Who can deny that they want more money, less work, more fun.™ In fact, no one has ever told me that this SmartGrowth brand promise was senseless. More often, they want to know the formula to achieve this level of freedom. The seven synergies for business success will lead you to this fountain.
Many of you will work hard to set goals and devise business plans to achieve growth... in sales, in profits, in business valuations. At the same time you probably feel a little “befuddled” about what to expect given the current state of the economy and business environment.
The following list of “tried and true” business synergies come from over 20 years of experience working with hundreds of small and mid-sized companies throughout the United States. The principles work during an economic upturn or downturn. Whether it was the Mid-western recession of the mid-80’s, the early 90’s California recession, the late 90’s boom or today, time has proven these growth principles. Keep them in mind as you plan today and in the future. Each synergy includes a checklist of tangible actions you can take in your business to implement each principle.
1. Grow from the inside out.
To profitably grow your sales, build off the foundation already proven successful in your company. Focus on your customer base and your product and service portfolio. Prioritize opportunities according to this list:
• The easiest way to grow your sales and profit is to sell more of your existing product to your existing clients.
• The second easiest way is to sell new products to existing clients.
• The third priority should be to find new clients for your existing products.
• Do not create new products for customers you don’t have yet.
Another way of looking at this is that it is easier and less expensive to find new products for existing customers than it is to find new customers.
___ an ideal client profile exists
___ sales and marketing budget that targets existing and new customers
___ system for competitive research
___ defined process to generate leads
___ defined process to maintain client relationships
___ defined process to submit bids and write proposals
___ a process exists to identify opportunities for new products and services
___ existing customers are served first each day
2. Develop a “brand promise” and live it daily.
Once you have been in business for two or three years, your customer base is large enough that, through a focus group or interviews, you can uncover why customers “really” buy from you. That is brand promise. When you know and understand that promise, integrate it into every aspect of your business. Just think of McDonald’s brand promise to provide you with consistency. Do they live that promise daily? Would they be where they are today if they had not?
___ clients provide referrals
___ company maintains a client/prospect data base
___ system for regular customer feedback and research
___ system for gathering input about products and services
___ incentives provided for repeat business with company
___ the company has a written definition of quality
___ vendors must meet standards for quality
___ company defines a competitive market position that is unique
___ the company can measure “real” image and reputation
3. Put people first.
On one of my new motivational calendars this saying appears: “Keep your employees happy and they will keep your customers happy.” Another page says, “Companies don’t succeed, people do.” Whether times are good or not, the most successful companies have found that people are the critical difference to long-term success in a competitive environment.
___ employees are encouraged to cross boundaries
___ turnover is below the industry average
___ an employee appreciation plan is in place
___ an employee recognition system is in place
___ managers may deviate from defined policies to be flexible with employees when it does not hurt the business
___ employees receive on-the-job and/or classroom training every year
___ employees understand what decisions may be made without management approval
___ the company has an employee manual
___ every employee has a job description
4. Values validate valuation.
Having worked at Enron in its early days of the 80’s and now lived to see where it ended up, I have no better testimony as to the importance of defining company values and living them. In the end, they do validate your company’s valuation.
___ prospective employees are screened for their fit with company values
___ a written, company values statement is provided in the employee handbook and visibly posted throughout the company
___ the executives discuss the company’s values statement during employee orientation and at least twice a year at company meetings
5. Lead to create and maintain wealth.
Michael Gerber of the E-Myth has a great saying, “Owners need to work ON their business not IN it.” How much time do you spend every week working IN versus ON your business? Your job description and duties should be oriented so that the business operates without you. Those businesses have higher valuations.
___ an exit plan for the business exists
___ succession plans exist for each shareholder working in the business and every key manager and key employee
___ the valuation of the business is re-evaluated annually
___ the industry system for establishing business value is well understood (value drivers, methods of valuation commonly used, trends)
___ owners spend four or more weeks a year away from the business
___ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats reviewed twice a year
6. Hire both leaders AND managers.
Leaders work on strategy, vision, mission, values and goals. They rely on managers to create systems, implement goals, and deliver the brand promise. Every business needs both leaders and managers. The person who can be both a leader and manager is truly gifted and rare.
___ regular meetings are held at the shareholder, executive and employee levels
___ the company has 5-year, 1-year, quarterly and monthly goals
___ the company posts its mission, vision, values and goals
___ the company has a business plan (sales forecast, expense budget, organizational chart and plan)
___ outside advisors meet regularly with the shareholders and management
___ employees document policies and procedures
7. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor…whatever you measure will improve.
I have never seen this fail. When clients are short on cash and they start measuring it, cash improves. When businesses do not have enough sales to cover overhead and they monitor sales daily, sales increase. When employees overspend and management starts monitoring, expenses decline.
___ each business function develops monthly and quarterly goals
___ each business function has one to four key numbers that it monitors via a written report
___ each employee understands his/her one key measurement
___ each employee has a performance contract or scorecard
___ each employee has a performance review twice a year
___ employee compensation is driven by performance and merit
___ company measures itself against a budget
___ company compares results to industry standards and sets goal to exceed the industry
___ financial statements are produced by the 10th of each month
___ monthly sales reports are prepared by the 5th of each month
___ sales are measured daily
The Intangible Synergy – The quality of the CEO is directly proportional to the quality of the company.
Great CEOs incorporate the skills of discipline in their personal lives and those skills carry over to company results.
___ Company executives, managers and employees follow a time management discipline.
___ The company follows a regular meeting schedule.
___ Wellness is promoted among all stakeholders.
___ Personal balance is encouraged among employees.
___ All stakeholders are satisfied with the communication practices.
___ Stakeholders share a positive affirmation that the company will succeed.
With these simple tenets, there is no reason for more money, less work and more fun™ to be a mystery. If you have not started setting goals and developing a plan for this year, start now. If you have, did you incorporate these guidelines?
The big payoff if you follow these guidelines is simple freedom to choose your activities. By growing successful businesses, women business leaders will achieve the freedom to spend more time on corporate boards, community service and public policy.
You can contact Pam at http://www.smartgrowth.com/.