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Category Archive: Strategic Thinking

Beware the Mid-Year Urge To Revamp Your Strategic Plan

Leaders Evaluate Idea FirstHard to believe we are looking at the second half of 2015! That means it is time to review your strategic plan and your business plan.

Not a multi-day, multi-hour exercise

The mid-year review is not like the process you go through when you are setting up your strategic plan for the year. In the yearly planning process, you are looking at a longer horizon since it includes where you are going to be in three to five years. Within the overall strategic plan, there is a section for the year-long goals and aspirations. This is the part that you are reviewing in the mid-year meeting. The information from the living business plan lets you know if everything is on target.

Temptation lurks here

 Part of the role of CEO is to keep an eye out for opportunities. It is likely that as you go forward with your growth plan, you spot possibilities. The other side of this is when targets are not being met and it seems as if the plan is not working. One temptation is to chase the possibilities. The other temptation is to ditch the plan and make a new one.

Thinking shortcuts could interfere with effective decision making

It cannot be said enough…do your homework. We have a tendency to seek out information that corresponds with our thinking. While it does work in our favor because we can filter through the noise and get the data we need. It can also work against us when we allow ourselves to discount information because it does not fit in with our beliefs.

There are a few ways you can circumvent this so you and your team can make a grounded decision:

    • Involve your team. Have someone else do the research on your great idea. Another set of eyes, particularly from one of your team members, is a good way to sift through your own biases and hear what is possible and probable.
    • Do a quick pros and cons list. This can be a useful way to find out what you know and don’t know. It highlights if you have enough capital, in-house expertise and resources. By keeping it quick, it supports telling yourself the truth and what needs more research.
    • Know what your siren’s call sounds like.We all have areas that get us excited. It might be working internationally, noticing market trends, certain subjects that are our expertise or something else that you would love to do more of. Like Odysseus, tie yourself to your mast by reminding yourself that there is an agreed-upon plan in place. This also prevents you  from undermining your team.
    • Use a coach or mentor. Conversations with either a coach or mentor can help you hear your thinking. Plus you get the added bonus of questions that provoke deeper thinking.

Most small to mid-sized businesses do not have the level of capital, talent or other resources to go off the plan without running the risk of harming or even killing themselves. The idea may end up having merit and fits with the overall strategic plan. On the other hand, it might be simply the heat of the moment and adding some logic to the decision process illuminates this.

Creativity and science

Leaders who are creative foster the same in their organizations. It is a bit like the scientific process. Your idea is like a hypothesis. The testing part is much like running a scientific experiment. The four suggestions above show if the idea is possible and fits in with the overall direction of the company. The idea is to not stop seeking out new possibilities or even making necessary adjustments. It is simply to keep the temptation of revamping the year-long strategic plan simply based on a gut response.

*Image from Fotolia by densismagilov

 

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CEO Mindset-Could You Kill Your Darlings?

strategic sacrifice, business, CEO MindsetSmall businesses are often touted as being nimble or agile in their response to market and industry changes. And this is true to an extent as long as the decision maker(s) are willing to manage their uncertainty and be honest with themselves.  For many leaders and their teams, it means asking difficult questions and risking conflict.

*Jane and the darlings

One of my clients (we’ll call her Jane although that is not her real name) has recently taken on the role of CEO in her family’s manufacturing company. The company is currently experiencing a slowdown despite having products that sell well. Jane wants to steer the company away from the piecemeal approach they have taken with e-commerce and target specific customer segments that are more likely to be profitable and play to the company’s current strengths.  In a recent team meeting, the response was mixed. On one hand, the company could use the revenue. On the other hand, the current e-commerce strategy  does not produce predictable sales. It  ties up energy and resources that could be devoted to marketing to more specific customer segments who are more likely to create sustainable revenues. And yet…there is an emotional attachment to this e-commerce approach.

But that is not all. Part of the team has been invested in landing a major distributor in their industry. The big win will make a huge difference in the bottom line. There has been some connection made but nothing concrete. It is so tantalizing to continue to approach this big distributor.

