Tag Archive: goals

Overcoming Perfectionism in Your Small Business

Overcoming Perfectionism in Your Small Business
Perfectionism can get in the way of building or marketing a successful business.  It can prevent us from moving ahead quickly or from taking advantage of business opportunities.  We set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations or goals, which can be damaging to us personally or professionally.  Striving for perfection can damage our self-esteem because we never feel like we are good enough.  Instead, consider adopting an attitude of striving for excellence.  Look at failure as just another teacher.  Let’s explore how being less than perfect can move you ahead in your business!

1.  Get into action.  One of the best ways to overcome perfectionism is to get into action and do something.  In the case of your marketing, put yourself out there.  Show the world who you are through your website, business cards, brochures, or through giving a speech.  Don’t wait until you get all of these things perfected.  The truth is that they never will be.  Everything you do is a work in progress.  Do something now.  Get feedback, and then make corrections as you move forward.

2.  Say “no” to unreasonably high demands.  We often set high standards of performance for ourselves that would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet even under the best of circumstances.  Learn how to say “no” to yourself.  We always set much higher standards for ourselves than anyone else would and in the big picture, it really means nothing.  You would be surprised at how satisfied most people would be with average performance on your part.  I’m not saying that you should sacrifice quality in what you do, but what you’ll incrementally gain for large expenditures of your personal energy is certainly not productive.  Trying to be perfect in your marketing will only delay getting your message out to those who need to hear it most.

3.  Set realistic goals.  Unreasonably high demands go hand in hand with setting unrealistic goals.  You cannot expect to do everything at once or even at the same level of quality.  Creating a plan of what needs to be done in your business is a top priority.  For each major project or item that you need to accomplish, break it down into a number of goals that are easily doable.  A goal of creating your website can be daunting.  However, breaking it into a number of other goals including drafting a plan for your site, obtaining your domain name, and interviewing three web developers makes it much easier to accomplish.

4.   Find support.  Find others who will support you in the things you are doing.  You might consider asking friends, colleagues, or family members to give their sign-off of approval on some of the projects that you are working on.  While you might not think that something is perfect enough, the people on your support team can provide you with much a much less biased opinion.  Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing, we cannot see that it is perfect just as it is.  Recruit a supportive team to help you determine when enough is enough.

5.  Perfect as it is.  Consider adopting a mindset that whatever you do is the right thing to do and the best thing to do.  This powerful attitude can make all the difference in creating a successful business.  Not only will potential clients find your sense of personal strength attractive, but you will also have more confidence to make things happen and to make them happen quickly.  You’ll take more risks, ask more confidently for business, and work more effectively at everything you do.

6.  Failure is my friend.  Redefine how you look at failure.  Failure is a natural part of life and will inevitably impact your business to varying degrees.  Failure is not the end of anything, nor does it mean that you are incompetent.  Realize that failure is a teacher and that it can help you innovate in your business.  It provides you with valuable information that you’re doing something or going in a direction that isn’t providing the results that you want.  The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can re-orient yourself in another direction, which can lead to your success.

7.  Reframe your attitudes.  Perfection is defined as freedom from fault or defect, or the quality or state of being saintly.  What does it mean to you?  The words we use to describe what we do or who we are, make a tremendous difference in the success we achieve.  How would you define perfection for yourself?  What about adopting an attitude that you are perfect the way you are?  That you are enough.  Write down what perfection means to you and post it in a place where you can read it daily.

8.  Make lemons out of lemonade.  You might be surprised that when you’re not trying to be perfect, you may actually find the perfect opportunity.  For example, you might not be dressed appropriately for a networking event and you don’t feel like you’re “perfect enough” to talk to anyone.  But, you take the opportunity to chat with someone standing next to the hors d’oeuvre table and the next thing you know you’ve created a potential for new business.  Opportunities are everywhere.  In fact, take a look at the last few things you did which you didn’t think were perfect or which didn’t meet your high standards.  What were the results of what you did?  What other exciting things blossomed as a result?

