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How to Develop a Business Strategy – Part III

Developing a business strategy is all about looking at where you want your company to be in the next 3-to-5 years and figuring out what you need to do now to get there. If you spend your days constantly putting out fires in your business, it’s doubtful that you have much time for developing a new business strategy. But if you ever want to stop living like that, you need to make time. Strategic planning can reignite your passion for what you’re doing. By reconnecting with your “Why” story, you can reclaim your original business dream. The daily stress of a business is tough. It’s easy to flip into survival mode and lose sight of that dream that you set out to accomplish in the beginning when you started your business. But you can always hit the reset button. By clearly identifying your niche target customer, validating your value proposition and setting sales goals, you’re no longer winging it. In my series on developing a business strategy in Part I, we discussed how to create a strategy and in Part II, we focused on why strategy fails for small businesses and the criteria for good business strategy. In Part III, we will focus on the benefits of a business strategy. Just consider this, developing a long-term business strategy will increase your chances of business success by forcing you to develop strategies and tactics to address any identified problems. Here are the 7 Main Benefits of Developing a Business Strategy. 1)    Minimizing Risk: One of the main benefits of developing a business strategy is that it reduces risk. Once you’ve envisioned your company’s future over the next 3 to 5 years and done a thoughtful analysis of current state, resources, strengths and weaknesses, competitors and the business environment, you will be better equipped to make decisions and therefore to minimize risk to achieve your company’s potential. 2)    Cost Savings: Once you’ve defined your long-term goals, you will have significant cost saving because you will not waste any marketing resources or time on business appointments or opportunities that are not a fit for your core expertise, focused on your…

How to Develop a Business Strategy – Part II

Your business strategy is your roadmap to business success, but it needs to be adjusted annually. You and your team should take a look at your business strategy every fall to plot out your sales objectives and goals for the new year. 2019 is just around the corner, and you should start your planning process now. When evaluating any business strategy your top concern should be what will help you accomplish your financial goals the fastest. In part II of the series on how to develop a business strategy, we’re going to discuss why strategy fails for small businesses and criteria for good business strategy. Any growth strategy must be measured based profitability, customer satisfaction, conversion rates and retention rates. Why does strategy fail for many small business owners? Chasing too many types of opportunities. Lack of specific targets and time frames means you don’t have an organized sales process. If everyone can use your product or service, no one will. Focus on specific targets and set goals to hold yourself and your team accountable. Make emotional decisions about business opportunities If you shoot from the gut, and make business decision based on how you feel instead of using data to drive business decisions, you’ll make the wrong decision. Instead use careful research, analysis, an experience to make business decisions. Lack of market intelligence We are in the information age. there is an abundance of information about anything online. As small business owners we need to take advantage of market intelligence. Consistently focus on the problems in the business If you are always stressing over your problems instead of doing your daily business development activities. If you turn yourself into a horse with blinders on, you won’t see opportunities right in front of you that might be readily available to you. The criteria for a good business strategy is gathered below: Consider multiple scenarios to evaluate alternative strategies. No small business owner should be wedded to just one strategy. Instead, take multiple approaches into consideration. Factors to consider include cost to pursue a new market, risk, and aligning any strategy…

How to Develop a Business Strategy – Part 1

September is the perfect time to start looking ahead to first quarter 2019. The fall is right time to start thinking about your business goals and then engage your team in developing a new business strategy. Winging it is NOT a strategy, yet too often business owners venture into new markets without a specific target or value proposition, hoping to come across someone in need of services. If you’re looking to identify new business targets, outline a growth plan, determine your product roadmap or plan your funding needs, you’ll need a clear business strategy. It’s one thing to know your business needs, actually developing a strategy is not so easy. This is the first article in a three-part series on building a business strategy. This article is about how to develop a business strategy. Part II and Part III will focus on why strategy fails for small businesses and the benefits of a having a current business strategy. Here’s the six-steps to develop a new business strategy. 1. Examine Your Current State Before you start looking to the future, you should review your past business performance, or the current state. Look at your annual revenues, customer lists, average revenue per transaction and review your most popular services or products. Then look at how your business operates. Look at your market position, employees, sales processes, profit margins and customer satisfaction. Use a SWOT analysis to conduct your review. You must determine what worked well, what could have been better, outline your weaknesses and consider what new opportunities are in the marketplace. When you look at your business, bring your team together to make sure you are collecting all the relevant information that you need. 2. Look at External Factors There are things that affect your business that are not under your control such as industry trends, government regulations, legal compliance, political policies such as international tariffs. Technological advances as well as environmental concerns such as a neighborhood community protesting your restaurant getting a liquor license, can also affect your business results or expansion plans. External factors can either be threats or…

