Category Archives: Business planning process

7 Steps to Becoming a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

successful-businessThis past weekend, I attended a personal development training led by a husband and wife team of multi-millionaires with multiple business assets constantly throwing off cash on their behalf.

I listened intently to what they had to share. One of their tips was to ‘release the breaks’. The supposition being that we’re actually doing things (or not doing things) that keeps the breaks on our business engaged.

I gleaned 7 steps from their talk on how to become a highly successful entrepreneur. Add these to your strategic planning and implementation activities and you’ll raise the revenue and profitability levels in your enterprise, even if it’s in its infancy. In fact, the sooner you apply these principles, the more easily you’ll reach your goals.

1. Zoom out
Take time to imagine the long-term vision of your company and your life. Really get in touch with your purpose on this planet and the impact you want to have. Think big. Think bigger than you think is possible. It’s hard to see all of your potential grandeur when you’re not yet there, but work at it and let your perspective expand to the greatest possible heights.

2. Zoom in
Once you’ve gotten clear about the big, bright future, reel yourself back to the present and identify what tiny (or not so tiny) steps you can take TODAY to start down the path toward your destination.

3. Organize
Identify the activities that seem to be generating the best results. Clarify which ones are working. Simplify your processes in order to minimize wasted efforts, resources and time.  Unclutter your life and business.  Focus on what matters most. Focus on what works the best.

Get rid of everything else that could distract you from reaching your goal

4. Actualize
Keep taking productive, consistent action. Keep moving forward. Things may not always turn out the way you expect. Learn along the way. Adjust and keep taking action

5. Monetize
Keep looking for revenue streams. Perhaps there are new markets to be tapped. New ways to deliver the products/services you already have. Partner with others to gain access to new prospects.

6. Can it and clone it
Once you have a business model that works, document it. Identify the processes (think McDonald’s). Keep them simple so it can be replicated. Replicate it.

7. Increase your reach
Visibility is critical for success. Look for ways to get in front of your ideal clients. Get referrals, advertise where they hang out, speak to them (individually or in groups) to demonstrate your expertise and value. Use marketing tools to carry the message farther.  Get your product or service sean, heard and read about by as many people as possible.

Follow up with them. You’ve probably heard this advice before but are you doing it? The fortune is in the follow up. Follow up!

Implement these 7 steps and watch your business soar.

The Difference between Sales Process & Sales Tactics

SalesProcessMany people don’t understand the distinctions between strategy, process and tactics.

A strategy is an overall plan to achieve specific, generally long-term, goals. It’s an approach, a broad, general roadmap, a way to go about doing business.  A strategy defines how an organization intends to get from where it is now to where it wants to be in the future, perhaps three to five years out.  Pursuing Whales to grow revenue is a strategy.  Going global is a strategy. Penetrating a specific industry is a strategy. Increasing visibility to raise awareness about a product or service is a strategy. A strategy may include time frames but typically they are ‘end point’ dates.

A sales process is repeatable plan.  It outlines milestones involved in bringing on new clients, moving the prospects from “Stranger” to “Raving Fan”, for example.  It defines what is needed along the way to move from one point to the next. A sales process will also help you determine how likely you are to close a particular deal. It is in some regards, independent of the people who implement it.  Obviously people are involved in the process but if it is laid out well, it mitigates the reliance on a Rock Star salesperson.  A primary principle of  Whale Hunting: Land Big Deals, Transform Your Company states, “Success is 90% process and 10% magic”.  Once proven, people can be taught to implement the sales process.

The steps in a sample sales process might be as follows:

  1. Qualify
  2. 1st meeting
  3. Proof
  4. 2nd meeting
  5. Proposal
  6. Close
  7. Intake

Sales tactics, on the other hand are day-to-day activities individual team members execute in service of the strategy that has been laid out.  Tactics outline what will be done.  They are measurable and can be assigned to specific individuals. They are observable and trackable.  A tactical plan (made up of a series of tactics) may cover a time frame of six to 18 months.