Maybe the darlings have to go

Jane’s dilemma is guiding the team to take a hard look at the current ecommerce strategy and the not-quite relationship with the big distributor and ask if it is really worth the small percentage of income it produces or the hope of income. It is not the information. In black and white, it is clear that focusing only on specific target customer segments will position the company better and increase revenues. The team has to decide whether sacrificing either the ecommerce part of the business, letting go of the uncertain relationship with the big distributor or both are the best strategic choices.

In John R. Bell’s book, Do Less, Better: The Power of Strategic Sacrifice In a Complex World, he writes about making short-term strategic sacrifices to set the stage for long-term growth and sustainability. In fact, he writes about how he had to eliminate a line of products (a money-making one, in fact!) to simplify and focus his company’s growth during a turnaround. A gutsy move that paid off!  While logically one might see how a particular course of action is not producing a certain result, there is still the emotional side with which to contend. The catch here is that making a gutsy move is one choice and could be the best choice but it is also the scariest and most uncertain. This emotional stuff is where most of us get stuck.

3 Common obstacles that prevent us from strategic sacrifices

We have certain cognitive biases that create blinders and they are fueled by emotions. You may have even noticed them in yourself and called them mental blocks. They are the same thing. We experience a moment when we simply cannot conceive of another way.

  • Sunk cost fallacy. I’ve written about this one before but it has a way of convincing us to continue a product line or a course of action simply because we have invested so much time, money and/or energy. There is a sense that “I gotta see this through” even when it is obviously unsustainable.
  • Don’t want to get it wrong. Also known as loss aversion. We actually perceive loss in similar ways to how we perceive physical pain. It is much more difficult to let go of something that is almost working. It is even more difficult to let go of something that is working. Pruning away certain revenue lines might feel painfully risky.
  • Overconfidence.   You may have too much faith in yourself and/or your team so you follow the path that nothing much has to change and it is just a hiccup. Simply put,  you (or your team) disregard new information because it does fit your mindset. Another client of mine has a tendency to tell me that he has led his company through turbulent times before and balks when I suggest that there are different circumstances in the current situation that need to be taken into account.

It is not that people want to make bad or shortsighted decisions. When it comes to getting rid of something you are emotionally invested in, it is tricky to circumvent our habitual thinking.

Do you kill your darlings or hold onto them?

Your emotions are going to play a role in how you choose whether a product line or service is terminated even if it is clearly time to stop and determine what still fits the business goals and the current vision. There may be products or services that were the lifeblood for the company in the early days or they may have taken so much energy, time and resources that you want  them to pay you back.  They could be the pet project of someone high up in the company. It may even simply be inertia that keeps certain products or services in place. Think of those as a kind of “we’ve always had them and people still buy them.” All of these become your darlings over time. Another thing that keeps people  holding onto their darlings is the feeling that any revenue is better than no revenue during turbulent times.

Some questions to get you started in evaluating your darlings

The most natural time to have these conversations is during your quarterly reviews. You are already evaluating the progress of the business goals. Another time that makes sense is when you are beginning a transition of some kind.

  • What are the darlings in our products and services?
  • How much does each one contribute to current business goals?
  • Why are we still offering them?
  • If we didn’t have them, what would the company be offering instead?
  • What emotions and thoughts do you notice when you ask these questions?
  • What actions do we need to take now?

The discussion these questions should prompt will not be comfortable. Remember we put an emotional investment into these particular products and services. Our fears of change, failure, success, consequences and punishment as well as potentially disappointing or angering others are triggered when we start to critically think about the darlings. However, without even asking the questions, you may be stifling innovation and inviting stagnation. Sure, there is a risk of alienating someone or even choosing the wrong action. Leaders who use the CEO Mindset tolerate the discomfort and consciously choose what stays and what goes.

What would you do if you were Jane and her team?

How have you examined your darlings? What was the result?