How to Look Great on Facebook Live Video

Everyone is doing live video these days. I understand that people want to be authentic and share organic moments of brilliance from anywhere, but unless you want to look like some reporter on 60 Minutes is trying to conceal your identity, I suggest that you set up a professional mini studio, with audio and lighting you can control. You can easily set up studio in your office or home with professional equipment. Then when you want to be on camera, you can make yourself look like a million bucks. There is nothing worse than watching LIVE video without adequate lighting and quality audio. It can turn your viewers off. But never fear… Amazon can have you looking and sounding like Broadcast TV in no time.  Here are a few suggestions for how to look great on Facebook LIVE: Audio and Lighting Tools for Mobile Devices Audio Mic Earphones Cloudio J1 Noise Cancelling Earbuds with Microphone Noise Isolating Earbuds Super Bass Earbuds.  These ear buds have noise cancellation/isolating and less than 1% distortion rate. High quality built-in microphone for crystal clear conversation in any environment. Video Lighting for iPhone or Samsung Devices Try this mini ring light with a rechargeable battery. It’s perfect for Selfie LED Camera Light for iPhone, iPad or Samsung Galaxy Phones. Home/Office Studio Gear When it come to setting up a studio in your business office or home, there are a few things to consider. Where can you set up your shot? Do you have a nice clean colored wall or book shelf to use as a backdrop? Do you have a stand, table or desk for your laptop that will be at eye level? (You don’t want the camera looking up your nose.)  Will you have help to set this equipment up? Most of the equipment is fairly self explanatory, but you also need to make sure your computer is in the right place. 18-inch Ring Light Kit  Neewer Camera Photo Video Lighting Kit: 18 inches/48 centimeters Outer 55W 5500K Dimmable LED Ring Light, Light Stand, Bluetooth Receiver for Smartphone, Youtube, Vine Self-Portrait Video Shooting Now I’m…

Blogging for Business Part I – How to Develop a Content Strategy

I’ve been blogging for 10 years, and I will tell you that it’s no small thing to build a brand online using content. To develop a blog, you need to define the purpose for your blog, a specific target audience, an engaging content strategy, and build up a significant following in social media, if you want to monetize your blog. Your website is the first step in the critical task of building an online presence for your business. But it is consistent content that will bring people back to your website day after day to engage with your brand. Today kicks off Part I of a three-part series on Blogging for Business. Effective online marketing is about engaging customers where they are online, in the right way at the right time, and most importantly, with content that solves a problem and demonstrates your expertise. Today’s focus is developing a content strategy. For small businesses, the Internet is the great equalizer. As long as you are positioned as a problem solver or an expert, many customers will focus on how fast you can provide them a solution and not how big you are. Because of the amount of data we can now access about our target markets, things like brand messaging, content, products and pricing can be customized. No matter the age, gender, education, or income level of your target customer, they are online, and often using a mobile device to search for content. Social Media Marketing Social media sites give you a chance to join conversation online about your industry or subject area. You meet customers online by adding value to the conversation with your content. Social media facilitates richer, more meaningful customer connections. When done well, your consumers will find you and become ambassadors of your products and services. The face of social media marketing is changing constantly. Current top social media sites include Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, but there are many other options in the social media landscape. You can also hire a tech-savvy virtual assistant or a social media strategist to teach you how to…

