Vision

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Welcome to 2010

Happy New Year!

The title sounds like the ominous beginning to a Science Fiction novel or movie from years gone by.  They probably would have said something about the advances in technology, such as deep space flight, robotics and artificial intelligence and cellular phones.  They would also talk about society – usually in terms of its degradation: World War III, the depletion of the Ozone, the scarcity of fossil fuels or the Greenhouse effect resulting in World Wide flooding.

I suppose this gives us something to be thankful for: we have advanced, tremendously, technologically.  Our lives have many, many comforts that didn’t even exist 20 years ago.  At the same time, our society has not destroyed itself, nor does it appear to being on the brink of doing so.  Are there problems?  Yes, of course.  Are there technologies that we need to have developed in the next 10 years or so in order to avoid more doomsday prophesies?  Of course.  But we live in the present, and can be thankful for what we have.

As a business leader, in both scenarios discussed, we saw two patterns that we need to adapt into our businesses in order to avoid disruption or our own ventures:

1)  Continuous advancements.  We need to continue to find ways to fulfill our mission and reach toward the company vision.  Notice, I did not say that we need to find ways to make more money.  I promise you that done properly, money will be the byproduct of a well-run organization that has clear focus on their mission and vision.  When we talk about advancements, that doesn’t necessarily mean find a bunch of products or services to dump on your target audiences, but rather, through communication and observation, determine what their growing or changing needs are and find ways to address them that make sense for your business.

2)  Environmental awareness.  As a business leader, knowing what is going on in and around your business is fundamental to getting to and remaining at the top of your game.  This is part of what launches us from being ordinary to being extraordinary.  It requires regular business assessments, business analysis and adjustments to your business plan.  It requires understanding what your changing (dynamic) market is in need of, how to connect with them and how to get them to purchase your offerings.  In order for your actions to be most effective, it must be strategic, rather than a hodgepodge of mediocre flailings.

So, extraordinary business leader, as we progress into 2010, take some time to systematically assess your business – where it is in its lifecycle, what its needs are and what goals you have for it for the year.  Look at your market and your industry and try to determine what needs and trends are approaching and how you might meet those new needs or address new trends.  Finally, create a strategic plan.  Knowing where you are going is one thing.  Knowing how to get there is the foundation of success.

Happy New Year!  I wish you the most in 2010!

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  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].


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Re-Trenching – New Objectives

As a younger man, I was enlisted as a soldier in the US Army.  Part of our basic training had to do with combat, which included building fighting positions, digging trenches and keeping morale up.  Our goal, always, was to move forward in order to achieve a particular objective, which was always part of a much larger strategy.    Whenever we would progress, our goal was to reset our fighting positions, or retrench, so that we would have similar advantages that we could leverage in order to achieve the next objective.

In business, we talk about strategy and goals that we would like do by the end of a certain time period.  Sometimes these are revenue goals, other times they are branding, asset development, etc.  Time periods we use are often months, quarters or years.  If we’ve experienced a loss in a prior year, we might be looking at getting back to our previous, stronger position.  No matter what our position, it is always to move forward.

As in war, chess or checkers, we normally would do best to develop a strategy and objectives we will have to overcome in order to reach a particular strategy.  In other words, it’s not just about defining WHAT we want to do, but we must consider HOW we are going to get there.  The other question we have to ask is WHY you want to achieve any objective, or the strategy, overall.  (Because everyone else is doing it tends to fail the logical litmus test!)

Nonetheless, it isn’t good enough to simply say, “I want to earn $1,000,000” without having any thoughts on how to do it.

Once we have determined what out objectives will be, we want to determine what RESOURCES will be required in order for you to take any of the objectives you have defined.  That could be time, money, staff, vendors, buildings, etc.  As you achieve each objective, like we mentioned in the military scenario, you will want to re-trench, or get your business into the ideal position to take the next objective.  You’ll survey the battlefield, check your resources, determine what your needs are, then proceed.

Just imagine if an Army unit created a great plan, put all of its energy into it but never retrenched.  They would never take the time to survey the battlefield to see if they needed to make changes in their plan.  They would never replenish supplies.  They would never be as effective as they could have been, if they reach their final objective at all.

