Olwen Dawe runs Irish Business Intelligence, where she works with small businesses to produce clear strategies and messaging for their business. She has been referred to as an ‘Entrepreneurs Entrepreneur’ because of her avoidance of jargon and straight talking
Susan Hayes is Managing Director at Hayes Culleton – a financial training and educational consultancy company, specialising in eLearning. She has earned the nickname ‘The Positive Economist’ after an advisory slot on 4FM
Every day, each one of us has a choice: to connect with the background noise, or not. Further, we have the choice to strive for the outcome we know is feasible, to research and understand the possibilities of change in the way we do business, to ask for help.
A large percentage of the issues presented to executive and business coaches are simply accounted for by lack of research or vision. It’s true, not everyone is cut out for self-employment – if you’re not, you’ll find out very quickly. If you have developed a product or service which could make you the next Trump or Branson, your market may not be ready for it – what do you do? Go back to the drawing board.
The misconception for most entrepreneurs is that a business plan [and many shiver at the distinct notion of it] is a necessity for someone else. Wrong. It guides your business’s trajectory. In every sense. It contains the heart and soul of the business, acts as a roadmap, and maintains focus for the individuals at the helm of the business. It IS the drawing board.
It is yours to highlight, step-by-step, how you will achieve your business’s vision – key clients, positioning, markets, figures – and the one place you must start at when things don’t appear to be developing as you wish. It’s the point at which you can park your business concerns and understand why the ‘as is’ isn’t reaching the ‘to be’ in the time you had planned it to.
So, in going “back to the drawing board’, that’s an assumption that you have an honest, clear and strategic one to start with. Your drawing board is an organic item – it grows and develops – it’s got a sell-by date too, so make sure you keep an eye on it. It’s important to review it quarterly or more if you can… that way you can manage and investigate possibilities, review what isn’t working and why. For those of us who advise business-owners, our role is to examine, guide and provide insight – to avoid jargon and contribute effectively to the drawing board. Keep your drawing board fresh and alive by exploring new markets, examining your product ‘line’ or business model and always striving for excellence.
Staying competitive in today’s market means innovating. Another misconception amongst entrepreneurs is that ‘innovation’ always means technical, scientific advancements. Not true! It can, but these days, innovation often refers to executing an established concept in a new, more effective way – or taking a product or service and re-engineering how it is delivered. Identifying a ‘market in the gap’ is another successful way of innovating.
Beware the entrepreneurial enemy: complacency. Time and again, businesses bemoan fall-off in client intake, competitors ‘taking all their work’ or new ‘kids on the block’ causing them heartache. Reality check: competition doesn’t take business from you. You do. Lose track of your client, their needs, and expectations and how you’re delivering to them, and you are simply leaving the door open to your competition. Customer loyalty is built on delivery and relationship-building, don’t be complacent.
Finally… don’t give up. Business is about stickability, persistence and belief – in yourself, in your business [one caveat: you must know you have a market]. All these traits are rewarded, in the long-term – you’ve got to be patient and realistic. That’s where the all-important vision keeps you on-track, no matter what.
It’s vital to think in a clear and focused way – how could you achieve the betterment in your KPI that you desire? What actions could you take today to bring you one step forward? If you’re looking for more business, what could you do to increase your revenue by 10%? You could attempt to find ways to add just 1% to your topline each month for the remainder of the year. Divorce the micro from the macro. Focus on what you can do and ignore what you can’t. The very result of your actions could affect the macro picture… for everybody.
Undoubtedly, we are experiencing challenging times – however, don’t be fooled, they’re not impossible. Only you can decide the temperature of your business’s thermostat, whether it’s up or down, you’re at the controls.
Read Part 1 of this article HERE