Did 2015 Measure Up to Your Business Plans for the Year?

measureRemember back in January of this year, when your vision for your business was fresh and clear in your mind, when your business goals and objectives had a well-defined path to achievement?  If you are like most business owners, your vision may have remained the same, but the execution and delivery to meet your goals and achievements was not exactly how you had planned.  This is typical of most businesses, as our plans cannot possibly allow for unpredicted circumstances, whether positive or negative.

In preparing for the New Year, I encourage you to take the time to reflect on this past year and start preparing your plans for the New Year by considering the following questions:

  • Revisit the tracking of your business plan and any other planning documents including your action plan, and review last year’s goals.  Did your business accomplish what you set out to do? Why or why not? Write a list of all the company’s major accomplishments for the year (or lack of them). These will be handy when you do your business planning for the current year.
  • What barriers prevented you from reaching your goals? How can you avoid them or prepare for them in 2016?
  • What is the key area you want to improve on in 2016? What steps do you need to take to accomplish this e.g. hire more staff, expand into new markets, increase marketing/branding, etc.?
  • Are there things you might have done differently e.g. hired too quickly, expanded too quickly, didn’t hire fast enough, etc.?
  • Have you started a business plan for 2016 that includes writing your goals and plans for next year?
  • Have you created a budget for the next year if you work on a calendar year fiscal basis?
  • Have you reviewed your vendors and providers recently? Do you need new ones or replacements for existing ones? Review your list and score them, see where you might need to add or even get rid of any that are not providing you with added value.
  • Have you reviewed and updated your marketing and advertising plans?  Make sure you consult with your internal or external marketing professional to ensure you are strategically placing your marketing budget to align with your business goals.

We all know how important business planning is, so before you break for the holidays, take the time to reflect and plan for the New Year. You know the cliché: businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail.

Kick the New Year off with a clear plan with attainable goals and remember to take time off over the holidays and enjoy time with your family and friends.  Thank you for following my blog over the past year. Happy Holidays.

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When Does It Make Good Business Sense to Upgrade Your Technology?

Technology_Consulting_lgWith the latest release of Windows 10, it has many small business owners left wondering if they need to upgrade, buy new computers, put your applications on the cloud, buy new secure hosting packages, and more.

While as a business mentor to many small businesses I cannot answer tech-y questions, I can provide you with some guidance in making your office technology decisions.

Tell them how you are going to use it rather than what you need. Unless you are a tech-savvy owner, it’s best to let the experts tell you what technology will meet the needs you have, rather than the other way around. If you present a shopping list of laptops, desktops and routers, you could be buying technology unnecessarily.

Technology assessments outline what it is you want your system or technology to do. Before considering whether to purchase new computers, software applications, phone systems or networking services, you need to identify plans for using the technology. This is not always an easy task, especially when difficult questions arise about the capabilities and limitations of the technologies. You can hire an IT expert to help you conduct a technology assessment or you can conduct one yourself, but have no doubt they are invaluable tools in assessing your technology needs.

Have a technology plan which details what resources already exist and what is planned for the future. It also looks at areas of growth, contingencies, and investment vs. returns. Having technology that is up-to-date and helps increase efficiencies, reduce redundancies, and supports seamless growth is always a good idea.

Technology is forever changing and while it is important to make note of the changes, remember to not get caught up in trends and to stick to your plan and only invest when it will benefit your business.

Has your company invested in your technology recently? Did you do it because of recent trends or as part of your plan? Did you hire a technology expert or do it internally?


We All Need a Little Business Advice – Who Is Right For The Job?

coachingWe’ve all heard the terms business consultant, business coach and business advisor, in fact in my last blog I shared a case study, which highlighted how an entrepreneur grew his business with the help of a business advisor. But these terms are bantered around interchangeably, despite the fact that they are all quite different.

These three distinct business professionals represent different types of support and benefits. Understanding the differences and knowing how each of them can benefit your business will help you determine who to engage in helping you grow your business.

To help you better understand what type of business professional you might want to consider, I have outlined below my definition of each of these professionals and how they can each benefit your business depending on your needs.

Business Coach

A business coach is a professional who “coaches” you in conducting your business affairs and completing tasks. They may or may not have a background in your specific business. They are like a sporting coach, a person who inspires and pushes you to reach your goals. Most will conduct research about your company to find areas of improvement and help you work on these.

A business coach focuses on motivating you usually by creating a personalized plan to help you stay on track. If you’re looking for someone to push you further, encourage you, help you complete tasks, keep you on track, and help you overcome obstacles you may want to consider hiring a business coach.

Business Consultant

A business consultant is an expert on a particular business topic who can pull from their years of experience in the field to assist you in making informed decisions. A consultant is usually brought in to handle a particular problem or lend their expertise when there are not internal resources with the same level of experience.

Business consultants differ in their abilities, competencies and scope of involvement. Some may help you solve your HR issues for example by writing a report on HR policies and procedures if that happens to be their area of expertise, or by hiring an HR resource for you, or by simply creating a needs assessment document on why you might want to invest in hiring an HR resource.

It’s been my experience that consultants work for a specific period of time, which is usually until the issue they were hired to solve is resolved. If you feel you need specific expertise (marketing, HR, legal, etc.) you might want to consider hiring a business consultant.

Business Advisor

A business advisor is a mentor. They offer you a two-way, relationship in which you look up to them for their “seasoned” business opinion, guidance and expertise. They act as your trusted “go-to” person with decades of expertise and a deep interest in helping you succeed. They are a true mentor, taking a personal, active, and thorough interest in your business and working in partnership with you to provide the support you need.

A business advisor can also act as your business resource, capable of answering your business questions, providing an educated opinion, or accessing resources to get you the answers you need. You work with them to create goals, focus your business, and steer your business in the right direction.

You might want to involve a mentor or business advisor if your business growth has been stagnant and you’re not sure why, or you know where you want to go with your business, but you need advice as to how to put the right infrastructure in place to reach those goals.

Whether you’re looking for coaching, consultancy, or a mentor, every business needs help to grow, and knowing what you need and who can help you will lead you to success.

What type of help do you think your business needs right now? What type of business professional will best help you reach your goals? I look forward to your answers and a lively discussion.