Strategy

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Aligning Your Corporate Culture with Strategy | Extraordinary Business

The harmony between corporate culture and its wide reaching implications to strategy and output has become central in all successful companies. There is a very particular correlation between  people that make things happen and your company’s financial performance, as explained by author and keynote speaker Brent Gleeson. Gone are the days when employees were just supposed to follow orders from “up top”.

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Successful Strategy Made Simple | Extraordinary Business

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The first step towards making good decisions is simply to stop making bad ones. The same principle can be applied to developing business strategies. In order to stop following bad strategies, you must recognize the absence of good strategies. Richard Rumelt gives a great example of how to define a good strategy. He states that a good strategy has “coherence, coordinating actions, policies, and resources so as to accomplish an important end.” (Rumelt, 2011, p.11). Fortunately, business has provided countless examples of good and bad strategies that provide unofficial guidelines for the do’s and don’ts of strategy making. The following are examples of tools and methods that any company can use to identify, build, and sustain good strategy development.
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New Steps for New Year: Prioritizing Steps for Growth in 2016

2016 Calendar Target Showing Year Planner And Schedule

Over the past few years, you have committed a great deal of time and money to developing your small business. By reinvesting your business’s profits back into the company and keeping a close eye on the often unstable US economy, you have made strides in creating a profitable enterprise.

However, as a seasoned entrepreneur you are also aware that the only way to persevere is to continue to grow. The question is not whether you will grow; it is how to grow without overextending your investments or making other costly mistakes. Having a clear understanding of the landscape in which you intend to increase your business will clear the path for successful growth in 2016.

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Grow From Here to Success

How to make sure your business has everything it needs to grow

business futureWhen I was a younger guy, whenever I would get a gadget, while I might have enjoyed it, I always thought about what the toy will be like in the future, perhaps with the same anticipation as many people have about the next generation of mobile technology. One of the things that always bothered me was the question of why things weren’t designed to be used with the next generation of products.

For example, with a computer, you might be able to upgrade the amount of memory, how fast it runs, and swap out different components, but yesterday’s computer probably may not be able to run tomorrow’s software as effectively as tomorrow’s computer will. Yesterday’s computer lacks true forward compatibility.

From a producer perspective, a producer could probably get consumers to believe that there are huge changes in the same old product in a different box and sell it again – every year in some cases. This, of course, is what drives revenue. But I digress…

The Problem

As a business owner, the question begs to be asked: how have you designed your company for the future? I don’t mean – how have you thought about it, or what kind of planning have you done, but rather, what are the actual activities or tactical decisions you have made that will prepare the company as it grows toward the future.

For example, with your accounting system: do you have a formal accounting or financial management process that goes beyond collecting all of your receipts, dumping them in a shoe box along with bank statements and handing them to your bookkeeper each month/quarter/year/whenever you think about it? Do you think that there might be better ways to manage your finances so that you can see how your company is performing at any given time? In doing so, don’t you think it would be easier to hand off financial management as your company grows?

Of course. At the end of the day, it will probably cost you a lot less to keep things organized, help you understand where your cash is going and where you might need to cut back or invest. Poor management is one of the top reasons small businesses fail.

The Solution

  1. Start with your company vision – where you want your company to go. Is it a single location with 100 employees, or multiple locations with offices both domestically and internationally?
  2. Develop a mission – why you do what you do. Your mission will help to dictate how you get to the vision and will keep you and your decision-making on track
  3. Develop a plan to get there – use stages and start very high level, then
  4. Look at the components of your business – sales, marketing, finance, products and services, Human Resources, management and IT – and determine what these will look like at each stage.
  5. Determine what resources will be required to support each function at each level.

Look, for example, at business management – how to manage the business. One of the things that has plagued small businesses is the idea that not all software solutions play well together. So we would end up with an email service that doesn’t communicate with the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, which doesn’t talk to the bookkeeping system, none of which interact well with the marketing system. Ideally, they should all play nicely together so that those using the system don’t have to update five systems manually in order to get an idea of what the big picture looks like!

So in planning for the future, we would want to have a system that either has native integration between the systems (they are all built into one solution), have a tool custom built that will enable all of the systems to work together or use an online service that will do the same.

In any case, when a business is young and has very few contacts and things can be done manually, it doesn’t seem to be a top priority for the business. However, when the business is in a growth stage, it can sometimes be too late or very expensive to make the necessary changes…which can be the case with each component of the business.

So if you are planning on building a business that is extraordinary, think in terms of where your business is going, versus staying completely focused on where it is. Sure – you will need to take one step at a time and not tie up all of your resources in assets that you cannot use. Rather think strategically –  in terms of how the business will operate the most efficiently at each stage and plan for it as you invest and grow.

Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results.  We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.

We would love to hear from you.  Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you are seeking advice on how to grow your business, streamline systems and processes, implement software or overcoming challenges to growth, please contact us, directly or submit a request for a complimentary Coffee & a Consult to learn how we can help you CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD an extraordinary company..

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Taming the BEAST | Extraordinary Business

How to make sense out of the chaos of running your company

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One of the challenges that I see with small business owners, especially very small organizations, is getting and keeping control of the business and everything that it takes to do so. As a business leader, activities tend to take on a mind of their own, pulling us in every direction at once, challenging both our tenacity and mental stability at every turn. It seems as though everything is precarious at best; one misstep could take us plunging over the cliff into the abyss!!

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Taming the BEAST | Extraordinary Business

How to make sense out of the chaos of running your company

image
 
One of the challenges that I see with small business owners, especially very small organizations, is getting and keeping control of the business and everything that it takes to do so. As a business leader, activities tend to take on a mind of their own, pulling us in every direction at once, challenging both our tenacity and mental stability at every turn. It seems as though everything is precarious at best; one misstep could take us plunging over the cliff into the abyss!!
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Process and Strategic Advantage | Extraordinary Business

How strategy and process engineering will help you create strategic advantages in your company.

imageIf you know the fast food industry, you probably know that they go through great stakes to ensure that everything is done the same way, every time, no matter what store you go to. While you might encounter various personalities and different store layouts, for the most part, the cashiers greet you the same way, they ask you if you would like to try the special, they get your order, try to upsell you, ask you if you would like anything else, let you know how much your order is, etc..

Now, if you go to a McDonalds, for example, it is not going to be the same experience as going to a Chick-fil-a, although the two are competitors and serve fast food items. Surely, there is some overlap, but while McDonalds puts a lot of emphasis on getting people fed, you might assume that Chick-fil-a might focus more on the experience.

You can see this looking at the dining room: often, in the dining room at McDonald’s, if you see employees, they are typically cleaning something and don’t pay much attention to the diners except to offer a friendly greeting. On the other hand, at Chick-fil-a, you will probably find that the staff typically roams the dining room in a very friendly way, speaking with guests and answering each request with, “it would be my pleasure.”

With respect to price, you will probably pay a bit more for Chick-fil-a’s over-the-top service, (plus you cannot get a burger).

What is the difference? What is the point?

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Process and Strategic Advantage | Extraordinary Business

How strategy and process engineering will help you create strategic advantages in your company.

imageIf you know the fast food industry, you probably know that they go through great stakes to ensure that everything is done the same way, every time, no matter what store you go to. While you might encounter various personalities and different store layouts, for the most part, the cashiers greet you the same way, they ask you if you would like to try the special, they get your order, try to upsell you, ask you if you would like anything else, let you know how much your order is, etc..

Now, if you go to a McDonalds, for example, it is not going to be the same experience as going to a Chick-fil-a, although the two are competitors and serve fast food items. Surely, there is some overlap, but while McDonalds puts a lot of emphasis on getting people fed, you might assume that Chick-fil-a might focus more on the experience.

You can see this looking at the dining room: often, in the dining room at McDonald’s, if you see employees, they are typically cleaning something and don’t pay much attention to the diners except to offer a friendly greeting. On the other hand, at Chick-fil-a, you will probably find that the staff typically roams the dining room in a very friendly way, speaking with guests and answering each request with, “it would be my pleasure.”

With respect to price, you will probably pay a bit more for Chick-fil-a’s over-the-top service, (plus you cannot get a burger).

What is the difference? What is the point?

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When Strategy Fails | Extraordinary Business

imageAs a strategist – one who focuses on finding ways to out maneuver the competition – my conversations rarely touch on failure. If you read other strategists, most never talk about failure in strategy because the whole point of strategy is to avoid failure. But the reality is that it can happen, and certain decisions have to be made before proceeding.

Here’s the thing about strategy: if you are going to try to gain some strategic advantage, you will probably (hopefully!) try to do something disruptive (the iPod, for example, changed the way that people listen to music).  Whenever you try something that is brand new – getting people to do something or think about something differently, you will experience some type of risk. With risk comes some opportunity for failure.

If you just looked from the perspective of product development or true innovation, you would see that most new ventures fail! That applies to new products, new inventions, new businesses, new prospects, etc.. How many companies launched products that you have never seen again? Perhaps some of their products were EPIC FAILS! (Think New Coke)

The challenge that we face is how to handle it.

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