Strategic Planning is Effective When…..

Strategic Planning

When you hear the phrase “strategic planning”, does your mind light up or does it give you a headache? There is clearly a right and a wrong way to initiate and carry out the process.

In my conversation with John Handelsman, CEO of Present Values, I realized that my previous employers approached this all wrong.

See if you agree with John on what components of leadership, teamwork, data and process are necessary to make the strategic planning exercise pay off.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM JOHN HANDELSMAN, CEO OF PRESENT VALUES:

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BUSINESS PLAN AND STRATEGIC PLAN?  (1:46 in)

In John’s words – Strategy is all about choices and planning is all about execution. A strategic plan is typically much longer term. A business plan is much more operational in nature.

Insight – Think of the business plan as how are you going to execute to achieve your high level strategic goals.

HOW SHOULD A COMPANY DEVELOP A STRATEGIC PLAN? (3:05 in)

In John’s words – It’s very important that the leader believes in the process. There needs to be data. The leader must learn to delegate responsibility. The responsibility and ownership of each part of it is shared.

Insight – Consider conducting a strategic planning “SWOT” analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Data is needed from an analysis of the company internally and the competitive environment externally.

CAN YOU CLEAR UP ANY CONFUSION BETWEEN STRATEGIES AND TACTICS? (5:45 in)

In John’s words – Strategies are high level choices relative to direction for growth and management of risk. Underneath are initiatives, projects or programs that support strategies. Tactics are activities (of initiatives) that support strategies.     

Insight – Strategies are directives intended to achieve your objectives and material goals.

HOW MANY STRATEGIES SHOULD A COMPANY HAVE? (7:24 in)

In John’s words – The number depends upon what’s going on in your business and what is your team capable of executing well.

Insight – Keep the list to a minimum but don’t miss any opportunities. Data is critical.

WHAT CAUSES A STRATEGIC PLAN TO FAIL? (8:26 in)

In John’s words – One of the things most companies miss is, they don’t put in place a performance management tool.

Insight – To achieve your strategic goals, it’s necessary to keep a scorecard of the progress or lack of that is being made on a regular basis.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOUR STRATEGIES BE REVIEWED? (14:11 in)

In John’s words – The strategies should always be reviewed. However, the strategies should not always be changed or shouldn’t quit.

Insight – Giving up on a strategy too early is often caused by failing to discover and make an adjustment. Patience is required.

 

Straight Talk About Social Media ROI

Social Media ROIAre you using social media for marketing your business? If so what are you trying to accomplish? Maybe you want to make people more aware of your brand, generate leads or make sales. What do you expect your social media ROI to be? A disconnect between effort and expectations is not unusual.

In this show we’ll explore how to succeed in using social media. Carol Fowler, CEO of TheSocReports, gives us some straight talk about opportunities and commitments to meet social media ROI targets.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM CAROL FOWLER OF THE SOC REPORTS

IS IT A MISGUIDED NOTION THAT BUSINESSES NEED TO BE EVERYWHERE IN SOCIAL MEDIA?  (3:22 in)

In Carol’s words – It is. That’s one thing that causes businesses hesitation to get involved in social media. It’s better to identify one platform, maybe two, to reach that reach your target audience.

Insight – Research where your prospects and customers hang out. Chances are you won’t be able to ignore Facebook since nearly 80% of social media users are active there.

SHOULD A BUSINESS HAVE TO PAY (ADVERTISE) TO PUT THEMSELVES IN FRONT OF THEIR PROSPECTS? (5:02 in)

In Carol’s words – You probably will have to pay, but the good news is you can reach a lot of people fairly inexpensively. Facebook has an amazing ability to put a bullseye on your ideal customer. For 10 to 15 dollars a day you can reach thousands of people who are right in your sweet spot.

Insight – Advertising won’t be effective without good content underpinned by a sound strategy.

WHAT ARE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF SOCIAL POSTS THAT ARE SHARED? (7:05 in)

In Carol’s words – Probably the most important thing you can do when creating your social media is include visuals. A post with a photo, gif, or graphic is 75% more likely to be shared with someone else.   

Insight – Be interesting to be followed. Share things beyond the walls of your business. You can build your reach organically by using the various forms of tagging to alert content contributors and followers to your posts.

