Business GrowthSuccess sometimes hinges on elegant simplicity.  Many times, when companies expand as a result of rapid, unplanned growth rather than a carefully orchestrated plan, complex inefficient operations result.  Organizations find themselves with staff, resource, and equipment redundancies, lack of formal systems, duplicated efforts, and no clear line of sight to the strategy driving the business.

There are three key processes in operating a small business—management, strategy and operations—all of which are tightly integrated.  The management process provides a framework for hiring, training, and managing people to produce results.  The strategic process defines your short-term, as well as, your long-term goals---where you want to take your business (earnings, sales, and revenues) and how you will get there.  The operational process provides the roadmap, tools, and resources for getting there.

Effective business processes depend on standardization--- setting standards of how things should be done and formalizing processes for getting things done to meet those standards.  With basic systems in place, jobs, tasks, and decisions are easily performed rather than becoming confusing challenges.

One of the most common causes of business failure is the lack of standardized systems.  Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants management generates chaos and inconsistency.  However, if you create basic systems and processes for performing day-to-day tasks that can be easily replicated, then you are well on your way to building a business that produces consistent results.

One of the greatest entrepreneurial success stories is that of McDonald’s, a complex, well-run business system that is operated by ordinary employees who serve over 45 million people every day.  Its founder, Ray Kroc, didn’t invent the McDonald's concept, but he did revolutionize the food service industry through automation, attention to detail, exceptional efficiency, and the highest standards of safety and cleanliness.

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isolationYour role as entrepreneur can be a lonely one.  Although you may be surrounded by a good staff, it would not be uncommon for you, at times, to experience a feeling "isolation."  It's normal during these periods of isolation to wish that you had an individual with whom you could brainstorm new ideas and/or strategies.

Too often, you, as the budding business owner, may be reluctant to share problems with your employees because you do not want to cause them undue concern or worry.  Or, since you yourself, perhaps, are not necessarily confident in your own solution to a particular problem, you may have a tendency, therefore, not to communicate with your employees openly about the problem.  It is also easy to become entrenched in a situation where you may not “see the forest for the trees,” thus making it difficult to think of solutions or innovative ideas.

There are many business challenges you, the entrepreneurial business owner, can handle on your own.  However, with the daily distractions of owning and managing your business, putting out fires, and dealing with the crises, many times the challenges seem overwhelming.

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brainstormingAs a business owner, one of your responsibilities is stimulating creative thinking among your staff to ensure the continued development of fresh perspectives and strategies for achieving short-and long-term goals.  People are your organization’s most important resource.  But like any resource, it is only useful if you can tap into it and put it to good use.  How much effort do you really put into encouraging your people to come up with ideas and to follow them through to a successful implementation? 

You need to make the best use of your people and harness their natural creativity and genius.  Your people need to focus the power of their brain and apply the knowledge, expertise, and experience they have to address the challenges the face.  . 

Unfortunately, this situation just doesn’t happen as often as we would like.  It may seem contradictory but, people need a structure or process to follow in order to help them be more creative as well as productive.  Such an approach is brainstorming.

Brainstorming sessions are a proven group approach to generate ideas relating to a specific subject matter by allowing the participants to voice their ideas, no matter how strange, weird, far-fetched, or impossible they may seem.  This process generates a large number of ideas in a short period of time and allows you to whittle down the ideas that warrant further analysis and possibly implementation.

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Often businesses spend as much time and effort gathering new customers as they do on anything else.  New customer acquisition is one of the most costly functions of doing business.  Therefore, it’s critical that you don’t lose existing customers that you have spent so much time, money, and energy to acquire.  And, since it costs much less to keep existing customers instead of constantly trying to replace your existing customers with new customers; it just makes good business sense to do what it takes to keep your existing customer coming back.

Regular communication with your existing customers lets them know how much you value them and the business that they do with your company.  The best way to demonstrate to your existing customers just how much you really care about them is by offering them a steady stream of valuable information.  Information in the form of tips on how to utilize your products and services more effectively, event announcements, information on upcoming new products and expanded services, and special discounts on your regular products.  Or, you can just reach out to them, and simply say thank you to them for their valuable business.

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Wow… before you start shooting arrows at me, let me explain.  I mean no disrespect, entrepreneurs, are some of the most hard-working and honest individuals you will ever meet.  In fact, I'm a life-long, entrepreneur myself.  But, if we, entrepreneurs are truly honest with ourselves; we must admit that we are a bit two-faced at times!

Give me a moment to explain:

The red-faced entrepreneur is best characterized by the phrase, fire away… fire away… fire away. 

When we are sporting our red-faces; we don't think, we don't plan, we just react.  We're very quick to pull our decision-making trigger!  This is our emotional face.

Whereas, the blue-faced entrepreneur is characterized by the phrase, ready…aim… fire.  

When we, entrepreneurs, show this side of our faces; we are prepared.  We are determined!  We analyze the situation; we plan our course of action; and we have a laser focus on our targeted objective(s)…  This is our confident face… our face of success!

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