Category - Business Planning

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Metrics for better business
Never mind the width, feel the quality!
Does My Small Business Need a Marketing Plan?
Decluttering Your Business
How to Prepare a USEFUL Strategic Plan

Metrics for better business

Businessman Holding Graph

In an earlier article, I wrote about how the measurement of your business success should include qualitative measures as well as quantitative benchmarks.

I received a lot of email to ask about what quantitative metrics I thought were important in business. Now, I repeat what I said earlier, first, that qualitative metrics such as customer satisfaction and service delivery times can be just as important as quantitative measures. Secondly, that you need to define what you mean by success before you can choose the appropriate measures.
Having said that however, I thought I should deal with all those emails and provide a discussion on the types of quantitative measurements you might want to employ.
Howard from Sydney asked what might be some warning signs to watch out for.
Here are some quantitative metrics from your profit and loss account that can show your business is needing attention:-

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Never mind the width, feel the quality!

Businesswoman Holding Bar Graph
I hope that you are keeping an eye on your business performance. However, even if you are, you may be overlooking several critical factors about how your business is performing, and some of these could be the difference between success and failure.
Most business owners probably keep a good eye over quantitative measurements such as sales, average markup, salary costs and expenses. However some of the most useful measures can be qualitative rather than quantitative, for example staff and client turnover rates or average service-delivery times.
Overall, before you start measuring your business performance, you need to be very clear what “success” means to you so that you can measure and benchmark the measurements that really count toward that success. If you are not clear on what success means in your business, you may be measuring the wrong measurements. For example if you focus on profit, you may actually be driving away customer volumes if your success is based on low margin/high volume.
Having determined what success means to you, you can then choose the metrics, both quantitative and qualitative, that drive that success. As you choose them, always ask yourself: “If I improve this measure, will that improvement lead to success?”

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Does My Small Business Need a Marketing Plan?

When I talk to small and micro-business owners, I always ask them if they have a marketing plan. Their answer is invariably “no”.

So the next question, in exploration of that, is usually from them: “Why do I need a marketing plan? What I need to do is in my head, and besides, I’m stretched enough as it is running the business”.

I have to point out to them that’s really three questions and I deal with them one at a time. The first question is, as a small business, do I really need a marketing plan?

Of course you do. It need not be a large document, and in a small business you may not need to detail every item in a traditional marketing plan, but you do need a marketing plan, it should be written, and it should deal with the key concepts of marketing.

You need a marketing plan because running a for-profit business without a marketing plan is simply opening your doors and hoping for the best. Finding customers, increasing sales, meeting break-even and growing profits cannot be done while simply hoping for the best. Even if you had, in your head, a sure-fire way to find new customers, or sell more to existing customers, writing it down and sharing it with your team is the best way to relieve the lonely stress of doing it by yourself – they can help achieve those sales targets with you if they know what your sure-fire procedure was.

If you were taking your family on holiday, would you simply buy tickets to where you were going and just arrive? No, you would have some sort of plan that you share with them and some key bookings. So why would you not have a plan when your business’ performance and its livelihood is at stake? Without a marketing plan, you do not know who are your optimum market, the best way of getting to them and appealing to them, the resources you will need to service them, and what you need them to buy and when. Read More

Decluttering Your Business

Every now and then, it’s time to declutter!

Whether it’s your home, your office, or your life, over the years you build up “stuff”. When you buy that cute vase or an extra office chair or you accumulate responsibilities, it all builds up. Personally I find it refreshing to just get rid of stuff from time to time.

It clears your mind, there’s less visual and intellectual junk to manoeuvre around, and you can see fresh and new ways to move on and ahead.
Well, decluttering works in your business as well.

Think for a moment, and I’ll bet you will recognise the clutter that has built up around you without your knowing it. Management guru Peter Drucker said “much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work”. This is so true. Management demands better (or is it more?) communication so our email inbox is bulging, we are in touch 24/7 on smart phones and tablets. Management is careful to avoid inefficiency, so everything is check-listed, and has to be signed off step by step adding layers to “efficiency”. Management is all about planning so half our day is filled with meetings. Management is all about achieving goals so we end up with endless objectives and to-do lists to tick off.

Some of this clutter in our business lives is actually a necessity. Read More

How to Prepare a USEFUL Strategic Plan

Does this sound familiar?:-

It is about 5 years since your company did its last strategic plan, and you, or your Board have been reminded that it is good governance to renew it. You can’t actually see a reason to do it in practical terms – the economy has been what it is and the business has been doing what it can. After all, was your last prediction of the future any good?

Nevertheless you decide to do it. You hire a facilitator and ask for a quote. When the facilitator (if they are worth the money) asks for preparation time that may include research into your industry and company, along with interviews with stakeholders, and prices her quote accordingly. You receive the quote and negotiate it downwards, removing these “extraneous” tasks and leaving the task of facilitating a day’s workshop and writing it up.

You organise a day’s retreat for the Board and senior staff. You hold the meeting, everyone has a good time away from the office, you all contribute to discussion and feel satisfied that you have thrashed the issues. The facilitator writes up the plan, you review it and “implement” it.

In a few months, the exercise is forgotten.

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