Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth, Uncategorized
Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
Nov 12, 2013,
Your company does that?
Are there four words that frustrate you more as a business owner?
Even after all the marketing, selling, messaging and posturing, it’s not working when:
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Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth, Uncategorized
Article posted in The Business Journals
by Andy Birol, Contributing Writer
Nov 5, 2013,
Nothing irks private business owners more than the federal government — and the daily news just adds fuel to their disdain.
The impact of regulations, taxes and government shutdowns compounds the apparent waste, inaction and irresponsibility in how our leaders run the country.
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Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth, Uncategorized
“I’m selling my company; why does it need a growth plan?” Whenever I hear owners say this, it’s clear they want out and want the highest price; which is their prerogative. But, after investing in it for years, why won’t an owner do the last thing and make his or her business the most attractive to buyers willing to pay the highest price? Because some owners believe:
Buyers only pay for customers, machines and methods.
Investing more is throwing good money after bad.
If they can’t grow their business, why should they pay and help a buyer to do so?
In real estate it’s said, “Sellers pay for repairs but buyers pay for value.” And who better to describe the value and the unrealized potential when selling their company than its current owner? But doing so requires the owner to have the:
Courage to admit to buyers he or she couldn’t adequately grow their business but someone else can.
Foresight to make one last investment that could as much as “DOUBLE” the price of the firm.
Self-confidence to emotionally divest themselves of their business and accept their legacy “as is”.
Create a Growth Plan to Increase Your Company’s Curb Appeal and It Will Sell for More.
Whenever financial advisors and business brokers sell a business, they always look for “strategic buyers” who will pay more for a business. Strategic buyers buy a business for its potential, not what it is worth now. But traditional business buyers offer a seller a price only based on the value of a firm’s assets, it’s customers, and a multiple of EBIDTA (Earnings Before Interest, Depreciation, Taxes and Amortization.) But these measures alone don’t reveal the strategic potential of a business. A growth plan will increase the full potential of a business when it:
Identifies the business’ Best and Highest Use and how it can be exploited.
Describes the firm’s target markets and their current and emerging buying behavior.
Defines new products, services, and value the customer will pay for beyond what they do today.
Provides insight on how to sell and market these new services and products.
In sum, the better a seller can tell his story and sell her vision; the more a buyer will pay. The candor of a seller who shares his vision and admits he or she’s not the one to execute it, adds priceless credibility to a higher price. I’ve watched many clients invest in a growth plan and then sell their businesses for millions more than they otherwise would have. My client, Garland Floor is a great example. So if its time for you to sell your business, give your business and its buyer the best opportunity to grow it into all it can become. And you will be rewarded for doing so with a higher price.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cleveland, OH, September 26, 2013 – Andy Birol has been named a Top 100 Champion in the 2013 Small Business Influencer Awards.
The Small Business Influencer Awards honor those who are influential to small businesses in North America, through the products, services, knowledge, information or support they provide to the small business market.
The Awards are designed to recognize the unsung heroes of small businesses – those who support and encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners, and help them achieve success and stay successful. The Champions are chosen based on a combination of voting by the small business community and a panel of judges steeped in the small business market, who considered the contributions of the nominees over the past year toward:
- advocating on behalf of small businesses,
- providing products or services that address the unique challenges faced by small businesses,
- revolutionizing how small businesses do business or how they solve business challenges,
- helping small businesses grow,
- or otherwise impacting small businesses in a significant way.
Says Anita Campbell, CEO of Small Business Trends and one of the co-founders of the Awards, “Influencers are those who play crucial roles in the small business ecosystem, but who often are in the background. The Top 100 Champions have distinguished themselves in some way. We’re delighted to see the wide range of Champions and Honorable Mentions this year – including non-profits, academia, journalists who’ve spent decades covering small business issues, corporate leaders whose names may not be widely recognized but who impact small businesses by influencing the offerings within their companies , vendors large and small that support small businesses, analysts who aid our understanding of this market, and entrepreneurs who have a strong voice among their small business peers.”
