Back to Business This Fall

Strategy Plan One

September 8, 2012

back to businessFall Business Period

A week has passed in September… families, communities and the education system are all adjusting to the “back to school” phase of the year.  For many students, young and old, back to school represents a period of renewal, of fresh starts, starting up again.

However, this positive energy can be easily transferred over to the business sector, for existing and budding entrepreneurs.

New entrepreneurs can take advantage of the fresh start approach, planning their initial strategies for the Fall, Winter and 2013 periods.  Some fiscal year periods start in the Fall for good reasons related or integrated into the government fiscal years, or corporate fiscal years.   Existing businesses should refresh their business plans to reflect any market or industry changes that have occurred on local, global and international scales.  Building on successes and results from the previous business cycles, businesses should tweak business and marketing plans accordingly.

Establishing Goals this Fall

Get serious about business and personal development this Fall.  Always as a first step, establish some aggressive, achievable goals and objectives.  Without goals and objectives you won’t be able to set some strategic directions for yourself and your business.  Ensure your goals are achievable, measurable, and that you apply flexibility to adapt and revise goals and strategies.

Business Ideas and Hints for the Fall

Here are some helpful hints and ideas to think about some positive steps to take in business and personal development this fall:

  • Planning – Always a great idea as part of your core activities to review, tweak your business and marketing plans
  • Scan your business environment and competitors - develop some products or services that will be a bit different or new to your market
  • Capacity and Skill development – naturally many classes are offered in the Fall schedule; good time to brush up on business skills
  • Product and Service Offerings – review your results to date and revise if necessary heading into the Fall, Winter and 2013 periods
  • Refresh, redesign – Whether you have a store front or website, take a look at your layout and seek feedback from customers for better designs and layout
  • Communications and Outreach – develop new communications to your customers; utilize social media for extended outreach and measure your effectiveness on social media
  • Generate Fall Buzz, Interest – generate new and continued interest in your company, your products and services; offer Fall free or trial offers

Check out these Fall Business Strategies:

More reading on business topics:

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Employee Recognition – Key to Improving Performance and Morale

Strategy Plan One

August 14, 2012

Employee Recognition and Feedback

Gathering feedback from staff and customers is essential to moving forward with your continuous improvement processes.  It is always best to seek internal and external objective input into your business operations.  However, in certain business environments, management and employees may not necessarily be connected, leading to a lack of feedback and recognition.

Here, in this infographic from Rypple, statistics and impacts of management-employee communications highlight:

  • 65% feel they don’t receive enough feedback in the workplace 
  • 34% of managers want to engage staff and provide more feedback
  • The larger the company and the higher the status of the executive, the feedback gap widens
  •  Veteran managers want to provide more input to staff

Key messages on feedback and recognition:

  • Feedback and recognition improves morale, less costly mechanisms to achieve performance improvements
  • Employees are more engaged in operations, the business and objectives when recognized by management for their efforts

employee recognition and feedback

Source: Rypple

It is clear that there is a correlation between constructive management feedback and employee job satisfaction, performance and morale.  It’s in your best interest to ensure you implement strong feedback mechanisms and employee-management performance appraisals to help build capacities in your organization.

More on Management, Employees, and HR:

More business blogs of interest:

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Social Media – Getting Organized With a Task List

Strategy Plan One

August 11, 2012

Social Media – Task List

Do you have a new or existing business and feeling overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all the activities you feel you need to accomplish, on the multitude of social media platforms?  You may not be alone as there are endless activities you could complete, in a swirling universe of social media, all for different reasons and objectives.

Here in this infographic is an example of what The Whole Brain Group classifies as a “Sensible Social Media Checklist” of activities.

social media - task list

 

Source:  The Whole Brain Group 

Social Media Marketing

So what’s in your social media strategy?  What do you plan to tackle on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.  The above infographic gives us a glimpse of something that may work for one company.  Ensure you plan out your social media strategy and activities.  Test out and measure your efforts.  Constantly be looking to improve and revise your strategy and activities for better results.  Make it applicable to your business and to the way you engage and communicate with your customers.

