OUR PERFORMANCE AREAS
Working with our clients to help create a balance between their work and their personal lives is one of the most impactful and enjoyable parts of what we do. Running a business is a great adventure and can be immensely rewarding, but without a balanced life that allows the time for you to celebrate your successes with those you care about, all the success in the world doesn’t amount to much. Everyone has heard that people at the end of their lives tend to look back and wish they had worked less and smelled the flowers more. We agree, and part of our goal is to make sure you are not saying that at the end.
Creating a better balance between work and life starts with you, the owner, working less, or working more effectively, or finding a way to work with less stress. This is achievable in almost any business, although it will almost certainly require you to do some soul searching, change your point of view, and make some tradeoffs you may not want to make. We have been through this and we know how to navigate through the process.
Does your life have a satisfactory balance between work and everything else?
THE LONE RANGER PROBLEM
Many businesses are started by a Lone Ranger, the single person who forms, develops, and keeps the vision of the business in their mind. The folks around them in their business or personal lives seldom see the same vision. If the Lone Ranger is lucky, she might find someone else, perhaps a significant other, a partner, or a key employee, who can share their vision and help build on it.
A lot of business owners are not so lucky. While they see the vision clearly, they have nobody within their sphere of family, relatives, and work colleagues or employees who shares their vision or has the desire or capability to participate fully in envisioning and shaping the business. We firmly believe that not having a collaborator, a mentor and/or an understanding sounding board to help review, refine, expand, and implement the vision holds Lone Rangers and their businesses back.
This is an important but generally unnoticed issue for small business owners. The popular vision of a startup business awash in venture capital with a team of advisors always available is not at all typical of new or established businesses. Most businesses are started on a shoestring and grow organically to the extent of the capabilities of their CEO, who is usually designing the business on the fly, by herself.
Acting as a sounding board, a collaborator, and a mentor is a very rewarding part of what we do.
Would you like someone with no personal agenda to confide in regarding your business and its challenges?
Startup is the most sensitive and often the most exciting time in the life of a business. Whether your startup is a bootstrapped, sweat equity, small time operation or a well-capitalized larger scale venture, we can help navigate the crucial startup phase.
How is your startup going?
SELLING OR TRANSITIONING YOUR BUSINESS
Your business career will end someday, probably sooner that you expect, and something is going to need to be done with your business. Perhaps you plan to pass it on to your children, relatives, or employees. Maybe you plan to sell it. Either way, that is something you want to plan way in advance. Not only will it save a lot of trouble just when you are personally winding down, but running a business as if you were going to pass it on or sell it is a great way to keep it Exceptional.
Do you have a plan for the transition of your business?
A business can succeed without a plan. Many have. But while operating without a plan or with a plan only in one’s head may, in the short term, seem easier, we think that the lack of a detailed plan tends to catch up with the entrepreneur when the startup period comes to an end and the reality of running a business sets in.
Building an Exceptional Business requires the type of well thought out strategic planning that is best enunciated and recorded in a written plan. A written plan gives the business a roadmap to follow and a backstop against unplanned and unwanted deviations from the ways of profit. The very process of creating a detailed written plan is an important step in business planning.
Contrary to popular view, which reduces the purpose of a business plan to a prop in a show put on for potential investors, the business plan is most important to the founders themselves, whether or not they are pursuing investors. The plan is a vehicle for them to create and refine the purpose, goals, functions, and procedures of their business.
Do you know specifically, in writing, where your business is headed?
PASSION AND PURPOSE
Being incredibly passionate and purposeful about your business is a wonderful idea, and sounds great in the business self-help industry headlines. It will help you to get through the difficult times that each business will inevitably encounter.
But passion and purpose is at best a cherry on the top of your business sundae. In our opinion, it is not an essential ingredient of business success. The most passionate and purposeful buggy whip or horseless carriage startup is probably not going to succeed, while a well-planned and well executed, yet boring and pedestrian, company that supplies industrial parts may be highly successful.
Moreover, passion and purpose can extend the life of a bad business idea, where cooler heads may have pulled the plug long before. Much more important is an actual good business idea and a good plan for the business.