Awards co-founder Ramon Ray of SmallBizTechnology.com notes, “Being recognized by the community as a Top 100 Champion also reinforces with employees that their dedication and hard work has paid off. The Awards are intended to provide that added boost in motivation and morale that can make a big difference in results. We’re also delighted at the Honorable Mentions, who definitely bear watching over the coming year!”
About the Small Business Influencer Awards
The Small Business Influencer Awards, now in their third year, enable the small business community to nominate and show their support for those that influence and support them. The Awards have an open nomination period, followed by community voting, and then a judging period by a group of industry-knowledgeable judges.
The Small Business Influencer Awards initiative is produced by Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication, serving over 6,000,000 small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, and SmallBizTechnology.com, a media company that produces online content and live events educating small and mid-sized companies on how to strategically use technology as a tool to grow their businesses. The Awards can be found on the Web at: SMBInfluencers.com.
Anita Campbell, CEO
Small Business Trends LLC
Twitter hashtag: #SMBInfluencer
“My people are great, but why can’t they make more decisions without me!”
Whenever a business owner says this, my response is, “How many of your people report directly to you?” Their answer is, “All of them.”
Even if you haven’t said this yourself, you can relate. You have built your company around loyal people who work hard for you because they respect you and trust in your leadership and your charisma. And you have fostered personal relationships where your employees help you and they know you help them.
But now your company has grown well past 10 employees and they all still “work for you.” Managers and employees alike all insist on coming directly to you for decisions and help. You want to continue to serve them but the demands on you are increasing. How do you get your people to make more decisions without you and stay devoted to you and your company?
All great private companies enjoy a culture where everyone pitches in and pulls together, but as they get larger, that’s not enough. Larger companies, the military, and government all understand a leader cannot manage more than 7-10 people well. So they establish hierarchies. Their leaders know senior people want to be led and given personal direction just as much as entry-level people. Everyone wants some personal oversight that comes with their growing authority and responsibility, just as they need to provide the same to their staff.
Have you come to the point in your business where you have too many people reporting to you? Or do the people reporting to you have too many people reporting to them?
It’s time to teach your managers how to manage their managers if:
- If you or your company needs to get more done beyond what you or your direct reports can do, it’s time to start developing managers who can manage managers.Decisions aren’t made until you (or they) make them
- You or your top people can’t leave the building or go on vacation
- Your business locks up in anticipation of or in the face of a change
You know you and your managers are managing managers, when they can:
- Move from managing tasks to managing outcomes, by exercising authority over their responsibilities.
- Interpret what you want and decide through their people what to do without involving you.
- Help your company grow past your personal capacity and that of your direct reports.
Your employees are motivated by your personal attention to them as their leader and may resent you building an organizational and reporting structure. But, as I’ve written about in my STOP Article, without a structure, few companies can grow strategically and may be arrested in their development.
Can you say, “My people are great, they make decisions and help me manage my company?”
Today I had the privilege of giving my first commencement address, to the graduating class of New Castle School of Trades. This courageous group of students in welding, HVAC and auto repair, accompanied by their toiling families, all gathered to celebrate a fresh start in their lives. For many of the graduates, this is their opportunity to move beyond minimum wage jobs by reinventing themselves in an unforgiving economy. As I saw the anticipation and excitement in faces ranging from 18 to 65 years old, I marveled at the new beginning each just created for him/herself.
I asked the graduates to recognize the wonderful accomplishment of having a new craft and to recognize they would have to apply their new gifts wherever, whenever, however and for whomever would value it the most in our turbulent economy. I implored them to stay focused on their Best and Highest Use® because they would have more turnarounds, life changes and fresh starts in their future. But most of all, I marveled at their ability to transform and remake themselves, not from a position of strength but from one of necessity.
Whatever we do in the companies we lead, I pray we all have the same courage to transform ourselves when it will be necessary. What an inspirational afternoon for me at the New Castle School of Trade with such motivated graduates. I hope you are inspired too.
When I ask business owners, “How is your company succeeding in the Shale Gas Supply Chain?”, they answer in one of three ways:
- We don’t sell what energy sector customers buy.
- We have accidentally made sales to companies in the energy supply chain.
