Monthly Archives: November 2013

Does Your Small Business Make You and Your Customer Happy?

As I discussed in two prior blogs, I was recently talking to Peter, who is one of our small business planning clients and he told me that one of the best thing about his business is that he is happy with his business. As I reflected on his statement I realized that so many business owners across the world do not feel the same way about their small business as does Peter.Small Business Planning

As we discussed in the first blog on this subject, life is short; therefore it is desirable to operate a business in such a way that makes you happy. So how do you create a small business which will make you happy? In Small Business Planning Involves Setting and Achieving Goals and Finding Profits and Pleasure in Your Small Business we covered the first four of the six key elements that are present in most situations in which business owners are happy with their small business. In summary, the first four key elements are:

1. Identifying and achieving goals for your business that are aligned with your overall Vision for your business

2. Systematizing your business so it is not overly dependent on you personally

3. Creating an enjoyable work environment

4. Generating sufficient profits

Key #5 Seeing your Small Business Demonstrably Improve Your Customer’s Lives

The fifth key element is to see in a demonstrated way, that your product or service improves your customer’s life. One up of the most fulfilling things in life is to see that your product or service makes a difference in your customer’s life. Deep down inside almost all of us obtain great satisfaction by helping others in some way, shape or form. When you see your small business positively impacting your customers and enabling them to reach their goals in life, your business takes on a new dimension of “fun”. The foundation and core purpose of every business is to serve its customers. When you see this happening it becomes a validation of your business and you as a person and if you get positive feedback in the form of written or verbal thank you notes, testimonies and other affirmations, that enjoyment factor is greatly amplified and enhanced.

This fun, enjoyment and satisfaction is multiplied when your employees also see how your small business is positively impacting your customers’ lives. We have all seen how various teams in sports and military situations work together in a better fashion when they can see that together they are making a difference and changing things for the better. It is the same way with your business, and your business almost takes on a contest or game aspect when you start to strategize about how you can improve your customer’s lives even more.

Key #6 Having a Small Business That is Making the World a Better Place

Small Business PlanningThe sixth key element is the gratification, satisfaction and enjoyment that come from making the world a better place. Many, many businesses such as, a cancer research business, a seed company trying to provide more food for mankind or a renewable energy business have unique opportunities to positively impact society. A business does not need to be a large in order to positively impact its environment, for instance you might be a local artist that is beautifying your city and elevating the lives of its citizens, a home remodeler improving the lives of homeowners or a dog training business enriching the lives of dog owners. When a person looks at their small business from an overarching standpoint most businesses will have some benefit to society. As you reflect on how your small business is making the world a better place, the enjoyment that you derive from your business will be increased.

So my challenge is to you to start today with these 6 key small business planning steps to develop your small business so that you can also say “the best thing about my business is that I am happy with my business”.

 

photos by: jerekeys & Fort Meade

Use Critical Success Factors for Small Business Planning

As a small business planning firm a tool that we found invaluable in assisting a small business owner to ferret out the initiatives that will truly be beneficial to them is to identify a business’ Critical Success Factors. In the blog How to Use Your Small Business’ Limited Resources Wisely I discuss the fact that with regards to new initiatives, projects or tasks which a small business is contemplating it must consider that it has limited resources in the form of its time, money and talent. I covered the fact that these are limited in both the total amount which can be spent as well as the timing of the expenditure.

In this prior blog I shared how one of our clients narrowed down their potential action item list from 20 tasks to 7 in only two Small Business Planningshort hours. We were able to do this narrowing process quickly and avoid spending the six hours that an exercise like this normally takes because of a special tool that we use to assist clients to focus on initiatives that provide it with the largest and most immediate payback.

While there is a dearth of simple, easy to use tools in conjunction of making a go or no go decisions on various undertakings, the use of Critical Success Factors is a tremendously valuable tool that can assist you with this decision making process.

Critical Success Factors are the items or actions that a business must achieve in order to reach its Vision and fulfill its mission. This means that your Critical Success Factors are the things that will either make or break your small business. This has serious implications: the identification of and realization of your business’s Critical Success Factors will ultimately determine the destiny of your business!

According to a Dun & Bradstreet study, 96% of businesses in America that fail, fail because they don’t make the right decisions nor do they have the criteria to make the right decisions. The criteria for making the right decisions for your small business are your business’s Critical Success Factors. Noted author and speaker Tony Robbins has said that “one reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.” Your Critical Success Factors are the things on which you need to direct your focus and on which to concentrate your power for your business!