Your business is no different.  If you don’t create a plan, watch for changes, guard your resources and retrench, you won’t become the extraordinary business you want to be.  Don’t forget to retrench.  Be extraordinary.

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].


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Technorati Tags: Business Decisions,Business Development Strategies,Business Growth Strategies,Business Path,Business Planning,Business Strategy,Extraordinary,Focus,Leadership Effectiveness,Management and Leadership
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Only the Beginning

Do you ever think about what makes extraordinary companies extraordinary?  Not just from a financial standpoint, but from an all around standpoint.  Not looking at the size of the company, but rather the impact it makes.  Not looking at salaries and benefits, but rather employee commitment.  Not looking at growth potential but rather, a shared vision.Beginning a New Path

While I would not imply that there is a specific formula for making it work – like raising a child, each business has its own personality – it’s industry, market, leadership, management, etc., one fact that seems to have contributed, significantly, is the idea that everyone in the organization contributes.  We recall the Saturn commercials, where employees were asked to do anything it took to make things run better.  That might include stopping production for a small idea.  this was a company that was known for being owned by and run by the employees.

Seems like they have something there.  But how does this work in your organization?  By design, of course.  Through communications with your teams, you can begin to open dialogue.  Another factor is servant leadership, wherein you, as the business leader, do everything you can to make sure that the employees have everything they need to be successful.  That might look like providing them with the right resources such as up to date computers and software, finding ways to leverage their unique gifts and abilities and valuing and weighing their ideas and opinions and including them in any major change in the organization.

Sometimes that will also look like showing them how to seek opportunities in other companies and helping them prepare for them.

The reason that this is only the beginning is because moving your company to this mentality is foundational to growing an extraordinary company.  However, it is not just a flip of a switch; it is a change or enhancement in the operational culture.  It requires letting the reigns loose.  It requires courage and risk – letting go of what you are to embrace what you could become.  It is like the beginning off a whole new day.  It is like making the first footprints on a new beach, or after a new snow.

Have the courage to step out into a new beginning.  Become extraordinary.

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]aepiphanni.com.


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Technorati Tags: Attitude,Business Decisions,Business Growth Strategies,Business Path,Extraordinary,Employees,Vision,Management and leadership,Leadership Effectiveness,Leadership Development
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SSDD.and do it All, Again

“Same Stuff Different Day,” or versions of it has been made an infamous response to greetings, made famous by movies featuring employees of “corporate America.”   The people that use this phrase are those who begrudgingly go to work, push their pencils around all day, confuse “hardly working” with “working hard,” take long lunches, call off on sick days, etc.  In a nutshell, you might say they have a bad attitude about their work.

Interestingly, they (or you) could be one of those rotten apples that could spoil the whole bunch.  Think about it – if you were to come to work, each day, complain about everything that is going wrong with you, your spouse and your job, how motivating would those around you feel?  When people come to you with the same type of information, how motivated do YOU feel?Mid-adult businessman in shirt-and-tie looking at camera.

Thinking back to those movies – normally, at the end of the movie, the person who was famous for saying SSDD wasn’t saying it any longer.  Why was that?  If you notice, his or her focus had changed, resulting in a change in attitude.  The change in attitude made them more productive, able to accomplish more and appreciated by those at their workplace.

Is this just a movie phenomenon?  No – absolutely not.  The key is identifying the motivators.  It’s not just a question of doing something different, it’s a question of aligning skills, abilities and interests with a job.  For some, that means starting a new company.  For others, that means getting their business back on the original track it was on.  For others, still, that may look like finding a job that provides them with the motivation and focus they need to be successful.

No one person can tell you how to escape that mentality.  However, as a business leader, for your team to be effective, you’ve got to be effective, yourself.  Essentially, you need to be the C.E.O. of your life – the one that creates the vision, defines the mission, sets the goals, addresses the needs and drives the activities of your life.  If you are a spiritual person, this allows you to be more aligned with your spirituality.  If you are individualistic, you will probably get greater satisfaction out of your accomplishments.

Kris Cavanaugh, one of The Business Strategy People ™ , goes into the CEO mentality, in great detail, on her website – www.begintoshift.com.  Sign up for one of her e-courses or for a free coaching session.  Tell her you want to be the Boss.