DO BUSINESSES EXPECT MORE OF A RETURN ON INVESTMENT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA THAN THEY SHOULD? (10:04 in)

In Carol’s words – A lot of companies struggle with the ROI. In too many cases people complain about the ROI, but they haven’t set goals to begin with. If do don’t have consistency or a dedicated person working on it, you probably aren’t going to get results that knock your socks off.   

Insight – Make a concerted effort to measure results in order to see whether your social media ROI goals are being achieved. Use scheduling tools to manage your time and address the publishing demands of the social media platforms you’ve chosen to use.

ARE THERE RISKS TO US AS PEOPLE WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA PROVIDERS INTEND TO MAKE THEIR SERVICES MORE ADDICTIVE? (17:15 in)

In Carol’s words – I worry about people who spend so much time on Facebook. There are people out there spending hours every day on Facebook. That’s crazy. I encourage my clients to take vacations from social media. There are aspects of it that are unhealthy. But by the same token, it’s really connected the whole world in a way it wasn’t connected before.

Insight – By taking breaks and not spending endless hours on social media, you’ll make the most of it and get other rewarding things out of life.

How Does a Pro Buy a Business?

Buy a BusinessHave you dreamed about buying a company or perhaps you’re thinking about making an acquisition to strengthen your existing business? Mackenzie and Company, a corporate strategy and finance consulting firm, believes that to buy a business you should be able to execute one or more of five strategies.

Find out what they are and what a seasoned pro does to buy a business on this episode of What Works for Biz.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM CHIP NIELSEN, PRESIDENT/CEO OF DOSCHER’S CANDIES?

WHAT ARE SOME PRINCIPLES THAT GUIDE Y0U IN LOOKING AT A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY?  (2:01 in)

In Chip’s words –  A strategic reason and an opportunistic opportunity. Increase your size or volume, geographic expansion, lessen competition, acquire key new people. It might be fun, interesting or challenging.

Tip – Consider whether your staff is ready to take on more responsibilities or new challenges.

WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH DO YOU DO TO EVALUATE PROSPECTS?  (4:02 in)

In Chip’s words – Once I’ve picked an industry or business, the research in my case goes to friends, relatives, acquaintances, who might I know and who might connect me to someone in that industry. Read trade journals in that field. Get the word out I’m looking.

Tip – The type of research you do depends a lot on what you’re looking to buy, what your capabilities are, where’s your passion, and how large or small in scope the company footprint is.

IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A THOROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF THE BUSINESS YOU’RE LOOKING TO ACQUIRE?  (8:10 in)

In Chip’s words –  You’re naturally going to succeed at it faster. Those in an acquisition mode should play to your strengths. Look at the things they are passionate about. Overlay businesses they might be interested in, involved in and be able to learn fairly rapidly.

Tip – Pursuing businesses that don’t complement your skill set and background is too big a risk.

HOW IMPORTANT IS PAST PERFORMANCE VERSUS FUTURE PROPECTS OF A BUSINESS?  (11:44 in)

In Chip’s words –  (Past) It’s the best predictor of the future.

Tip – Judging the future is very important if you are already in the business and the acquisition is an add on or you’re looking to close down the business and just buy a customer list.

HOW DO YOU LOOK AT YOUR ROLE IN THAT ACQUISITION?  (14:21 in)

In Chip’s words –  You should be doing it with the purpose of building the business. I’m definitely more of the builder than the operator.

Tip – Develop a clear strategy that can be communicated effectively to those you’re relying on to execute it.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO DOSCHER’S CANDIES?  (15:20 in)

In Chip’s words –  I grew up in a family business environment. We worked that list of contacts in town. There happened to be a couple of small business brokers. It was a family business sold to Greg Clark. In meeting him we fell in love with this quaint candy business.

Tip – Consider giving a previous owner equity in the new business if the person is going to stay on and help you run the business.

SHOULD A BUSINESS BUYER HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY IN MIND WHEN PURCHASING?  (19:49 in)

In Chip’s words –  In my estimation it’s going to be a lot more situational.

Tip – If you buy a business that you’re just getting started in, formulating an exit strategy upfront is likely not as important as it is to the business owner that seeks to turn it over in three years.