Many of us know that Business is simple but not easy and we often make it more difficult than it sometimes needs to be?
For this Blog I wanted to share some thought to help you simplify your business and help you focus on those areas of your business that give you the outcomes you desire.
I love the words of Martin Luther King Jr “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
I am an advocate of taking smaller, well considered steps towards your vision, goal and objective.
This quote is a popular one for good reason. Far too many people are presented with an idea of their future and feel so daunted by the end goal, that they become overwhelmed, or disillusioned.
Your vision may seem so far away from your starting point that you begin to question your capability and even passion to get you there.
For me, you firstly have to clearly define what ‘Success’ looks like for you. Not anyone else or what a book or a guru tells you is success. What is it for you? Then create a step plan. What needs to be done. What will the business need to look like in a years time? What is my focus for the next 90 days? What are my actions for the next 30 days?
From my experience and observations a ‘Step Change’ is often needed.
Step change is defined in Collins Dictionary as, ‘a significant change, especially an improvement’. If you want something different then a change has to happen and often that change is greater than we anticipate, hence not everyone easily succeeds with their desire to develop and grow. The changes don’t just happen or again everyone would be enjoying the benefit, so often requires effort to execute the change and achieve the development you desire. However, I often see that as you work through your focused activities, you will begin to see some sort of flow, which I believe will generate energy, momentum and enthusiasm for the process.
First off, I often share my 10 steps to help simplify your business and help you achieve the development of your business that you desire.
You can read more about the 10 steps in my last blog by clicking here
It’s in the numbers
I’ve said a number of times in my Podcasts, Blogs and Videos that quite often our key performance indicators come back to a number. Of course as a business owner, we have to know our numbers. Not just those numbers in our annual accounts but those that drive the success of our business.
A few years ago I worked with an organisation for accountants to consider and build upon the most common steps that businesses do every year without fail to best manage their financial performance.
The 8 key steps that the more successful businesses undertake each year, as established in the research, are
- Plan – forecast (but have the detail to support the headline numbers eg as mentioned earlier how the sales are made up)
- Measure – performance vs forecast and KPI’s
- Review – Review and measure the annual performance of the business
- Evaluate – period to period, month – quarter – year on year,
- Compare – benchmarking – competitor and industry (good year unique or commonplace?)
- Value – how has your recent performance impacted your valuation
- Analyse – Reflect on your numbers and consider how much more profitable and valuable your business could be
- Improve – Establish a plan that improves your performance and which can be implemented.
Focusing on revenue and profit
The most critical numbers in most businesses are the revenue and profitability. So to help keep it simple here are 7 systemised steps for growing your business revenue and profits
It is based on the marginal gains philosophy that demonstrates the benefit of working on all the 7 steps at the same time, demonstrating how you could improve each by a small percentage to give you a greater cumulative effect to your bottom line (do your numbers, with 10% uplift on all 7 areas then what is your cumulative impact?) So what are the 7 steps here?
1. Number of leads – Is your marketing strategy and the chosen tactics all considered to pull your prospects towards you actually working? How can you generate more leads?
2. Conversion rate – How can you continually improve your sales process for greater proposal to acceptance success?
3. Number of sales – Whilst your prospect is in buying mode, are you maximising the cross-sale opportunities? Could you sell more, package more at this initial stage?
4. Value of sales – What is your pricing strategy to maximise the value of each sale? Are you pricing effectively? How are you packing or presenting your products or services? Could you increase your prices?
5. Margin – Are you proactively reviewing and managing your costs to maximise your return on investment? Are you able to reduce your direct costs or those costs to resource your delivery?
6. Encourage your customers to buy more often – How are you encouraging repeat business or other sales income (eg commissions) from your existing customer base?
7. Increase lifetime value – What are you doing to retain your hard earned customers for longer?
Consider how you could improve each of these 7 areas in a systemised way, so that the activity becomes a habit in your business and not just a one-off exercise.
These are steps I consider to be critical for your business success and this is why I developed an Online programme to take business owners through the most common steps associated with building a business.
The content helps business owners to identify what really needs to be done to build a business that simply works. Split across 12 modules, each of a minimum of one hour I look to provide specific guidance on the steps to take for growth. The programme covers the steps I’ve mentioned in this blog.
You can read more about my programme at https://www.businessdevelopmentprogramme.co.uk/
Capture your plan on one page
To help my clients simplify their business and narrow their focus towards their high pay off activities, I share my One Page Plan.
This captures your vision, mission, goal or objective, your targets and the activities you need to execute on one side of A4.
Firstly start by writing your vision, mission, goal or objective at the top of the page. This may be a longer term vision or a shorter objective or goal.
Then beneath this consider and write down all the targets that have to be delivered in order to achieve that vision, mission etc. What are the measures that will confirm you have achieved that bigger picture vision, mission etc?
For example, if you wanted to double the size of your business, then is the measure a turnover target, the number of customers, the number of employees, the size of your premises etc.
Once you have confirmed the targets, then for each one consider and write down the activities that have to be executed to ensure you hit that target.
So taking my example. If to double the size of your business, you need X new customers at an average sale value of Y, then what are the focused activities that you have to execute in order to achieve that target?
I am an advocate of having an activity focus rather than waiting for the outcome. So with the one page plan, if your targets and activities are well considered, then you should be able to simply focus on the activities. If you deliver them, then the targets should be met and the vision, mission etc delivered.
One thing that I have seen with the use of a One Page Plan is that it certainly highlights what needs your focus, time and energy whilst also highlighting that anything else is often a distraction or interruption.
If you’d like to also listen to this blog content, then check out my Podcast here