Articles Tagged ‘Business coaching’

Move the Needle-Build a Great System

Monday, April 30th, 2012

A few weeks ago, my family was in the drive thru at Starbucks® for a post church coffee. My wife leaned over my lap and shouted her extremely complicated order (double pump with a half decaf something) to the barista on the other end of the microphone. The total for her small drink was $3.95.

Why would any person in their right mind pay nearly $4 for a small coffee? Can it really be that good?

One of the reasons we continue to visit Starbucks® by millions each and every day is that they provide something that we all crave – predictability and consistency. It has very little to do with the taste of the coffee.

How does Starbucks® deliver such a reliable experience every single time? It’s for the same reason that a Big Mac® served in Houston, TX tastes the same as one served in Vancouver, British Columbia. Both McDonald’s® and Starbucks® have developed and implemented a simple set of systems in each of their stores around the globe.

If you’re interested in building a successful small business you had better be prepared to follow in their shoes.

Michael Gerber, the author of the bestselling book, The E-Myth, points out that “the true value of the business is the business itself”. What he means is that it doesn’t matter if you sell coffee, groceries, accounting services or printing. All that matters is that you have developed systems that can deliver predictable results (profit being the most important) each and every time.

Like just about everything in small business, intellectually speaking, building systems is easy. Unfortunately, disciplining yourself to do it is difficult. Here are a few simple tips to get you started.

First, you will need to put together an outline or table of contents for your systems. While every business is different, they all share the same fundamental components. I would star with the following – marketing, sales, product/service delivery, customer service, operations and accounting.

Next, pick the area where you believe developing a system will add the most value. The area you choose depends on what’s going on in your business. For example, if you are generating a ton of leads but unable to convert them into clients you should focus on a sales system. If these clients aren’t returning to buy more products/services or referring you any new business, you may need to consider building a product/service delivery system.

Once you have selected the first system, schedule a meeting with everyone in your company who is involved with the process. Get them all around a table and start from the beginning documenting every single step in the system. A big white board is often helpful because it allows you to visually map out the process.
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WHO HELPS YOU OUT OF YOUR FOG?

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

I am a big believer in doing what you love. Sometimes what you love today you will find that you do not love so much a year from now. You keep doing it, but your passion for it is gone and you finally realize it is time to change your course. Time to do something different, in different way.

The time between when you become clear that you need the change and the time that you figure out what you need to change, can be maddening! You know you are unhappy about what you are doing, you are not getting the results that you want, and you do not have a clear vision moving forward. Limbo! This can be an emotional moment, a time when you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and generally upset. It’s ok, just a bit of gloomy weather passing through.

Now is the time to get outside help! Especially if you are one of the thousands of people who work alone. This is the time you need a clear head, someone who can ask you the right questions, someone who can help you brain storm, and someone who has your best interest at heart and is willing to challenge you.

I have to give thanks to my coach, Brian Kavicky, at Lushin and Associates for being that person to challenge me. I have been working on a book, it has taken a lot of time and effort. Once I raised my head out of the book, looked around I realized, I am no longer engaged in what I was doing, and not even sure I want to keep doing it the same way. Finally, after a little push and bit of a challenge I feel as if I have some clarity again.

What’s the point of this post? We all get caught up doing things out of habit, without giving it much thought, but every now and then you look up and realize you are not where you want to be or doing what you want to do. It is that moment you need someone to help, if you don’t have a coach you should, they are worth their weight in gold. If you don’t have a mentor, find one, if you are operating alone you will find it very difficult to be inspired and find your way of of the fog.

Hazel Walker
Referral Institute, llc
BNI
hazel@bni.com

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Worry Less about Money with a Cash Flow Plan

Monday, November 14th, 2011

One of the biggest stresses in business ownership is having enough money. Enough money to pay employees, pay ourselves, pay vendors and pay for growth. Money is the grease that keeps the business machine running and if we are unable to lubricate our business adequately it does not perform well.

Here are some actual real world examples:

One of your long time customers wants to increase purchases by $50,000 a month; but need extended terms from 30 to 60 days. This represents a 30% increase in revenue for the next 12 months. Your line of credit maxes out on a regular basis. Should you do it?
You have an opportunity to purchase a new piece of equipment that will increase production and revenue by 20% a month. The equipment costs $300,000, revenue will increase $1,400,000 for the year, inventory and accounts receivable will increase $350,000. Profit is projected to increase $250,000. Should you do it?
Your industry is experiencing dramatic raw material price increases. You need to raise your prices to your clients but cannot raise them too quickly in fear of loosing customers to your competition. Your lender has already said they will advance you enough working capital to bridge the inventory growth and transition to the higher prices; but they want to see when you will be able to pay back the extension. How do you prove to the bank that this will work?
The best solution to these three and a hundreds of other “money” issues is the cash flow forecast. What is a cash flow forecast?

It predicts your uses and sources of cash on a monthly (or weekly) basis to determine if you have enough cash to operate effectively.
The forecast is predicated a lot on what you have planned or projected in your profit and loss statement – revenue, expenses and profit.
It also takes into consideration any cash influx or out flow that doesn’t affect your profit and loss statement – line of credit uses, principal debt repayment, distribution (dividends), accounts receivable collections and accounts payable days outstanding.
It is a forecast — so it can be updated any time you feel it is important to update your cash flow forecast. It is recommended that it be done at least monthly and for those companies with cash flow troubles – do it weekly.
How do you create a cash flow forecast? There isn’t a boxed software program that I am aware of that will create a decent, forward-looking cash flow forecast. Most of them have to be built on an excel spreadsheet. They are not hard to do; but they take understanding of how your business works and the critical elements of how cash flows through your business. Once you have one, you can use it extensively to help you answer questions like those I presented at the beginning of this article.

Dan Lacy
Growth & Profit Coach, Financial Strategist, Cash Flow Doctor, CEO Mentor
dan@dynastybuilder.com
phone: 765-644-8887

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Hit the Floor and Give Me 20! – Is Business Coaching Right For You?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Many of us associate a coach with ear-splitting whistles, rope burns and the occasional awkward moment in the locker room. But a coach in in the corporate world means advancement and development.

According to a July 2011 American Management Association survey, almost half of companies surveyed use coaching to prepare their employees for a promotion or new role. While half of those companies restrict their work to upper management, four of 10 make them available to anyone in the company.

Coaching’s three most common uses, according to the survey, include leadership development, remedial performance improvement, and optimizing strong contributors. Most coaches meet with executives in person or by phone, either every other week or once a month for about a year, though they increasingly are available for emergency consults.

In a Fortune article about coaching earlier this month, Indianapolis-based WellPoint makes coaches available to about one-fourth of senior leadership. A company liaison typically recommends a few coaches, and then the individual chooses the best match. The company views hiring a coach as an investment in people identified as very solid performers.

With a $200 per hour fee common among coaches, is it worth the money? According to the article, companies are still struggling with how to measure its effectiveness. Some use 360-degree-feedback before and after sessions to look for changes in behavior or relationships. Others rely on evaluations from both the subject and his superior.

The clash of high achieving personalities, and yes even egos, sometimes get in the way. It is not uncommon to work with one and then depart for another.

What do you think? How could a coach help you? Would you hire one to play devil’s advocate or help you develop in another way?

Ellen Dunnigan
Accent On Business
(317) 218-5115
ellen@accentonbusiness.net

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