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3 Ways a Living Business Plan Supports Decision Making

living business plan, decision making, leaderHow many decisions do you make every day in regards to your business? Are the decisions totally in line with the business plan? A leader who cannot make heads or tails of a plan or simply avoids using the plan risks scattering valuable resources, wasting time and/or harming the morale of team.

For a growing business, it makes far more sense to have an easy-to-use document that you can refer to, scribble on, make changes and rewrite without angst or aggravation. The answer…a living business plan.

What is a living business plan?

A living business plan is a stripped down version of your business plan and it is meant to be an internal document for the business owner (and his/her team) to use. These are the areas you want to make sure you include:

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Services and products offered
  3. Marketing strategies
  4. Desired client profile
  5. Financials
  6. Company goals and objectives

It is far too easy to get sidetracked by day to day work, exciting opportunities or negative events. Having a simplified tool helps you focus and remain agile as you grow your company. By writing it in a format that makes sense, it becomes clear what needs attention now, potential problems and who is responsible for each business goal.

Smooths the path for better decision making

Decision making is part and parcel of making your plan work. Here are three ways that a living business plan supports effective decision making by the leader and/or the team.

Provides only the necessary data for what is happening now and what is likely to happen in the next quarter or even year.   By looking at current information and plugging it into the overall business goals, you and your team can know how much progress is being made.

Quarterly (or even monthly) reviews offer you the opportunity to measure, evaluate and/or learn what is and is not working. Regular reviews take the current data and allow for discussion about how things are progressing and where potential problems could arise. There is a process for adjusting the plan as needed and avoiding impulsive responses. An added bonus of regular reviews is the use of accountability partners which prevents everyone from getting distracted.

Provides accountability. Since the living business plan includes specific measurable goals, it is easy to see what needs to be done and by whom. There are clear expectations and a built in mechanism for keeping up momentum and discovering obstacles.

These three ways are just the tip of the iceberg when you use a living business plan. There are common traps that growing companies fall into when they use overly complicated business plans or ignore their business plans altogether. There is a tendency to only look at the positives, only look at the negatives or to get sidetracked by something that is close but does not really fit into the overall business goals. With the living business plan, it is much easier to stay focused on the stated growth plan and to consciously adapt as needed.

Decision making is about managing information

 Current research into how the brain works has discovered that more information actually hinders good decision making. This means that leaders can find themselves ignoring crucial information or getting bogged down in trying to understand it all at once. A good decision maker knows that it is necessary to tolerate uncertainty and that most decisions are imperfect at best. Colin Powell probably said it best when he described how he wanted to people to report to him. He said, “Tell me what you know. Tell me what you don’t know. And then, based on what you really know and what you really don’t know, tell me what you think is most likely to happen.” A living business plan does this. With its simplicity, it tells you how the company is performing. Through discussions, the leader and the team can take the knowns and unknowns and make the best decision possible. The living business plan streamlines the foundation of your business, the overall goals and the evaluation of progress so you are more effective as you make decisions during times of growth, change and uncertainty.

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9 Questions To Stress Test Your International Strategy

Irish SME owners, stress test, expanding internationally, growing international businessWhen you are on an island, you have to look beyond the borders. So many of the conversations I have with Irish SME owners is about where they are going to expand next. Popular answers are Europe, China and the US but occasionally I will get a surprise answer like Australia or Dubai. Australia? Dubai? Well, why not?

What information are you gathering?

As leader of your SME, you probably are tracking trends so you know how your market is performing. These trends could be impending governmental regulations, visitors to your web site or industry trends. Not only could this data be an indication of where your business might grow but you might be meeting people via trade missions or conferences. Perhaps it is even a long-held dream to set up shop in a particular part of the world. All of this leads to a moment when you realize that there is substance to expanding your SME internationally.

Preparation is everything…

Like any growth plan for your business, developing a strategic plan is the first step. However, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and let your attention slide from the details. However, given the expense and potential legal and regulatory pitfalls, it is a good idea to stress test your international strategy.