In developing your social media plan:

  1. Establish your objectives
  2. Investigate methods to communicate and engage your customers
  3. Develop some options for marketing activities
  4. Determine social media platforms that would be applicable 
  5. Develop a plan of social media activities  (social media task list)
  6. Estimate the marketing budget
  7. Implement, test, measure, analyze
  8. Revision and continuous improvement for better results

 

Here are some additional Social Media articles, blogs and infographics:

More business blogs of interest:

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

 

High Performance – Star Qualities to Get You Noticed

Strategy Plan One

July 18, 2012

high performanceHigh Performance

Whether you are an employee in the private or public sector, or into self-employment, you need to set yourself apart from the pack.  To make a significant impact on your organization or industry, there are things you can do to achieve high performance.  Possessing and demonstrating qualities will ensure you stand out from the competition, internally and externally.

 

 

 

For the most part, personalities get noticed, but other characteristics and qualities gained through experience can make you shine through.  Your qualities can assist in your performance, but can also rub off also in the higher performance of employees, teams and business itself around you.

High Performance Qualities and Tips

Here are some qualities and tips to performing at a high level and getting noticed:

  • Demonstrate excellence in everything you do, strive for excellence and encourage all to achieve excellence
  • Set aggressive, achievable goals and demonstrate dedication by hitting them
  • Seek and implement continuous improvements for yourself, for your team, for your business
  • Be genuine, truthful, honest, respectful and fair; uphold strong values and ethics and treat others as you would want to be treated
  • Create an open and transparent environment around you; staff, stakeholders and customers will want to go to as you have gained levels of trust
  • Keep emotions in check
  • Be consistent in your responses, decisions, and in your daily work
  • Be an example of collaboration, partnership building, encouraging team effort
  • Rely on other’s expertise; be noticed for calling upon others for their value-added advice, opinions and recommendations
  • Value everyone’s input and feedback
  • Lead by example
  • Be energetic, enthusiastic, creative and innovative
  • Be loyal to colleagues, staff, customers
  • Hit and make the deadlines, be on time

More on personal and business development:

More business blogs of interest:

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Presentation Tips for Business Meetings and Interviews

Strategy Plan One

May 30, 2012 

presentation tipsPresentation Tips

Whether you are going into a business meeting, interview for job, or to pitch an idea to an investor or financial institution, there are certain tactics that could push your presentation from mediocre to brilliant.  It’s not necessarily the gadgets, techie presentation tools you bring along to illustrate your points, but rather how you present and what you do in the presentation to convince the crowd.  Here are some tips to assist in your presentations.

Knowledge is King

Ensure you are well versed in the subject matter.  If you are pitching an idea in an industry, know that product, industry and markets inside and out.  Conducting deep research and digging into as much information prior is going to make you look like you know your stuff… and that will impress the audience

If you are going into an interview, know the information around the position, company, and industry.  Chances are you will be slammed with knowledge questions in the interview and your presentation of answers should demonstrate your deep knowledge in the subject matter.

Presentation Tip – Be Clear and Concise

Oral presentation can be stressful, and that stress can cause some to ramble on with too much speech, or technical babble that would throw off the audience.  Going into a meeting well prepared through practicing your presentation, ensure you get your message right down to the exact clear points to the audience.  Speak with clarity on the topic, illustrating the benefits you want and need to present, that would be relevant to the audience.  Keep the non-relevant stuff off the discussion.  As you remember who your audience is, keep the technical or operational specialist information to a minimum if the audience isn’t at that technical level.  If technical questions are asked, then it opens the door for that detailed discussion.

presentation tipsPresentation Tip – Confidence

You will need to exude a high level of confidence in front of the Boards, partners, or employers.  Confidence is high when you know your stuff, have a great track record, know that your personality is right fit.  With high confidence you should not be sheepish in promoting yourself, your strengths and your great ideas.  External interested parties gravitate to persons with a high level of confidence as that will transfer over to other aspects of business life.  Once parties are confident in you, they will be confident in your ability to lead projects, lead organizations, achieve goals and company objectives.

Be Strong, Composed and Limit Emotions

Interviews and business meetings are pressured, stressful situations.  These parties may use interviews or business presentations as a tools to see how well you react under pressure.  Business presentations and interviews can be full of questioning that is trying to draw out behavioral responses from you.  It is best to stay strong and composed to adequately answer questioning.  In staying composed in the stressful situations, you are limiting those emotions that may alter or hinder your ability to make decisions or achieve a goal under pressure.  Parties will take positive notes on your ability to handle high pressured situations with ease.

