3 Questions to Identify Roadblocks to Business Growth (and How Strategy Can Clear Them)

What challenges you most about your management and leadership role as business owner? Do you think about it? Our observations suggest too many business owners work according to learned practices which they do not renew. The result is company financial performance staying well below potential. Good and reasonable performance can become a hindrance to excellent and exceptional results. It’s easy to think ‘we are doing OK, there’s no need to change.’ Consider your response to any of the following questions:

• Please explain your marketing strategy and how all the methods tie together.

• How does your business use strategic planning?

• Describe your long-term strategic plan.

• Do you have an effective written business plan or marketing plan?

• What are the key elements of your staff training and development program?

The first step to facing uncertainty and challenges is to admit there are potential roadblocks to creating business growth. The second is perhaps admitting ‘I need help to remove the roadblocks’. If you take the second step to seek help, you are in the top 25% of business owners. Most resist help. A recent classroom experience at a prominent Australian University highlights this. A working student from India observed Australian business owners seem to be very independent and commonly have the view it will all work out in the end. ‘She’ll be right mate’ still prevails. This attitude may cost your business significant profit performance.

There is a key understanding every business owner needs to grasp if consistent growth is to become normal. We all have blind spots and beliefs we hold onto and thereby restrict success, breakthrough and improvement.

Will we confront and remedy our blind spots? Gaps in vision, strategy planning, marketing plans, leadership and management practice, our experience and even how we view our own industry or product groupings can form craters of restriction.

Let me suggest 3 questions every business owner could answer to start to identify gaps and reveal blind spots. You may find the questions confronting. None of the answers are necessarily easy to find, let alone the solutions simple to implement and establish in your business. Don’t put aside the questions if you are overwhelmed by the multi-faceted specifics required to instigate change and create growth. Consider the exacting specifics of research and change required in industries such as airlines, development technology, communications, security, automation, medical practice and more, where blind spots or neglecting systems can cost lives.

Q1. What time, energy and money are you prepared to invest in research, relationships and skill acquisition to begin or accelerate business growth?

Any change or adjustment will upset routines, historical practices, processes and systems, or the current lack of them. This is often the reason change and improvement is avoided. It disturbs routines, the status quo and demands careful change management. The easier part is usually discovering what is required but the high level challenge is in execution and implementation of the business plans to be introduced.

We’ve observed so many businesses try to create a strategic plan using basic goal-setting practices, but the day-to-day pressures pull staff back to operational and more urgent matters. There is no overriding business plan in place to maintain accountability and ensure target achievement. Strategic planning is not only the realm of large companies.

Q2. How will the required changes be achieved and what process will be used to advance all facets of a new business plan?

A Harvard Business School study found that 70 to 80 per cent of small businesses fail to see the projected return on investments due to the inflexibility or lack of strategy. Many small to medium business owners ignore or resist strategic planning for growth because it’s too hard or perceived as irrelevant. Hence, there is no certainty of business practices or clarity of company purpose beyond basic revenue generation and continued existence.

A successful business plan begins where we are and moves us towards where we want to be. Strong implementation and execution must articulate how we are going to move there. Clarifying goals and expectations is part of the process and ideally should be in light of relevant product and market life cycles. Plans start with small, deliberate steps for what’s important now and then create projects with longer-term specific action plans. Maintaining team focus on the desired outcome will then happen.

Q3. When was the last occasion your senior team members spent dedicated time with you as business owner to grapple with the high level thinking, leadership and creativity needed to see a breakthrough into new ways of running the business?

We worked with a company that supplied and installed a hi-tech product with increasing demand. The company had a staff of 10 people and the business was growing quickly. The director of this company argued in an elevated tone that he needed no one’s help, he was self-sufficient and no person can change how they operate. He was certainly right about himself. Discussions with staff showed he was blind to the true needs in the business and most staff were cruising well below capacity. A strategic plan would have accelerated the business into exceptional growth.

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, authors of The Strategy-Focused Organization, identified in larger businesses, 85 per cent of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing business strategy. Too many SMEs never even mention a strategic plan. To lead a business into high-level thinking, leadership and creativity the key team must be reading, studying and keeping up to date with what is happening in their industry and business at large.

“Pay special attention to evidence that contradicts your beliefs” – Charles Darwin

Decide to push through those long-held beliefs screaming at you ‘it’s the only way something can work’. Remove the roadblocks, fill in the gaps and move forwards with certainty and clarity.

Writing A Business Plan For Success

Business plans are good for entrepreneurs starting a business who want to attract funding and established firms looking to expand into a new venture or grow their business. A business plan is a road map to the success of a business, many businesses fail every year because of improper planning. A good business plan eliminates this dilemma.

Purpose: The purpose of a business plan is to help determine the course of the business; where it should be in the future and where to place the resources in order to achieve that goal. It is a document that provides future lenders and investors with proof of the entrepreneurs’ credibility. Thus, making them better candidates for funding.

Length: A Business plan wording and formatting should be straight forward and simple. The business plan should not be more than 40 pages. Summary tables and business charts should be used to make the numbers easy to read and grasp. No more than two fonts should be used. Font size should be at least 11 or 12 point size. Page breaks should be used to separate pages and charts.