Here are 9 questions to get you started:

  1. What is your intent? Be clear about your dreams and aspirations. Expanding is not about prestige or the cool factor. There has to be a solid business reason.
  2. Who is your customer?  Different countries have different emotional touchpoints. Do the market research early.
  3. What variables are you measuring? Clarify what targets (i.e. number of customers, revenue levels) are to be met, the timeline and indicators of when it is too expensive, too time consuming or too resource-hungry.
  4. What systems or policies need to be put in place? You are likely to be out of the office frequently traveling or in meetings. Identify which team members are leading the home office, how communication will be handled and which decisions can be made with and without your input.
  5. What are the potential obstacles and how would you handle them? There are different types of obstacles and even barriers (regulatory, political, social, legal, employment, etc.) to your entry in a foreign market. Take the time to investigate and devise a plan to handle them.
  6. What makes your product and/or service so special to this particular foreign market? Write your value proposition
  7. What criteria would tell you that expanding in X country is a bad idea? Simply put, what you don’t know will hurt you.
  8. How will the international part of your SME be funded? Making sure there is enough capital to support this venture is key so knowing if the headquarters is supporting it or it is to be self-funded is crucial.
  9. How will you staff the the international branch of your business? There are advantages to sending your own people as much as hiring locals or even a combination of both. It gives you a chance to explore HR policies and employment law.

Underneath all of these questions is a key piece of preparation so here is a bonus question for your discussion:

  • What possible effect could international expansion have on your existing business? Asking this question will help you and your team determine if your SME can handle your absence, the financial commitment and any other possible effects.

Stress testing can be an eye opener

So many of the conversations I have had with Irish SME owners has ended up with them saying, “there is more to this than I thought.” One of the ways to get the information for your stress test is to do a PESTEL analysis. Often it can be helpful to hire a consultant so no one is tempted to avoid any of the questions. No matter how you go about the process, conducting a stress test on your international strategy will support better business planning.

Related posts: 8 Tips For Expanding in the US For Irish Small Businesses

Expanding In the US: Choosing the Right Place For Your Business

Irish SME Owners…Introductory Post About Growing in the US

 

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Expanding In the US: Choosing the Right Place For Your Business

expanding in US, Irish business, costs, locationOne of the common topics that come up with the Irish business owners or managing directors I speak with is just where in the US to set up their business. Common themes are familiarity with a part of the US where they studied or worked years ago, wanting to be near hubs of a particular industry or a place that holds resonance or romance (New York and Boston get mentioned a lot!). Noticing a trend or under-served market is only the beginning. Choosing the right place for your business will support how your business grows as well as how your employees develop. This segment of your planning is an important part of the expansion process.

What is most important?

Underneath it all, the location you pick has to be consistent with the vision and goals in your business plan. There are a few things to consider as you settle on the best place for your expanding business.

  • Infrastructure: This is a major consideration. Evaluate your access to established warehouse, lab or retail space, the ability to ship easily (highways, railways, water and air) and other similar companies in your or complementary industries.  You may even want to note the specialties of local universities, entrepreneurial/innovative communities, strategic alliances or partners and/or the investor community.
  • Costs: It is a good idea to get a sense of what labor, renting or buying property and proximity of  supplies might cost in each location that you are considering. Also learn about business taxes, income taxes and other start up expenses for each potential area. It is worthwhile to compare the incentives offered at the state and local level (many towns and cities in the US are competitively looking for companies).
  • Customers: You can discover this through market research. Locating close to actual and potential customers will aid in networking and customer service.
  • Hiring locals: Besides becoming aware of the specialties of local universities, you may need to know what costs are involved in attracting employees. Certain industries attract people to settle in specific area so certain skill sets are readily available. Assess whether it makes sense to have expats or locally-based staff for compliance with employment and immigration laws.
  • Ease of travel (home and nationally): Being near major roadways and airports will support your access to customers everywhere. Also, it may make a difference when you (or any expats) want to get home without a lot of hassle or expense.
  • Quality of life: As you acclimate to the US, there are times when you are going to feel homesick and want the tastes or sounds of home. Check the area for groups from your home country and restaurants that serve authentic food. Also learn about the various residential areas (like anywhere, US cities and/or towns can vary in wealth), the cost to rent or own, cost of living and how easy it is to buy groceries, send children to school and recreational activities.