Ability to Adapt

As you move forward in your discussions and presentations, gauge your audience. How well is it going?  Don’t be afraid to stop at points and ask the questions, “Was that point clear?” or “Is further discussion or detail required on that point?”.  As an astute presenter and speaker you may need to revise your speech, your presentation methods on the fly to get a differing response or to motivate the crowd in another way.  If you are getting negative responses in one area or topic, switch gears to adapt to discuss the constructive positive points or benefits, or have the ability to discuss the alternate pathways to mitigate those negative points.

Preparedness with Contingencies

Along with having a solid knowledge base and that strong confidence level, you will need to show how well prepared you are for situations, and how well you plan.  For interviews or business presentations, you need to undertake a high level of preparation in advance.  Thinking along the lines of business scenarios that may arise.  Not only must you prepare for the known circumstances, but you must be a pro-active planner around the unknowns or the what-ifs.  Demonstrating that you solidly analyze scenarios and develop action plans and contingencies will win you big bonus points.

Articles and blogs you may be interested in:

Communication and presentation information:

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Use of Social Media for Marketing, and Those Other Marketing Activities

Strategy Plan One

May 4, 2012 

Use of social mediaUse of Social Media for Marketing

Gone is the traditional method of advertising in the newspaper and radio and in with current social media marketing and advertising platforms.  Or are those methods gone?

For sure social media is in and it continues to grow exponentially.  Just when you thought user bases were leveling out, a new interest in a platform keeps the level of growth consistent.  It seems every week a new wave of more interesting social media platforms emerge.  However, business owners must not forget the other forms of marketing that would add value to the marketing mix.

Social media marketing involves the promotion and attention of your business, and engagement between users of social media platforms and your business’ products and services.  The use of social media for marketing would be the purpose of gaining traffic and attention to your business.

Whether through short bursts of information using Twitter or detailed Facebook or LinkedIn pages, the absolute benefit to businesses using social media, is that information can be shared quickly across massive audiences.  It has been a business to consumer and business to business trend over the past era, but not known if this marketing trend will be long-lasting.  If it will be long-lasting, social media marketing may evolve as fast as the whole social media industry itself is evolving.

Marketing Activities – Considerations other than Social Media

Marketing plans could be chalked full of a mix of marketing activities, new and traditional forms.  An entrepreneur should dig into developing activities that would be applicable to promoting and getting out the appropriate message on their own product and service mix.  Yes, social media may work to a certain extent, but may not be the best avenue for local, personal marketing for example.  Entrepreneurs may have to consider forms of advertising and that promote products and service in person, such as trade shows, and promotional events.  Differing from social media marketing, trade show events give you the ability to showcase products and services to masses of potential customers, with colourful, interactive displays manned by representatives (actual people) promoting the business.

Marketing Plans

When developing detailed business and marketing plans, consider the mix the marketing activities based on your intended audience, and what type of method you will use to effectively engage with your audience and raise attention.  You may find social media works well in junction with other forms of marketing activities.  Carefully weigh your options for marketing activities and measure results from activities.  Best results may occur when revising your marketing activities mix.

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Color and Design – Factors Influencing Commerce [Infographic]

Strategy Plan One

April 14, 2012 

Color and Design

Many factors influence how, when, where and what we buy in the marketplace.  Marketing plays a key role in tapping into these cues, and utilizing them out front to build a more richer, more powerful message to the consumer.  Making the powerful message resonate with the consumer more will result in a deeper connection, relationship and eventually sales and revenue.

This infographic from KissMetrics digs deep and illustrates color and design, and other factors that influence our purchase decision-making process.

Color and Design Facts

Interesting facts to note from this infographic on color and design influences:

  • 93% of consumers place visual appearance as the primary factor in purchasing
  • 85% state color as the primary visual factor
  • Color influences brand recognition by 80% (confidence factor)
  • Online shopping – 42% based an opinion of a website on its overall design
  • Webpage load time factor / correlation:  longer load times result in decreased sales
  • Different colors have different effects/purposes: Blue – security/business, Red – Sales, Yellow – optimistic/youth

color and design

When developing your marketing plan and marketing activities, use the appropriate color and design for maximum impact and benefits.  You may have to complete some market testing with color and design in your products and services.

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

The Right Body Language and Attitude Integral to Success

Strategy Plan One

April 6, 2012 

reading body languageReading Body Language

As an entrepreneur, business owner or professional, body language and attitude become critically important in face-to-face meetings.  It can be the difference between success and failure.  In reading body language, physical cues and tones in speech  can signal a leader, partner or customer a certain way and trigger a response accordingly.

