Business Vision is the key to Business Success

Now that you have a personal vision on why, how and what you want to get out of your life it’s time to ensure your Business’ vision supports your personal vision.

Business Vision 01

WHY?

There is one commonality amongst successful business owners and that is a very clear vision on why, how and what they are committed to achieving personally and from their business.

A successful business owner starts with why they are in business because this enables them to overcome any road blocks that may be in their way along their business journey.  Should you not have a vision you leave yourself exposed to external forces which inhibit your ability to overcome road blocks.  It is the business vision that you are driven by that enables you to take control and be responsible for the decisions that you make.  By doing this you eliminate external forces from blocking your business success.  These are the reasons why your business vision is the most important tool for business success.

HOW?

There are many ways to critically think and brainstorm your business vision, the following are a few activities to get you visioning about your business over the next 5 years:

Where you are right now?

SWOT Analysis

o   External factors (Threats and Opportunities) – competitor focused.

o   Internal Factors (Weaknesses and Strengths) – your business focused.

o   What do you want to be famous for?

Points of difference

o   What are the Top 3 things THEY get wrong that YOU get right by comparison?

o   What do YOU get wrong that THEY get right by comparison?

o   How are you different from your competitors? Is it obviously different or quite similar?

o   Why would customers purchase your product/service over your competitors?

What business do you want to become?

Target market

o   Who are your customers that are raving fans?

o   Who should you have as customers that your opposition have?

o   Who shouldn’t you be working with?

Quality position

o   How do you tell the difference between a GOOD verses a BAD operator in your industry?

o   What Quality should you be known for?

Customer service

o   How would you want to be dealt with?

o   How should you treat your customers?

o   What standards should you set for this as a minimum?

Summarise your critical thinking and analysis and prepare a one page document, dated 5 years from now, in the 1st person, that illustrates WHY, HOW and WHAT you are operating your business.  Ensure it is in alignment with your personal vision.  Sign it off as a commitment, review it routinely and note where you have chosen to edit your path.

Business Vision 02

To amplify your business success ensure that the key members of your business understand and where possible have contributed to the business vision.  Over the years it has been a pleasure watching the smiles on the faces of long term employees of a business when they are introduced to the businesses vision.  They are involved in the business’ Why!  This is the same for your customers, suppliers and the public as it illustrates commitment to act your beliefs.

WHAT next?

If you need any further inspiration to WHY you are in business and what your business vision should look like then watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk.  I guarantee it will be the most valuable 18 minutes you have ever spent working on your business.

Book in for a 2 hour free no obligation discovery session with me to take your business to the next level!


Business is Personal

Your personal vision

There are many business articles and blogs that analyse why personal relationships in business are beneficial.  What I want to touch on is a little deeper being the importance of a personal vision for a SME business owner and how that relates to their business vision.

Business is personal

Many businesses have a business plan that includes operational strategies that underpin the culture, structure and vision of the business.  What is usually lacking is the business owner’s personal vision which should be supported by the business.  The personal vision sits right at the tip of the Business Triangle.

The Business Triangle

The business must provide the business owner with:

  1. The lifestyle that they want
  2. Enough time to enjoy it
  3. The cash to afford it
  4. A valuable, saleable business asset
  5. An outlet to develop the business owners skills

If the business owner is clear on what they want to get out of life they can more effectively manage their business by aligning a business vision that is supportive through strategy and operational execution.  An example from my experiences working with SME business owners is the pain point of not enough personal time to have a life (which is quite common).  They didn’t have a personal vision and hadn’t associated that Business is Personal – meaning the business is there to support their personal vision.  Once a clear personal vision had been set we could work on the areas of the business that needed to change to support that personal vision.

The business is not the driver with the business owner being the vehicle to drive the business to the business vision…it is the other way around.

The simplest way to prepare a personal vision is to do some critical thinking about you and what you want to get out of your life.  Focus on the following areas:

  1.        Family
  2.        Health
  3.        Business
  4.        Wealth
  5.        Hobbies
  6.        Social
  7.        Skills
  8.        Education

Summarise your critical thinking and prepare a one page document, dated 5 years from now, in the 1st person, that illustrates how you are living your life with reference to the above 8 areas (only mention the most relevant and impactful areas).  Sign it off as a commitment, review it routinely and note where you have chosen to edit your path.

The next stage is to review your business vision, culture, structure and operational strategies to ensure that they align and support your personal vision.


How to increase your income from your business

This is a guide to increase your income (profits) that you get out of your business.  As a business owner the more profit the business makes there is more potential for you to increase your personal income.

The Available Growth in profit in your business comes from the income that is available to you NOW, from money that is already circulating in your Business.  It just requires optimisation.