These are just a few of the considerations you will have as you look at all of the places you might settle your business in the US.

Professional help makes the path smoother

There are a lot of details to arrange. It may make sense to work with a trade organization (such as Enterprise Ireland) or a consultant who specializes in connecting companies with the necessary resources (something akin to a concierge and advocate).  It may even suit your purposes to work with both. Having someone based in your desired area sets you and your company to work with more appropriate resources. While you could do all of this on your own, time zones and frequent travel will not only get in the way of what you do best but could open you up to greater expense. Keep in mind that each region of the US has its own quirks- accents, idioms and customs. Working with a well-connected  professional can help you put real numbers and deadlines into your business plan plus introduce you to the resources you might want or need.

Choosing the Right Place For Your Business

Expanding in the US is an exciting process and can even be fun as you meet new people who are excited and interested in your business. Everyone may express an eagerness for you to choose their particular location. However, the process of evaluating each location to see if it is the best place for your organization must be more than a feel-good exercise. Combining the hearts and minds of your and your team will help you decide if your desired location supports your vision and business goals.

Related articles: Irish SME Owners…Introductory Post About Growing In the US

6 Ways SME Leader’s Role Changes When Growing Internationally

8 Tips for Expanding In the US For Irish Small Businesses

 

 

 

 

 

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STARTING EXPORTING TO EUROPE – PLANNING IT OUT

It is my pleasure to introduce you to a talented colleague. This guest post is by Stuart Allcock, a business consultant and entrepeneur based in Ireland. His company Applied Business Support Ltd helps businesses internationalise their activities, removes barriers to business growth, and works with universities to commercialise their technologies.

US business exporting into EU, export planningThis article is intended for the small to medium-sized US business looking to export for the first time and thinking about selling into the European Union (EU).  Realistically this article’s tips could apply to any part of the world you’re thinking of exporting to, not just the EU.  There’s plenty to do to prepare yourself before you think about jumping on a plane going eastwards.

 Business planning

Planning for exporting isn’t really much different to formal business planning for any organisation.  Some owner/managers argue that you can’t really plan a business strategy until the company has already got some hard trading experience behind it.  This may have merit.

 However, the flaw is that sound business planning is done on a foundation of diligent market research (MR).  If it’s done properly, it’s designed to uncover important facts about what pitfalls and risks to avoid in the venture as much as opportunities to exploit.  Risks in exporting can be costly so mitigating those risks with good MR makes good sense.

Planning starts with diligent market research

It’s like arranging a car vacation to a region you’ve never visited before.  First you need to research what the region is worth visiting for such as culture, countryside, coast, food specialities etc.  Otherwise you could be unaware of all these tourism opportunities, at best coming across them by chance.  Then you would plan out where you are going to visit, which route you will take, and where to stay.

As best you can, you’d maximise the best use of your resources – mainly your quality time and money for an enjoyable vacation.  With no planning you might go nowhere of particular interest and pay a lot for mediocre hotels and food.  See any analogies with business planning?

 Export planning is no different

Simply put, with export planning you’re still looking at selling products or services into markets and territories, taking into account all the resources needed, calculating the financial impact for commercial viability, and addressing risk.  If export planning wasn’t already part of your original business planning, then there are quite a few additional things to consider.

 Some of these points are mentioned below.  It sounds a bit dramatic to say ignoring them is at your own peril – that might be a “worst scenario” situation, but there’s some truth in the statement.  Realistically exporting can be fun (if you like travelling and experiencing different cultures!).  It also has to be lucrative so it helps if a bit of common sense and good MR and planning is employed from day one.

