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Growth Strategies, Best Practices, Business Planning

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As a busy entrepreneur, you spend the lion’s share of your day meeting the needs of others. You’re actively tackling the needs of your clients, your employees, your accountant, that weird guy on Linkedin with his connection request….you get the picture. Your day is all about others and their requests. How about you and your business? Did you know that your business has needs, too?

Although most entrepreneurs understand their business has needs, the biggest challenge is to prioritize those needs.  Most times the needs of the business are postponed to what is hoped to be a more convenient time. You know what that means – the needs of the business, like strategic thinking, planning, and execution, are seldom met.

There’s much to learn about meeting your business needs from the announcement heard while flying – Put your oxygen mask on before assisting others. The airline industry knows you’re not any good to anyone else if you’re unconscious. The same principle applies to your business.

When you meet your business needs first, things get exciting! Your business becomes stronger and grows more rapidly. And, you’re able to meet the needs of others in a much different – and better – way.

Needless to say, it takes great courage to help yourself and your business before helping others. It seems to go against conventional wisdom. Tell us what you think. Is putting your business needs first a challenge for you? How have you restructured your business to meet your needs first?

If you participate in any sort of athletic activity (running, biking, hiking, walking, etc.), there is much to learn about achievement that can be aptly applied to your business.  Like today, while completing a 6 mile pace run in preparation for an upcoming half-marathon, I learned that when I take myself to the limits of my physical capabilities, I discover a missing ingredient that will expand those limits.

Generally, I don’t like to sweat, feel pain, breathe heavy or do anything exhausting.  This makes training for long-distance events somewhat ‘interesting’.   However, I have an expectation of improvement from my training efforts therefore I move forward with activities I dislike.

Many business owners feel much the same way toward business development activities. Growing a smart business takes effort. Business planning takes time.  A competitive analysis requires extensive time and research. Tweaking and tuning a value proposition is challenging. Developing relationships takes time, tact, and talent.  We’d much rather apply the pasta principle – throw it against the wall and see what sticks – then invest time, energy and sweat into such agonizing activities.

Yet, when you have an expectation of success from your smart business, you, too, must persevere through activities you loathe.  If you let each pursuit be its own teacher, it will inform, guide, or clarify in a way that enlarges any perceived achievement limits.

What helps you move past your limits to your smart buisness?

Like peanut butter and jelly, the future success of your small business may be in developing meaningful partnerships.  And, with the right type of planning, “teaming up” can prove to be a match made in heaven. Without advanced and thoughtful planning, partnerships can be hell.

As with any good relationship, victory begins with the quest for self-discovery and awareness. It’s essential to ask:

  • What is your intended purpose for developing a partnership?
  • What do you expect to gain from the association?
  • What assets do you bring to the partnership?
  • How does a partnership fit into your business plan?

Once you’ve determined that a partnership would, indeed, fit into your overall strategy, the next step is to identify the companies that would be a potential match.  Conducting extensive research to find the perfect “mate” will be crucial to your success.  Inquiries to make include:

  • What companies reach the market that we currently serve?
  • What businesses make products or provide services that relate to our business?
  • What ventures have a vision and values that are similar to ours?
  • What companies have expressed an interest in collaborating with us?
  • What enterprises have similar standards, work ethic, and commitment to excellence that we have?

Once you completed your homework, you’re ready to begin building a partnership that creates a win-win for all parties involved (owners and employees, alike).  The path to successful partnerships does not have to be littered with misunderstandings and disagreements.  Honest and open communications, up front, can clear away any potential barriers to performance.

Areas to discuss include:

  • Purpose and vision – why are we doing what we’re doing?
  • Performance targets – what objectives and goals reflect what both parties expect to gain from the partnerships?  Are they realistic based on the amount of resources both parties are willing to put forth? What needs to be achieved by when?
  • Working agreements — what responsibilities is each person willing to take on?  What are the norms of acceptable behavior?  How can you best work together to achieve your goals?
  • Problem solving — how will you utilize the talent of both partners to solve problems?
  • Decision-making – what process will be used to make decisions?  In the event of an inability to arrive at a mutually beneficial decision, who will be the final influence?
  • Managing differences – What is our plan for resolving conflict?

For a complete list of discussion points to create a successful, stress-less partnership, download Keys to Successful Partnership: A Planning Checklist. (The original author is unknown but we think s/he is brilliant for creating this list.)

Your business coach can assist with facilitating your partnership discussion. And, remember to engage a mutually agreed upon attorney to help you draw up your final partnership agreement.

I recently saw a question on Linkedin that got me thinking of business growth. (Have you achieved any notable business growth in the recent few years?) In this economy, business growth is on everyone’s mind. Although the economy remains uncertain, growth opportunities exist as evidenced by our own clients and their success. As 2011 draws to a close, its time to think about how you’ll grow your business in 2012.

1. Where are you currently experiencing growth? It’s easy to develop blinders to your business growth if you’re only focused on revenue. Growth doesn’t always come in the most obvious ways. Other areas of business growth to track include profit, referrals, website visits, sales appointments, etc.

2. How can you capitalize on the growth areas in your business? Albert Enstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Focusing on the bright spots of growth in your business – and making the most of them – puts an end to the craziness.

3. How can you target growth industries? Five industries are targeted for growth in 2012 and beyond. These include:

  • testing/eductational support including tech schools
  • internet/technology especially start-ups with big ideas and capital
  • ecofriendly products and services
  • residential and commercial construction especially specialty contractors like drywall specialists, glass contractors and architects
  • health care industry including acupuncturists, massage therapists, yoga instructors, physical therapy, and those providing elder care

What can you do to promote your products or services to these industries and grow along with them?

What are you doing to grow your business in 2012?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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