Archive for Business Development’ Category

6

May
2008
Comments Off on Well, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!

Well, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!

I have made an interesting observation. There are many business professionals in the marketplace that are going along, every day, with the same problems doing the same things over and over and getting the same results. I believe, however, that the expectation that they have is that the results will one day be different. My understanding is that doing the same things over, repeatedly, and expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.

Of course, there is the other extreme: there are other professionals that try to do a number of different things to solve a problem, however, without having particular aim or direction or followthrough, they never put enough energy into one area to make a difference anywhere. It is like preparing a pot of spaghetti, and checking to see if it is done by taking handfuls of pasta out of the pot and throwing at the wall, the goal being that the ones that are done will stick. Sthat seems like there is a lot of energy is being dispensed for what will ultimately be minimal results.

I’ve heard other people say that the business owner should have planned for the incumbent siutaion, no matter what the situation was. First of all, should haves don’t fix anything. Secondly, no one really wants to hear that. So it is said, yes, that would be ideal. However, given the (lack of) success rate of new businesses in the country, it is very likely that isn’t the norm. In fact, I would bet that many entrepreneurs are likened to people wnho would jump off a bridge with a rope tied around their back hoping for the best. It’s the nature of what they do – they look at an opportunity, scan the environment, do some level of research and jump, sometimes without even knowing the target.

Of course, there are those who come to the rescue and say things along the line of having a single solution that works for every business and every business owner. I think we are all pretty certain that there is no fix-all solution for every situation and that you get out of anything what you put into it. It’s like competitive sports- you’ve got to move and shift and observe and aim and shoot. Someone said to me, once, that as soon as you fully understand the situation, the situation changes – a quip that shold appeal to every business owner and professional.

So the question becomes, How DO we get through the struggles of ANY change in the marketplace or environment? How do we remain agile to be able to adapt to upcoming changes? Well, like I’ve said, there is no quick, easy, follow these five-steps-and-you-will-have-guaranteed-overnight-success answer. I suggest that there is direction you will want to take.

1) Find someone to help you evaluate what you are doing – looking at your business from the inside out, then from the outside in. This might be a mentor, a consultant, some clients (using surveys), a panel or a board of some sort. DO NOT USE PEOPLE THAT HAVE SOMETHING TO GAIN OR LOSE BY HELPING YOU OUT.

2) Identify areas that you can strengthen and others that you can shed. Consider the 80/20 rule, suggesting that your organization’s time is best spent doing the things that it does best. If your not an accounting firm, it may be in your best interest to drop about $225 per month for tax, payroll, bill pay and bookkeeping services.

3) Evaluate your products and services versus marketplace needs. If you are a consultant, for example, it might be good to look at business valuations or mergers & acquisitions. Show your client how they cannot be without your product or service (easier said then done!) and determine what types of changes you can make that will make your client feel that you are that much more interested in their personal success or happiness. Yes – this is packaged into your goods and services and transparent through the culture and operations of your business.

4) What is your sales process? How are you generating leads? Are you having your sales team search through websites, industry books, etc., or are you going directly to the Hoovers and infoUSA’s of the world? Tell me, if you could bring 1,000 new leads into your office per week and manage to manage them all, versus bringing in 200 by using your sales team to do your research for you, which is more cost effective? Consider sales automation to keep your sales process moving forward.

5) What is your marketing process? How many new contacts do you intend to make per week? How many hands do you intend to shake? What do you do with those folks once you’ve done this? In your one-on-one with these people, what is your goal? What type of follow-up process do you participate in? How do you know how well you are doing in any particular area and how do you track it?

Business takes work – a lot of hard work, but it doesn’t take the same type of work for everyone and every business. (I was actually chastised by some wonderful marketers the other day for suggesting that there was a grassroots-marketing tool I could put together and use for all of my grassroots small business clients with a little tweaking here and there.) What it takes, in every case, is knowing yourself, knowing your market, matching your products to your market needs and having a systematic way of telling people about it in a clear, concise manner.

So, here is my one-step plan to getting it done.
1) Don’t complain. DO SOMETHING!

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are 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].

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6

May
2008
Comments Off on If it Ain't Broke…

If it Ain't Broke…

…Now there’s an interesting quip if I’ve ever heard one. As one who embraces innovation and growth, that’s donwright scary when I think about it from the persepctive of a business.

When running a small business, it is vital for you to remain aware of your business, how it is positioned in the marketplace, and what other players exist in the market. This about it, if you are selling mugs for $3.25 as a specialty item, and someone down the street from you sells a nearly identical mug for $2.99, what do you think will happen? Well, if you’re Macy’s, maybe nothing – you offer brand recognition, people come to you because they want the latest and greatest of everything in the world and great service. The mugs are an impulse buy item, like the apple pies at McDonalds.

What if you are a corner retailer…how does that change your thinking? What will drive people to your store to buy the mugs at $3.24, regardless of paying more? What other items might the store offer that are competitive with what you are selling? Can you possibly purchase a larger quantity of the same mug, at a lower price and match their price?

