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Know the Basics of Action Planning

Action Planning

One of the main goals of any Strategic Planning Process (e.g Business Strategy, Digital Strategy, Win Strategy; as explained in our courses) is to define an overall Action Plan that will allow the objectives of the Strategy to be reached.

In this sense, the Action Plan is about who does what by when.  It should include all the necessary actions to be successful that could be classified according to:

  • Leadership / Organization Agenda
  • Relationships / People Agenda
  • Business Agenda
  • Marketing & Media Agenda

One of the Main Problems in Strategic Planning: Action Plan Is Not Put into Practice

Sometimes planners are fatigued from carrying out the earlier stages of planning. Action planning might seem detailed as well as tedious opposed to earlier stages of strategic planning that frequently seem creative and resourceful in nature.

Action Planning
Action Planning

As a result, action planning is too often taken for granted, leaving the outcomes of earlier phases of planning much as “castles in the air” — worthless and ineffective philosophical statements without grounding in the everyday realities of the company.

For this reason, we must guarantee that the Action Plan is put into action and the following activities developed:

  • Assign a strong leader to manage the plan.
  • Anticipate how the plan will affect your employees, processes, and culture.
  • Communicate the action plan early-on and regularly.
  • Hold team members accountable for what they “signed up for” in the Action Plan.
  • Review team accomplishments and metrics.
  • Follow performance according to the performance management process described later herein.
  • Schedule quarterly Business Strategy Reviews with your leaders.
  • Monitor the plan’s progress and make changes when necessary.
  • Up-date the Action Plan and live it!

The advantages of a well-executed Action Plan are plentiful from seeing immediate accomplishment to escalating the motivation in tactical planning.

Being more than SMART

Many people in organization know about the fundamental criteria for reliable and steady goal attainment: Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistically set hit, Target date and time driven.

These criteria have been available for a lot of years. On the other hand with all the modifications in the 21st century industry world, workplace as well as labor force, the smart criteria have to get bigger to take account of three additional criterion.

  • Entire objectives must be written. Through having an action plan which takes account of the entire written goals assists to keep focus on the preferred end results. Even recurring objectives as updating a lot of financial data every day have to be written anywhere in the action plan.
  • Entire goals must be united to the action plan. A part of planning process, where the goals have to be aligned to every employee’s owns action plan.
  • Entire objective have to be yours. Although the action plan has organizational objectives, every worker has to own these objectives. The WIIFM or What’s In for Me results in WIFFU or What is In for Us.

Today’s labor force is different than fifty years ago. Congregation line attitude no longer drives these days workforce. Data workers need to know that their hard works are important.

 

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Why is attracting talent for startups Important?

Talent Management

If your startup thrives on the web then better set up an AngelList profile, a talents hub where the finest skills are available, for free. You will meet and engage them as they express interests. Alternatively, day100 offers rich, human-sourced data to help to help your startup hire the most suitable individual. All these are just two of the best talent management tools available today.

What is Talent Management?

It is an art of attracting talented workers, integrating them to your organization’s beliefs and finally developing them with the existing ones to meet your company’s objectives. When evaluation someone, you might choose to look beyond academic qualifications, and perhaps focus on their skills, previous experiences, strengths, training, etc. sometimes, talent management dwells on a person’s abilities, potentials, motives and the personality.

Of course, hiring is one thing and retaining a talent is another. You have to master the art of talent management by maybe avoiding such instances that may require training them. But wait; did you know that though your brand is a startup, talent management is imperative?

Importance of Talent Management for your startup

While hiring new blood for your firm, you will probably focus on choosing the right individual, if the person will follow your goals and objectives and why their worth will enhance your company’s value. All of them may look obvious, but better hire someone skilled and talented than anyone looking just to fill the void.

Turn out, the latest paradigm shift involves, not hiring the best out there, but fashioning the better to be the best and then retaining them. The most recent research further boosts the idea that a firm that’s useful in managing its talents has higher changes and a competitive edge than the others.

Talent management churns out the best out of an average employee. It gives employees a psychological boost, more experience, good compensations and chances for promotion. The super-talented individuals will feel appreciated, and the others will follow the footsteps, a factor that will position the firm in the right path for success.

You also have to adopt talent management even if you are a startup because the practice makes them goodwill ambassadors. Teams comprising talented staffs who understand each other favorably have that feeling of pride towards the organization.

