitable space, white board, flip chart, coloured pens, paper etc
    5) Prepare a list of questions to ask yourself and others involved with the business.
    6) Have fun exploring what your business/team is about.
    7) Use inspiring and exciting words to grab reader’s attention and create a dynamic visual image or your business.
    8) Make sure your Mission statement is short and clearly stated so anyone – so even a 5 year old can understand it!
    9) Be proud of your Mission Statement – own it and share it. Publish/post it for your employees, customers and stakeholders to see.

    Some questions to ask to help create your Mission Statement:
    What is it that we do?
    • Who do we do this for?
    • What do we offer our clients?
    • How do we serve our clients?
    • Why are we in this industry?
    • Why did we start this business?
    • What is important to us (our values)?
    • What are we passionate about?
    • What image of our business do we want to convey?
    • What is it that we offer that is special, unique or different?
    • What impact do we want to make in the world?
    • What are we committed to delivering?

    Examples of Mission statements to inspire you:
    Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

    Starbucks: To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.

    Coca-Cola corporation: To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.

    Amazon: To be the most customer-centric company in the world, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.

    Dow Chemical: To constantly improve what is essential to human progress by mastering science and technology.

    Intel: Delight our customers, employees, and shareholders by relentlessly delivering the platform and technology advancements that become essential to the way we work and live.

    Ebay: Provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything.

    Now you have your business Mission Statement let this be a guiding focus for your strategic actions and plans. Having a Mission Statement that accurately reflects your business will help you to attract and gain the right clients and engage your staff.

    Having a powerful message in a Mission Statement is important for your business. If you would like help from me to create your Mission Statement or business plan please click here to contact me for a free strategic consultation.

  • Planning Your Way to Business Success

    Planning Your Way to Business Success

    How many people would choose to build a house without a set of plans to work from?  How many people choose to build a business without a business plan to work from?

    I am in the process of building a chalet in the Alps. I would never think of starting this project without a comprehensive set of plans.  In order to create the plans I had to have an initial vision of how I wanted our home to look like.  I had to be able to articulate my desires and wishes to an architect who was then able to translate what I wanted into a drawing.

    Having plans of how to achieve what I want is crucial for building the chalet.  Without the plans the builders would have no idea what they were trying to create. No one would be aligned and everyone would be doing their own thing.  Inevitably building the chalet would take significantly longer to complete and with no plans who knows what the finished chalet would look like.  Certainly nothing like I had planned and it would be simply luck if I liked it or not.

    This example sounds ridiculous but lets take a look at the process of building a business. In many ways this is similar to building a house.  You have to start by putting the foundations in place before you start a business – what product are you going to sell, to whom, where for what price.  Once the foundations are in place it is possible to build the business from here.  By putting the external structure in place, by connecting up to the networks that will supply the business, create the space for people to work in and to grow the business level by level.

    Very surprisingly though only 4% of businesses have a clear plan of what they are trying to build.  With no plans employees have no idea of what they are trying to build.   There is no team alignment and very often poor communication within the organisation.

    Whilst planning is simple it certainly isn’t easy.  If it was, more businesses would have a business plan.  Thinking about what you want takes time and requires the space to be able to do it.  It is too easy to dismiss the time taking for planning as a “waste of time” as things are getting done in the business. However this is short sighted as too often business leaders get caught up in working “in” the business rather than “on” the business.  Having a plan is critical to knowing where you are heading.

    Taking the time to step back and view the business from a different perspective can help to change how you see things and lead to innovation and efficiency within a business

    Having a plan can help to create a clear direction for the company and help you feel more in control.  If you have a plan it becomes the tool for focusing on what to do next, what the priorities are, and how to keep everyone aligned.

    So do you have a plan for where you are heading?

    If you don’t have a clear business plan and would like help to create one, please contact me for a free strategy consultation