Profit Increase

The following are the eight key drivers where there is significant growth available in every Business:

  • Pricing – most businesses are under-priced, however are not sure how to increase them without losing customers.  The most common mistake is not covering all the costs associated with the delivery of goods and/or services.  Prices need to be set high enough to cover costs and make a profit.
  • Cost Reduction – actively managing your cost of goods and overheads requires discipline, creativity and a willingness to work hard with your suppliers to maximise performance.
  • Productivity – involves optimising the productivity levels of your staff.  Most businesses have more productive capacity than they need, therefore with setting output targets/KPIs staff will be motivated to achieve more and get closer to maximising their productivity to the business.
  • Staffing Levels – this involves determining whether the business has too many or too little staff for your businesses current demand.  Many businesses go through highs and lows of demand and during the highs usually employ more staff which are costing them during the lows.  There are many strategies to optimise matching staffing levels to demand.
  • Debtors – this is a delicate area for most businesses and needs to be actively managed, especially your trading terms.  Essentially businesses need to stick to their trading terms; have a debtor recovery procedure that they can call on; intimately know their Aged Debtor report; and most important of all is to maintain open lines of communication.
  • Stock Control – if your business has stock it needs to be turned over as fast as possible because if there is too much cash tied up in stock, finished goods or work in progress it will stifle your cashflow.
  • Sales and Marketing – every business needs to actively manage and encourage customers to buy from US not THEM.  This will start with establishing your point of difference that resonates with your customers and your value proposition.  This can be communicated in a variety of sales collateral and marketing activities.
  • Business Growth – every business can be scaled up and this scale will be determined by what you ultimately want out of your business.  A growth plan is the best place to start as it will identify the goal, the strategy to achieve the goal and the tasks required for implementation in the short and longer term.  It forms the basis of your long term strategy to beat your competitors.

Within each of the eight key drivers there are many strategies you can implement to improve the performance of your business and achieve success.

Pieces of the puzzle to Success

What key driver is the most significant in your business that you would like to optimise for your business success?


Helping SME business owners

Most business owners I talk to say:

  • It’s much harder than they anticipated being in business
  • They are always busy and often stressed
  • They feel quite alone and isolated, they don’t really have anyone they can turn to for help
  • They feel like they have a good business, but need some new ideas and help to take it to the next level

“Business is Personal”

Many Business Owners are great at their trade, however they often have difficulty in actually running their business in a way that maximises profits while still achieving a good work-life balance.  Every business needs to be steered towards achieving the long term goals of the Business Owner and their Family.  Without the right assistance many businesses will fail causing extreme hardship for all involved.

Most Business Owners are interested to know how to have a Business that can give them a better personal income…

A business consultant has the ability to unlock the true potential of their business and provide a positive future for them and their family.

Expert and Enabler

Over the years of helping SME business owners and their businesses I have found a requirement to be a combination of Business Consultant and Business Coach.  I like to visualise the relationship of the two with Business Consultant at one end of the spectrum and Business Coach at the other spectrum.

Expert – changes a business

At the start of the relationship there is a requirement for credibility (i.e. an expert – pure business consultant) through the development of business plans and strategies; financial analysis; and short term quick wins for the business owner.

Enabler – changes a life

As the relationship develops to the point of execution of the business strategy and plans there is a requirement for enablement of the business owner and their team (i.e. an enabler – business coach) to ensure they own the tasks for execution; they are accountable for how the tasks are completed; and are responsible for the results.

It is the ability to be both an expert and enabler that ensures a longer term trusting relationship and sees true business value = you helping SME business owners.


Cross Cultural Leadership

Over the last six months I have been heavily involved in the formal establishment of a subsidiary in the Philippines.  This involved the initial legal structure right through to daily operations.  During this period I have reflected on the business theory related to cross cultural leadership and management.

We know that modern day leaders work in a global world, even when they are based domestically and this exposes many leaders to different cultures frequently.  This exposure is intensified when you venture internationally.

“…the single greatest barrier to business success is the one erected by culture.”

Hall & Hall (1987)

In my experience working in many Asian countries cultural differences can impact business activities such as effective leadership, meetings, entertainment, negotiation, expectation, decision-making, conflict resolution and communication style.  To succeed, leaders must be aware of the relevance of ‘culture’ and ‘multicultural’ environments.

There are two types of culture that influence an employee and need to be considered by the leader:

Culture image  

National Culture

“…those customary beliefs and values that ethnic, religious, and social groups transmit fairly unchanged from generation to generation.”

Guiso, Sapienza, & Zingales (2006)

 To understand and effectively negate cultural barriers to business, leaders must appreciate the employee’s emotional attachment to ethnic traditions; places; events; stories; and memories.  I have found this especially true in relation to traditions (that may be carried out during working hours) and events (that occur throughout the year during work days that have relevance to an employee’s way of life).

 

Organisational culture

There are many definitions of organisational culture however Schein (1985) explains it succinctly, in that an organisational culture can be explained on three levels:

  1. Basic (underlying) assumptions – Belief in the correct way of doing things – deepest level of culture and hardest to change.
  2. Group Values – A sense of what ought to be.  As the group changes overtime so do the values, this is more evident in the smaller groups within an organisation.
  3. Group Artefacts – Established procedures, technology and communication methods.  This has certainly been the hardest to manage on a day to day basis especially in a start-up organisation.  Founding employees bring the group artefacts from their previous employer, if they are negative and/or unproductive they need to be negated quickly.