Do you want to improve your Startup Management? Get our course here

As you employ talent management, all employees will not feel threatened on their positions and, of course, sense of job security spurs meeting company targets and personal accomplishments.

Conclusion

Don’t ignore talent management as part of your business’s HR as to how they work in getting the best minds for your startup impacts your pathway towards success. Hire well and keep on retaining the best ones and your startup will rich massive heights without glitches.

Do you want to improve your Startup Management? Get our course here

 

 

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B2B Selling – Selling price over value

B2B Selling - Selling price over value - buildthepipe

B2B, business to business definition: Business-to-business sales (B2B) are just that, sales from one business entity to another.

Financial crisis, competition and the growth of online marketing have been a great challenge to business-to-business markets. The resulting competition from other cheap markets has created a lot of pressure on the business margins leading to price reduction. Reducing product prices has consequently made the businesses less profitable.

The prevalence of second competition in b2b markets means that you have to create value to retain customers and attract more others. As a result, you must be quite knowledgeable before making a decision in this market. More buyers concentrate on the value while a few focus on the prices.

Look at some points that will help you sell your products basing on the value rather than the price.B2B Selling - Selling price over value - buildthepipe

1)    Decide who you don’t want to do business with

As a b2b entrepreneur marketer, differentiate your customers according to their needs. Creating segments helps improve customer choice. Besides, as a b2b supplier, you get to make a personal choice on who you don’t want to involve yourself with in business.

2)    Improve your margins by selling outcomes

You can improve your profit margins by selling results rather than the products. Since your b2b customers will also be looking for issues, ask yourself what you are selling and build your sales approach on that result. You can as well use product features to improve the results that you are selling.

3)    Be aware of customer requirements

Do a research on customer needs and find out what your clients will buy. Customer needs can change over time. Conduct the research more frequently. An independent market research can go a long way into building your understanding of customer needs.

4)    Remember most b2b customers don’t concentrate on the prices

Most b2b customers don’t prioritize on prizes. Instead, focus more on the value of the products that you are selling.  Basing your sales on the values of the products can help you improve your profits margins. Be a pure sales person and keep in mind that it’s never about prices.

5)    Talk about the Return on Investment of your value  proposition

When you are trying to sell something basing on their value and not the price, explain to your customer the returns on investment. For example, if you are selling a more expensive juice blender than a competing brand, how much can the customer save over a period? Make all your b2b sales and purchases with ROI at the back of your mind.

Eventually, you will realize that selling products basing on value provide your customers with an understanding of how to make investments that are worth their money. Use the needs of your clients to perfect on your b2b sales skills.

Buy our course here to learn how to sell Value instead of Price.

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All About Startup Costs And What You Ought To Know

It is great of you to be industrious and start a business after all every big organization started somewhere. But before you actually open those doors, there are some particular financial facts and costs that you must understand. All of them are applicable irrespective of whether it is a home-based firm, an e-commerce portal, or brick and mortar company.
Of course, you can pay an accountant or a business advisor and have all these information explained to you. Or, you can go through this post and learn more about the costs management for startups – for free!

But first, what is the essence of Costs Management for startups?

Finance forms the lifeline of any business as the more money it is injected in, the bigger the returns. For someone new in the business world, proper management of costs directly has an impact on how the business takes off and thrives. And, even if the idea is highly lucrative or you have a lot regarding capital, it is better to understand the art of managing costs.

Have a look.

Types of startups costs

  1. Fixed Costs: They are all those costs you incur, yet the don’t change as you sell a unit of product or service. Fixed costs can either be marginal or variable fixed costs. To better understand them before starting your business, read the following:
  • Professional fees – what you pay the lawyer, accountant, solicitor, and any other expert professional expert to help sort out the legal perspectives of your startup.
  • Insurance – public liability insurance, building insurance, car insurance, employee insurance, etc.
  • Premises renting costs – rent, building costs, power bills, water, telephone, gas, etc.
  • Staffing and employment – advertising and recruitment costs and training courses.
  • Financing
  • Stock
  • Sales marketing
  1. Variable costs: They increase if you sell an extra unit of a product or service, and usually fall under direct product costs like:
  • The actual cost of an item – from the stock
  • Shipping costs
  • Packaging costs
  • Sales teams’ commissions and Remuneration
  • Salaries and wages