How to Develop Content if You Hate Writing

Creating original content is the best way to demonstrate your expertise and build your brand online, but you need to find a content area that works for you.  We tend to think of content in terms of blogs or written words. Writing how-to articles, check lists and informative blog posts are certainly an avenue to pursue, but it’s really hard work to do it consistently, so you need to make sure you love it. I wanted to be a writer since 8th grade, so writing is truly my thing. But if you detest writing there are other things you can do to build your business’s social footprint. Content marketing has exploded, with 89% of B2B marketers currently using content marketing. The recent shift to being a mobile first world has created audiences that are consuming content in new and savvy ways. People want to learn from you and become your customer. Here are a few suggestions for developing content if you hate writing. Alternative ideas for Content Marketing While written articles aren’t going anywhere, people are looking for more engaging content. Options for content beyond traditional blog posts include video, Images, infographics and podcasts. Yes, images are amazing content. We’ve all heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. If what you sell has visual appeal there are social platforms just for you. We’ve seen a flood of visual social media sites and tools in the last few years. Each has its own benefits, and can help you connect in meaningful ways with your audience. Here are ways to leverage other kinds of content Facebook LIVE Facebook LIVE is one of the best ways to leverage live video marketing. It gives you a way to create an authentic connection with your target audience and build a following. It provides live streaming through its mobile app of you doing anything: talking to fans, building your product, conducting interviews. I recently wrote an article about the 17 ways you can leverage a Facebook Live video event Instagram Instagram’s got over 800 million users, with 500 million daily users, so they’re…

Success Secrets from America’s Top Business Experts Part 1

In my new book Fix Your Business, one of the coolest things about pulling this book together was interviewing top business experts at the end of each of the chapters. The book is based on my 12Ps of Running a Successful Business: Preparation, Purpose, People, Profit, Processes, Productivity, Performance, Product, Presence, Prospects, Planning and Perserverance. All of the experts featured in book are people who I have called on for advice in my business including Barry Moltz, Oginga Carr, Mike Michalowicz, Laura Posey, Laura Stack, Misty Young, Stephanie Chandler Jay Baer, Barbara Weaver Smith, Tim Berry and Twyla Garrett. I have grabbed one question and answer from each of them just to give you a sneak preview of their valuable insight. These are success secrets from America’s Top Business Experts, Part I SmallBizLady: What are you three top strategies for managing stress in the business? Barry Moltz: The only way small business owners should manage stress is to decide each day what their top priorities are and do those first. They need to turn off all the other distractions that get in the way of being productive, not just busy. Quarterly, they should look into the future to plan where they are going, but daily, they need to work on what is in front of them and not think about all the possible things they could do in their business. It becomes too overwhelming. SmallBizLady: How can business owners set up new employees for success?   Oginga Carr: How do I spell success? T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G. We do not invest enough in our most valuable assets: our employees. We must immerse our new employees in the training, coaching, and mentorship within our organization; it fast tracks their success in the organization. With the proper hiring process, we should know that they have the skill set to do the job. Now when they start within the organization we should be able to give them 5 goals for success at their position. We should be able to quantify what success looks like and then give them a road map to get there. The biggest…

Things I’ve Learned after 19 Years in Business

I am so excited to share that this month marks 19 years since I left corporate America to become my own boss. I started my first business, Quintessence Group, in March of 1999. I had a laptop, fax machine and a dream.  After this long in business, I have learned a lot, most of which I share with you on this blog, but there are a few things that I wanted to point out along this journey we call entrepreneurship. Here are the 12 things I’ve learned in 19 years of business: Don’t Name Your Business a Complicated Word—The name of my company is Quintessence Group, back in college when I came up with the name I thought it was brilliant, but no one can say or spell it, and I have spent years. Leaders are Readers—Success leaves clues everywhere. One of the secrets to my business success has been constantly reading books weekly on business, leadership and social media. Never Let a Customer Down—When you make a mistake in business, you have to own it and fix it, no matter the cost. You must never let a customer down. It’s not about the mistake. It’s about how you make good on the mistake. Be Good To Work With—I work hard and I laugh a lot. My customers enjoy dealing with me and my team. No one likes a DIVA, or a business owner who treats customers like they are a bother. Love on your customers and you will always have customers. Use Employee Mistakes as Teaching Moments—It’s easy to bash employees for making mistakes, but why not turn them into teaching moments instead. You need to mentor your employees so that they can learn how to do things properly. If you train them they can learn your expectations well. Be Transparent with Employees and Clients—Often as a business owner you might think you need to come up with all the answers that is not true. Pull your team in when there’s a crisis, you never know who will come up with the right solution. Also be open with customers,…

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