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].


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Technorati Tags: Leadership Effectiveness,Attitude,Business Growth Strategies,Business Path,Employees,Strategic Partnerships,Transparency,Vision
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Extraordinary Business

Being ordinary is easy.  Almost anyone can build an ordinary business.  Heck…you could run it out of the back of your car.  You could run door to door begging people to buy your stuff.and when your business is gone…no one will remember it ever existed.

Being extraordinary takes work.  It takes clear vision, focus, guidance, perseverance and courage.  When the business is gone, people will remember it.  People who work at it will cherish it.  It’s strength and capacity to impact those around it is the stuff for history books.Extraordinary Predator

Look at a Great White Shark.  It is known as an extraordinary predator.  It spends its time and energy focused on one thing: developing itself so that it can eat.  It is clearly focused on seeking out and eating whatever it desires.  There are other predators in the waters – even other sharks.  Why does the Great White stand out?  Because it is extraordinary.

When you look at the marketplace and your industry, what makes your business extraordinary?  Is it the way your customers can reach you any time, anywhere?  Is it the quality and type of information you provide them with?  Is it the constant results-driven solutions your provide for them?  Is it all of the above, or something else?

Finding out what makes your business extraordinary requires learning what your business’s strengths are, then finding ways to best utilize them in your marketplace.  Then, like the Great White, narrow your focus so that you can produce the same results over and over and over again.  Find ways to let people know that you are extraordinary in this area.  Keep the concept in front of people in writing, conversation, collateral, presentations and product or service delivery.

While building yourself up may not do you much good, letting people know what your vision is – to be extraordinary – will help them help you to become just that.  Remember – we don’t live inside of individual bubbles.  Focusing on what you believe about your company (or yourself, for that matter) will give you a very narrow perspective.  While you will define and push toward your extraordinary vision, it will take a village to get you there.

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].

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Technorati Tags: Business Growth Strategies,Extraordinary,Business Path,Focus,Management and Leadership,Small business Consulting,Strategic Planning,Vision
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Leveraging Your Strengths

As a business leader, it’s always interesting being in a position to ride out a recession.  I can’t help but wonder what will be different.  How will consumer preferences change?  How will their spending patterns change?  What are businesses doing to regroup?  How many businesses merged and what will they look like when they emerge?

Of course, with all of the resulting volatility, I have to look at the emerging needs in the marketplace and determine what I need to do differently.  If I keep doing the same thing that I have been doing (running on inertia), then I will likely get left behind.  If I keep my nose to the grindstone and keep pumping out new and exciting stuff for a market that doesn’t exist, or one that is saturated (red, shark infested waters), then I won’t continue to be successful.  If I find a way to identify and leverage my strengths, I can continue to be a service to my community.

That is a mark of an extraordinary business – they not only meet the needs of their market’s current needs, they are able to anticipate it’s future needs.What  are your strengths?

What does this have to do with leveraging your strengths?  Everything.  Some times when business leaders discover a need in the marketplace, they immediately loose focus on their vision to go after the shiny new bait in the water.  Many times, this new thing will take them on a new path, which for some, is fine.  However, for those who are trying to serve a specific population in a specific way, this could be devastating.  Therefore identifying and finding ways to leverage your strengths is going to be the most ideal scenario for meeting new market needs.

Strengths you might seek to leverage might be relationships, the ability to learn, resources you can use to hire new people or assistant, access to different types of information and the typical cash flow, client relationships, community relationships, access to investors or ability to raise capital through traditional methods.  It will be important to identify some more non-traditional strengths so that you can begin to get a fuller picture of what your capabilities truly are.  At the same time, you must be realistic.  Your strengths should be something that you can tie some direct outcome to.  For example, stating that you have access to $500,000, thinking that you can find investors (that you don’t have) for a product or service that hasn’t been developed might be a little far-fetched (though stating that you need that $500,000 may not be unrealistic.)

