You have the power to change the profits of your business today by taking a good look at these 8 variables and key business metrics.
As an entrepreneur or business person, it is your job to stay focused and always continue to improve your strategic business plan.
Are you not sure where to start?
Keep reading because I’ve outlined all of it for you . . .
The basic strategic variables for consideration as you make a plan for the future are products, services, customers, markets, finances, people, technology, and production capability.
These are areas of your business that you may continue as before or change, depending on your strategic goals.
Here are the 8 variables to keep an eye on in your strategic planning process.
What exactly are the products and services that you are planning to offer? What do they do to change or improve the lives or work of your customers? What is it about them that makes them clearly superior and the best choice for the customers that you are going after?
How much money do you have, and how much money will you need to achieve and sustain financial profitability?
Over 30% of new businesses fail because they do not watch their finances and their key business metrics.
Business success is the result of changing one of these metrics.
Do you want to learn how to change them for yourself?
Fortunately, I have outlined the 7 most important business metrics for you and you can learn to use them to improve your business: Click here to learn what they are.
Who is your ideal customer, your perfect customer? What are the demographics of your ideal customer? What is this customer’s age, education, income, occupation, and level of family formation? What are your customers’ psychographics? What are their goals, ambitions, desires, and aspirations? What are their fears, misgivings, or suspicions that might cause them to hesitate from buying your product or service?
What do they use your product or service for? How do they use it? How does it change or improve their lives in some way?
Here are 8 steps to identifying your ideal customer:
In the past you chose your product, then sought out customers. In many cases today however, companies are identifying the customer and the customer’s exact needs and then retrofitting or reverse engineering product and service development based on what the customer says he or she wants. Companies are moving from “product development” and not even creating the product until the customer has agreed to buy it at a particular price.
Your customers who buy your products will affect everything about your business, including your product sales. This is the most important metric to keep in mind.
What markets are you going to enter? How are you going to penetrate these markets? Are you going after geographic markets, horizontal markets, or vertical markets? Who are your competitors in these markets? How do you need to advertise, promote, sell and otherwise penetrate these markets?
Who are the key people you will need in terms of skills, abilities, and proven competence? Where and how will you get and keep these people?
Here’s a video on motivating and inspiring your employees.
What sort of technology will you require to build and operate your business? Is your current technology sufficient and satisfactory in light of the rapid changes in technology that you competitors are adapting?
Finally, what is your production capability? How much can you produce, deliver, sell, and service in a competent fashion? What do your products or services costs to produce, sell, deliver, install, and service? Keep an eye on your cost of goods sold.
Are you unsure about what cost of goods sold is?
A few years ago Fortune magazine reported on a study that was done to determine why so many CEOs were being let go from Fortune 500 companies. The most important reason cited was “failure to execute.” The CEOs had been placed in their positions with clear, specific performance expectations for their companies.
Successfully leading your company’s strategy depends on your having laser-like focus on your goals and key business metrics.
What is your main objective for your business or for your position? What are you trying to do? How are you trying to do it? Could there be a better way? Are your goals and objectives realistic based on the current situation? What are your assumptions? What if your assumptions are wrong? What would you do then?
If you want to improve your business immediately the first thing you should look at are your key business metrics. After you analyze them you can find out exactly how to proceed next.
There’s a point along every entrepreneur’s path to success where the option is either to acquire capital or watch your company crumble. But there are subtleties to capital that all entrepreneurs should know.
It’s important, for instance, to know that the right kind of funding can have a huge impact on the direction of your company. In a recent survey of small business owners, fully half of the businesses surveyed, with 11 to 50 employees each, listed “cash flow” as their top concern. Twenty-one percent reported a closely related issue, “raising capital/funding,” as their top concern
These concerns reflect what small business owners everywhere face. Capital is easier to access than it has been in the past, but it is still imperative that owners choose the funding source that will best match their specific needs.