Some suggestions

Risks can usually be reduced and costs minimised if a few general things are observed in the export initiation process.  A few suggestions are:

  • Do your research diligently.  You don’t even need to leave your desk to collect a lot of usable MR information.  All you need is online access and a telephone.
  • Supports might be available from your local government agencies to assist with export preparation.  There are other sources too.  For example in Ireland, if you’re considering setting up your own offices and maybe such as production or assembly, you should talk to IDA Ireland (www.idaireland.com) to see if and how they can help you.  Each EU country has its own inward investment government agency.
  • An exploratory visit to your selected country/ies will be essential as part of the initiation process and even before selling starts properly.  This could be for visits to potential end-users for validating the product or service, meetings to evaluate future sales partners, or research at local exhibitions.Differences in cultures (= the way we do things) may mean your existing products/services aren’t quite the right specification – or even could be downright inappropriate for some countries!  There are 28 sovereign countries in the EU, most of them with distinct cultures between them.

Selling in the EU

 Broadly, Ireland and the UK and maybe even the Benelux countries don’t differ too much in the way business operates and products are accepted.  In any case, wherever you’re intending to sell in the EU, it’s almost certain you will come across this issue at some time so these facts need checking out very carefully before selling starts.

  •  Different ways of doing business in different countries can impact on various business processes.  For example – impacting on debtor days, how your goods are sold such as needing field trials beforehand, and the extent of shared responsibilities with in-country partners such as resellers and who pays for certain marketing outlays.
  • Be cautious about proliferating the number of countries you try to sell to when you start exporting.  This especially applies to the small business with limited external sales resource – who is often the owner/manager in any case.
  • Are you personally geared up for exporting?  Often, unsociable travel times and lugging suit cases around required a certain level of fitness.  Spending time away regularly can also impact on family relationships.  All this needs taking into account time because different people react to this in different ways.  Do you need to carefully schedule time away or should you consider recruiting a sales person – even part time if you can afford it?
  • Last but not least, with all this focused activity going on to get your overseas sales off the ground, be careful not to take your eye off the ball with your established home customer base.  There’s no sense in losing lucrative home market customers through poor service because you’re focusing all your efforts on getting sales in export markets.

 Happy exporting!

About the author: Stuart Allcock  is a business consultant and entrepreneur.  He’s a Brit who’s made Ireland his home and base for his work.  Stuart has a passion for growing businesses and developing international markets.  He’s been running export-oriented companies for over 20 years and before that, virtually lived out of a suitcase for many years to care to remember, selling European products and services on a global basis.  His company Applied Business Support Ltd helps businesses internationalise their activities, removes barriers to business growth, and works with universities to commercialise their technologies.

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Boost Your Strategic Planning With Game Theory

Strategic planning, game theory,This post started when I read the Forbes post how aspiring CEOs can prepare for the top job. Joel Trammel recommended that budding leaders learn about game theory. Since the number one job of CEOs (and managing directors) is to make decisions, familiarity with game theory can be a useful tool in strategic planning.

Very basic definition of game theory

While some of game theory makes for dry reading, it is intriguing in its business applications. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, game theory is “the study of the ways in which strategic interactions among economic agents produce outcomes with respect to the preferences (or utilities) of those agents, where the outcomes in question might have been intended by none of the agents.” In essence, it is the idea that people and organizations take into consideration benefits and risks to make decisions on what they perceive to be in their best interest. It is important to remember that there is an assumption of rational thought behind the process and decisions within situations of competition, conflict, cooperation and interdependence. Game theory is often associated with decision theory.

Game theory and strategic planning

It’s important to not get too hung up on the word, game, when looking at this theory. As you know, much of what you do as leaders of your organizations is handle uncertainty. With strategic planning, it is a guessing game to some extent. You have a vision of where you want to bring your company over the coming year and you have some information about the market you operate in. One of the key things to remember is that you are making decisions with your team regarding the future and these are not made in a vacuum or in isolation. Game theory encourages one to know the variables and to be cognisant that the business is operating in a dynamic environment.

How do you make game theory work for you?