9.  Making it happen is more important than perfection.  Doing things, putting yourself into action, telling people about what you can do for them…all of these things are much more important than spending another hour or another dollar trying to make something perfect in hopes that it will buy you some increased level of success.  People aren’t attracted to perfection, they’re attracted to people that make things happen.  If you’re at the office trying to perfect anything in your business, the trade-off is that you aren’t somewhere where you can be making valuable business contacts.  It is important to surround yourself with people who like to take action.  Not only will they motivate you to do the same, but you’ll also be able to witness, firsthand, the results they are having by getting out there.

10.  Be kind to yourself.  Perfectionists often feel down on themselves for not achieving…well, perfection.  Perfection is an ideal, not a reality; it is humanely impossible to achieve.  Learn how to forgive yourself when you do something you don’t think is good enough or perfect.  Love yourself for being you and know that everything you do in your business possesses your personal spin.  Potential clients won’t be attracted to you because of your business card or website.  They will be attracted to you because of who you are.

The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

The Secrets Of StrategyThe Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2. A step-by-step guide to creating a growth strategy based on your current situation and future possibilities.

I’ll bet you think you already have a strategy.

And well you may, but strategy as a concept is just like love: much used and little understood. Many businesses (and that includes small entrepreneurs, large corporations, non-profits, community organizations, governments, NGOs…the works) neither know what strategy really is, nor how to get one. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

And even if you do, in fact, have a strategy — is it the right one? The best one? This is so important — marketing guru Jay Abraham says — and I agree — a superior strategy badly executed will beat a bad strategy well executed, any day.

It’s easy to say, “This is big company stuff. We know what we need — why should we do all the extra work.” While a “strategy-less” group of marketing tactics may work well and produce good results, is it taking your business in the best direction? You may be making money, but are you making the most money possible? Could another suite of tactics implementing a superior strategy produce far better results? 

Which brings me to the point of this two-part article: how to formulate strategy. In the next 1500 words, I’m going to present the first half of a basic system for identifying high-impact strategies in your business. (Just the first half? Yes. While I strive to make this as simple as possible, it still takes a bit of explaining, and editors and readers alike detest long articles!) So Part 2 will finish the outline, and in future articles, I will discuss each system component in finer detail. 

Let’s begin with a working definition of strategy.

Strategy is the guiding principle on which are based a series of interlinked decisions regarding the selection and deployment of resources and tactics, whose purpose is realizing a vision and achieving decisive objectives in a competitive and changing environment. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

This definition tells us a few things:

* The purpose of all strategic decisions is achieving your vision and “decisive” or critical-to-purpose objectives.

* Strategy is about selecting specific resources and tactics to get the desired result.

* Strategy is not static; it is decisions in a series, and evolves continuously over time.

* Strategy is broad and all-encompassing. With that in mind, here are the 8 steps in formulating strategy:

1. Set your vision

2. Gather environmental and competitive intelligence

3. Take stock of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses

4. Select your “grand strategy”

5. Establish decisive objectives

6. Rate and rank your “SWOTs”

7. Match your internal and external factors to identify strategic alternatives

8. Select specific strategies for implementation

Of course, there is one last step: turning your strategy into tactics and game plans, and execute. We won’t get into that in this article.

Step 1. Establish your vision.

People complicate the idea of vision. A vision is simply a story describing how you want things to be in the future. Some people can tell these stories easily — they know exactly where they want to be and what it will “look” like. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

Others need help. The best approach is to answer a series of questions regarding what your organization does, who are it’s clients or beneficiaries, what its impact is, how big it is, where it is, how it operates, when all these things will occur, and so on. As a result of answering these questions, your vision will emerge.

Of course, you may already have a vision. If so, now is the time to insure that it is relevant and powerful.

The test of a good vision is if it inspires; not only you and your management team, but all of your stakeholders: your partners, employees, clients, investors, vendors, lenders, your community, your government-and perhaps the public at large. A great vision inspires, and it also provides direction. Every action you take should further your vision. If it doesn’t, don’t do it. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

Step 2. Gather environmental and competitive intelligence.

To develop the best strategies you must understand the world outside your organization. Quantify and qualify, not just absolutes, but trends. And importantly-identify changes in the status quo. Key areas for focus include competitors, technology, market size and trends, your clients’ industry health, macroeconomic trends, availability of key resources (people and materials) government regulations and other political considerations, and changes in demographics and psychographics — like customer taste.