Let’s say a company decides to implement pursuing large firms as a strategy to achieve aggressive revenue growth targets.  The company will likely have already set specific revenue targets and due dates.  Here are some sample tactics for the various roles in the firm

  • CEO: Schedule an in-house workshop to introduce Whale Hunting to the entire company
  • Sales Specialist/Assistant: Spend an hour a day researching and compiling dossiers on selected Whales
  • Sales Manager: Recommend three whales to approach to CEO
  • Salesperson: Contact a key decision maker at the prospective whale to schedule an initial meeting within 5 days of receiving a completed dossier
  • Subject Matter Expert: Make a list of Good-to-Great questions for an upcoming meeting with a prospective whale

Defining and communicating a strategy throughout an organization helps align the staff and focus its attention on what’s important. Tactics help people find their place in and get engaged with the strategy. Tactics give staff personal accountability, ‘skin in the game’, that can be measured and rewarded.

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The Value and Implementation of Short-term Goals

If you’ve been reading my column regularly, you know I enjoy brisk morning walks up toward South Mountain. I find those walks invigorating and thought-provoking.

Recently, I observed my walking and thinking and started applying my observations to running my business. I could see similarities to my commitment to reaching a certain milestone up the hill a ways to accomplishing goals in my business.

What I discerned in that process seemed quite helpful, so I decided to pass on my observations to motivate you to create more short-term goals.

The long term goal

I have no idea how far it is to the apex of the part of the mountain that is near my home and only a mild desire to ever reach it by foot. (Hats off to the people who walk in the 3-Day Walk for the Cure!) The mountain is a useful visual however to put my actual daily goal which is much closer (1 mile up, 1 mile back), into context.

From a business perspective, if I were actually committed to reaching that summit, that would be akin to a long-term business objective or even a company’s mission.

The short term goal

What struck me on my walk is that each day, as soon as I turn the corner out of my development, I set my eyes on the spot almost a mile away I intend to reach that day. It seems far away at the time, but I know based on my past walks, I can make it in 20 minutes. I keep my goal in mind, but I stop looking at it.

The path

I have a few options of where I’ll walk. As I leave my home, I could walk on the sidewalk or the street. I choose the street because there is little traffic and the asphalt feels better beneath my feet than the sidewalk. Once you know where you’re going in your business, the path will become clear and you may have options

The immediate goal

My perspective then becomes quite close, a couple of steps, 2 – 3 feet in front of me. The value of this shorter-term focus is that it keeps me motivated. Focusing on the next 2 steps is easy! I know I can do that. It’s also quite rewarding because I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction by completing each step.

If I were to keep my eyes on the goal a mile away, I might get discouraged and slow down or even give up. But two steps ahead? I can finish those all day every day.

Focus

When I’m walking on a lot of uneven-sized rocks, the focus is even shorter. Those rocks represent potential obstacles, roadblocks or surprises in your business.When your focus is on the immediate future, you can see and avoid potential dangers before they become problems. I have to navigate the uneven path more carefully because one mis-step on one rock that moves unexpectedly could result in a sprained or twisted ankle (which actually happened about a month ago).

It slowed me down, stopped the walks for a couple of days and required an athletic band for a couple of weeks as it healed.

Distractions

The ‘rocks’ might even be interesting distractions that grab your attention and take your focus off your main goal. Outlook and Facebook can be distractions if you aren’t strategic, purposeful and organized about interacting with them. Taking classes that sound interesting but aren’t critical to your success is a distraction as is taking a class and never implementing what you learn.

Goal recheck

Periodically, I look toward my visual end point. Since I haven’t looked for a while, it looks closer and this makes me happy! I feel progress is happening and it incites me to make more. Focus Then it’s back to looking only 2 – 3 feet ahead. My attention is on form, breathing, making sure I’m keeping my desired pace up.

I’m determined to reach the daily goal in my mind, but my focus is on my immediate behaviors, attitudes and actions that will get me there.