Once a winning idea backed up by a comprehensive plan is in place, then we can work with you to find ways to be passionate and purposeful about it and ways to get your team fired up about your vision.
Is passion and purpose enhancing your business success… or getting in the way of it?
MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP
A core driver of any business is its managers and leaders. Having an effective management team that takes responsibility for dynamically leading the business is an absolute prerequisite for an Exceptional Business. After all, as the owner, you can’t do everything and if you try you are heading for a burnout. To our way of thinking, an Exceptional Business can never be one where the owner works 12 stress filled hours a day.
It is imperative that the management team is given the blueprint, the opportunity, and the freedom to run the business. It may never be run quite as well as the owner could have had she been willing to spend every waking hour at the office, but delegating the responsibility must be done anyway.
Fortunately, management effectiveness and leadership abilities are skills that can be learned. That’s an area where we can help.
Do you have an effective and driven management and leadership team that has the freedom to do its job?
MARKETING AND SALES
Once you have gotten through the critical startup period in your business, perhaps the most important area of concentration must be marketing and sales. A good marketing and sales program is what gets your company noticed by new customers and helps them differentiate you from your competition.
Marketing and sales is another area where it is possible to let passion get in the way of effectiveness. Too many companies take a passion based approach, with their marketing and sales efforts ebbing and flowing when the fancy strikes… or does not.
Yet marketing and sales may be the part of business that cries out most for a systematic, boring, and well planned program. The key to successful marketing and sales is not passionate pronouncements or fancy words. It is research and discovery (of the right people to get your message to), craftsmanship (of an interesting and effective message), and repetition (of your message until people notice). People who have studied these things say it takes seven contacts to even get a potential client to notice you.
We favor a nurture based approach to marketing and sales, and can help you develop a plan for finding the right prospects, creating an effective message, and systematically disseminating it.
Do you have a systematic, consistent, and effective approach to marketing and sales?
SERVICE DELIVERY AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
After you sell your product or service comes the hard part, delivering on the promises. An Exceptional Business knows what its customer is looking for after the sale and has plan for delivering a high level of customer satisfaction, or even better, customer delight. An exceptional customer experience is what turns a first time customer into a long time partner.
Does your customer experience delight your customers and build long time partners?
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Asking everyone in your business to take full charge of their individual job sounds great in theory, but the fact is that not everyone is prepared to take on that responsibility, and a lack of structure, policies, and proven procedures in a business can lead to chaos and mismanagement. While an Exceptional Business is highly focused on empowering its team, it also knows that a plan must be developed and a structure built before any enterprise can run smoothly and efficiently.
We are experts in developing and implementing structure in business.
Do you have an empowering, yet supportive, procedural structure built into your business?
PERSONNEL AND CULTURE
With a supportive structure and an atmosphere of empowerment, an Exceptional Business cultivates a winning team culture. Finding the right people who fit into and enhance that culture is a full time job.
Do you have a team that works independently and efficiently and that feels good about what they do?
FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING
An Exceptional Business has enough money to finance itself and to grow. If a company struggles with money, it is probably not the fault of the bank account, it is probably because there is something else not running smoothly in the business, or even that the business is not a viable one. Finance should flow out of abundance, not scarcity.
Is your company financially secure?
Recurring Revenue is gold standard level revenue for an Exceptional Business. Turning your product or service into something your customers will automatically buy over and over is not only a great revenue stream and builder of business value, it is a living experiment in maintaining excellence in all of the performance areas mentioned above. A business can be Exceptional without much in the way of recurring revenue, but a recurring revenue business must be Exceptional to keep delighting its customers over a long period of time.
While many industries, such as software and insurance, fit easily into a recurring revenue model, many others do not appear as adaptable to such a model. But by closely examining your sales, service, and marketing processes we can often discover a way to turn your product or service into something that can fit somehow into a recurring model.
Does your business maximize its opportunities to create recurring revenue?
An Exceptional Business is not wholly dependent on technology (unless technology is its business). It focuses first on exceptional marketing and sales, dynamic leadership, customer delight, and an empowering culture. Yet an Exceptional Business does understand that technology used properly is a powerful tool in augmenting its already strong plan.
Does your business make full use of technology…or is it overly dependent on it?