ALAN W. URECH
Alan Urech, a valued business partner and friend, is Managing Partner of Stoney River Capital Partners, LLC, based in Roswell, GA. With his permission, I am delighted to share this helpful article with you.
Be sure to visit his Web site: http://www.StoneyRiverCapital.com
10 Killer Secrets For Developing a Powerful Business
The following is a listing of 10 Killer Secrets that will help you develop a powerful business. They are not in order of importance because I see them as equally important to business growth.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Develop a stellar Advisory Board across functional levels
This is not a Board of Directors (BOD), which is a legal entity with potential liability. Advisory Boards are a must to grow strong businesses. As business owners we get very wrapped up with what we ourselves think is important and forget that there are other ways for business growth. We are products of our own life’s business experiences but should understand that other people have diverse experiences that may be more relevant to the situation at hand and we should embrace those experiences to grow our businesses intelligently. Advisory Boards should be set up along functional business parameters and members chosen for their experiences within those functions. Operations, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Legal, Human Resources, Product/Services are some of the different functional areas the slots you should have solid focused and seasoned professionals represented on your Advisory Board.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand the Management’s strengths and weaknesses
As managers we all have our strengths…and our “challenges”. This is the way it is and we must understand what they are and make sure that our management team has representative diverse views. Some managers see no dangers and charge ahead with programs while others may be more hesitant and see the positives and the negatives of the movement. Whether you are optimistic, a risk-taker, can rally the troops and engage others, are traditional and hard-working with a strong focus on quality, detail and precision or can build trust and help others, you need to know your business personality “gifts”. Embrace them. Brownell Landrum at DrawSuccess (www.DrawSuccess.com) has some very interesting methodologies for you to access your strengths and weaknesses.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Grow the Business methodically
In Six Disciplines for Excellence Gary Harpst states that most businesses do not succeed because they are not grown methodically. Something always gets in the way of a business’s methodical growth path. I believe that if you establish upfront some solid and non changing parameters like “Monday mornings 9:30am we are having a management meeting and reviewing operational issues that affect the business”, most of the time you will succeed. Don’t deviate from that plan. Keep it simple and formal on a Project Management type electronic or paper template and make sure that everyone one is accountable weekly for the action items that they said they would complete. Have firm dates and if the task is not completed by that date, make sure that the whole team knows why. This takes a couple of weeks to instill but the company’s president must be vigilant and hold his/her management team accountable for the actions they have agreed to accomplish.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Be very focused on what your business is…and is not. Understand what is important to you…and your business
Strong businesses must understand what their market opportunity is and then focus their organizations on their core competency within that opportunity. Know your opportunity and then exploit it. This does not mean that you can’t have adjacent products and services that improve your core offering. You can. For example, if you are in video productions and your first product is traditional movies, it does not mean that you can’t go into some adjacent product lines like commercials or promotional pieces. Just treat this as an adjacent product line. The core product is still video productions. Do an “elevator” pitch of 15 words or less about what your business is. An example might be “North Atlanta Networks, Inc, develops, markets and services high technology turnkey satellite, terrestrial, wireless and VoIP network solutions to business and government customers.” Or “The Medical Group is a provider of all-inclusive turnkey management solutions to meet the increasingly complex technology needs of physician practices”. Also understand what your personal goals as a manager are. What you will do and what you will not do. Each organization should have a posted Vision Statement, a Mission Statement and a Values Statement.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Focus on Sales and Marketing, not on the products or services
Once your product or service offering is “complete” or Version 1 is complete, shift your human and monetary resources to sales and marketing. Most companies have a very difficult time crossing over the chasm from a Research and Development organization into a Sales and Marketing business that can commercialize your product and make you money. Understand that your product/service will never be done because our world is in constant change mode. Put a “stake” in the ground to when your resources will be focused on sales and marketing. At this point, 90% should be spent on Sales and Marketing and 10% on R&D.
To market your product use “Groundswell” techniques. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff wrote a great book on using new technology tools to market your products by getting a social network “buzz” about them and then when people come to your website, they will be “warm” prospects. Much easier than cold calling. Free social networking technology tools like LinkedIn (an online network of more than 25 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries, www.linkedin.com), Flickr (online photo management, www.flickr.com), WordPress (blogging, http://wordpress.com), FaceBook (social network, www.facebook.com), Twitter (social networking and microblogging service utilizing instant messaging, SMS or a web interface, http://.twitter.com), Del.icio.us (social bookmarking, http://delicious.com), Digg.com (discover and share content by tagging, http://digg.com), Wikipedia (online free encyclopedia that anyone can add to and edit, www.wikipedia.com), Add This (Social Bookmarking that adds content everywhere, www.addthis.com), Ping (a website that makes updating your social networks a snap, www.ping.fm) and Second Life (virtual world, www.secondlife.com). To measure and monitor your blogs and online discussion groups use TNS Cymfony (http://www.cymfony.com), Nielsen BuzzMetrics
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(http://www.nielsenbuzzmetrics.com), and Google analytics (improving your understanding about where your website visitors come from to better utilize your marketing dollars, http://www.google.com/analytics/). It is easy to do and will gain you great exposure.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Work with people that are Compatible
Life is too short to work with people that you don’t like or are not compatible. Surround yourself with people that have similar values that you do so that in addition to just “working” in the business that you sometimes get together in social events to understand each other as fellow human beings with personalities, families, attitudes, biases and needs. I think this is critical for people to understand where their work companions are coming from and sometimes forgive them when you know they have had a rough day when something outside of the work place is weighing on them. Help them along and you will be stronger and happier in the business and as a person.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Form Key Business Alliances/Partnerships/Affiliations
This is a critical component of growing a company into a strong business. Strong growing companies form alliances, partnerships and affiliations with companies and businesses that can support their growth. Once a company focuses on their business they should look for alliances and partnerships that make sense to them within their competency. Being a good partner means that when something falls outside of your core competency, you refer that business to the other organization to fulfill the customer’s needs. Customers love this and embrace this as being good corporate citizens by putting the customers’ needs above their own.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand the Businesses Unique Value Propositions
When I consult with companies, I first develop with them a “Corporate Position Paper”. A CPP has three areas in it. The first section answers the question “What are the problems in the industry?” The second section answers the question “What is different and better about my products/services?” This should be about 3 bullets that include your unique value proposition that no other company can say. Remember that your unique value proposition does not include service, price or quality. No one will say that they deliver poor service, high prices or bad quality. They always have the best service, low prices and great quality. That is a given. Create your UVP on something that no one else can claim that they have like a product that does (xxx) or a service that provides this.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand the Business’ Revenue and Profit model
A business must understand where they make their income. Detail by bullets the different components of where the businesses money comes from and the profit potential from each area. Once this “audit” is completed you may see that there are some areas that need to be focused on because they bring you more profit.
<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>Understand your Product/Service offerings
A company must understand their product lines thoroughly. It is vital to understand what the products are and what they are not. The “consultative sell” approach works wonders when the business development person first listens to the “challenges” the prospect has (what keeps them up at night) and then leverages their products and services to alleviate those challenges. They are showing an understanding of their business, a concern for the prospect’s business, and a solution to their concern. Many business development people do not understand this and subsequently do not form a relationship with the decision maker. Developing this relationship becomes capital that the strong business person can use to leverage their first product into the organization and positions them to sell additional products later on in the business cycle. I suggest a PowerPoint or something like that that outlines every product and service that you have and its value for the consumer.
I hope that these 10 Killer Secrets have helped you understand some business “Secrets” that can help you to significantly grow your business. Being methodical with great management focused toward your growth is the core, understanding your value proposition and then understanding where you make your money.
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