new businesses

Think About it.Write it Down

One of my mentors – Dr. Ike Rieghard, said to me that unrealized visions are.hallucinations.  Meaning that a vision is some place or some situation in which you can picture yourself of your business.  For example, my vision is to be an educator of strategic planning, strategic foresight and servant leadership.  If I never do anything with that vision, it is no more than a dream.

The other thing Dr. Ike said was that when I have a vision, write it down.  He went on to explain that visions aren’t always right around the corner, or something that is going to happen right away.  Often, visions are based on some future state.  Therefore, if you write it down, and make it your focus – look at it often – you are more likely to craft your activities toward achieving that vision.  Your thoughts and ideas will constantly serve to reach that vision for yourself or your company.clip_image002

As business leaders, ideas about how to grow your business, or new businesses, are constantly popping into your head.  The challenge I have seen is that without putting energy into one or two goals that are moving toward a specific vision, you will be all over the place.  You will be starting a lot of different things, but not actually accomplishing much of anything.  What I’ve recommended to people is to create an Idea Platform, which is a way of documenting, evaluating and incorporating an idea into the business.

The other end of the spectrum is to promote and sell a number of ideas half-baked.  For some people, that works.  One of the problems with this type of effort is that the products or services delivered aren’t always as powerful as they could be, and they don’t have the impact that they could.  Additionally, you have to determine if running your business this way is sustainable.  Yes, there will be opportunities that present themselves that you must “jump” on right away, or the opportunity wily.  However, like the Idea Platform, it would be valuable to have a process for managing these types of scenarios.

For example, if you were to look at a typical gas company – they aren’t necessarily the companies that produce the gas at all.  They are more likely gas marketers, or companies that sell gas and related products.  There goal, of course, is to sell gas.  Now they probably have a number of different venders that a) sell them gas, b) sell them gas-related products and c) offer different tools that assist with monitoring gas consumption and billing.  These companies cannot afford to jump at every single idea half-baked.  They should (but may not) have a system for evaluating the products and services, to determine if they will be viable and profitable for the company, without taking them outside of their core business.  The more efficient their process is, the faster they can take ideas to market.

If that holds true for publicly traded companies, it certainly holds true for your company, since your time and resources are probably more limited then those of the gas companies.  So create your idea platform.  Have your ideas and your visions and write them down.  Evaluate them.  If your ideas will lead your business toward the vision and they make sense for your business, incorporate them and move forward.  Remember, moving forward on inertia – without much effort – will NOT make your business extraordinary, but rather, as mediocre as many other businesses in the marketplace.

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 Strategy,Extraordinary,Small Business Consulting,Idea Platform
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Principles for Startup Businesses: Think. Plan. Do.

I am always interested in speaking with people who want to start new businesses.  The hope and passion they bring to the small business community is refreshing.  It’s like a child who has been promised a new toy, or a teenager purchasing a new car.

I encourage it.  It is like skydiving or cliff jumping or any of those wonderful experiences we were built for, but are afraid to try.  It allows the spirit to be released and fly and soar and reach new heights untouched by most.

To all of you who have decided that for 2009, you are going to take that leap, I will offer you the following:  Think.  Plan.  Do.



Dream big.  As Stephen Covey put it, begin with the end in mind.  As the Bible put it – where these is no vision, the people perish.

  • Don’t get hung up on naming your business.
  • Write it down.  It’s amazing what one can accomplish when one doesn’t know what one cannot do.
  • Keep in mind…there is a way.  Sears started out as a horse-drawn wagon, clip_image002Papa Johns started by a couple of college students trying to make some extra cash, and Kellogg’s cereal started by accident.
  • Learn.  Just like driving that car, parachuting or running a marathon, running a small business  takes preparation, knowledge and understanding.
  • Keep your eyes open.  See what is going on in the marketplace.  See what trends are developing.  Look out for events that could potentially disrupt your business.
  • Have courage.  Fear is natural  Courage is fear that said its prayers at breakfast.  Fear is immobilizing.  Courage is invigorating.
  • Be encouraged.  If someone else is doing it successfully, leveraging their gifts and abilities, think about how you might leverage your own to serve a population you identify with.  Consider the fast food industry.
  • Surround yourself with great people.  Remember – you are great at what you are great at.  Everyone has areas where they need more knowledge.  Find people to fill those gap areas.
  • Know your capabilities.  Know how you work, who you work best with, your personality, your strengths and your weaknesses.  Think about how you can play to your strengths.
  • Know the risks and be prepared to deal with them.
  • Prepare to bring all of what you’ve got.  Notice, this didn’t say quit your job, today and start your business.  It says prepare.  That means understand what it will take for you to transition into running your business.
  • Plan.

    1. Many people start planning as step one.  Think about it like creating a road map for a vacation without knowing where you are going and whatclip_image002[4] you intend to do there.  Gather information, first.
    2. Review.  One of the hardest things for people is being overly optimistic about their business.  “If you build it, they will come” is not the norm for business.
    3. Leverage your resources.  Have others in your circle review your plan with you.  Ask them to give you the hard critique.  Be aware of those who are normally nay-sayers – they may be overly pessimistic, but still add value to the conversation.  Be wary of your “yes” people.  “Yes” people will be overly optimistic and should not be taken at face value.
    4. Revise.  Don’t forget to take the valuable information you have and put it into action.


    Put your plan into action.   Take it step-by-step.

  • Know the difference between getting off track (distracted) and re-evaluating your plan.
  • Put first things first.  You do NOT need a tax ID and business name before you have completed your research.clip_image002[7]
  • Don’t lose site of the vision.
  • Use your support system.  Ask advice.  Seek out expertise.
  • Be part of communities – the communities you serve, the communities in your industry, communities on the web.
  • Remember – while things might not appear to be exactly as you’d planned, continue to evaluate how it can be done – how you can reach the vision.
  • Focus.  Running a business is hard work and is time consuming, but can be quite rewarding if you keep the end in mind, keep your eyes on the environment and guard your resources.  That doesn’t mean be cheap, but rather, ensure that your purchases are needs for the business – as in, will help the business get from here to there.
  • 2009 is upon us, my friends.  Be well.  Do well.  Find your passion and run with it.

    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].

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    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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