Even billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has pointed out that an investor’s deep pockets are “not the essential quality that will sustain the relationship and the business in the long-term.” So, if you are unfortunate enough to choose the wrong financial partner, your move — according to Branson and common sense — will “dim the spirit and enthusiasm of a new enterprise, muffling the spark that prompted you to launch this project.”
That spark, Branson said, is the one that “is most likely to make your venture different from your competitors.'” Here, then, are some tips for recovering that spark and finding the right investor(s).
The Small Business Administration Venture Capital Guide provides a detailed overview options in the types of investment options you should be aware of.
Entrepreneurs looking for funding should also consider government venture capital programs available through the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program. SPICs are privately owned investment funds guaranteed by the SBA to offer equity and debt investments to small businesses.
The SBA itself has loaned out more than $19 billion in 2014 to small businesses. Many of the restrictions that have been implemented in the past have been lifted, and more loans are now available.
How do you choose between seed investors vs. angel investors and venture capitalists? A post on the Grasshopper blog explains: “If you need a small amount of money to get going, you’re looking for seed money. A seed investor invests tiny sums into a company during its earliest days, hoping to grab a percentage of companies before they explode.
YCombinator is an example of a seed investor, the blog says, continuing: “If you need a larger investment, you’re looking for angel investment. Angel investors are typically retired businesspeople who keep an eye out for investment opportunities. Substantially higher investments tend to come only from venture capitalists.”
How involved do you want your investors to be?
Bo Yaghmaie, a partner at law firm Cooley LLP, has written inEntrepreneur that when meeting with potential financial partners, “You’ll want to ask questions about their most recent investments, what they typically provide to companies, their expectation of CEOs and how involved they like to be.” All of these questions can help determine whether the partnership will be the best one.
Other factors you should aware of when it comes to potential investors include: their area of focus, the stage of development they invest in and their reputation.
Take time to think about what you want to say. How will you share your mission and attract someone who shares your vision? Yaghmaie provides pointers in another Entrepreneur article. He says: “Here’s the short answer: start with a great pitch deck. The pitch deck is arguably the most important document you will generate in the life of your company. It is ‘the hook’ by which you will capture the attention and imagination of an investor.”
Discuss how your product or service will solve a problem. The SBA recommends fine-tuning your pitch based on the investor you’re pitching to.
Finally, have a clear business plan and “be sure to include realistic financials and market research to back up your predictions,” advises the SBA. “Plan on being able to communicate sound bites from your plan, particularly how you will generate profit and how that will flow into your investor’s pockets.”
When you’re raising capital, you may feel that you should accept any money that comes your way. This approach is wrong, says David Cohen, an angel investor and co-founder of startup accelerator TechStars. In his book Do More Faster, Cohen explained why the investor-entrepreneur relationship is important. Like any relationship, he wrote, the wrong one can pull you in the wrong direction, whereas the right one will take you where you need to go, faster, more efficiently and as part of a winning team.
Building great businesses, achieving massive goals and rising to the top of your profession doesn’t just happen by accident. It happens through a ridiculous work ethic and consistently showing up every single day.
Here are 20 quotes to help motivate you to hustle like never before:
1. “You can’t have a million-dollar dream twith a minimum-wage work ethic.” — Stephen C. Hogan
2. “When I was young, I observed that nine out of 10 things I did were failures. So I did 10 times more work.” — George Bernard Shaw
3. “If you have an idea of what you want to do in your future, you must go at it with almost monastic obsession, be it music, the ballet or just a basic degree. You have to go at it single-mindedly and let nothing get in your way.” — Henry Rollins
4. “Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” — William James
5. “Many people think they want things, but they don’t really have the strength, the discipline. They are weak. I believe that you get what you want if you want it badly enough.” — Sophia Loren
6. “Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” — Swami Sivananda
7. “If a man is called a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. “All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.” — Pope Paul VI
9. “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” — Stephen King
10. “God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.” — J.G. Holland
11. “Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more.” — Edward H. Harriman
12. “The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.” — Marvin Phillips (or an unknown author)
13. “The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves.” — Garth Henrichs
14. “Those at the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” — Marcus Washling
15. “If you feel you are down on your luck, check the level of your effort.” — Robert Brault
16. “You’re either changing your life or you’re not. No waiting for this or that or better weather or other hurdles. Hurdles are the change.” — Terri Guillemets
17. “Be not afraid of going slowly. Be afraid only of standing still.” — Chinese proverb
18. “He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” — Dutch proverb
19. “I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but should get you pretty near.” — Margaret Thatcher
20. “The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” — George Bernard Shaw
Read these quotes. Analyze these quotes. Most important, adopt these quotes into your everyday life.
