Posts Tagged ‘business planning’

There are two very different reasons why effective long-range planning is critical for getting top dollar when you sell your company.  First, top-notch planning helps you to manage your company better and involve your employees at a higher and more productive level.  Second, and much less obvious, success in this area is very impressive to prospective buyers.  Why?

Because successful long-range planning (defined as developing a plan, implementing it and achieving most or all of the long-range goals) is indicative of solid and sophisticated management – a highly valuable strategic asset for most acquiring companies.  Here are 10 elements to developing a long-range plan that increases the likelihood of success manifolds:

  1. Involve your key people.  For one thing, they will have ideas that are worth considering.  Beyond that, it is axiomatic that the best way to overcome resistance to change is to ensure that those who will be implementing the changes help to determine what those changes will be.  An effective planning group can comprise as few as three people, or as many as 15.  The important thing is that no one who can have a major impact on how the plan is implemented is left out.
  2. Make sure that there is a solid consensus around the vision for the company; i.e. what will be the company’s identity in years to come.
  3. Develop a clear and easily communicated mission statement that expresses what the company does and for whom.
  4. Conduct a SWOT analysis; i.e. identify the company’s principal Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
  5. Develop long-range goals that are challenging, achievable and in line with the company’s vision, mission and values.  These goals should be specifically designed to take advantage of strengths and opportunities, while addressing (or, at least, minimizing the negative effect of weaknesses and threats.  In addition, ensure that each member of the planning group (and the rest of the staff, as well) can relate the achievement of the company’s vision and mission to a high level of performance in their specific area(s) of responsibility.
  6. Identify outside factors over which you have no control and little, if any, influence.
  7. Short term objectives. Determine what you need to achieve within one year in order to give yourself a leg up in achieving your long-range goals.  But, be cautious with your scheduling.  The biggest mistake most owner-managers make is front loading implementation far too much.  If you are going to make a mistake, especially if this your first planning experience, make it on the low side of delivery.  You can always add short-term objectives later, but if you fail to achieve your objectives, it can severely damage morale.
  8. Attach task assignments, with individual responsibilities and deadlines, to each short-term objective.
  9. Attach action items to each task assignment.
  10. Organize follow-up sessions no more often than monthly and no less often than quarterly.  This step is, in reality, as important as all the rest, because it is all that stands between you and a dusty planning document that fails to impact the future of your company.  Make sure that you are utterly ruthless in comparing actual performance with plan.  There is no reason to be unpleasant.  Most long-range plans fall behind in the early stages, usually because of excessive front loading.  The critical element is that everyone agrees on the relationship between plan and actual performance, and how to get back on track and timeline with any projects that are lagging

Oh, and one final thing… Good luck!

PhotoPopell This article has been contributed by Steven D. Popell. Steve has been a general management consultant since 1970. Steve is a Certified Management Consultant, business valuation expert, and inventor of ExiTrak®– a process designed to assist the privately-held company owner/manager to build an attractive strategic acquisition candidate

Week In Review – May 30 – Jun 5, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on June 6, 2010

Quality #15: 7 tips for acting on customer feedback

by Tanmay Vora, May 31, 2010

Listening to your customers and getting their feedback is important. But if we don’t act upon it, we are wasting not only our time and resources, but also that of the people who took time to provide the feedback. In this post, Tanmay lists some simple tips to integrate customer feedback to deliver meaningful business change. more…

Leadership and Mythology #4: Sociology and Control

by Gary Monti, Jun 1, 2010

Some myths are propagated just so that leaders can exercise control. But there are limits to it. Remember Gary’s last blog? Instead of just beating the drums, what would happen if the leader asked everybody to sacrifice all they had? But if the Chief allows Newtonian mechanics to be embraced and lets loose his power, a new social order arises. Like Obi Wan sees, there are guiding principles that enable the leader to earn the trust and following of others. more…

Mortgage Challenges for the Self Employed

by Guy Ralfe, Jun 2, 2010

Guy recently relocated and started his own business. He is finding it difficult to secure a mortgage for his new home as banks and lenders have a criteria of assessment for the self-employed that he does not yet meet. His advise to those who want to follow in his footsteps – secure the credit before you begin your new operation. more…

