Designing Strategies: The Blog
“At age 50, everyone has the face he deserves.”
~ George Orwell
I’m not entirely sure where Mr. Orwell got his perspective on faces being deserved. I doubt that in his hayday people were inundated with advertisements for facial creams and cosmetic surgery procedures to improve the average person’s looks. Back then, people believed that a few wrinkles and age spots were signs of experience and victory. Heck, at that time, people were happy to have lived to the age of 50.
When I read the quotation, it made me wonder if we took that perspective in another direction – toward business, for instance — how it might apply. Actually, it is a perfect fit for evaluating your business. Let’s say that in five years or ten years your business will be exactly what you deserve.
Based on what you envisioned your business would become after hard work and some sweat equity was applied, are you satisfied today, or at least confident you will achieve your vision in five or ten years? If you put in the appropriate time and effort necessary, do your research and planning, of course you can make your business become the one you want and deserve.
One thing I can tell you is that taking a fly by the seat of your pants approach is not going to take you where you want to be. Taking things one day at a time, randomly moving first in one direction and then another without having a grasp on what needs done to grow toward achieving success, is not the way to achieve goals. You will still get what you deserve, but it is unlikely to be what you wanted to achieve.
The economy is showing signs of improving over the next couple of years. Now is the perfect time to step back and review your vision and mission. Compare it to where you thought you would be at this point in your professional life. Assure yourself that you are still heading in the right direction. If not, there is no better time to put yourself back on track and planning for the success you dreamed of. Focus on the strategies needed to keep you on track toward the company you envisioned and deserve.
Some people dream of success… while others wake up and work hard at it. [unknown author]
How about you? Is your business where you thought it would be by this point in your career? Let us know in the ‘Comments’ below…
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“It’s not that they can’t see the solution, it’s that they can’t see the problem.”
–G.K. Chesterton Scandal of Father Brown (1935)
As far back as 1935, English author and essayist, G. K. Chesterton realized that many people had more difficulty recognizing their problems and challenges than in finding solutions for them. Many entrepreneurs and business leaders continue to have this shortcoming decades later in what we refer to as our modern world. Makes you wonder just how far we’ve come during that seven and a half decades, doesn’t it?
Too many entrepreneurs jump into the business world with nothing more than an idea fueled by their own passion. Envisioning wild success, they take their hot new idea for a product or service and just ‘go into business’, by-passing the need for upfront research and planning. It is that missing planning phase that puts the business and its necessary components into perspective based on logic and analysis. That plan is what will strategically move the company forward toward success. That plan can eliminate the need to juggle a variety of unforseen problems coming from all directions during the early phases of a start up company.
Without that necessary analytical approach to planning for success, everything tends to be done on the run, moving forward — with any luck — but, in a haphazard manner. Instead of the business moving forward with focus and direction, chaos prevails. Leadership spends unnecessary time putting out fires that get in the way of their ability to work on the structure and infrastructure of the firm.
Without the necessary time to focus on the mechanics of the business, chaos will become the culture of the firm. Order and a clear path toward their original vision are missing. Policies, systems and procedures are not designed to keep work flowing smoothly toward the owner’s vision. The corporate culture is unable to develop in a manner where all of the company’s stakeholders are able to work together to achieve successful results and a reasonable profit margin.
Without being able to clearly see and analyze potential problem, it is highly unlikely that appropriate strategic solutions will be developed to get the firm on track. Successful railroads lay tracks between multiple points, in the most logical and cost effective directions. Only then is the train put on the track to move easily between destinations. If mountains are in the way, the track is taken either around them or through them, which ever provides the best solution. If bodies of water are in the way, bridges are build to go over or around them. Analyzing the situations and all related challenges up front allows for developing solutions before setting off on a journey. Take the time necessary to review potential problems before they become barriers to your success.
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Working in situations where your core values most closely align with customers and their needs will always result in a higher level of success. Too often, especially in slow economic times, business owners and entrepreneurs fall into the trap of taking on any project or client that comes along. They take on projects or customers out of fear that something that is a better fit may not come their way, even if the new opportunity doesn’t align with their core values.
In a chaotic world where constant and rapid change is fast becoming the norm, it is important for companies and even solo-preneurs to be clear about their core values are. Core values are things that are most important to you in all situations, both personal and business. They are things that are absolute musts for you. They are as natural to you as breathing and just as important. Core values come from the heart. They steady the ship and steer the organization in a direction that is most comfortable for them.
Know your core values and apply them to appropriate clients and projects. Using this important prism when considering your target market or an available project will allow you to do your very best work, and be satisfied in the process. For some companies, being risk-adverse is a core value. A cautious, conservative approach for them is routine. For others, being highly creative and innovative are core values. Operating in an environment of out-of-the-box thinking allows them to provide highly creative, cutting edge solutions for their customers. Yet other companies insist that all business transactions are handled at the highest levels of honesty and integrity, or that their customer service and experiences are exceptional for their industry.
There are entrepreneurs who can’t imagine taking on a client or project that inhibits their artistic and creative juices. Others place high value on the ability to make all decisions in execution of a project, or working with exceptional teams. For best results, clients or projects should allow the freedom and ability to provide products or services based on those core values that you and your organization hold dear. To do otherwise would not feel normal, or a sign of business success.
If you have not yet set down your core values in writing, or shared them with your staff or team, there is no time like the present to get started. Take some time to jot down a list of what things are important to you in all facets of your life. Core values in your personal life will naturally overlap into your business life. The Zappos ‘family’ provides a simple list of the ten core values they embrace in running their highly successful company. Once you’ve completed this exercise, be sure that everyone in your firm is informed that these values represent the basis for anything they do within or outside your business. Ad them at the beginning of your strategic plan, right after your Vision and Mission. Be sure to alert anyone in business development or sales for your firm to use these core values as the primary prism through which your next ideal project or target audience of clients and customers is viewed.
Once you’ve written down a list of your own, or your company’s core values, share them with us in the Comments box below…
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When you were getting ready to launch your business, hopefully you never had the conversation, ‘live’ or just in your head where you declared: “I want to have the cheapest product on the market.” or “I want my services to be the least expensive.” Surely you never intended to be known as offering the least expensive product or service available. Unless you are Walmart, K-Mart or another business based on a business model of deep discounts, think long and hard about your pricing and the value you bring to customers.
Just like price, value is something not enough business owners feel comfortable talking about. One of the hardest things to do is bring up that money topic. Will our bid come in too high? Will it be too low? Are we leaving money on the table? Can we charge as much as our competitors?
Guess what? It’s not all about money. There has to be value provided for any money exchanged between customers and businesses. If there is value, customers will gladly pay for it. How to you approach that touchy subject of value? It’s actually not that difficult. First of all, just ask your customers what value means to them. What?! Ask my customers? Wild and crazy concept, isn’t it? Not really.
You more than likely have a variety of products or services to offer. If you see some of them as more valuable than the client does and expend your efforts in that direction, they are not going to be satisfied in the end. Focus on what the client sees as having value from the start, reiterate it throughout your relationship and again at the end. The result: you will have less difficulty setting and getting higher compensation for the value you provide for them.