Cost Management

Much like every enthusiastic entrepreneur, you will be eager to give your startup as smooth start as possible. While you might be tempted to rush things up without focusing on better deals, the smoothness of the capital and everything, just try to do the following:

  1. Lease or rent instead of buying so that the initial costs remain as low as possible.
  2. Hire term and temporary workers so that you can avoid meeting employee tax, insurance, NI, and pension payments.
  3. Make use of price comparison websites that still offer routes to the best deal for utilities.
  4. Pay as you go is perfect for starting, instead of tying yourself into long contracts and expenses that will not allow getting out easily

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Why startups fail

Imagine a start-up that promises to deliver groceries within 30 minutes of receiving the client’s order; a start-up which raised close to $800 million from blue chip VC funds like Sequoia Capital, Benchmark Capital, Softbank, Goldman Sachs and even Yahoo. The company also raised $375 million from its IPO where it sold 25 million shares at $15 each. All this happened within just a few months of the company’s creation. This start-up was valued at 1.2 billion dollars before declaring 830 million dollars in losses and going bankrupt. This is a true story. It happened in 1999. The company was called “Webvan”.

Were you also aware that the solar power tech start-up “Solyndra” filed for bankruptcy in 2011, after burning its way through $1 billion in venture capital funding and, “Better Place”, a start-up provider of battery stations for electric cars, shut down in 2013 after losing $850m?

When we think of start-ups, we usually think about Google, Facebook or Whatsapp. However, these companies are an exception in the world of entrepreneurship. Normally, start-ups do not become glamourous companies with billions of dollars of capital. In fact, it’s usually to the contrary. They frequently fail. According to Forbes, the failure rate of start-ups is around 90%, so what are the main reasons for these failures?

In our experience as start-up mentors and private investors, we consider the following to be the main causes of failure:

First of all, we have problems with adapting to the market. One of the main reasons for failure is that the market is non-existent or inappropriate for the product developed. This shows itself in different ways, for example:

  • Clients are not prepared to pay for the product or pay the price necessary to sustain consolidation and expansion of the company.
  • There are clients prepared to pay for the product but the market is not large enough.
  • Inadequate market timing. In this case, the company must find ways to generate revenue wherever possible. Later on, we will describe some real example of start-ups in this situation and how they resolved their issues.

If the market size and market timing are correct, we can however encounter problems with the business model, specifically problems due to the enormous differences between the CAC – Costs of Acquiring the Customer and the LTV – Lifetime Value of that Customer.

The key to any start-up, and in general to any business, is that the cost of acquiring a customer should cost less than the benefits generated by this customer during his or her relationship with our company. The CAC must be less than the LTV by some significant multiple. Generally, a large number of entrepreneurs are too optimistic regarding the costs of acquiring customers.

Another major flaw is the inability to materialize sales, especially in B2B start-ups. Most start-ups will never exceed $1 million in annual sales. In fact, to overcome this barrier would be a key milestone for most of them. The sale of big deals is essentially based upon the application of specific techniques which allow us to define and implement ad-hoc strategies to create and win big opportunities. The majority of start-up sales teams simply do not know how to do this.

The next reason is usually inadequate management of cash flow and costs thereby causing the start-up to run out of cash. This situation is usually produced due to an inability to comply with a milestone. This non-compliance brings with it difficulties to obtain funding which together with greater non-efficiency in cost management (Strategic Costs Management), leads to bankruptcy.

During the early stages of the business, it is key to conserve money and effectively manage the company’s costs to avoid the “burning expenses” which unfortunately, many start-ups incur. For example, it makes no senses to spend enormous amounts on marketing if the product is not yet finished. The company’s costs must be managed efficiently and money reserved for the right moment when we need to manage the desired “hyper-growth”.

And lastly, on many occasions, start-ups fail due to the inability of the Management Team. Why? Well, amongst other things, a good management team would not commit any of the mistakes we’ve just spoken about.

We are preparing a course to improve the management abilities of entrepreneurs with the aim of greatly increasing the possibility of their start-ups being successful.