Flexible Focus #4: The eight frames of life: Health

by William Reed, Jun 3, 2010

The word Health has a narrow definition in most people’s minds. It usually has the connotation of eating well or exercise or avoiding sickness. But it is much more than that and it impacts not only you, but people you interact with and sometimes those you don’t interact with. Follow the Mandala on Health to get a handle on your health and lifestyle. more…

Author’s Journey #24: Building your expert network and Obtaining pre-publication quotes

by Roger Parker, Jun 4, 2010

It is never too early to begin marketing and promoting your book. One of the best methods is to seek out and build your expert network. Believe it or not, experts are willing to help you – endorsing your book helps reinforce their expert status. Networking brings a whole slew of benefits – so get started today. Read this article to find out how yo can do it. more…

Week In Review – May 9 – May 15, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on May 16, 2010

How to win the Operations vs. Finance battle: Become a trusted advisor

by Matthew Carmen, May 10, 2010

When organizations work in silos and don’t understand how the other group functions, there is bound to be tension. This is typical between operations and finance groups. But once the groups understand what the other group does and begin communicating on a consistent basis, the foundation for trust is built. That provides the platform for the finance person to build a relationship of trust with the operations group. This enables them to deliver the desired results to the company and also make their daily work interesting. more…

Leadership and Mythology #1: Purpose of myth

by Gary Monti, May 11, 2010

You need to have an internal compass. You should also understand the tribes you belong to and your roles in them. Just like that you also need to recognize your mythology. Don’t confuse it with myth. Basically, this is “sense making” at a personal and group level. more…

Triple Constraint Sales

by Guy Ralfe, May 12, 2010

When you change your domain of operation, you see the applicability of the old domain concepts in the new one. In this article Guy shares his experience in applying the project management mantra of triple constraint in his new endeavor. more…

Flexible Focus #1: Inside the Mandala Chart – A zoom lens for your life

by William Reed, May 13, 2010

Would it not be cool to see your life with a zoom lens? What if you could step away from the fray to see the big picture, zero in for analysis or action, without losing track of how everything is connected? William Reed has been living in Japan for the past four decades and is able to expound on how the Mandala Chart can bring clarity to your life. more…

Author’s Journey #21: Make Tip Sheets part of your book marketing plan

by Roger Parker, May 14, 2010

In this week’s installment, Roger explains what, how and why of tip sheets and how to leverage them to build your list and attract new prospects to your marketing funnel. Tip sheets are the simplest and easiest way. Also they are powerful and effective because they don’t have to be elaborate – they are judged by their value and not by the number of words or pages they contain. more…

Week In Review – May 2 – May 8, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on May 9, 2010

Can we avert failures in our life?

by Vijay Peduru, May 3, 2010

This article reminds me of one of my high school teachers. This was his famous refrain: if a rocket destined to the moon is off by a fraction of a degree, it will not reach its destination. You can change your destination only if you change your direction. Nothing happens all of a sudden. There is no overnight success. Take small steps in the right direction every day. more…

Leadership Cancers #8: Anticipation

by Gary Monti, May 4, 2010

Wow, Gary… or should I say “The sage of Active Garage”? Performing action without becoming a servant of the desired consequences has been a subject of discussion for the longest time. This is a very nuanced concept and can be easily misinterpreted out of context. But understanding and putting this single principle to practice can bring you peace of mind and take your performance to new heights you have not experienced before. more…

Are You Preventing Your House Sale?

by Guy Ralfe, May 5, 2010

One of my teachers insists on learning the art of quitting. You got to listen to this Kenny Rogers song on this topic. While quitting is an essential art, it is equally important to not shut the doors of opportunity. When you don’t give into emotions and think strategically, you can leverage every thing that comes across your way for your ultimate benefit. more…

Pillars of Success

by Robert Driscoll, May 6, 2010

Based on movies, TV and what we read in the media, we have a pre conceived notion of what a hugely successful CEO is. You cannot be more wrong. Robert has captured the essence of one CEO’s practices for success in this article. more…

Author’s Journey #20: Choosing the right incentive to build your List

by Roger Parker, May 7, 2010

One of your most important marketing and promoting decisions is choosing the right incentive to offer as a bonus to visitors who sign up for your e-mail newsletter or weekly tips. It’s not enough to offer great information delivered at consistent intervals via e-mail. In this article, Roger has listed a great array of incentives you can provide your readers. more…

Pillars of Success

by Robert Driscoll on May 6, 2010

Recently I was listening to what I thought was going to be just another training class about how to be successful in business. Work hard; think differently; empower your employees. The usual.

