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This is my third post on Successful Business Planning.  In the first post I encouraged you to start planning now for 2014. In the second I talked about making your plan usable.  Today I want to encourage you to build a brand promise.

This year I’ve spent about 80 nights in Marriott Hotels (plus a few others).  In fact, I’m in one right now!  This one happens to be a Fairfield – as I am in a remote area.  As I was working on a few things this afternoon, a small card left by Christy, my Guest Room Attendant, caught my eye…

It’s the Marriott Brand Promise.

It reads:

We Promise to  Always…

  • Make you feel welcome
  • Give you a room that’s clean, fresh and reflects the highest quality standards
  • Respond promptly to any need that you might have
  • Give you the service that will make you want to return

And, Sure enough, that has been my experience this year.  It’s Marriott’s brand promise.  And when I have had an issue, Marriott has been responsive…

As someone who travels weekly, I can tell you that lowest price, free cookies, and remote control curtains, all come way down the list for me – but when I need something, like my room cleaned at a certain time, a last minute room, or something taken care of right away, I really want my hotel of choice to act quickly.

I also want friendly people working behind the desk, answering questions, making recommendations on food and transportation, and going out of their way to make sure I get what I need, and make it to bed on time.

At Ingles last week, I noticed a sign that said – 200% Guarantee.  Actually it was one of my kids that brought it to my attention.  Part of our homeschool curriculum is watching out for good marketing.  It went on to say – if the produce isn’t fresh, not only will be refund your money…we’ll replace the item.  This too is a brand promise – built to appeal to the people who shop for the family.

What is your brand promise?

And does it actually mean something to your target buyer?  The people I refer to as Your People Group.

Make it a part of your business plan.  Put some thought into it…what would actually matter to the people group your message is targeting?  This just might be the big differentiator you are looking for.

© 2013, David Stelzl

IMGP0006_3The year is almost over and it’s gone by quickly…

Chances are your month is really busy – closing the year, trying to get the last bit of business in, and perhaps clients trying to spend some of their budgets…making sure you year ends with a profit $$$

But if you Neglect these few things …

You might be sorry…Keep Reading:  Three Things to Do Before Christmas Hits…

1. Look back over the year – Remind Yourself.

Looking back is important – where did your business come from?  Is it repeatable, continuing, or maybe you didn’t really have a strong year – why not?  Next week I will spend 3 solid days looking at my year and planning for next.   I do this every year!

Some key things to look at:

  • Profile your buyers – what does your best client look like?  You can’t afford to be generic here – don’t tell me, “Small business owners,” or “Medical Clinics.”  Although the second is more specific than the first, I bet your most likely buyer is a certain kind of person, age range, race, political position…I don’t know.  I’m not talking about be prejudice here – I am talking about profiling.  I’m saying that your solutions, your geography, your price, and your personality, play best with a certain person.  I’ll sell to whoever can benefit and afford what I do – but I am marketing to a certain profile.
  • Is your business heavily dependent on one client?  If so, this is risky…You might have one client by design, and that too is risky – but if you sell into a broader market, make sure you are working on having a balanced portfolio.  I’ve seen too many profitable sales people go down when their one client leaves them.
  • If the year was great – make sure you know WHY?
  • If the year was down – Also ask, WHY?
  • Analyze this and figure out what went right or wrong this year.
  • Write this stuff down and ponder it…

 

2. Consider – “How Can I Accelerate Growth in 2014?”

  • If you are way over quota – perhaps you are doing well and don’t need growth.  If that’s the case, consider optimizing your business to reduce wasted time.  FOCUS on efficiency.
  • You can keep doing what you’re doing – but I bet there are some things you can do to really grow.  Is your marketing working for you?  Have you measured your response and conversion rates?  Even if you are a sales person working for a company with large marketing department – you might not be getting much out of marketing.  If that is the case, get a plan to change this.  Marketing is what generates leads and if you’re spending hours cold calling and leaving messages with people who don’t care, you’re wasting a lot of time.
  • Think EFFECTIVE – vs. EFFICIENT…what do I mean?  Most of the business people I run into are trying to be more efficient at doing things that don’t matter.  Fitting in more – waste-of-time meaningless meetings, fitting in more meaningless phone calls, and creating more no-sale proposals…this is all a waste of time.  Effective means – spending your time on the things that show a Return on Investment…revenue generating activity.