Once you’ve identified those strengths, look at the needs and trends in your market/industry and define opportunities that your company could take advantage of in the upcoming year.  If you are in the fuel industry, you might be looking at how you might leverage offer alternate fuel sources.  If you are in construction, you might look at how you might promote the company as a green company.  If you are in professional services, you might do research in your industry and sell a trend report based on your findings.  Whatever you decide to do, make sure that it is a) part of your mission, b) help you move toward your vision and c) doesn’t compromise your values.

Remember that everything that your business produces has your business’s name on it.  Your market is watching.  If you confuse them, they won’t purchase from you.

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].


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Technorati Tags: Business Decisions,Business Strategy,Management and Leadership,Recession buster,Mission,Small Business Consulting,Strategic Planning,Vision,Values
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Open Your Eyes! Seeing Opportunities

This morning, I told my five-year-old son to go into the kitchen and get his jacket.  He returned to the kitchen a short while later stating that he couldn’t find the jacket.  I told him he should have put it away so he would know where it was.  He told me that he’d put it on the counter at breakfast time.  I told him to run to the kitchen, and get it.

Well, we were on our way out of the door, so I quickly ran to the kitchen to take a look.  There, hanging on a door knob, was the sweater.  All he had to do was turn around a look.

Sometimes as business leaders, we find ourselves in a similar position: we are looking for opportunities or people or products or services, and we can’t seem to find them.  Sometimes we get so keenly focused on a process that we fail to realize that there might be another path to achieve the same results.  Sometimes, we are over-complex in our dealings when simplicity could be what is called for.  Sometimes extraordinary is behind door number two, and we get focused on door number one.Explore Your Opportunities

Just to be clear, that happens to most of us in many situations.  But having the knowledge and ability to change and doing nothing about it  is pure foolishness.  So let’s look at some options.

Sometimes, the solution could be as simple as taking another look at your goals, and creating several ways (milestones) to accomplish the same thing.  Give yourself an appropriate timeframe as follows:

“Looking at how to achieve the goal, I am going to give myself 24 hours to come up with alternate processes or steps to reach the same solution.”

  • If you’ve got the resources, enlist the assistance of other stakeholders, be it clients, employees, vendors, advisors, investors, etc..  Do an brainstorming session.  Keep the timeframe appropriate – if a decision needs to be made within several hours, consider, realistically, the number of people you could reach out to and what could be accomplished.
  • Ask questions, do research.  Keep in mind that you only know what you know, and you don’t know what you don’t know.  If you can become better versed in a situation, then you will have a better perspective on the situation.
  • Consider what could go wrong, or what could go right with the solutions you’ve chosen.  While it may seem like some unnecessary steps, you will find that you can do this in a reasonable amount of time, depending on the situation.  Again, give yourself a reasonable timeframe within to work
  • Consider how important the situation is.  Invest the appropriate amount of resources into making the decision.  It shouldn’t take a team of consultants, the board of directors and a brainstorming session to determine how your office should be set up.  On the other hand, major expenses should be weighed and measured before pursuing them.

Great opportunities are only gathered and acted on by those who are attuned to seeing them and ready to move once they do see them.  It is a mentality and a decision.  If you tune your mind to constantly seek out opportunities, you will find that opportunities are everywhere.  If you develop a process to identify, evaluate and purse opportunities as they present themselves, you will find you can manage and take advantage opportunities as they present themselves.

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].


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Technorati Tags: Business Decisions,Business Path,Business Process,Extraordinary,Focus,Management and Leadership,Process Improvement,Recession Buster,Vision
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Uuuggghhh! Hit the Wall!!: Know Your Limits

What do you do when you get overwhelmed?  Do you think it won’t happen to you?  Has it happened already with nearly devastating results?  Do you start running on auto-pilot, and begin making bad decisions for your business?

My wife, a former track runner, told me about this phenomenon called “hitting the wall.”  She is a daddy’s little girl, but her daddy often couldn’t make her track meets because he had to work to keep food on the table.  One day, her dad showed up right before the race.  Excited to see him, and determined to do her best, she took off from the starting line giving everything she had.  As a matter of fact, by the time she hit her fourth lap around the track she was beginning to catch up to some of the runners who were on their third lap.Know how to pass the baton

Unfortunately, this caused her to lose track of the number of laps she’d run, and she began running a fifth.  Her older sister raced across the track to let her know that she’d finished the race and won by a mile.  My wife stopped, finally, elated.  Then, BAM, she fell to the ground.  She had hit the wall.   She told me that it felt like she ran right into a brick wall. She ignored her bodies limits and went beyond what her body was able to handle.