The gentleman speaking was the President & CEO of one of the world’s largest wireless companies. At first I figured he was your typical blue blood, Ivy League educated executive who would give us some words of wisdom and then he would be on his way. How wrong I was. This gentleman talked about his life story and the struggles he had to overcome just to simply get an education, let alone build the company he ran today. From his life lessons, he built the foundation of his work ethic that he has kept throughout his personal and professional life.

He stated that you learn to be a leader through your personal and professional experiences as well as your formal (high school, university, graduate school) and informal (training classes, certifications) education. This is your foundation. Continuous learning and the accumulation of knowledge is what helped him build what he calls his pillars of success which looks like this:

Everything starts with an idea, a dream, but don’t just dream, dream big. Believe in yourself and don’t limit yourself to what others say. But dreaming is not enough. You have to have a good strategy on how you want to execute your dream, a winning game plan. Hope is not a good strategy. Don’t just expect things to happen. You need to have a good understanding of how you are not only going to start your new venture, but how you will get your customers, areas to target, etc..

Developing a winning game plan is just the beginning. You have to be willing to take risks. Calculated risks. This is where you need to get out of your normal comfort zone. You need to start thinking and acting differently than others in your market space and creating offers that have marginal value in the marketplace. Don’t just do something simply because it feels like the right thing or even worse, introduce a “new” offer that is just simply another flavor of a similar product or service already in the marketplace. If you do, you will never be noticed. Be different.

As soon as you have a game plan and you start executing on it (and taking risks), you will most likely come across obstacles that you have never come up against before. Don’t avoid them. Tackle and embrace them and learn from them. These experiences will only make you stronger.

Overcoming obstacles, if approached properly and you learn from them, will only create new opportunities for you. Find the value in them and incorporate them in to your offer. This will only increase the marginal value in your offer. As you add more features or functionality in to your offer, go back to the first pillar and start the process all over again. This should be a continuous cycle in your business.

The foundation that holds up these pillars of success is the leader’s principles: teamwork, integrity, credibility, attitude, vision and excellence. These will be discussed in my next post, but I hope this post can help jumpstart your dream to start a new venture where you can build your own pillars of success.

The Model Leader

by Robert Driscoll on April 28, 2010

In its simplest term, a leader is someone who people choose to follow.  They influence others to do things and there is a difference between managing people and leading people.  There are certain characteristics that make someone a model leader, which I will list below, but we don’t need to have all of them.  If you have a good understanding of most of these characteristics, you can become a model leader.

Operate with honesty and integrity.  This is the most important characteristic and the foundation for a model leader.  People who work for you need to trust you and should want to work with you.   Without this foundation, everything else is irrelevant.

Execute efficiently.  You need to know how to formulate a plan and put measures around your plan.  You have to be able to take data and measure your plan and understand why you accomplished it or know what went wrong.

Demonstrate financial savvy.  It is imperative as a business leader to understand profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements.  In business, this is how we keep score.  More importantly, as a model leader, you need to know how to explain these statements to others.  If you don’t understand them, you can’t be effective in business.

Strive to optimize the end-to-end value chain.  A leader needs to develop and nurture not only the people in their organization, but partner organizations who can contribute to your organizations success.  While you need to have a team with your same values, inside and outside of your organization, you need to continually work to make them better.

Develop and nurture the organization.  As one moves up the corporate ladder, this area becomes more important.  It is important to not lose sight of what your front line employees do.  Spend time working directly with your teams and help them grow and prosper.  This in turn will help you grow and prosper.  As a leader, you need to be focused on making sure you have the right people in the right positions while helping them develop the right skill sets to help them prosper and grow.

Think independently and critically. Don’t just be a “yes” person, but don’t  always get in to fights with your colleagues.  Pick your battles and when your views differ, have data to back it up.

Practice situational leadership. Know and understand your dominant leadership style but also pay attention to the situation at hand and be able to effectively articulate what you need.  You might need to be able to act in a manner that is uncomfortable for you but is necessary to get the job done.