Will come soon. Any feedback here is more than welcome

@buildthepipe

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The Digital Strategy Blueprint

Digital Strategy has become a key part of the strategy of any company who wishes to become a market leader but, how can this be defined? Digital Strategy is the result of a planning exercise via which, new business strategies supported by digital capabilities and a specific action plan to implement them, are defined.

In other words, creating a Digital Strategy is not just about digitizing the company’s processes. It is not about implementing SAP, creating a new web page or a mobile application in the App Store. It is about reinventing the business model taking advantage of new or existing digital capabilities.

The Digital Strategy Blueprint is a holistic methodology for developing a Digital Strategy, based on our extensive experience in Strategic Planning.

 

First, we capture the Business Strategy and determine the key business objectives to be covered by the Digital Strategy. These can be new or already pertaining to the Business Strategy associated to the Digital Strategy.

Next, the company’s Current Digital State is analysed upon several axes. After that, the Future Digital State is defined, that is to say, the lines of action that must be executed to reach the key business objectives of the Digital Strategy identified previously.

Once the current and desired future states are known, the Digital Transformation Programme, which includes all the actions necessary to execute the Digital Strategy, is defined.

The costs and benefits associated to the implementation, is another important part of the Digital Strategy (Financial model).

Lastly, Programme Management techniques are used to manage the success of the Digital Strategy.

Check out our courses for more info.

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“Lean” Business Strategy for startups

Being an entrepreneur means you should always have a detailed action plan for the business. Every business idea is different so is every entrepreneur. As a result, every business strategy is entirely different. Before deciding which business strategy is convenient for your startup, you have to be well conversant with how your plan is going to work out.

Learn the essential elements that make up any enterprise. These business features will make it easier for you to visualize how your startup is going to be and how it will operate. If you are aiming at maximizing your return on investments, here are a few strategies for you to consider:

1)     Have a practical and documented vision for your business

Having a clearly defined vision for your firm is quite remarkable. A view acts as the force of action behind your business idea. Define who your customers are, the type of business you are in, the products or services you sell, your plan for growth and your competitive advantage.

2)   List down your goals (key business objectives)

Create a list of your long and short term goals and describe how you are going to achieve them. For a startup business, emphasize more on your short term goals. Set a period you’d want to achieve your goals. Explaining what you want to make as an entrepreneur will help you focus more on your goals.

3)   Research on your customers

Meeting the needs of every customer can be tough. However, you can choose a specific target and work on satisfying their needs. Familiarize yourself with the unmet needs of your clients. Also, focus on the problems your customers might be in need of solving. Create a solution that can help them solve their problems. And, get their views on the product you want to develop or the service you want to offer.

4)   Learn from your competitors

Paying attention to how your competitors transact their business can help you understand your customers and get better ways to improve your products. Be conversant with the competitors you have and their market approach. Get to know your opponent’s weaknesses and strengths and improve on their approach.

5)   Financial matters

Have a clear view of how you will make money and your business profit potential. Take all the time you need when you are making financial matters. Have a cash flow projection to enable you to know how much money you will need when starting up your business.

Other strategies include identifying a good marketing strategy. Never be afraid to strategize your startup basing on ideas out there. Sometimes those are the best ideas, and you can grab them for free.

Get a strategy! I am confident you don’t want to miss out on the entrepreneur of the year list.

Buy our Business Strategy training 60% OFF here

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Don’t become a zombie startup. Formulate your Business Strategy!

In the beginning, Google (GOOG) tried to generate revenue, even by carrying out data mining in some companies. Although this idea wasn’t successful, it is clear that they were capable of re-creating their Business Strategy to become the giant technological corporation Google is today.

Sometimes, start-ups get blocked, or become “zombie” because they are not able to create a new Business Strategy. In other words, they have developed a Business Plan, obtained funding from investors and begun to execute part of the plan. But, what happens when the results don’t come in? Many entrepreneurs don’t know what to do under these circumstances.

Upon arriving at this point, the key would be to create a new Business Strategy to unblock the situation and reach expected growth. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to explain some real examples that confirm this hypothesis.

Healthcare Start-up

This start-up was created in 2014. The product was hospital software that allowed the costs of diagnosis and associated treatments to be calculated. It was supported by a very important accelerator, but after two years, they still hadn’t managed to install a base sufficient to support the Business Plan.

The founder was desperate. He was running out of money and didn’t know what to do. He contacted us to find out what he should do with his Business Plan.

