Archive for June, 2014

Please help: Your opinion needed about membership in Professional Associations and Chambers of Commerce

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I’m writing an article on the pros and cons of memberships in Professional Associations and Chambers of Commerce.

If you’ve ever been a member of one, would you please take 1 minute to answer these 5 questions:

Thank you!  🙂

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning

Eeek! Shiny Object Syndrome!

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It seems to be a trend that’s growing: small business owners are getting distracted by too many ideas or the latest fad, going off in a million directions and never completing anything. (Employees suffer from this, too!)

This loss of focus is costing people hundreds of hours a year in lost productivity, lost hours, lost dollars.

It even has a name: SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome. It’s not quite ADHD. It’s more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.

We think of a new idea, we hear of a great new gadget or marketing technique, and ZOOM, we’re off! There’s great energy and excitement in starting something new.

Of course what happens is that that everything always gets started, but nothing ever gets finished. In addition, countless hours and dollars are wasted in pursuit of the new, shiny object without having thought through whether this new item, technique, service or product is “right” for your business. Countless people have started blogs and abandoned them within a year (or less!) because they got tired of writing posts — or worse, no one was reading the posts.

It’s Not Just You

Lest you think that it’s only us small business owners who suffer from it, you’ll be happy to know that it’s rampant in many industries.

Software and tech companies are notorious for following every cool new fad that comes along, without thinking strategically about whether it’s a good fit for their business model.

TV creates shows around SOS, then dumps the show after 6 or 8 episodes.

Big business follows every business development fad that comes out in books or from gurus, only to drop it when the next cool fad arrives.

Tips for Choosing a Focus

I know it’s hard not to get excited about every new idea that comes past you. Some of them are very, very cool. But you are running a business and you must stop and ask yourself:

  • Is this right for my business/career?
  • Do my customers want this, and are they willing to pay for it?
  • Do I have the time, resources, energy, and money to put into this to make it successful?
  • Do I have too many open projects sitting on my desk that need to be finished before I begin something new?
  • Do I have the ability to finish this new project, and implement it, and maintain it?
  • What has to drop off my radar in order for me to start something new?

There’s nothing wrong with loving innovation and reinvention. Just make sure you don’t lose focus on what’s most important for you, your business and your customers.

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Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Rethinking Your Business
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What Should Be In Your Annual Business Plan

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NOW is the time to work on your annual business plan, whether it’s January 1 or mid-June. You see, business changes rapidly, and what you decided six months ago might not be accurate anymore. Perhaps you’ve got a new product to launch, or a new competitor has arrived to shake up the field.

Many people quake in fear at the idea of writing a business plan. They imagine in their mind a 100-page document full of charts and financial figures. Ugh!

While it’s possible to create a business plan of that magnitude when trying to get capital for your business, a typical business plan for self-employed people should be less than 10 pages.

The purpose of a business plan, for a self-employed person who is financing his own business, is to have a central repository for all strategic thinking about the business for the coming year or two. Whether you’re a start-up or you’ve been in business for a while, writing a business plan will help you solidify your thoughts, goals, and strategies.

Here’s what should be included:

  1. Your business idea in three sentences.
  2. Your target audience.
  3. The challenges that your target audience faces.
  4. The benefits of using your products and services to meet those challenges.
  5. Your company brand and image.
  6. Your projected revenue and expenses for a year.
  7. If you project more expenses than revenue for the year, a statement about where the money will come from to pay for those expenses.
  8. A list of your major competitors, and how you are a different (and better!) choice for your customers.
  9. At least six marketing techniques you’re planning to use over the coming year, when you plan to implement them, and what results you expect from them.
  10. The preparation work you need to do in order to launch your marketing techniques and keep them up-to-date.
  11. Any major new products or services you’re launching in the next 12 months, and how these will help your business.
  12. A list of people who you will need to hire to implement your business plan or marketing plan (unless you have the business skills and time to do all the work yourself).

Review your business plan and update it annually. I recommend reviewing the marketing section of your business plan quarterly, so that you can gauge the success of your marketing campaigns.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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