Communicate effectively.  Make sure that your message is clear so that it’s not misunderstood.  The last thing you want is to have the task not completely correctly.  Take your time.

Like what you do. If you don’t, then think about where you can be more effective.  Be up to the challenges that you are faced with in your job every day.  Be excited about it.  Negative energy spreads quickly.  Be positive and like what you do, otherwise move on.

The marketplace is always changing which requires you to constantly adapt.  As you work on improving these characteristics, before you know it, you will stop being a manager and will become a model leader.

Week In Review – Apr 18 – Apr 24, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on April 25, 2010

Webinar Strategy and Elephant Chunks

by Wayne Turmel, Apr 19, 2010

Most small companies and startups do not have the time and money to create marketing webinars, customer training and recordings for the website. The task may seem daunting, but not so if you break it up into small bite sized chunks. In this article Wayne provides a concise strategy to attack this problem. more…

In Sharing look for Caring

by Guy Ralfe, Apr 20, 2010

Great article! A must read. In your entrepreneurial endeavor, you will meet a variety of people. Guy has made it really simple to identify them into 4 distinct categories. Partners are those with high level of domain knowledge and have the inclination and capacity to assist you. Seek them. At any cost stay away from onions and decoys. But make sure your assessments of people are correct though. more…

Leadership Cancers #6: Leave your heart at home

by Gary Monti, Apr 21, 2010

Yet another deeply thought provoking article by Gary! Life is challenging and business is even more so. Every day you come across situations that require you to make tough decisions. When at a cross road, reach out to your inner compass. This reminds me of the great speech Al Pacino delivers in the movie Scent of a Woman. more…

Announcing – People discovery engine for Twitter

The Active Garage Team, Apr 22, 2010

This is a great day for us at Active Garage! We are proud to announce the launch of our newest project, 99Tribes – A People discovery engine for Twitter.

What distinguishes 99Tribes from all other people directories on Twitter? 99Tribes helps you find and DISCOVER twitter users who share their interests. Based on the patented Rawsugar technology, you can start discovering people by typing what you are interested in (popular examples being: marketing, sales, blogging etc.)

Don’t wait. Go ahead, check it out, add yourself to 99Tribes and have fun discovering others with like interests!

Author’s Journey #18: Evaluating your current online visibility

by Roger Parker, Apr 23, 2010

After going through the first two steps Planning and Writing, we are now at Step 3, Promoting. The first thing to do in this stage is to evaluate your online platform that determines your online visibility. In this article Roger provides some great tips and techniques to cultivate and enhance your online assets. more…

Week In Review – Apr 11 – Apr 17, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on April 18, 2010

Lifecycle Management: Knowing what your company owns, how it’s being used and where it lives

by Matthew Carmen, Apr 12, 2010

The key to managing a financially sound IT organization is to start with a sound planning and implementation process. You need to know what it is you are managing. They are software licenses, hardware assets, leased equipment and the list goes on and on. Knowing this is the first step to understanding how they are used and the details surrounding the total cost of ownership. more…

Leadership Cancers #5: Simplemindedness

by Gary Monti, Apr 13, 2010

The difference between simple and simplemindedness is a razors edge. When designing a solution for a customer, you need to understand the disciplines, principles and the balance between them that is required to go from customer requirements to functional specifications to design to production. Failing to recognize any one aspect will lead to a simpleminded solution that will introduce unintended complexity. more…

Customer is King

by Guy Ralfe, Apr 14, 2010

As Guy wades deeper into his new domain of business, he is able to understand with great clarity that the first order of business is to take care of customers. This cardinal notion spans across all industries without exception. If you do not take care of your customers, somebody else will and you don’t that to happen. more…

Business Valuation in divorce is different

by Steve Popell, Apr 15, 2010

In a divorce situation, the manager-spouse purchases the community property interest of the non-manager-spouse through the process of community property division. The standard “fair market value” method of evaluation is not valid here. Read this article to understand the fundamentals of this evaluation method. more…

Author’s Journey #17: Finishing your book on time and avoiding writer’s block

by Roger Parker, Apr 16, 2010

Finishing a book on time and avoiding writer’s block is a challenge to many authors. Better planning will help you finish your book on time. Start by creating a content plan and commit to a daily progress. more…

Week In Review – Apr 4 – Apr 10, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on April 11, 2010

Social media distress – 3 ways to destress

by Deepika Bajaj, Apr 5, 2010

Technology has made it possible to be connected at all times and it’s getting easier everyday. Falling into this trap can cause stress. Deepika suggests some ways to help you overcome the social media stress. more…

Leadership Cancers #4: Adrenaline and testosterone

by Gary Monti, Apr 6, 2010

If you don’t plan, you have to react. In some environments, reaction is the modus operandi and it becomes the culture. Ability to react quickly is a virtue, but if that is the way of life, it causes serious problems. The solution is to plan. If you plan properly, your project will have greater flexibility at a lower cost. Of course there will be detractors and their common refrain is it is a luxury to be able to plan. They are wrong. more…

Support for Success

by Guy Ralfe, Apr 7, 2010

With a family to support, leaving a secure job in corporate America to pursue the dream of entrepreneurship in the worst economic conditions in recent memory takes guts. Guy has done it! He says he could not have done it without the help of others – Business Partners, Industry Knowledge Partners and of course support from family and friends. Moral of the story is don’t try to be the lone ranger. Getting all the support you need is crucial for your success. more…

Don’t hold back. Do ask.

by Himanshu Jhamb, Apr 8, 2010

When people get what they want, it is not magic or miracle. They ask. Unless you let your intent be known, you will not get what ever it is you are looking for. From the outside, it may look like some people are lucky. Not true. Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. more…

Author’s Journey #16: Attracting the right literary agent

by Roger Parker, Apr 9, 2010

One of the most important steps in your journey to a published book is to attract the attention of the right literary agent. The old “shotgun approach” which is very inefficient and will not get the desired results. Branding is the new way that will make the agents seek you. Read this article to find out examples of the “new way”. more…

Support for Success

by Guy Ralfe on April 7, 2010

Now that I have officially started my journey as a business owner and entrepreneur, but still in the honey moon phase I can share some stark realities about starting a new venture.

Most importantly it takes guts and lots of support. At the age of 38 with a wife and two young children to support, I am leaving a secure and stable employment to relocate half way across America, to the mid-west, to start a new company in one of the worst economic environments the world has known. Making this decision consumed a lot of thinking time and with this uncertain background, produced by the media, conventional thinking does not leave you in a sane place.

I have been looking for this opportunity to begin a new business for over 6 years now, I still do not have enough guts of my own to start this – and this is why I say you need lots of support. To give you an indication of the support I am using to get this off the ground:

Business Partner –
I have a business partner that already has a very successful business in the same vertical that can provide operational expertise and contacts within the industry to minimize the lead generation and prospecting phase of starting out.
The partner approach allows for the lowering and distribution of start-up overheads, much like  an Incubation start-up.
Laws, expectations, codes of conduct, processes that can take so much time to learn and often expensive when starting out, can be circumvented.

Financial – contrary to what you may think about business, it does not all center around the business plan, it centers around the execution. You can make all the sales in the world but if you cannot cash-flow the operation then you can never think about being profitable.

Most companies will need capital to start. I have  acquired a reasonable amount of assets, which are valuable to me but they are not all seen equally valuable to my financiers. Start to think about what instruments you can use for financing before you want to begin your business.

What type of assets do you hold? –  as that affects the ratio by which banks will offer/secure lines of credit.
What is your credit score? – what can you do to minimize the impact on your credit score leading up to opening your business.

What do you need to execute your operations – transport, utilities, insurance, offices, systems, subscriptions? They all send bills regularly and all expect payment regularly.

Industry Knowledge Partners – if you are like me and are wanting to start in a field in which you are not an expert, you will need knowledge experts that can guide you through the rapids in your journey. Look to building relationships with people such as:



Lawyers/ Regulatory Bodies


Customers (though customers do prefer to deal with experts so use this avenue selectively)

Personal Support – we all have our moments when we think we are the Lone Ranger and we can do it all on our own. As I have written about before, consider the impact one decision may have on other aspects of your life.

One such aspect is your family and close friends. This opportunity wasn’t an option until it became an opportunity for my family too – and I thank them for their support.

So yes it has still taken all the guts I have to make this exciting start, my sanity could be questionable and it sure was not due to conventional thinking that I was able to choose this – it is only possible to rationalize and make this choice because of the support and help that is in place.