- We see the shale energy sector as a major, growing part of our company’s sales.
Which one of these answers best matches your company’s current status? Wouldn’t it be nice to have the third option?
Hearing that $1 trillion of products and services are being sold into the energy supply chain is frustrating when your company has little or none of it.
If you want to believe there is a place for your company in the shale boom, where and how do you start building your plan? Follow this graphic:
1. Define your firm’s Best and Highest Use (BHU)
- What your firm is good at doing?
- What your firm likes doing?
- What your customers pay you for doing?
2. Choose your target market segment. Ask yourself, “Do I sell to customers in the one of the following industries?”
- Transportation (vehicle, road, supplies, etc.)
- Construction (commercial, industrial, government or residential)
- Business Services (financial, real estate, engineering, maintenance)
- Human Capital and Workforce Development (Workers, Training, Certification, Academia)
3. Define what value you will provide your target customer.
- What opportunity can you help him or her grasp?
- What pain can you resolve or remove for your customer?
4. Read your answers to Steps 1,2 and 3 above. Combine them into one statement that explains what your BHU is, what target market it serves and what customer pain or opportunity it addresses. That statement is your “star” in the above graphic.
Here’s an example: The Bella Sera http://www.bellaserapittsburgh.com
- BHU: Catering, venue, bistro and BBQ is in Canonsburg
- Target Market: Corporate meetings and offsite meetings for shale gas suppliers
- Customer Opportunity/Pain: Provide a first-class meeting/dining experience next door.
How can you build your lasting shale energy business? Exploit Your Best and Highest Use!
By Andy Birol, Birol Growth Consulting
For decades I’ve challenged owners and their firms to focus on their Best and Highest Use (BHU). When companies and their leaders do this, they demonstrate a deep understanding of what they:
* Are good at doing
* Like doing
* Know their market values them for doing
And when firms focus their Best and Highest Use on a specific target market by resolving a customer’s specific pain or helping them realize a new opportunity, they are stars as seen in the following graphic:
This approach is inarguable when we grow a business, but what about when growth is not the priority? If your business has slipped out of control, or is at risk of surviving, or the time’s come to prepare to sell, isn’t it just as important to focus on its BHU? And, that’s exactly when your company needs you to focus on your BHU. Here is why.
How Focusing on Your Best and Highest Use Focuses Your Business Activities
Running your business. Running your business. Whatever stage of maturity your business is in now, if its drifting, you will have to shift gears and recommit more of your time, attention or money into running sales, operations or finance, and into developing your management or culture. Perhaps you took your eye off the ball or took it too easy. But you must go back to the basics and you will.
Did it take a defining point? Was it when you recognized problems with your customers that you recommitted to running your business? Did you decide that your pain of change became less than your pain of not changing? Most owners refocus their business around their Best and Highest Use. Owners will rediscover their business and run it the way it needs to be run.
Fixing your business. Despite your attention and focus, some portion of your business may eventually need to be fixed. Some of your customers will become unprofitable and you must return your business to financial health. You will need to cut costs, restructure your sales and marketing, or profoundly change where and how you produce and deliver your products or services. Despite years of success, re-fixing your business will require a level of effort you never imagined needing again since the first years but, here you are, doing it again to ensure your company’s future. Revive your firm’s and your own BHU, and it will be the foundation for fixing your business.
Growing your business. If you don’t have focus on running or fixing your firm, then it’s time to go full steam ahead and invest in accelerating the profitable growth of your firm. Confirm your firm’s Best and Highest Use is aligned with what your customers want and need. Then, refocus your sales and marketing on finding, keeping, and growing more customers. Doing so, especially when the economy is expanding, will help you to build your wealth and the value of your firm. You will accumulate wealth for your future as well as protect your firm from inevitable down times. In good times, invest in marketing to create new demand for your firm’s BHU and into sales and customer service, to acquire and keep as many customers who value and pay for your firm’s BHU.