 

3. Is Your Family Life Healthy?

  • Maybe this should have been listed first – but I put it last so you’ll remember it most…and I might be too late on this…but too many sales people have sacrificed their family life to the point of losing it, just to make another dollar.  I’m urging you to make this part of your 2014 plan – to make sure you family relationships are strong.
  • If you are married – I have seen more successful business people go down fast after their marriage falls apart.  Everything is going strong, and suddenly your spouse announces, “I’m leaving.” or “I don’t love you anymore!”  15 years ago I came so close to this disaster it nearly destroyed me…I’m happy to say that I am one of the few that woke up in time and made a come back.  Strong marriages make for a stronger business plan.
  • How about your kids?  Talk about a distraction – having rebellious teenagers, teenage drug problems, an unexpected pregnancy with your high-schooler – it’s enough to derail anyone’s work life.  My kids range from 21 down to 5…(7 kids in total).  There’s nothing better than having the entire family on-board, with a common vision, supporting me in the work I do.  Make sure your 2014 plan includes building a strong family…a big factor in overall success.

© 2013, David Stelzl

P.S.  Here’s a great FREE offer to get your new year off to a fast start!  (CLICK) to get over $500 of FREE resources…

This week I’ve been working on several things in the financial realm.  I’ll be speaking this weekend out in California at a financial conference and yesterday I was working with a company out in Kansas on value pricing and managing financial metrics.

Financial matters are important to your business.  I often see them on the goal sheet.  “Make this much money this year…”  I don’t consider this a goal – instead, think of it as the result of achieving well planned goals.  Tacked up on the cork board in my office I have two sheets of paper – it’s my two page business plan. Why is it so short – because, just like a business owner I spoke with last week, I will never look at my plan if it’s buried deep inside my MacBook Pro.  I need it printed – hard copy!  Tacked up right in front of me.  On it I have several numbers I track…in fact, I maintain three other sheets, which are in large point-size fonts, right above my plan.  These are my scoreboards, and they track my monthly numbers – metrics I am keeping track of as I go through my year.  Everyone should have this – if you plan to hit certain targets.  Here are some numbers you should be watching:

Target Numbers:  Call them whatever you want, but these are my annual numbers.  Consider the target numbers you need to hit between now and your year-end.  I track GP (Gross Profit), MMR (monthly recurring revenue), Overhead % (which I try to maintain at 10%), and Retained Earnings.  If you’re in sales – GP and MMR are probably your two key target numbers, but you may have others such as new accounts this year, or a GP number on one of your major accounts.

Critical Numbers: These are generally events or ratios I care about, or that I believe will help me achieve my goals.  For instance, I track No. of Speaking Days/month, No. of Public Workshops/quarter, No. of eLearning Workshops/quarter, and No. of consulting days/month.  Pick one –  I know that if I hit 75 speaking days in a year, my financial targets will likely be met – I track this monthly to make sure I get there.  My scorecard, tacked up right above this plan tracks these speaking days by month using a bar chart.  One of the clients I am working with is focused on converting a large list of active clients to a new offering we have been working on in the area of security services.  This is a simple ratio – what percent of the clients have been converted?  We’ve set a goal for this year to convert 25% of them.  If we do that, we’ll know our offering is headed in the right direction.

KPIs: Drilling down to the quarter, I have created a table to track the quarter – this gives me a quick understanding of how my year is going.  On this list I have important goals to be achieved, along with a metric they will impact.  These are my Key Performance Indicators.

Some of the things you should be concerned with if you manage a business or run a division – resource utilization numbers, burden cost, project overruns, and gross profit (forget about Revenue numbers unless you are publicly held), etc.

If you run a sales organization, you should be conducting marketing events.  In my book, Event Marketing, 7 Secrets to Profitability, I discuss several points of conversion – these are numbers to track on a scoreboard – numbers that can be improved to drive net-new business.  I’ve included a conversion sheet in the appendix of this book that will allow you to start tracking your progress.

If you’re still tracking “number of calls you made today”, and “how many meetings resulted”, you may want to rethink your sales strategy…this is old school thinking.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Snow in ChicagoWell in Denver earlier this week I was out and about with just a suite jacket…it was close to 60 degrees during the day.  That was the first half of my week.  On to Chicago, and it’s definitely winter (as you can see from my snowy car picture).

Today I’ll be working with a company on their security business strategy – their go-to-market plan to grow security sales in 2013.  Hopefully you have one of these…if not, it’s not too late.  But don’t go into February without one.

This morning’s Wall Street Journal answers the question on how relevant this business direction is: “Security is moving from a functional IT area, often below the paygrade of CIOs, to strategic importance at the highest levels of corporations.  IT security’s rise from being a functional area to a board level concern is maybe the fastest I’ve ever seen,”  say’s Thomas Sanzone, senior vice president of consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton Inc…so is this a smart direction?  Yes!