Objectives: The main objective of a business plan is to establish revenue projections for the business and provide details on how the business will acquire the revenue.

BUSINESS PLAN FORMAT

A) Executive Summary

This is the first section of a business plan. This section is a brief overall summary of the business. It will define the nature of the business. The executive summary should be the last thing written. Once the rest of the components of a business plan have be written, entrepreneurs will have a clearer sense of what to write as their executive summary. The executive summary contains the following:

Mission Statement- This is where the business plan states how the customer will benefit from what the business has to offer. The business plan needs to state what products and services the company will be providing.

Objective – This is what entrepreneurs expect the business to accomplish, basically setting goals for the company.

B) Company Description

In this section, the business plan will go over a detail description of the business. The company description section contains the following:

Ownership – What type of ownership will the company be: sole proprietary, partnership, or corporation.

Location – This states where the business will be located. Office’s, retail shop and any other type of facility that is associated with the business should be mentioned. A website address should be listed if the business has one.

Product & Services – What will the business be providing, will it be a service or a product?

Funding – This is where it is stated how the small business will get funded. Funding is broken down into two parts, start-up expenses and start-up assets. Start-up expenses is legal bills, renovation and leased equipment. Start-up Assets are items that the business owners will be using for the business operation. For example, cash, purchased equipment and inventory.

C) Management & Operation Plan

This section of the business plan details how the business will function on a day to day basis. It contains the following:

Management – This will be a list of the personnel that will have a managerial position and the definition of their role in the business.

Operation – This describe the process that it takes for the business to deliver the products or services to the consumer.

D) Marketing Plan

It details the small business effort’s to sell the products or services to the customer base. A marketing plan will contain a list of the following items:

Industry – This lists all the players in the market; the competition, the type of products and service that they have, the strengths that they have and how they attract customers.

Potential customers – This section provides information about the individuals who will be purchasing from the business. The customer demographics will be based on the industry of the company.

Advertising- It involves promoting the products or services to the customer base. It lists the different ways in which the business will do this. For example, newspaper, radio, television, magazines, direct mail, Internet or telemarketing.

E) Finance Plan

Cash is the lifeline of a business. Without it, the business will be in jeopardy. This section will contain the following items:

Profit and Loss statement – A statement that lists the business’ estimated revenue and expenses over a specific period of time.

Balance sheet – Measures the business resources (assets) and obligation (liabilities) and projected balance sheets for the first three years. The first year projections will be on a monthly basis and the second and third year projections are on a quarterly basis.

Cash-flow projections – The amount of cash that passes through the business. It lists income and expenses. Cash flow pays the bills.

FINAL NOTES

COVER PAGE: The cover page contains the company’s name, address, telephone number, fax number, email address, website and company logo. It should also contain the name and title of the person that prepared it. It should state the name and address of the organization that will be receiving it. For example see below:

The ABC Cell Phone Company

1234 Main Street

Miami, Florida 56789

Telephone: 000-000-0000

Fax: 000-000-0000

Email Address

Website Address

THE COMPANY LOGO

Prepared By

John Doe

C.E.O

Submitted to

Main Street Bank

Miami, Florida 12345

How Can I Sell My Business Fast?

Are you a business owner that’s interested in selling your business? If so, I can only imagine one of the main questions at the top of your mind is, how can I sell my business fast? That’s a very valid question and one that needs to be answered. After all, you’ve spent years building up your business and you’re ready to cash out and you want to do it as quickly as possible. I get that, no issues there.

Let’s first start by saying, some brokers will tell you, it will take them 1 year. yup, 12 long months to sell a business. I mean really? That’s a long time and there is not 1 business owner that is going to wait one year to sell their business. Brokers will try to “force” you into signing a year long agreement that states you give them the right to make an attempt to sell their business within a 1 year time period.

That’s a really long time. As a business broker, I would lose total interest trying to sell a business for a year. The name of the game is to get the business sold and get it sold fast. I would not be surprised if in a few years business brokers will tell their clients that it’s going to take 18 months or even a lifetime agreement.

The reason why it takes a long time to sell a business is because business brokers allow themselves a long to sell the business. Give someone 6 months to do something and they’ll take every bit of that 6 months to do it. If brokers would give themselves 90 days, guess how long it would take to sell? Yes, you guessed it. 90 days.

When you decide to sell your business, make sure, your business is taken to the marketplace immediately. Make sure the business broker is marketing the business for sale everyday. Make sure the broker has a consistent flow of business buyers in addition to providing to with weekly updates as it relates to the buyers that the broker has met with and presented your business to.

By now you’re probably wondering what does this have to do with the original question. Just hold tight, we’re going to get to that.

So, to answer the question, the answer is, it depends. Yup, it depends on the broker
that you hire. When selecting a business broker, you clearly want to ask them how long is it going to take to sell my business and what is their process for marketing your business.

There has to be an active marketing plan in place. There is no one size fits all to selling a business. If you ant to sell your business as fast as possible, you must first start with finding a business broker that is willing to sign a 90 day selling agreement.

Just remember to do your part as a business owner. If the business broker needs any sort of paper work, be sure to get the broker the paper work as fast as you can. Time is valuable when trying to sell your business. You want to ride the momentum that you’ve built up and do let the broker slack off. You can get the business sold in 90 days or less.