Preparing to sell your business. Regardless of your intentions to sell, leave, or pass your business on, all businesses either grow or are sold to others who will further grow them. (When businesses fail, they are sold into bankruptcy.) But you will want to define your legacy beyond your firm’s financial success or for others to carry your vision forward. Define your legacy on your terms of your social entrepreneurism, family culture or meritocracy and how you wish to show it. Selling your business is the final expression of your BHU. This is up to you when it’s time for you to move on but only after you have successfully run, fixed, and grown your business. And then you must take your BHU of running your business and apply it to what is next for you.
Recognize the Cycle of Running, Fixing, Growing and Selling Your Business. Whatever kind of firm you own, you will have multiple opportunities throughout your (and its) lifetime to focus your attention on running, fixing, growing or preparing to sell it.
Sometimes after spending years growing your firm, you may discover that some part of it still isn’t working. So you must place your attention back onto fixing your business. Or, as many business owners learned between 2006 and 2011, their firms were not ready to be sold, but instead needed to be re-run, re-fixed and re-grown to build back the value the economic downturn denied of them and their retirement.
Which Phase Needs Your Focus?
There’s an old saying. “Once is a coincidence, twice is a trend and three times is a certainty.” Take a look at your business today. Do you feel it needs your focus in one of the four areas we’ve discussed?
Don’t ask, “Why should I have to fix my company again?” Instead, recognize that your business, just like your family, is one giant circle. As adults, we were all once children. And, after parenting our children, sometimes we have to be parents again to our parents. Similarly, our businesses may need us to go back to the basics or even worse, repair the broken part again, long after we thought it was fixed once and for all. And we must do this even if our heads and hearts were more focused on creating our legacies and preparing to pass on our businesses to the next generation.
To summarize — regardless of running, fixing, growing or preparing to sell —always focus yourself and your company on your and its BHU, and you can’t go wrong!
Andy Birol helps business owners create profitable growth by growing their Best and Highest Use. To learn more about how your business can benefit from applying these ideas, take the Growth Potential Indicator Assessment at www.growthpotentialindicator.com. Or contact Andy directly at (412) 973 2080 or email@example.com
By: Eric Weidenmann
Market Development Group, Inc.
Having an effective marketing plan is “your road map to success.” Having no plan or an ineffective plan is planning for failure. During the past 38 years, I have written, edited, revised or read 100′s of marketing plans. Whether an organization is a public or family owned business, mature or startup business, or a provider of manufactured products or services there are 10 essential factors in common required to have an effective marketing plan. These factors are briefly summarized below:
1. A great marketing plan must be built on realistic assumptions. When you act on things that you wished were true then you are going to make some really bad calls.
2. The plan must be financially sound. It must drive profits and create value to all the stakeholders. A company cannot survive very long without profits.
3. The plan must have a clear picture of the problems solved or value added to the target customers. Customer pain points or motivations must be well documented as there is no business without satisfied and sustainable customers.
4. An understanding of the strengths and weakness of your company relative to the competition is critical. This is needed to drive successful competitive strategies such as being the low cost producer or having a premium position by having the most features/benefits.
5. The plan should be well organized and it should contain a one page executive summary, table of contents, range from about 10 to 25 pages depending on the complexity of the business, and have backup data such as articles, assumptions, and other supporting data.
6. Primary and secondary research from customers and target customers, competition, economic trends and any other area that impacts the success of the business must be conducted in a timely manner.
7. The plan must have the support or “buy in” of top management and/or the business owners. This is needed to obtain the resources needed to implement an effective plan.
8. The plan should contain no more the 3 to 5 five strategies. Having move will dilute the efforts and reduce your chance of success.
9. Specific milestone dates, budgets, and responsibilities must be clearly stated. What gets measured gets done. Without this, you only have a “vision” without measurable accomplishments.
10. Quarterly reviews are needed to make adjustments to the plan since events beyond the control of the company will always occur.
If you would like to understand how Market Development Group can provide your company with an effective marketing plan, visit http://www.marketdevelopment.net or call me at 925-648-0680.
Is your business in the doldrums? Don’t give up on your dreams or the potential of your business. There are opportunities inside your business.
For at least the next few quarters, here are some ways you can be an organic success if not a financial mogul.
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