Something that has worked wonders for me over the years is to write at least one really moving quote on a note card and carry it around with me everywhere I go. Whenever I am feeling unmotivated or in a slump, I take a glance at this card and instantly get right back on track again.
Make it your personal business to never let anyone outwork you.
When Daymond John was in elementary school in Queens, N.Y., he had to read books four times over to retain what they said. Now, at 46, he says he still has to reread them several times — often two to three times each — for the information to really sink in.
The sharp-dressed Shark Tank star and veteran investor/entrepreneur doesn’t habitually reread books as a result of being too busy or distracted the first go-round. He chalks it up to being dyslexic, something he only discovered as an adult with the onset of texting and social media.
“Because I’m dyslexic, I’ve had to read books many times,” he says. “That’s why I focus on reading ones that are high-impact and incredibly useful, full of important lessons that I can apply to my life and business.”
Despite how challenging reading is for the multi-millionaire celebrity business mentor, he forces himself to do it regularly, soaking up pearls of wisdom from contemporary and past thought leaders and leveraging them to up his game.
We recently caught up with the Infusionsoft and Shopify brand ambassador on the Sony Pictures Culver City, Calif., set of Shark Tank, where we asked him which books had the greatest impact on his life and career. Remaining humble, the FUBU co-founder didn’t seize the opportunity to plug his own books, though he easily could have (other Sharks did). He didn’t even mention them. Instead, and without a moment to prepare ahead of time, he quickly rattled off the names and authors of six books that forever changed him and that he thinks all entrepreneurs will benefit from reading, too.
“They’re smart choices not only for hopefuls, but for seasoned business pros as well,” he says. They are:
In this step-by-step-style financial literacy classic, multi-millionaire entrepreneur and motivational speaker Robert Kiyosaki shares how he used lessons from two dads — his own fiscally poor father and his best friend’s rich father — to shape his opinions around money and to build his fortune.
The business theorist authors of this data-rich international bestseller lay out an innovative systematic approach to obliterating your competition witho
ut competing with them at all. Drawing on a decade-long academic study of more than 150 strategic business moves spanning more than 30 industries over 100 years, they detail how to build what they call “blue oceans” — new opportunities in markets that are ripe for disruption.
First appearing in print way back in 1937, Napoleon Hill’s motivating classic is the result of 20 years-worth of research and interviews with more than 40 famous millionaires. Think and Grow Rich is indeed rich with the secrets to success from world renowned historic magnates like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller and Theodore Roosevelt. The exceptional life lessons packed within are still relevant today.
Veteran executive coach and presentation strategist Tony Jeary has taught countless executives at big-name global companies how to deliver knockout, persuasive public speeches. In Life Is a Series of Presentations, he reveals his expert strategies in a series of practical, easy-to-digest tips and techniques, including how to boost your confidence and credibility when facing one of life’s most terrifying things for many — a live audience staring back at you, hanging on your every word.
Management consultant Spencer Johnson’s 96-page literary attitude adjustment winds readers through a simple yet potent parable that unfolds in a maze. The maze is occupied by four characters — Sniff and Scurry, mice that will stop at nothing to get cheese, and Hem and Haw, mouse-sized humans for whom cheese represents much more than merely sustenance. The characters learn to adapt to changes in the cheese, a symbol for our jobs, career paths, relationships, etc., and they set out in search of new sources of cheese when their cheese runs out. The key takeaway: Adaptability, perseverance and a positive mental attitude are critical to success in any endeavor, especially in the cutthroat world of business.