During the first interview we realized that he was mainly working for public hospitals that have long sales cycles with unfavourable payment terms and this meant that he didn’t achieve enough liquidity to continue growing, even though some sales were being closed.

Our response was that he should re-think his products and client portfolio. In other words, adapt his Organic Growth strategy. We explained how to formulate a new Business Strategy to the founder and his team, and this is what they achieved:

  • They created a new product to sell to new clients. This dealt with selling the Healthcare information obtained via their hospital software to pharmaceutical companies.
  • Pharmaceutical companies are private. They have money and operate on short purchasing cycles. In addition, they are always interested in solutions which can give value to their principal clients, such as health organizations and hospitals.
  • This start-up is now successfully executing the Business Strategy by selling two different types of solutions which complement and provide feedback to each other: the more systems deployed in hospitals, the more information generated to sell to pharmaceutical companies, which in turn allows a greater investment in hospital solutions.

3d-Printing Start-up

This start-up was created in 2015. They intended to create a platform to connect 3-D Printing designers with users, with the aim of transforming users’ ideas into real objects printed in 3D. Their product and business model was supported by the platform itself.

However, the consumer 3D-Printing market has not yet exploded as expected. In fact, we only need to view the Annual Reports of 3D-Systems –DDD, or Stratasys – SSYS, to see this for ourselves, or even check the value of their shares during the last two years.

The founder needed to make more money and earn credibility. To do so, he contacted us to see if we were interested in investing. Our first response was that they needed to develop a new Business Strategy to expand their solution bank to the B2B market. In other words, first they needed to demonstrate that they were capable of generating income whilst waiting for the consumer 3D-Printing market to take-off, which we assume will happen one day.

We explained how to create a Business Strategy to the founder and his team, and this is what they achieved:

  • They created a new 3D-Marketing service to sell to B2B clients. This was aimed at helping them support marketing campaigns via 3D-Printing elements.
  • In addition, they created specific 3D-Printing services for different industries, for example, the insurance sector or for the health industry with the purpose of training health professionals using simulated organs printed in 3D.
  • They are currently making money selling these solutions, which can then be invested in the 3D-Printing platform in the hope that the expected explosion of this technology within the domestic market, actually happens.
  • However, we must mention that they had a certain amount of difficulty due to their lack of knowledge in closing B2B sales. We also resolved this problem for them via our B2B Sales Blueprint training.

If, like these start-ups, you are interested in learning about how to formulate a Business Strategy, click here:

https://www.udemy.com/business-strategy-training/?couponCode=BS_POST_03_09

If, on the other hand, you would like to know more about our B2B Sales Blueprint, click here:

https://www.udemy.com/doubling-your-sales/?couponCode=B2B_POST_03_09

@buildthepipe

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Material for the Business Strategy Training

Use the information below for the Business Strategy Training:

Stratasys Information (381 downloads)

Exercise 1

Coca-Cola Information (41 downloads)

Exercise 2

Netflix Information (379 downloads)

Exercise 3

Johnson and Johnson Information (382 downloads)

Exercise 4

Hope you enjoy the exercises!

@buildthepipe

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Driving Growth through Business Strategy

In the current context, for the majority of companies, sustainable, profitable growth is illusive. Could you be an exception? Can you achieve high-growth for your business? Yes, you can, using our methodology for developing successful Business Strategies.

The Business Strategy Blueprint is a holistic methodology for developing a Business Strategy, based on our extensive experience as business advisors.

Business Strategy Blueprint

First of all, the Key Business Objectives pursued using the Business Strategy, must be identified. These objectives make up a small number of goals to be reached which deal with different perspectives of the business.

A market analysis where the company is positioned and operates (Market Data), is carried out further on. It is a question of analysing the starting point to reach the desired objectives.

One of the principal Key Business Objectives of any company is to achieve sustained growth and profitability (except non-profit companies). Therefore, in addition, the possible drivers of Organic and Inorganic Growth that support the global growth objective must be identified.

Together with the Growth Drivers, the Enablers will be developed. These are initiatives which make a series of solid and flexible abilities available to allow the Business Strategy to become a reality.

The roadmap of how we plan to achieve our financial model is set out below.

Lastly, the Implementation Roadmap, including all the actions necessary to execute the Business Strategy, is defined.

Business strategy Training