Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneur’

From Trainer to Guru: Kevin Eikenberry’s Leadership Journey

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Kevin Eikenberry of the Kevin Eikenberry Group is well known in leadership development circles, so it is no surprise that his new book, From Bud to Boss (co-authored with Guy Harris), is creating a lot of buzz. I recently got to chat with Kevin about his career, his goals, and especially his current project. Following is Part 1 of the interview. Read the rest of this entry »

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Selling vs Helping: SPINning Your Way to Better Results

Monday, December 6th, 2010

You’ve got a business. You need to grow it. What should you do first? Meaning no disrespect to my colleagues who specialize in sales, let me suggest you don’t start selling. Until you have deep insight into what your prospective customers need and have used that insight to earn their trust, don’t even think of trying to sell – that is, if you think of selling as trying to close. The best salespeople know that closing is simply the last step of a complex process during which your main task is to seek insight – to ask questions, shut up, and listen. Read the rest of this entry »

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How to Keep Employees Accountable for Results

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

[This post is excerpted from our new ebook, ROADMAPP]

Have you ever gone to bed smiling because you knew that in the morning someone would hand you an urgent report or confirm a critical meeting or handle a crucial situation? Then not been able to sleep the next night because the big event didn’t happen?

Happens all the time. Schedules slip and no one tells you. People promise to do something and forget. Or maybe hope that you’ll forget.

That’s where Accountability comes in. Read the rest of this entry »

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The 6 Dimensions of Explosive Growth

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Driving growth is a complex task for entrepreneurs and organization leaders. Some bloggers want you to believe that all you need to do is have a vision, or a plan, or innovate in white space. Sorry, not that simple. Our research has identified 6 critical growth drivers that need to be addressed and balanced. Read the rest of this entry »

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Got a Great Product? Now Make a Great Business (Pt 2)

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

As discussed in Part 1, having a great product, insight, or vision is a fine starting point for building a great business. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly enough. We continue analyzing what else you will need if you’re not going to end up begging your former employer to take you back. Read the rest of this entry »

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Got a Great Product? Now Make a Great Business (Pt 1)

Monday, October 18th, 2010

In the 80’s, Procter & Gamble invented a superior shampoo technology that could obsolete the need for a separate conditioner. It worked great in the lab and in-home-use tests. The company was convinced it represented the future of their haircare business.

Except consumers didn’t care. P&G couldn’t sell the stuff.

Sound familiar? How many brilliant engineers have built a better mousetrap only to find that no one wanted one?

Maybe you’re one of those for whom creating something remarkable is satisfaction enough. But most of us aspire to generate income, make a difference in the world, or both. Read the rest of this entry »

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The 7 Questions to Ask About Your Market

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

It’s easy for any entrepreneur or organization to be so obsessed with production and internal goals that they forget they are surrounded by competitors trying to serve the same customers. Here are 7 questions that will keep you focused on what ultimately decides your success. Read the rest of this entry »

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Numbers, Business Owners, Blindspots, and Long Levers: How to Move the World

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
The first focus area for many of my small business clients is numbers. Strategy, planning, research, personal and organizational effectiveness…nothing else matters if you aren’t in control of cashflow, margins, and so on. It’s a matter of needing to survive before you can learn to thrive.
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Planning and the Entrepreneur

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Last fall (Nov 9, 2009), there was a provocative posting in The New York Times titled “Why Don’t All Entrepreneurs Write Business Plans?” The author, Scott Shane, reviewed the literature and summarized some theories. Worth reading, but even more interesting to me were some of the comments:

  • “A business plan is never finished, so at what point while writing one do you actually begin? That has been my challenge.”
  • “[Entrepreneurs] feel their time is better spent working hard and putting in long hours to ensure the business succeeds.”
  • “Honestly the concept of a business plan confuses me, unless it is used in search of seed capital. If it isn’t, what good is a plan?”

Each of these comments reveals a misunderstanding of the basic process of business. Business is about managing continuous change. It never stops. That leaves you with two choices: floundering in a sea of chaos (reacting), or staying mindful of your goal and making regular course corrections (proacting).

The business plan is never finished? Well of course! Business is never finished. The plan is a snapshot at a point in time. It should be developed with full awareness that it will be obsolete the moment it’s finished. But by exercising the discipline of identifying the key issues and selecting the key strategies that will drive success based on today’s conditions, you will have a clear understanding of what needs to be adjusted when conditions change tomorrow.

Time better spent working hard to ensure success? I used to have a pet rat that worked real hard running in a wheel. It never got anywhere. I’ve found that managers who regularly get off the treadmill to take a long view of their business are the ones who succeed long term. And are happier. And get more done.

No specific purpose for the exercise? That’s missing the point. The purpose is to provide purpose. A good plan identifies goals and shows how all the pieces fit together. A good plan helps employees understand how their efforts contribute to the whole. Teams become stronger. The company ceases to be about the whims of the management and becomes about working together for a greater good.

Now, do companies frequently misuse business plans? Absolutely. They treat the plan as written in stone. Instead of becoming an enabler of nimble change, the plan becomes a straitjacket. Or they overwork it, take it down to the tiniest detail, forgetting that conditions change. They spend way too much time chiseling a masterpiece, then feel stuck with it.

I once worked for a mid-sized company that turned the business plan into religion. Months were spent building and collating vast spreadsheets, as if the sums of numbers based on assumptions about assumptions were Truth. Of course it was way too complex to revisit all those assumptions as the year unfolded, so there was a blind focus on the plan’s metrics and how to achieve them rather than what should be done to manage to actual conditions (always different from the original assumptions).

So yes, business planning, like any tool, can be misused. But I believe that virtually any organization can achieve superior results with a balanced planning process build around proper expectations.

As Stephen Covey says, to be effective you need to be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. That’s what building a business plan is about. It takes you out of reactive mode, identifies the watch-outs, sets the goals, and outlines the steps.

And one more thing: today’s plan is only a plan. Expect reality to be different. Be nimble. Keep the plan simple enough that revisiting it is simple.

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