Business Transformation Begins With a Great Business Plan

The idea that all great businesses start with a great strategy and business plan is certainly nothing new, yet it’s amazing how many business owners still don’t take the time to create one. This is a huge mistake – it is the business equivalent of starting an expedition without planning your destination, your objectives or the equipment you will need on your journey.

If you are to be successful in business, it’s essential that you have a clear strategy.

There are many ways to describe a business strategy, including ‘big picture’; ‘overall plan’; ‘market positioning’; ‘niche’; and they all have an impact on the way that an organisation can change and adapt to a changing market and economy. Consider this example of how this sort of business transformation works in the real world…

If you were running a business before the invention of the car, making quality horsewhips out of leather, then you would almost certainly go out of business if you continued to define your business as ‘horsewhips’ once everyone began abandoning their carriages. However, if you defined your business as ‘leather travel accessories’, the introduction of the car could easily become an opportunity to expand the business, perhaps by adding leather steering wheel covers or driving gloves to your range of products.

This is the key to the kind of business transformation that keeps businesses afloat through changes in the economy. In fact, it is also the key difference between successful companies and the rest. For example, consider the transformation of Apple Inc. when it positioned itself not as a maker of computers, but moved towards music, telephones and subsequently portable devices. This all came from a change of business strategy. It added to their business, but took nothing away from the original business of making computers; indeed, it created more revenue to invest even more heavily in this area as well.

Defining your business in a way that is ‘future proof’ is the first step towards achieving business transformation. You need to really get to the heart of what you’re doing, so there’s no confusion in the minds of you, your people or your customers. Perhaps you could broaden your business base by subtly adjusting the way you define it, as in our earlier example?

The next important step is to put things into action. A lot of businesses get confused between a strategy and a business plan. In our experience you should distinguish between them as follows. A business strategy is about the overall direction of your business in the medium to long term; a business plan is all about how you get there, in simple stages, in the short to medium term.

5 Business Development Don’ts

5 Business Development Don’ts

In my over 25 years experience in business development for Financial institutions, IT enterprises, Law Firms and Medical Practices there is an unfortunate, common repetitive pattern/tendency that costs unnecessary money and reduces efficiencies considerably.

This tendency can simply be defined as “unproductive” business development practices. While it can be stated simply it is NOT a straightforward problem in the least. Not appropriately, consistently and diligently creating and implementing a business development plan can and does cause significant financial and productive leakages to a business entity. For a small or growing company, business or practice, such a business development oversight can and often is very detrimental in many ways.

I have identified 5 of the most common unproductive business development practices. I hope that, if you can identify any or all of these within your business entity, you recognize the red flag and take heed.

The 5 Major Business Development Don’ts are the Following:

1) Don’t Randomly Advertise. Sounds weird, but it is NOT. One of the most common mistakes and seemingly harmless ones is to advertise a company, product or service without a clear target.

Unless you are a large entity, advertising expenditures should be seriously confined for specific targeted campaigns. Brand recognition advertising for smaller and or new practices is NOT an optimum use of resources.

2) Don’t Just “Get” Business- Instead Get the Right Business.

A common mistake in small to medium size companies is to “accept” any client even if the fit is not perfect, i.e. a client project that is not cost effective or a “difficult problematic client” or a client whose request is out of the range of expertise.

This can be a seemingly difficult situation, especially, if there are cash flow issues within a company. However, ultimately, saying no to these clients is the most cost effective solution.

3) Don’t Leave Your Business Growth to “Chance”

Many small businesses and medical practices get “caught up” in servicing clients when ample clientele is at hand, thus, ignoring future business needs. For small to medium size businesses this is one of the major causes of cash- flow problems. There should always be a consistent everyday effort to bring in new clients. This ensures a constant source of new clients as they progress through the customer life cycle.

4) Don’t Ignore Your Previous Clients

One of the biggest sources of potential revenue for any business, medical practice or law firm is satisfied past clients. There are three ways that these clients can generate new revenue for a business: firstly, by cross-selling other products or services that are complementary to what they bought last time; secondly, by up-selling services or products that enhance their growth or customer satisfaction; thirdly, referrals. Satisfied customers are one of the greatest sources of new business. However, in order for this to be successful you must cultivate a “relationship” with your clients via warm calling, holiday cards, emails, gift certificates etc and you must ASK! Previous Clients are the quickest most effective way to gain new clients… do not ignore this financial resource at your fingertip!

5) Don’t Confuse Business Development/Sales/Marketing

Sales and Marketing are quite distinct from Business Development. Simply put Sales represents the completion of a client prospecting stage, Marketing is the means to communicate value and awareness of a product or service, while Business Development represents the holistic/big picture for business growth. More specifically, business development concerns the tasks, processes and preparation for business/opportunity growth. Business Development is in essence the means to obtain the plan and targeting for growth. Having this plan/bigger picture helps to refine the client/service/product penetration and thus expedites and streamlines the sales and marketing efforts.

Ironically, most sophisticated and large companies have well funded business development departments, however, it is the start-ups, small and medium size enterprises that actually need a business development team or process the most.

It is my sincere expectation and desire that should you identify any of these “red flags” in your business it will start a thinking process and adjustment of your entity’s activities and strategies.

Home Improvements for a Stress-Free Winter

As the foliage changes, showcasing glorious hues of rich golds, reds and every shade in between, it is so easy to be taken away by the magnificent scenes and just get lazy. What some homeowners might overlook is that this also signifies the coming of the winter queen and when the temperatures start to drop, undertaking home improvements to keep one of your greatest investments in tip-top shape is crucial.

Especially that New York offers a wide variety of fun and entertainment even throughout the snow and chill, you would never wan to miss out on the holiday cheers and quality time you had been anticipating to spend with loved ones. To keep the stress due to maintenance and repair issues away, here are top home improvements to keep homes most functional and comfortable throughout the snowy months whether you are in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, or Long Island.

Roofing and Gutters

This tandem is among the hardest working parts of the house that keep the interior as cozy as can be. Being the most exposed surface to harsh elements-natural and not, topping your list of home improvements with inspecting the roofing is a great start. Inspect the roof for bald spots and damaged shingles, gaps along flashes especially between siding and vent joints, moldy and damp spots, and broken mortar around the chimney. Without any problem on roofing, no leak will seep through the house and the water runoff will then flow into the gutters which will then lead away from the foundation to avoid water damages.

Service Heating System

Call on a furnace technician of HVAC contractor to do such home improvements for you if you are not up to the job. The furnace should be inspected, cleaned and maintained per manufacturer’s recommendations. Consider having your thermostat replaced with a programmable one. Bleed the valves of your water heater.

Get Fireplace Ready

If it has been a while since a chimney sweep has been in your list of home improvements, then it is high time to call for one to clear away creosote and soot. It is important that this build-up be periodically removed to avoid chimney fires. To keep out birds and rodents, have a screen or cap installed on top of the chimney.

Winterize Lawn

Winterizing the lawn will basically be made up of home improvements that are focused on cleaning and fix-ups. Practically doing these stuffs will be easier before winter without the hassles of snow and inconveniences of the icy chill. Some of the possible jobs you can do include:

  • Clean, and re-seal decks, and waterproof porches to help prevent damages throughout the snow as well as the coming after showers.
  • While the ground is still clear and moving around is easier outdoor home improvements such as fixing the fences is ideal.
  • Clear dead branches and leaves to prevent snowmolds.
  • Fertilize lawn with nitrogen.
  • Fill cracks along pavements and driveway.
  • Having no-frost heaters installed a great idea to avoid having your property buried in snow.