It is best to create and to exude a positive image and body language, which will in most case, trigger more positive responses than negative ones.  On the flip side, you can imagine what type of response you will get from a partner or customer reading body language that is unfriendly, appears uninterested, full of inappropriate gestures, and is all around negative.

Body language will tell people, for example, if you are interested, alert, attentive, happy, relaxed, angry, aggressive or bored.  Body language is one of the non-verbal signals that you will give off to create or not create a great impression.  Body language from some reports accounts for ~ 90% of all communications between parties, and hence the importance when reading body language of individuals.

reading body languageReading Body Language – Body Language Signs

First impressions are everything.  A leader, investor or partner will observe your initial behaviours, immediately reading body language you exude.

It may not matter who you are, but how you behave in a professional manner in an initial meeting.  A leader or investor may be looking to meet with you to determine what type of person you are, how professional you are, and how you fit in to meet common objectives and goals.

Carefully observe and be cognizant of how you are in a meeting.  Closed body stances such as cross arms or postures pointing away from clients are problematic and show behavior hinging on avoidance, non-acceptance and non-openness.  Appropriate upright body stances towards the participant help in saying you are interested in the person, topic, goal, and that you are genuine and there to assist or join in.  If you are slouched over, leaning to one side or using the advantages of ergonomic chairs to lean way back, chances are you are giving the wrong signal in that you are not interested, you are not serious, or that you are not listening and engaged in conversation.

Reading Body Language – Eye Contact

Eye contact with the in-house audience is critically important in making a connection with the people there.  Good eye contact will inform the audience, leaders, and partners that you are genuinely interested.  Great eye contact strengthens the communication and connection between two people, and creates a richer communication experience.  If you don’t maintain frequent eye contact, parties may be receiving a signal that you are not interested.  It is also distracting when speakers or listeners’ eyes and body wander all over the place.

Reading Body Language – Hand Gestures

Watch and ensure appropriate hand gestures are made by you.  Hand waving and arm flaying motions may set a negative cues, whereas slight hand movements emphasizing points may be appropriate.  Another blog could be written on appropriate hand and body gestures applicable to in business environments where the culture is different that North America.  Be sure you seek advice about conduct in face-to-face meetings in other countries.   Selfgrowth.com has some additional great tips on body language.

Reading Body Language – Attitude

Go in with a positive attitude, even though is some circumstances you may not agree or want to be there.   As mentioned staying positive will rub off on others and you will most likely receive a positive response.  In some cases, you may even experience a constructive, negative response which may be as good as a positive response.  Coming in with a negative attitude will spell immediate failure in negotiations, handling difficult challenges, or in building relationships.

In some cases, you need to be a good actor, for the good of the company and your fellow colleagues.  You may need to exude the positive, as your actions may impact many others in the organization…remember that.

Reading Body Language – Tips for Body Language, Attitude and Presence 

  • Be prepared and be professional for first impressions
  • Look and act interested
  • Engage in conversation
  • Be polite, be courteous
  • Showcase your best and what you have to offer as a person and professional
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion
  • Facial expressions – anything neutral to slight smiles signals the positive
  • Keep an upright stature, whether sitting or standing
  • Do not slouch, lean, rock, swing in chairs
  • Provide slight body and hand gestures; aggressive motions – negative
  • Use slight gestures to emphasis points
  • Watch you tone in speech and watch language
  • Ensure you use the right body signals, language for the right cultural environment

In the global, highly competitive world, you as an aggressive entrepreneur need to make positive immediate impacts with customers, partners and other successful business owners.   Similar to business planning processes, plan in your head how you will act and behave in face-to-face meeting to successfully negotiate and win over people.

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Strategies for Handling Difficult Conversations

Strategy Plan One

March 28, 2012 

difficult conversationsDifficult Conversations

As leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners, we have all encountered scenarios, difficult scenarios, where the conversation with staff, partners, customers or contractors has been rough or will be rough.

 

Certain techniques will help in alleviating difficult conversations and pressures and get everyone back on track with meeting goals and objectives through productive business methods.