 

Parting comment

In order to deploy effective leadership, leaders need to take the time to explore, investigate and understand these manifestations of culture in the workplace before adapting their leadership style.


The toolkit to be a better business leader

My toolkit to be a better business leader was the result of studying for my MBA and drawing on the wisdom from the many business commentators.  It is a high level overview and its purpose is to navigate leaders in the right direction as I found there was no exact kind of leader that one should model themselves.  To be a better leader encompasses a range of competences; an awareness of ones emotions and self; and effective communication.

 

Competences include the underlying personal factors of a leader such as character traits, patterns of behaviour and cognitive mindsets.  It was DuBrin et.al (2006) that provided the framework from which a leader can measure their personal traits against that of the researched list identified as traits of a better business leader.  That intelligence can be used in conjunction with the Hersey-Blanchard situational leadership model to aid in an understanding of a leader’s behavioural match to their followers.  Then Gosling & Mintzberg (2003) came from a different perspective to illustrate the five mindsets that leaders should move between and integrate into their behaviour as an all-encompassing competence.

Emotional awareness encompasses qualities such as having an awareness of oneself; ability to self-regulate; motivation; empathy; and social skills.  It was Goleman (2004) that provided a framework of emotional competencies and his contention was that leaders who were emotionally aware have a tendency to provide a nurturing and encouraging culture within their organisations.  Whereas Caruso & Salovey (2004) explored a leader’s disposition in the context of influencing others and identified that an awareness of one’s mood assisted when dealing with followers, problem solving and communication.

Self-awareness involves reviewing and analysing feedback about oneself to improve personal effectiveness as a leader.  It was Drucker (2005) that stated performance comes from strengths not weaknesses and that leaders should improve their strengths as this generates a higher return on investment than bettering their weaknesses.  In contrast, England (2002) described The Johari Window where the contention was that too much of the time leaders ignored their weaknesses unless they had the self-awareness to reflect and see that inability for themselves.  An ability to reflect is aided by the use of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that identifies a leader’s preferences, ways of thinking and how they interact with others.

Communication encompasses awareness for positioning or influence; and the ability to use communication to influence others.  It was Brenneman (1998) and Gerstner (2002) that illustrated in their situations how communication was paramount to explain what mattered to turn their organisations around.  In contrast the Centered Leadership model outlined the capability to focus on the networks required by leaders as their research indicated that leaders needed to manage their connections differently with newer ways of communication for the digital age.

 

“The picture emerging from the neuro-science labs is that you ignore your gut at your peril.”

Morse, G. (2006). Decisions and desire. Harvard Business Review, 84 (1), pg 51.

A final thought to ponder; does an awareness of one’s effectiveness of Gut feel fit within a toolkit for a better business leader?  Possibly, however it is an awareness that is utilised in all of the components of the toolkit.  It maybe discouraged in organisations as there are many quantitative and qualitative frameworks, models and tools to use to arrive at a justifiable decision, however the business leader is not immune to the pressure of ignoring his/her gut as such an awareness of its effectiveness can provide a competitive advantage.


A conflict competent leader

I recently attended a professional development session by Noel Posus on “becoming a conflict competent leader” which was an interactive two hours that allowed for experiential learning and development.  Following this session I have had some time to reflect, compare with the Emotional Intelligence framework and draw parallels with real situations.

“Conflict is any situation in which people have apparently incompatible goals, interests, principles or feelings”

When the word conflict is mentioned usually there are immediate negative connotations, however there are benefits to conflict, such as:

  • Stimulating creativity and problem solving
  • Encourages listening
  • Promotes reflective thinking

When a conflict situation is a “task focused” there is a higher chance of resolution and benefit than a “person focused” conflict which results in escalation due to negative emotions.

Task focused ~ focus on task and problem solving

Person focused ~ focus on personal with negative emotions

How wonderful it would be if we could keep all conflicts task focused, however emotions can get the better of us and conflict can become person focused quickly.  The competent leader according to Noel needs to build relationships (dynamic listening and communication) before the future conflict occurs to ensure when it does occur that it is constructive.  Other keys to success involve managing your emotions (have a clear head); actively resolve the conflict (co-operate and take action); and accept conflict (adapt).

“Be the better person no matter what others do in the conflict”

Reflecting on a conflict situation where the technical treatment of a payroll transaction was the focus, the intention of both parties was to seek a resolution and some negotiation was required to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution.  It was clear that problem solving was the key to achieve this outcome.  According to Boyatzis (1982) through his competency framework the ‘diagnostic use of concepts’ is a critical component to the development of a resolution strategy.  We did just that by diagnosing the issue as part of negotiation and a resolution strategy.  Similarly, Goleman (2004) highlights the competency of ‘conflict management’ from his emotional intelligence framework which highlights that it is critical to understanding the differing perspectives of the parties to achieve a win-win outcome.  Overall, the result was that we diagnosed the implications of the task focused conflict; had an awareness to encourage debate and open discussion which to lead to a more innovative or creative solution.

“Effective managers understand that conflict is not always about resolution; it can also be about orchestrating win-win situations” ~ Goleman (2004)

 

What sort of conflicts have you been involved with that have resulted in the complete opposite?


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