What about you?  As a business leader, you cannot afford to hit the wall.  You are growing an extraordinary business.  You’ve got to know your limits.  You’ve got to know when to stop so that you don’t hit that wall.  That means, of course, that you’ve got to have your backup plan in place so that your company can continue to function in your absence.  That means surrounding yourself with great people and great products who understand your company and can carry the torch while you rest.

Don’t worry – if you are pushing the envelope, at some point, you will need to rest.  It happens to all of us with extraordinary visions.  Pursue yours, vigorously, but take your break before you hit the wall.

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].


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What Forest? Charge Your Vision, Change Your Business!

As a Business Strategist, all of my clients inevitably hear the question, �and what do we hope to accomplish by this?�  Many of the business leaders I initially work with tend to work in terms of what is immediately in front of them rather than looking at the big picture.  Many people have labeled this �working in the business, rather than on the business.�  Others might say that many business owners �can�t see the forest because of all of the trees.�

You might ask why that is, but the answer is often obvious � the things that are right in front of us tend to be those things that require our immediate attention.  For example, your company may have orders coming in, going out, clients that are paying late, need immediate decisions, sales calls to take, products to develop and the shiny new thing that came across your desk that you must take advantage of in the next 36 hours or you will miss the chance of a lifetime.

If you think about it, it is like watching a mouse in one of those spinning wheels.  You watch the little guy working really hard to make that thing spin as quickly as possible, but you know that he really isn�t going anywhere, no matter how hard he tries.  While the mouse probably doesn�t have the aspirations you have to get anywhere, your business will quickly get left behind if you continue operating this way.

Enter strategic planning.

Strategic planning is a method of driving your company toward its vision.  This isn�t a passive activity, or something that you do when you get the opportunity.  This isn�t something that is simply a logical progression of activities.  It is something that is driven.

The opposite of it is continuing on inertia.  This is like a wheel that starts rolling down a hill.  Sure, it will gather speed without much outside force.  No one has to run along next to it to make it keep going.  What happens, though, when the hill starts to smooth out?  What happens when the decline becomes an incline?  Of course, the wheel will slow down and eventually start rolling backwards.  What happens if the wheel bumps into a tree on the way down the hill?  What if it gets hit and changes course?

Being strategic and acting on purpose with your business will help you steer the business through some of the obstacles the business might run up against, and give it power to keep going up and over those hills that it will inevitably encounter.

A strategic plan starts out with a vision.  Your vision should tell you where you are going, or what you expect to find at the other end of the forest.  For example, being a web design company won�t get you very far.  There are thousands of different directions you can go with that.  However, being the best interactive web application company focused on midsized hospitals is much more tangible.  Strategy begs to answer how you will get your company there, but it does so, specifically.

How do you determine that you are the best?  Well, that will have to be based on popular opinion, versus a gut feeling or a few peoples� comments.  You�ll have to present your company in such a way that you are open for criticism.  You�ve got to compete for awards.  You�ve got to have systems, process and standards so that you have deliver the same quality product and/or service repeatedly.  You�ve got to listen to your clients and your markets to determine what they are looking for and to anticipate their needs that they don�t know exist.

Each aspect of your vision needs to be to be approached like this, in a way that will allow you to measure your results.  If 10 hospitals say you are the best, that is great.  If 50 hospitals say you are the best, you are probably on your way.  If 500 hospitals say you are the best, depending on your target market size, you are probably the best.  If you tell a client that 500 hospitals across the US say you are the best, do you think you might win the next client?

Now, this is a broad stroke when we talk about strategy � it would be easy to dig down into the details, put time, dates, costs, build financial models, etc., but you have to start somewhere.  The most important thing is to be able to see the forest.  Once you can begin to see the forest, you can begin to see the path through the trees.

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].


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Technorati Tags: Business Decisions,Business Growth Strategies,Business Path,Business Strategy,Extraordinary,Management and Leadership,Vision
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