So, since this economic recession is going to last forever, we should sit back and make it the new status quo. Hmmm…doesn’t make much sense, does it. So what are you doing to prepare for your emergence?
While it is set in our minds that we are in a recession, and we are dealing with the fact that we must do business differently, looking down the road, we must remain cognizant of the fact that things will change. People will begin buying homes, again, restaurants will be packed Wednesday through Sunday and events will be booked months in advance.
However, some things will be different. Your clients will think differently. New products will be available. New technologies will be prevalent. Spending habits will change and demands will be greater. How will you prepare your business for this?
Careful observation and planning can help you prepare your organization for its emergence. This may mean that you will begin looking at a larger pool of leads, embrace a different or expanded product selection, or be prepared to approach your market in some non traditional way. Strategic planning is the key.
Strategic planning is a method of watching the environment and making plans based on your findings. This can be a short term view, with very specific goals, or long term, with looser, more aggressive goals. Those who put the time and resources into their strategic planning today will benefit from opportunities that will present themselves tomorrow.
At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are a Small Business Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of successful businesses. We specialize in helping business leaders and executives organize, plan and develop strategies for their organizations. We are committed to our clients’ success.read more
What is strategic planning? It seems like another one of those business terms that is thrown around haphazardly as though everyone has a clear understanding of what it is and how it is used.
Well, it is actually one of those things that you might label as, “if it was that simple, everyone would be doing it.” To a certain extent, it is. However, the problem some people run into with strategic planning who do strategic planning is about the quality of the plan.
For example: if you were planning to go on a trip that was going to end up being a couple hundred miles away, and you were going to stay for a few days to enjoy the weather, relax on the beach and enjoy lovely sunsets, the first question you would have is “Where should I go?”
Doing a little qualitative research – getting other people’s opinions about where to go might give you some direction. So you might get answers such as Panama City Florida, Hilton Head North Carolina, Wildwood, New Jersey, etc.
While these might be good answers, these aren’t the only questions you want to ask. Based on these answers you still need understanding of more quantitative questions, such as:
- How much will it cost?
- How do I get there?
- What is the best method of travel?
- What can I do when I get there?
- What is the best overall solution for me to achieve my goal of relaxing by the beach and enjoying lovely sunsets?
Like your trip, in your business, you have an end goal, such as expanding products and services, getting a larger building, increasing customer awareness, etc. While you could simply take the plunge and move forward, hoping for the best, strategic planning will help to discover some of the unknowns, such as
- How are people spending right now?
- What government regulations will impact my business?
- What other market entrants are preparing to take part of my market share?
- What competitive products and services exist that will create a challenge for me?
- How much will it actually cost me to develop this product or service, including marketing, testing and other ancillary costs?
- What technologies are on the horizon that you could a) take advantage of or b) would make your product or services obsolete?
- What will I do if the market shifts, or my plans do go wrong?
Strategic planning, as a tool, is a tool that you can use to help your business plan for the future in order to reach the goals you have for your organization. Surviving in the marketplace requires the ability to make good decisions, based not only on your instincts and experiences, but also on available information and some creativity. It is never done in a bubble, but within the marketplace system, whose only goal is to continue matching buyers to sellers.
At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are a Small Business Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping business leaders and executives organize, plan and develop strategies for their organizations. We are committed to our clients’ success.read more
One of the value propositions small businesses have is the ability to customize their service level, going far above and beyond what most larger organizations can afford to duplicate. While they are forced to deal with the politics and shear volume, small businesses have the opportunity to develop deeper, more personal relationships with clients, vendors and their communities, uniquely positioned to meet their clients’ needs and interests quickly.
In order to provide your clients with customized services, however, still means that you must maintain a level of control to ensure that your products are still profitable. While you may lead in with a product that is not as profitable as your core solution, you must keep in mind that the goal is to get that client into that core solution at some point. In order to do so, ensure that you have some type of strategy in place.
