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Your Business Vision and a Smaller Lens

Zooming in on your business visionDo you focus on the long horizon or the short horizon? There are limits to doing either strategy exclusively. However, the short term business vision of 1 year is a building block to making your overall vision an everyday experience. How do you make sure that your current actions will lead to the big prize?

Using a PESTEL analysis or a SWOT analysis is a great way to highlight what is going on in and around your business. You need the data. It is easy to assume that the data will point out just the weaknesses or challenges. It also illuminates the strengths and opportunities.

This is the stuff that affirms your organizational vision

When you see what is working, it reminds you that you are on the right path. It’s that simple. Staying aware of the overall vision of your business is part of your foundation.

Take a moment and make the lens a little smaller. What about 2012?

See, when you engage in strategic planning for the coming year, you’re really articulating your vision for that year. Done right, it provides a stepping stone to making your overall organizational vision an everyday experience.

To make your lens a little smaller, start by answering the following questions:

1. What will be accomplished as of December 31, 2012?

2. Why is this so important?

3. Why now?

“Because the business is supposed to make money” is not an answer.

That’s a given. Any business can say that. Well, any business should say that. You have a a variety of choices of what you can offer, which service or product gets a certain focus and how you will market and sell your services and products. Why are you and your team making the specific choices you’re including in your strategic plan?

What do you see for coming year?

How is this part of your overall vision for your whole business?

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners to be comfortable in their own skins, unlock the CEO within while leading and managing change in their organizations.  Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about a new business opportunity to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.





PESTEL Analysis- Snapshot of Your World

Skip the whole half-empty or half-full glass.  Economic news is so mixed that it is easy to paint everything with the same paintbrush. Depending on where you are, you could be optimistic that things are looking up or be convinced that the economy will never improve.

However, that’s unlikely to make your strategic plan useful. You can’t write, “It just all stinks” in big letters (even if it does). As you do a SWOT analysis, how can you get a grip on all of the factors that have an impact on your business?

Use a straightforward tool to take a snapshot of your world

That’s all a PESTEL analysis really is. You may already be familiar with this analysis as PEST, STEEP or STEP. Or maybe you do this informally within your SWOT analysis. Given all of the turbulence small to mid-sized businesses have encountered over the last 3 years, staying aware of your business environment can help you prepare for changes in regulations, respond to your customers more readily or identify emerging trends that your business is well suited to capitalize on. And like a lot of my recommendations, keeping it simple and straightforward is best.PESTEL Analysis

What factors are identified in a PESTEL analysis?

Political- This is how the local and national government might intervene with tax policy, laws, trade policies, subsidies for certain industries, industry-specific regulations, infrastructure and political stability.

Economic- It’s a given that whatever economy (or economies) that you do business in is a factor. Other things to identify within the economic factor are interest rates, changes in taxation rates or policies, inflation and currency exchange rates.

Social- Spells out demographics (age, gender, race/ethnicity, location), employee/career expectations and tolerances, population growth and national cultural trends. Keeping track of these may point to customer wants/needs or finding potential markets.

Technological- This factor includes how quickly technology changes and how your customers use technology to buy from you, technological options (mobile device applications, cloud computing, collaborative tools) that make it easier for you to get the work done internally, social media, e-commerce, research and development and manufacturing practices.

Environmental- There is an increasing emphasis on using more environmentally friendly practices and products. It may be important to your business and your industry to keep track of weather or climate changes.

Legal- Awareness of consumer laws, health and safety regulations, employment law, competition laws, international law, electronic data laws and privacy laws among others may be necessary for your business.

Not all of the factors will apply to you

As you go through each area, you and your team will notice that not everything included in each factor is applicable to your business. This is to be expected but still well worth having a complete picture of the business environment in which you are involved.

Highlights questions you need to answer

 Reviewing each factor supports finding what you and your team don’t know. It’s not unusual for a new regulation to be put in place and questions about compliance and potential penalties to come up in discussions with your team. When it comes time to do your SWOT analysis, you will be able to just plug the information into the Opportunities and Threats categories. This snapshot of your world will remove the emotional overtones and make it easier to design your strategic plan and determine which goals to act on.

About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Visit my Services page to see how we might collaborate on a PESTEL anlysis for your small to mid-sized business or schedule your complimentary coaching session here.


5 Ways to Avoid a Rose-Tinted Strategic Plan

Avoid rose-tinted strategic planReady to close 2011 and prepare for 2012?

It’s likely that you’ve already started thinking about how your small to mid-sized business will perform in 2012. Planning is an act of imagining what could be and letting go of what is. Are you coming to the planning meetings full of confidence or dread? Or maybe somewhere in the middle?

Weirdly, any of these attitudes could create a rose-colored strategic plan.

You know this already but how you see the world influences how you act. That’s why a paradigm shift feels so powerful. The very essence is that you have to change how you act.  Our mindsets create expectations, blindspots and beliefs that color what information we absorb and which we ignore or downplay.

  • Overconfidence leads to oversights or simply blindness to threats or opportunities. “We don’t have to worry about that”
  • Dread leads to analysis paralysis, self-doubt and focus on possible threats. “This has got to work”
  • The balancing act gets skewed by the day-to-day duties and not making time to maintain a global perspective. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

See through a clear lens with these 5 tips

1. Business analysis. Schedule quarterly reviews including a SWOT analysis so you can take a step back and be more objective about how your business is performing.  With the new year almost upon us, you may have to comply with changes in regulations or other variables that require adaptations. To make this easier, use a PESTEL analysis to more clearly identify potential threats and opportunities. Another possible analysis that will illuminate how your business is functioning within economic turbulence is Ansoff’s Strategic Success Model (check out page 3 for chart).

2. Communicate clearly and often. Make time to speak with your team and/or business partner as a group. This avoids wasting time running from one person to another to give the same message. It means you stop and listen to what they are actually saying. This is  your opportunity to gauge the morale of your organization as well as getting information for the business analyses. Even a 5-15 minute group meeting can be very productive when you keep it focused on 1-2 topics and schedule follow ups when issues need more attention.

3. Mentors, coaches, mastermind groups and/or trusted confidant. No matter the size of your organization, it helps to keep your head clear. As a leader, it is important to have a safe place to sort out your thoughts and feelings. Mentors, coaches, mastermind groups and/or a trusted confidant gives you that space so you can interact with your employees, vendors and customers effectively.

4. Know the difference between “nice-to-have” and “must-haves”. Sometimes strategic plans become wish lists. While taking audacious ideas and setting them as targets is desirable, it is also crucial to keep your “bread-and-butter” targets active. You can use the things that produce a steady revenue stream as a means to invest in your next “nice-to-have”. The tried and true parts of your business are the foundation. Be aware of how much energy and resources are needed for your newest offering so you can plan for them appropriately.

5. Take care of yourself. Thinking and the ability to keep emotions in check deteriorate when we don’t eat healthy foods or get enough sleep. Lack of sleep alone can lower your cognitive abilities. When we feel run down, it’s tempting to go with what makes us feel good. Exercise or just simply moving more is a great way to clear your mind so you can cope better.

Avoid the rose-tinted strategic plan.

The willingness to seek accurate information and use it to create your strategic plan will pay off. It all starts with your desire and commitment to see your business as it truly is.

 What tips would you add?