Devise relevant measures for each of these key external areas. For instance, examine your competitors for revenue, profit and market share growth (or decline), product and service changes, shifts in marketing and sales strategy, changes in geographic distribution, strategic alliances, and major customer announcements. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

Macroeconomic factors include the obvious such as interest and employment rates and trends, production and consumption statistics, along with finer grained-industry issues such as new home buying-which impacts a wide variety of businesses, or defense spending-which impacts a completely different set of sectors.

Step 3. Take stock of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

Now it is time to shine the light on your organization. Examine each functional area looking for strengths and weaknesses. Identify strengths that will help the company realize its vision, and weaknesses that will impede its goals. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

The following is a starter list of focus areas:

* Ability to get new prospects (Marketing)

* Ability to get new clients (Sales)

* Products and services, both existing and those in R&D

* Finance or Money, including cash flow, access to capital, revenues, profits, ROI

* Leadership, including values and vision alignment, decisive objectives

* People, including skills inventory, staffing levels, employee loyalty, compensation

Other areas to examine include:

* Client satisfaction

* Client services

* Logistics

* Competitive positioning

* Unique Client Proposition

* Management team

* Administration

Step 4. Select your Grand Strategies.

This “grand strategy” approach is based upon industry/product revenue growth rates. It is specific to a business unit with one major industry and/or product focus. If your business is more complex, you may repeat the process for each focus sector. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

First, consider your industry and product sector growth rate. Is it growing or declining?

Second, consider your competitive strength within that sector. For this analysis Competitive Strength has two components, the size and trend of your market share, and your organization’s financial strength; specifically either cash flow from operations, or access to capital.

To simplify: strong market share + strong finances = strong competitive position. Either strong market share or strong finances = average competitive position. Neither strong market share nor strong finances = weak competitive position.

This defines a two-by-three matrix of strategic choices from which to select your grand strategy.

The exact choice you make will be dictated by the specifics of your situation: sector strength and competitive strength, along with your stated vision and purpose. Choose from the list which best describes your business:
Strong sector, strong competitive position

This means that you are in a growing market, hold a commanding market position, and have cash with which to maneuver. Your strategic choices include:

* Market strategy to increase demand and sales for existing products and services, in existing and new markets

* Marketing strategy to increase market penetration for existing products and services and capture greater share

* Enhance or extend existing products and services; add-ons, backends, strategic joint ventures

* Gain control over distribution – bring external sales inside. Take sales from distributors

* Gain control over suppliers Acquisition, merger, or joint-ventures with competitors

* Develop strategic partnerships to increase distribution, or gain new products

* Develop related products and services for existing customer base – backend strategies

Strong sector, average competitive position

Here you are in a growing market, but have either a commanding position, but limited cash-or vice versa. The exact choice available to you depends on your situation. You can:

* Seek underserved niches: move into small, defined and profitable markets

* Marketing strategy to increase market penetration for existing products and services and capture greater share

* Enhance or extend existing products and services; add-ons, backends, strategic joint ventures

* Strategic partnerships – seek products/services for existing customers

* Exploit assets via joint ventures and host-beneficiary relationships

* Develop related products and services for existing customer base – backend strategies

* Increased marketing penetration via distributors and 3rd parties

* Get more money: raise capital via debt or equity

Strong sector, weak competitive position

You are in a strong sector, but have relatively small market share, and limited or no cash. Your choices include:

* Seek underserved niches: move into small, defined and profitable markets

* Marketing strategy to increase market penetration for existing products and services and capture greater share

* Strategic partnerships – seek products/services for existing customers

* Develop products and services for existing customer base – backend strategies

* Sell your client base to a competitor or cooperator; or reposition your existing products to appeal to new customer types

* Sell the product line and use cash to reposition remaining assets

* Sell the company

Weak sector, strong competitive position

In this case, you dominate a weak market and have cash to exploit your position. You should:

* Add related products and services for existing customer base – backend strategies

* Add un-related products and services for existing customer base – backend strategies

* Add new products and services for new customer base

* Create joint ventures in unrelated markets

Weak sector, average competitive position

You are in a mediocre position in a weak market. Depending on your exact circumstances, you can retreat, use what’s left of your cash to buy your way out with new products, or try to enroll a strong partner. Choices include:

1. Reduce costs however you can

2. Add related products and services for existing customer base – backend strategies

3. Add new products and services for new customer base

4. Seek to dominate the smallest definition of your market using low-cost / no-cost strategies

5. Create strategic partnerships and joint ventures

Weak sector, weak competitive position

Sorry to say, you are in a bad place. In a word — retreat! You can do this by:

1. Reduce costs however you can

2. Sell product line

3. Sell company

If you don’t want to liquidate, seek to expand your marketing using low-cost / no-cost marketing strategies – but this may be a losing proposition

Also, as above, attempt to create strategic partnerships and joint ventures, but it may be difficult to attract partners to a market with poor fundamentals. At this point you might say, “…sell the customers? Sell the company? No way. I’m holding on.” That just isn’t a strategic point of view. The Secrets Of Strategy – Part 1 Of 2

Strategy says you can make more money doing something else — so you best start thinking about it.

In general, these choices are listed from most attractive to least. Your organization’s best choices will be based on your particular circumstances.

By now you have formulated a vision, gathered analyzed your external environment and organization, identified relevant strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and begun to zero in on a grand strategy. That should keep you busy for a while.

In The Secrets of Strategy, Part II, we’ll complete the process.

Remember-you don’t need a strategy. But having one increases your chances of generating the greatest profits from your resources. After all, that is the whole point of strategy.

(c) Copyright Paul Lemberg. All rights reserved

Short-Term Goals for Long-Term Success

Short-Term Goals for Long-Term Success

Setting goals is the key to success in any endeavor, no less so in business and revenue driving activities.  While the size of the business may dictate the goal setting process, small and medium business owners are probably involved in setting more goals for more areas of the business than their counterparts in bigger companies, mostly because they wear more hats and are more directly engaged in more goal driven functions.

Many are very good at setting large and long term goals, documenting the goals and the actions that need to be taken to achieve them.   But when it comes to sales they often ease up, when in fact they should be setting more short term goals.

This unfolds in two ways based on the nature of the business.  If it is a business that has dedicated sales people, and the owner is in the role of sales manager (one of their many roles), they tend not to get involved in the day to day management of the sales people.  They make the assumption that they hired sales professionals and believe that they need not set short term goals, especially activity based goals.  They work with their reps to set annual targets, big picture stuff, and assume that the reps will manage things from there.  This is where their lack of sale management lets them down.  They should also be setting short term weekly goals, focusing on activities that drive interaction with buyers, drive proposals, and ultimately sales.

Being more entrepreneurial than their corporate counterparts, they don’t want to “micro manage” the sales reps and give them the degree of latitude they would expect.  Except they are not the sales people, and they should be setting near term goals, goals for every stage of the sales.  This creates focus without “micro management,” allowing the owner and rep to fine tune their sales while they are unfolding and change the outcome for the better.  It also creates the need to have a regular review, allowing both the rep to respond by focusing on goals and the owner/manager to lead based on the requirements of the business, which is what should be driving the goals to begin with.

For business owners who do not have sales people and are wearing the sales hat in addition to all the other hats, setting short term goals is even more imperative.  Similar to other business owners, their strength and passion is in the product or service they have built, it is not in sales.  This is not to say that they have not had success selling their offering, but the success usually comes from their passion as opposed to classic sales skills.

Their challenge comes when the business grows, clients need to be serviced, there are more “things” to deal with on a daily basis, it becomes easier and easier to get distracted from selling, especially if “servicing the client” is more engaging and plays to their passion around the product.  This scenario requires that much more planning of activities, down to daily tasks and specific daily activities that ensure a steady growth in prospects, closed clients and resulting revenues.

Looking at things through the sales filter, at the very least there should be goals for the number of prospects you need to have at each stage of the sale, number of proposals you want out on a weekly basis and number of closed deals.  Under all this, the one area that drives the whole thing is setting goals for the number of initial meetings you need to generate the required number of prospects.  This requires goals for weekly, even daily, new prospecting activity and follow through activities that is prospects you have engaged with but did not close last time.  Setting up a simple “bring forth” system using either Outlook, or even index cards, will allow you to know who needs to be followed up and when.

There are other goals you can set, but if you start with the ones above, and maintain the discipline, you’ll find a steady flow of new opportunities and customers.

What’s in Your Pipeline?