I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Bob Bragdon of CSO magazine earlier this week (in Denver), and he shared with us that only about half of Fortune 2000 executives belief they are well equipped in their security strategy. He then showed us a study CSO conducted, showing that really, only about 8% of them actually have something in place – the rest are in big trouble.  In an article I referenced last week, Wall Street reported on security, quoting  cybersecurity experts who believe that every major company in the US has been infiltrated by hackers – the new wave of threats, according to Bragdon, is more focused on stealing intellectual capital than credit card fraud.  Other countries are slowly shifting us of our innovation and intellectual capital.  There is no one single incident big enough to lead us into a war, but if we don’t do something soon, we’ll find ourselves completely exposed and crushed in a market of copycats and cheap overseas products.  This is not good.  (Worse, they are in our DoD systems!)

In a recent meeting with the former CIO of a large Florida university system, who also served in the military working with intelligence, I was told  that, “Our country is behind in the area of cyberwarfare.”  Other countries are attacking – note the recent attacks on major banks in this country, yet we are unable to prove who is responsible.  “It’s no longer a 2-dimensional war” he said, “That’s all our military leadership really understands…”

So is security still relevant?  It’s probably more relevant today than it was 10 years ago when organized crime began raiding databases to steal credit card information.

© 2013, David Stelzl

IMG_0338IMG_0217This weekend’s planning & strategy session in Charlotte came to end Saturday late afternoon…a few quotes and some pictures –

1. “I got a lot more out of this than a typical distributor run conference, or channel summit!”

2. “There’s something special about getting together with other business owners, rolling up your sleeves, and working on a plan like this.”

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3. Said right after the coconut cream pie, “This is absolutely the best food I’ve ever had at a conference.”

4. “This was the most unique training environment I have ever experienced.”

5. ” I am now more excited than ever about what we can accomplish in 2013!”

6. “The way you presented the pricing session was one of the most impactful sessions on pricing that I have ever experienced. I want/need to share this with my entire company. Often and with regularity!”

Look for my next session like this, probably in January 2013!

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Half-Time

August 15, 2012 — 2 Comments

Half the year is already gone – at least if you’re watching the calender year.  It’s around this time each year that I take some time to review my year personally.  I review my plan, by goals, my vision and mission, and I look to see if I am on track with the things I really wanted to accomplish this year.  I don’t buy into complex business plans that no one reads – I know you need them for investors…but as a sales person, division manager, small business owner, and just personally, you should be tracking on some basic goals, and aiming at something through the year.

Take a moment this week and ask yourself some questions:

  • Do I have a passion for what I am doing?  I am working on something I really care about or am I wasting a year of my life?  If you’re not focused on something you really care about, I recommend getting a migration plan in place…life is too short to waste it.
  • Am I on track with developing my business, or am I just busy?  Remember to work on your business through the year – rather than just working hard in your business.  If you are not improving you business, you are not building for the future.  At some point your business will dry up unless you continue to innovate.
  • Do I have a personal development plan in place and am I on track with it.  Closely following point 2, you should be working on some personal development things along the way.  Are you reading, working with a coach, scheduled for training…or are you riding on your raw talent?  People are either improving or digressing.  Which are you doing?  You don’t grow without working on it.
  • Is your life balance in balance?  Are you all work and no family?  Are you all work and no personal time?  Or are you not really working this year?  All of these end badly.  Take a look at your time allocation and make sure you are giving balanced time and attention to clients and your business, spouse and kids, personal growth, spiritual life, and whatever else is part of your life balance.
  • Are you managing your finances?  Do you know where your business is financially – are you over spending, betting on the future, taking unnecessary risks…are you taking on debt in an unstable economy?  Make sure your cash flow is in order, your debt is on the decline, and your budget is balanced.

A few things I am doing this week:

  1. Updating my goals for 2012 – adjusting, course correcting, and updating the status.
  2. Checking my business against my vision – am I on the right path for where I want to be in 2013?
  3. Reviewing my strengths and 2012 victories – invest more in your strengths, get rid of those things that are dragging you down.  This is a good time to cut people who work for you, if they are not living up to your expectations.
  4. Reviewing frustrations and putting some get well ideas in place.

A Couple of Important Projects I am Working On:

  • Finishing up an eBook on effective event marketing – should be out soon along with a free Webinar on success!
  • Putting in place my mentor private forum and building some tools and content to fill it out.  This will be available from my home page:  http://www.stelzl.us
  • Adding more audio programs for professional development – on my webstore…

© 2012, David Stelzl