To identify potential avenues for your strategic plan,  there is some information which will highlight the variables:

  • Experience. Very simply put, what did you learn this year? Mistakes, near-misses and gains are all lessons for you and your team to use.
  • Feedback from your staff. One of my clients was telling me this week that his staff has asked him to get out of the nitty gritty. They want him to take time to follow through on goals that were set already, work on his leadership skills and tell them what his next set of expectations are. In other cases, you might hear information about customers, new contacts and other opportunities.
  • PESTEL Analysis. This analysis (learn more about PESTEL) allows you to identify more specifically what is going on in the environment outside of your business. That means everything from politics, social change or industry regulations become more clear in its relationship to your company.
  • SWOT Analysis. This is a smaller picture than the PESTEL analysis but still provides information about what is currently going on in your business.
  • Identify the assumptions underlying all of the opinions put forth. We’re all susceptible to making assumptions. There is a tactic called the 5 Why’s. Simply asking “why” can  illuminate the information gaps, biases and faulty thinking.
  • Challenging/upsetting the current system. Using the 5 Why’s is one way to challenge the system. Keeping yourself and your staff fresh is simply done by asking open-ended questions with an attitude of curiosity. Doing things differently might not mean you’re introducing a new product or service, it might be how work and communication gets done internally.

By taking a look at all of these, you gain information about potential opportunities, risks, trends, outside events that influence your business and much more information. Then you can identify various scenarios and how your strategic plan can flex in response.

 Your strategic plan does more than provide the roadmap for the coming year

While you and your team do need to identify the goals, the steps and the responsible person for the coming year, there is more. Underlying each yearly strategic plan is the overall aim for the company over a period of five, ten or more years. Using game theory in the strategic planning process gives you alternative scenarios so that you are more able to anticipate the turbulence and dynamic quality of the business environment.

 

 

 

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Latest Posts On TweakYourBiz, Corpnet.com and KaizenBiz

If you haven’t seen these posts, let me tell you about them.

On TweakYourBiz

This site is designed for small business owners. Since it’s based in Ireland, I often write posts that are useful to Irish small business owners. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing John McSweeney, project manager of Small Business Advice programme to learn more about this free service. If you are a small business owner in Ireland and would like to get some advice regarding a dilemma or opportunity, read Small Business Advice Programme- Interview with John McSweeney.

 

On Corpnet.com

With the new year upon us, many of us are looking at our strategic plans to see where we might go in 2013. It might be time to make a new friend out of a SWOT Analysis so you have the best data available for your plan. You can read why a SWOT Analysis Really Is Your Best Friend on Corpnet.com.

 

On KaizenBiz

Each week, I lead a conversation on Twitter in which we take a look at an business idea and delve a bit deeper. Before each conversation begins, there is a framing post to help guide the conversation. You can read the latest post, Negative Feedback and Performance: Can You Handle the Truth? (you are all welcome to join us any Friday on Twitter at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. Just use the hashtag, #KaizenBiz)

 

I hope you’ll take the time to look at these posts and any past posts that catch your attention. Let me know what you think and continue the conversations!

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Just What Is A SWOT Analysis Anyway?

I realized recently that I have never written a post entirely devoted to what is a SWOT Analysis. What?! The weird thing is that I have referred to SWOT analyses in various posts like this one or this one. This tool can help you design your strategic plan, objectively see how you and your small business are performing and even provide a few other advantages.

A straightforward tool
SWOT analysis and small business

You wouldn’t mind but I encourage people to do a SWOT analysis every time I present my webinar, Living Business Plan-The Best Kept Secret For Small Business Success. (Typically, I recommend to clients to make it a part of their quarterly review.)

It sounds so business-y and arcane but it’s really a straightforward tool. The four parts of the SWOT analysis are: Click here to read more »

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Using Your Living Business Plan: Measuring Results

Measuring your small businessHave you been using your living business plan? As many of you know,  a living business plan is the internal business plan that is written for your use and that it follows this basic outline;

Basic Outline:

  • Executive summary
  • Services and/or products offered
  • Marketing plan
  • Financials
  • Goals and objectives

This is all well and good but how do you know if your business plan is working? Click here to read more »

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