Critical Success Factors is a Foundational Tool for Small Business Planning

Small Business PlanningIn working with many, many clients over my lifetime I have seen that many small business owners view the development of a detailed (not just a general “we’ll figure it out as we go” type document) business strategy document or strategic plan as a daunting and overwhelming task. By using a Critical Success Factor approach to create your strategy, you are able to produce a workable and executable plan in small, easily accomplished steps as compared to creating a strategic plan from scratch. Remember the old saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

As we have discussed, the reason that determining your small business’s Critical Success Factors is so very important is because every business has limited resources—limited time, limited money, and limited talent. Therefore, a small business must focus and channel its effort into the most important areas for that business. Utilization of a Critical Success Factors methodology will allow you to properly deploy your business’s resources in ways that are focused on

In my next small business planning blog, I will discuss how you utilize your Critical Success Factors as a decision making tool within your business.

 

Finding Profits and Pleasure in Your Small Business

In a previous blog I shared that I was recently talking to Peter, who is one of our small business planning clients and he told me that one of the best thing about his business is that he is happy with his small business. As I reflected on his statement I realized that so many business owners across the world cannot make the statement that Peter made.

As we discussed in Small Business Planning Involves Setting and Achieving Goals, life is short; therefore it is desirable to operate a business in such a way that makes you happy. So how do you create a business which will make you happy? In that blog we tackled the first of the six key elements that are present in most situations in which business owners are happy with their business. The first key element was identifying goals that are related to a Vision, destination or direction for your business and then making progress towards that Vision by achieving those goals.

Key #2 Business Planning Involves Utilizing Systems – Not a Trial And Error Approach

The second key element to being happy with your small business is to avoid using a trial and error approach to achieve your Small Business PlanningVision and the goals for your business, but to instead utilize a systematic and process driven game plan in your business. By putting the proper systems in place for operating your business you will obtain a business that is not overly dependent on you personally thus providing you with a business that can operate without your detailed involvement. I have consistently seen that using a trial and error or hit or miss line of attack leads to disappointing results and the lack of enjoyment with a business.

By using a systematic approach within your business you can also avoid the “busyness” business model that ensnares so many business owners. By following a step by step method you will be freed up to oversee your business instead of getting stuck on the treadmill of your business’ daily operations. The result of this will be that you will be enabled to work “on” your business instead of being relegated to working only “in” your business. A business that operates like a “system” thus skirting the “busyness” syndrome will greatly increase your happiness with your business.

Key #3 An Enjoyable Work Environment Provides Delight

Key element # 3 to having an enjoyable small business is develop a work environment that is fun to be including hiring and retaining people that are pleasant to be around. As we discussed in Small Business Planning Involves Setting and Achieving Goals we said that life is short so why would you want to spend your only lifetime in working in an environment in which you dislike the people that you have employed. Of all of the elements related to being happy with your business this is the element that you have the most control over.

After all, you should have complete control over the hiring and firing of your employees. How you operate your business determines the work environment that you create. If you purposely create a pleasant work environment, you hire the correct personnel and cultivate an atmosphere that creates a positive work place you should end up with a highly desirable work environment. When you have a desirable work environment and enjoyable people with which to work you will have a place of business that you will look forward to going to and this will create a business that is a joy to operate.

Key #4 Proper Small Business Planning Leads to a Profitable Business and to Happiness

Small Business PlanningHaving a business that sufficiently rewards you for the capital invested in, hard work and risk taking that you undertake on behalf of your business is the fourth key element to being happy with your small business. This “reward” is encapsulated in the profitability of your business. If your small business does not produce a certain level financial remuneration for you, you will feel that your business is only a burden and a strain for you. Your business should not be a charity nor should it be a sink hole for your money. Just as you would get paid wages or a salary, so too should you get paid by your business for your efforts on its behalf. The “profitability” of your business can be either in compensation paid to you, profits being distributed to you from your business or in fringe benefits being provided to you. Of course keep in mind, that with a start up business you may not have all of the profits that you desire until your business begins to mature.

In summary, in planning for your small business, along with establishing goals related to your Vision for your business and then achieving them, if you do these three things: 1) systematize your business, 2) create a pleasurable work environment and 3) generate sufficient profits you will develop a small business is that is fun to operate and one that you will positively anticipate going to each day.