 

Here are some strategies and techniques in handling difficult conversations:

  1. Establish mutual ground rules at the beginning of the discussion; ensure there is a mechanism and a procedure to fall back on if things get off track
  2. Ensure there is a goal and purpose to the conversation; make the scenario valuable with an intended outcome
  3. Don’t make it personal – set the mutual ground rules up front and state the goal is to resolve the issue and not make it a personal attack
  4. Create an environment where everyone can speak freely and in an open manner
  5. Make sure that other parties know their feedback and discussions are valued
  6. Be genuine, truthful and create an environment of trust
  7. Hit on the positives where there are significant negatives; positive reinforcement works
  8. Be constructive in your conversations
  9. Offer solutions not barriers or roadblocks
  10. Think and bring to the table alternatives if the current pathway isn’t working
  11.   As a leader, be an active listener
  12.   As a leader, be a learner; learn from the experience
  13.   As a leader be available, and engage parties frequently
  14.   Raise a third-party or theoretical example if points need to be supported
  15.   Ensure all parties have access to information, especially when it comes to rules and regulations and that line must be focused on

 

Extreme Difficult Conversations

Where you do have serious circumstances that require the most difficult conversations, you have the ability to speak directly and openly about inappropriate behaviours or non-performance issues.  You could approach the scenario by recommending some solutions to get everyone back on track with meeting objectives.  It may also be in the best interest to ask the other party what they need leadership to do.  Their feedback for issue resolution is important.

 

Third party mediation or seeking outside sources to help resolve may also be options when the one-on-one discussions are not going anywhere.  Third parties or mediation can help take the pressure off the affected parties.  A third party or mediator may take neutral ground, observing both parties’ positions and offering up independent recommendations that will work.

 

Positive Outcomes to Difficult Conversations

The end goal needs be a positive one, with satisfaction to all parties involved.  Whatever tactic you choose to handle difficult conversations, think and act systematically and strategically, with end goals in mind.  It is sometimes an easier pathway to find solutions than riskier, costly pathways such as litigation.

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

5 Attributes of Modern Leadership

Strategy Plan One

February 8, 2012 

Leadership has changed with time and with varying economic and environmental circumstances.   Early to mid 20th century, leaders often invoked a militaristic or autocratic leadership approach, and to most the extent, this worked for many successful companies and big corporations.

In the current age, the workforce is better educated with more rights.  Values and ethics are important, and company and personal values and ethics need to align to achieve common goals.  In order to compete on a global scale, leaders need to motivate and influence teams of valuable employees to thrive and survive.

 

Collaboration with team members

Leadership today is obviously quite different, with globalization, competition, values and ethics and people’s rights making big impacts on how leaders lead.  The global economic climate is challenging and is multi-faceted.  New leaders today need the ability to navigate through challenging environments, with multiple layers of complexity.  A new leader must be able to collaborate with professionals adequately, and to be able to adapt quickly to changing environments.

 

Engaging others

Twenty to thirty years ago, businesses relied on manual analysis of localized information.  Today, teams and leaders must competently analysis massive amounts of global information quickly.  Where leaders lack capacity, leaders must be able to source and acquire capacity to assist in meeting organizational goals and objectives.  Leaders need to have the skill to interact with, motivate and empower team members.  Effective interaction with employees leads to better buy-in of goals and objectives.  Frequent engagement tends to make the employees and teams feel valued.

 

Activating Efficiency

Today leaders must accomplish more with fewer resources.   In order to stay competitive in global markets, leaders must stay on top with efficient operations.  Leaders must have the ability to maximize results and benefits with decreasing levels of resources.  Leaders must seek ideas for efficient operations from their teams, as these valued employees are the subject matter experts.  There are several mechanisms to implement to achieve efficiencies, from empowering employees to take the lead, to compensatory mechanisms.

 

Ability to Vision

Experienced leaders thoroughly observe and analyze the past and present.  A great leader can envisage a successful way forward.  They are able to see an end goal and objective, and pathway to achieve the objective.  Only a few have this innate ability; most develop the skill through experience in operations and management.  This valuable trait may be the result of many years of experience leading to the ability to look forward, and some of it through trial and error.  Leaders with vision understand why they are in the business and why the company’s products or services are valuable or needed by the consumer.

 

Effective Communication

Effective leadership involves a high level of rich communication.  A great leader engages with others and can communicate the vision to the team.  With powerful, transparent communications, leaders will need to be influential on others, with the ability to convince and encourage the team to follow and buy-in.  The level of acceptance is a good indicator of the leader’s communication and influential effectiveness.

 

Strategy Plan One

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur