Small business shouldn’t follow a google template. Nor should owners endlessly research alternatives or try executing multiple efforts. Instead, business owners should identify priorities and focus. From there, test and adopt or change as opportunities present themselves. Learning to focus is an imperative skill for any small business person.
Most plans have wrong assumptions, are poorly executed, struggle to adapt to change and ultimately fail. For example, I was working with Meg, a client who was trying to execute over fifteen different educational programs and was stressed out over budget and not managing effectively. Meg and I reviewed her processes and business plan, and simply cut out the least effective programs. In doing this, she saved money and increased attention and resources, which she devoted to the most effective processes. Focusing may be just as effective for you and can be accomplished with a few simple efforts.
- Measure, Estimate, Prioritize and Adapt. Analysis of alternatives can yield some simple priorities. Even simple analysis can be useful to avoid missing your target population and price points. Research using Google Analytics and Amazon to discover easy competitive information. Last week we helped a client focus on key items and eliminate unproductive ones by simply analyzing clicks and real time google analytics.
- Follow the 80/20 AND 90/30 rule. 80% of sales and customers will come from 20% of your offerings. Networking and referrals from current customers are your best source of new business. Remember 90% of perceptions are developed in 30 seconds so prior approval can be critical and long arguments can be fatal.
- Make mistakes and learn to adapt. Mistakes mean you and your business are growing. Consistently exploring alternatives and evaluating your decisions and processes will help you figure out what’s best for you.
- Be open to measurement and feedback. Observing, understanding and sharing financials, operations reports, and sales reports are the first step. Don’t waste time on minor expenses. In meetings, rely on your team to provide specific feedback on how to improve.
The table below provides an analytic matrix of your company’s products or services and your competition. Filling out a competitive comparison such as this forces you to evaluate 1) what is important, 2) how you rate, 3) who are your competitors and 4) how you compare with them in the eyes, minds, hearts and pocketbooks of customers.
See: http://startupconnection.net/business-templates/competitive-analysis-template/ for the complete template and other simple guides
In short, keep it simple stupid. Operating a successful business doesn’t have to be brain surgery. Instead, create a few simple principles to help you stay on track. If you love what you do, focus on what is working and drop what’s not. You now have the foundation for a simply wonderful business.
Dr. Bert Shlensky, president of www.startupconnection.net, offers experience and skills and a team devoted to developing and executing winning strategies. His books for the business entrepreneur: Marketing Plan for Startups & Small Business and Passion & Reality for Small Business Success, are available at www.startupconnection.net.