What it comes down to is that you only know what you know. If you never survey your environment, and continue blindly selling your widgets, despite changing market condition, you won’t know what you might want to consider changing. If you don’t know what to consider changing, you may suddenly find yourself in a leaky boat. So, despite the old saying, you might want to periodically check your old boat for weak spots and stay afloat.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are 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].

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19

Apr
2008
Comments Off on Slow Cash Flow? Redefine the Box!

Slow Cash Flow? Redefine the Box!

A friend of mine had a business that sold and installed new equipment and took away the old equipment to attempt to resell it. This went rather well, except he wasn’t in the equipment reselling business. His warehouse was full. As a matter of fact, he had THREE full warehouses! What’s that about??

So, his remedy was to sell the equipment at cost, donate it and do whatever he could to simply get rid of the equipment, thinking that he was reducing his costs. He bought a machine to resurface the machines. He hired someone to work on repairing the equipment. He hired someone to assess the equipment. He set up another company to sell it. He marketed it. I think he must have spent a ton of money…just trying to get rid of it! He still couldn’t get rid of it as fast as he was getting it in.

Well…that was a different way of looking at things.

So…he was losing money on this equipment that had little demand for the market that he served. This caused some cash flow problems and suddenly things like employee benefits, monthly meetings, etc., were a thing of the past. Office supplies and hiring enough temporary helpers became part of strained conversation.

He needed, desperately, to do something differently.

His current box said that he has to sell his product at a competitive price, provide excellent products and services, take trade-ins and scrape off enough money to pay his expenses.

A friend of his mentioned that he should try barter – buying and selling goods on trade. (I think that sometimes we forget that money is actually the standard of trade.) This sounded pretty simple, but how do you trade a large piece of equipment for something that would be of equal value.

It turns out that there are barter organizations that specialize in this. Ideally, one can trade goods and services they have that they just can’t sell at the full value for “Barter Dollars,” which can be used to purchase other goods and services, like dinner at restaurants, sporting event tickets, office supplies, marketing and consulting services, air flights, etc.

Think about his cash flow with this in mind. With it, he was able to make some major purchases that he simply would not have had the cash to do, cleaned out his warehouse, and was able to allot cash to areas that the business needed to focus on in order to grow.

So…if your box is getting to small, redefine it. Check out barter on the web.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are 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].

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9

Apr
2008
Comments Off on Only Nine Months to Go!

Only Nine Months to Go!

So, Spring has arrived. We are moving forward into Q2, and have nothing but time and opportunity ahead of us. Nine months are left in the year. What are you going to do with it? Where do you want to be? Where do you want to go?
GETTING IT DONE!
Well, when you created your goals, what milestones did you include? There is an article on the Aepiphanni Blog talks a little about goal setting based on a 60 second blurb by Steve Marr. It discusses the idea of moving your goals forward with the full realization that trying to do it all at one time, simply for the sake of moving things forward, is the best way to wina C&B; award (crash & burn). Have a plan.

GREAT NEWS!
We’ve had Aepiphannis! Several of our clients are taking mighty steps toward getting on track, solidifying their visions and planning how to move forward. We worked with them using the PASS (Path Alignment Structural System) program, to help them clarify thief vision, evaluate and align themselves, their team, company processes, systems, strategies, goals, marketing, business development, etc., around business beliefs and create a solid, sustainable organization. We are at the BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) stage, now. Aepiphanni’s abound!!

SWOT Your Business!
One tool you may use to help you with your goal setting is a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Knowing your SWOT owning it will help you exploit your gifts or tools you can use in your goal setting and achievement, along with knowledge of areas that you need to plan to compensate for – internally and externally.

Consider, if you will as we head into, or are in the first quarter of the Recession of ’08- depending on your perspective and what you believe – it is important to know where you stand in the marketplace, whether you are business-owner or not. Of course, you need to do something with your evaluation once you’ve done it. For some additional insight on SWOT, take a look here.

MANAGE YOUR TIME!

A tool that I’ve used to help me move my goals forward is Franklin-Covey’s PlanPlus software. There is a standard XP version. However, I use the Outlook Plugin. PlanPlus gives me additional options with respect to managing my emails, tasks, projects, goals and overall time management, such as weekly planning, project management, task prioritizing and goal and compass management.

You’ll find that the tools relate, directly, to Dr. Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” – a book that I find worth the periodic reread or listen. The software is definitely worth the 30-day trial download – I think you’ll find it invaluable after your 30-day trail. I originally found it to be a bit buggy, but haven’t had any problems with it since removing even the memory of it from my computer, then doing a clean re-install. Support for the software is good. The Award-Winning Pocket Information 8 PocketPC/Smartphone software that accompanies it has been very good, as well.

Remember, we’ve got 9 months left in the year. Reach for your BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals); and, tell you what: enjoy yourself. Go further, Do more, but enjoy yourself!

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are 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].

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