In this allegory-filled oldie but goodie, widely revered management experts Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson share how to manage others in ways that can increase their confidence, pride and productivity. The book maps out three powerful one-minute management “secrets” — employee goal-setting, employee praisings and and employee reprimands. For a freshly updated version of this executive staple, check out The New One Minute Manager (William Morrow, 2015).
The best things in life may be free, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take time, sweat, and perseverance to acquire. That’s especially the case when it comes to learning important life skills.
What are the hardest and most useful skills to learn?
We’ve highlighted our favorite takeaways.
Effective time management is one of the most highly valued skills by employers. While there is no one right way, it’s important to find a system that works for you and stick to it.
“The hardest thing to learn for me was how to plan,” she writes. “Not to execute what I have planned, but to make so epic a to-do list and to schedule it so thoroughly that I’m really capable of completing all the tasks on the scheduled date.”
“You can be the most disciplined, brilliant, and even wealthy individual in the world, but if you don’t care for or empathize with other people, then you are basically nothing but a sociopath.”
Empathy, as business owner Jane Wurdwand explains, is a fundamental human ability that has too readily been forsworn by modern business.
“Empathy — the ability to feel what others feel — is what makes good sales and service people truly great. Empathy as in team spirit — esprit d’corps — motivates people to try harder. Empathy drives employees to push beyond their own apathy, to go bigger, because they feel something bigger than just a paycheck,” she writes.
There are so many prescribed sleep hacks out there it’s often hard to keep track. But regardless of what you choose, establishing a ritual can help ensure you have restful nights.
Numerous studies show that being consistent with your sleep schedule makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up, and it helps promote better sleep in general.
“Ultimately it doesn’t matter what others think of you, but what you think of yourself certainly does, and it takes time to build that level of confidence and ability to believe in yourself when nobody else does.”
Whether you’re trying a new exercise routine, studying for the LSATs, or working on an important project, consistency is vital to maintaining any kind of success.
People often stop working hard when they reach the top, he explains, but to maintain that top position, they have to work harder and be more consistent in their work.
“I once was told in a job interview, ‘You can’t have this job if you can’t ask for help when you need it, naturally, I said I could. Later, I found out that the previous person with that job had screwed up big-time because he was in over his head but couldn’t admit it and didn’t ask for help.”
She explains that knowing when you need help and then asking for it is surprisingly difficult to learn and do because no one wants to be perceived as weak or incompetent.
But a recent study from the Harvard Business School suggests doing so makes you look more, not less, capable. According to the study authors, when you ask people for advice, you validate their intelligence or expertise, which makes you more likely to win them over.
“You can’t go around whining about every other thing that seems not-so-right to you in this world… Sometimes you just need to shut up.”
There are many instances when keeping to yourself is the best course. “When we are angry, upset, agitated, or vexed, we blurt out anything and everything that comes to our mind.” And later, you tend to regret it.
Keeping your mouth shut when you’re agitated is one of the most valuable skills to learn, and of course, one of the most difficult.
Along with shutting up comes listening…
“Most of us in the workplace are so overwhelmed with things to do — instant messaging, phones ringing. I mean, our brain can only tolerate so much information before it snaps.”
One tip for active listening is repeating back what you heard to the other person. “It makes things so much easier when everyone is on the same page,” she said.
“It takes ages to learn and master this.”
Sticking your nose into other people’s work isn’t helpful and wastes time and resources, she says. “You have no right to put forth your two or four cents, even if you are the last righteous person standing.”
To do what you want to do and accomplish what you want to accomplish, you need to consciously direct your thinking.
“The challenge is that we are the product of our past experience and all of our thinking is the result of this,” he says. “However, the past does not equal the future.”