Alert

While I’m focused on my one-step-at-a-time movements, I’m also aware of my surroundings. I enjoy encounters with nature, occasional bunny/jack rabbits, roadrunners, quail, flowering cacti, bird calls, the sun on my body, the wind by my ears. These distractions make the trip enjoyable. They put a smile on my face and spur creativity.

The lesson here is, as you’re pursuing your goals, make sure you smell the roses. If you love what you do, you’ll get pleasure from that. But occasionally, you might need to schedule in some fun to make sure it happens. You know what they say about all work and no play.

Danger

Occasionally, I’ll encounter a car approaching me. If my sights are off in the distance, I’ll see it. Then I play the game of estimating how quickly and at what point we’ll ‘meet’ so I can determine where I’ll step off the asphalt and onto the rocky roadside. In your business, you need to stay alert to incoming objects and anticipate how you’ll deal with them. You may need to adjust your actions and come up with contingency plans. Being alert allows you to anticipate issues before they become problems and avert them before they do damage.

7 Requirements to Turn a Dream into a Business

One of the things I hear over and over again when I work with my clients is “Wow!” I never thought of that!”

There’s something about the process of talking out loud with another person skilled in thought facilitation that generates insight, creativity and innovation that simply isn’t possible on one’s own.

A recent new client spent an afternoon with me sorting out the ideas in her head about the business she dreamed of launching.

To quote her, “We’re caught in our own heads and world and thoughts. We need an outside agent to pull the ideas out.

As I evaluate what it is I consistently do that evokes the sparking of new ideas that provoke committed and inspired action, I’ve boiled it down to seven things.

1) A proven process
Depending on the client’s goal, one or more of several processes are employed to guide the client toward the desired end result. Whether it’s defining the perfect market, evaluating your readiness for the venture or surveying the competitive landscape, you can’t just have a random, meandering conversation that goes nowhere.

Surely there must be flexibility in the system, but having a definitive track to start on, helps the process flow smoothly.

2) Mirrored thought
Ideas when articulated become more clear. Even faulty thinking is identified more rapidly when expressed out loud.

Often just repeating what someone says makes them come to grips with it’s truth or fallacy.

3) Shared observations and recommendations
Years of experience in banking, technology, marketing and management have generated a practical perspective and literally thousands of opinions :-)  on a variety of topics that can be invaluable to someone who isn’t quite sure how to proceed on their quest. Well-informed counsel can make life easier.

4) Appropriate doubt
“Are you sure about that?”. Another client was about to take action that was fundamentally a good idea, but about to be implemented without appropriate research and advice. Questioning her encouraged her to seek other professional advice that equipped her with the proper strategies and approach to protect her investment in her business.

We are enamored with our own ideas. The intent here is not to rain on anyone’s parade, but to help avoid the pitfalls of certain decisions. By identifying potential risks in advance, plans can be made to minimize them or avert certain situations altogether.

5) Support that evokes commitment
By the same token, we sometimes doubt our abilities. Belief in an idea and the person holding it will go a long way to building their confidence for making it happen. Think about it. When some has believed in you, didn’t you feel you could conquer the world?

6) Action planning
All of the brilliant insights are of little use if not applied in the real world. Goals are accomplished one step at a time. Knowing what those steps are keeps you from procrastinating or wasting time flailing around on non-productive activities.

7) Follow up and follow through
Most people are more likely to get something done if they’ve told someone else they will do a thing. When commitments are made and kept privately, there is too much temptation to let them slip or to replace them with some other activity.

Going public with your goals and reporting on your journey will help ensure that the journey actually happens. Getting support and coaching along the way, empowers the experience of accomplishment.

I believe accountability makes magic happen. When we’re held accountable for making progress on our dreams, it opens the door to a life of purpose, fulfillment and prosperity.” -Loretta Love Huff

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Brainstorm on potential NEW revenue streams you can create easily without doing a ton more work

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