One of our clients is a fitness repair firm. The owner of the company realizes that this time of the year is one of the better times of the year for his company, since people are preparing to get into shape for the summer months. Right now, he has two options –
- he can focus all of his time and energy on doing the work he has now, thinking only about getting as much cash as possible into the organization or
- he could lay groundwork for ongoing work by offering those he serves a benefit for referring others to him. However, this benefit must be flexible, based on the client’s specific needs, rather than something he just wants to get rid of. Additionally, he could teach his clients how to maintain their equipment so that their equipment breaks down fewer times, and the life of the equipment is extended.
He chose option two. Guess who they will call next time they will have a problem? Guess who will get the referral when the client’s friend has a problem with their fitness equipment? Guess who gets the call when new equipment is required? Guess who the fitness equipment expert is?
Choosing to focus on his clients’ needs and providing them additional, personalized benefits and education will help to keep his cash flow moving throughout the lean months while extending his client base. Making flexibility, education and the referral program the core of his operational strategy makes him a desired service provider in his industry. Providing the same level of service to other businesses and vendors has strengthened his company’s position in the marketplace and has allowed him to double his reach.
Looking at your business, how can you increase your personalized service? What strategy or strategies can you incorporate into your operational strategy to provide value for your clients, your vendors and your “competition?” How can you or your company become an asset to your community?
We welcome your thoughts, ideas and comments.
Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there. We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning. As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions. If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].read more
My wife got pulled over in her mini-van the other day. Apparently, she missed some minor violation toward the end of the month, and therefore, was a prime target for the local authorities. After the driver took her license and insurance card, he returned a short while later to report that her license had been suspended, and that she could not drive the vehicle until her license was restored.
Well, it turned out that her driver’s license had expired on her birthday. She had never received notification. She had no idea.
What does she do?
b) Beg for forgiveness, since she had other people in the car with her
c) Talk a mile-a-minute until something pops out that appeal’s to the cops better nature
d) Assess the situation and come up with some scenarios.
She chose b). My wife is a very beautiful and charming woman, so she was able to drive home with a promise that she would show up for court and that she would not drive, again, until she got her license. 🙂
For me, however, I would have had to chosen c), since I am not nearly as good looking, or charming, for that matter, as she.
In your business, sometimes, you want to try to avoid making reactive decisions your primary method. Reactive decisions are often short-sighted, and rarely address the heart of the problem. An example of one might be finding that you have a circuit breaker that is constantly flipping over. A short-term response might be to run extension cords from another office or area to help to decrease the load on that breaker. However, at some point, either the breaker needs to be changed out or your office rewired or find another office. Leaving a reactionary decision in place could cause greater damage.
What would happen if someone tripped over the cord?
What about if a fire started in the overloaded fuse box?
What if the cord, itself, caught on fire?
Here are a few tips you can use when dealing with the unexpected. While every situation won’t require the detailed level of thought presented, here, having a framework will make the decision-making process much faster and more thorough.:
- Think it through. Determine what is really going on. Appeal to those around you if at all possible
- Consider what resources you have at your disposal. Think of all of your stakeholders plus friends and family
- Determine what the situation would be like if the problem didn’t exist.in our example, that might look like more outlets in that area of the office or room
- Envision what might happen if you don’t address the problem
- Decide what type of decisions you need to make: do you need a short term solution and a long term one, or can you put all your resources into the long-term solution
- Make your decision, seeking to address the root of the problem
If your long-term solution isn’t immediately feasible:
- Keep that long-term or permanent solution in front of you so you don’t lose track of it
- If necessary, break it down into a number of goals or objectives
- Have a system to work on the goals every week
- Keep the main thing the main thing – don’t get sidetracked
- Implement the goal at your earliest convenience
Addressing the real problem, or the root problem tends to have long-term benefits that far outweigh the cost. Avoiding the problem might have short term gains, but will definitely end in missed opportunity.
At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are a Small Business Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].read more