Identifying Business Strategy

identifying business strategy

How to Plan Ahead In Order to Get Ahead

Identifying business strategy is an important part of running your own company, no matter what industry you operate in.  I would say that doing this is especially true for small and medium-size businesses that are nowhere near the level of maturity that many of their competitors have reached.  When it comes down to it, being aware of your corporate strategy is very much like developing your business plan during the beginning stages of your business.  The difference here is that you could argue that business strategy planning for future development once your business is up and running is much more involved than initial business planning.

Since your company has begun establishing itself in its sector, gathering a steady customer base, and bringing in a respectable amount of revenue every quarter, it only makes sense that the stakes are higher now.

By identifying business strategy, you can make sure that your company continues to follow the path that brought from its infancy into the role of a legitimate business and continues to take it farther than that.

So let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can make sure you identify and establish the right strategies in order to achieve long-term objectives.

Analyze Your Situation

When you’re planning anything, whether it’s related to business or not, you want to look at the situation and try to consider any factors that might affect your plans.

As far as your company is concerned, this would mean making sense of your business environment. That would include factors like:

  • Knowing your industry – Is your industry currently in an upturn or downturn? Is the nature of your industry such where new developments are always emerging (i.e. technology)? Are there times of the year that are bigger for your industry than others (i.e. toys and Christmas)?

Questions like these should be on your mind all the time, but they should be especially prevalent when it comes to identifying business strategy.

  • Knowing your customers – You wouldn’t be anywhere without them, so it helps to know just who your serve so that you can further capitalize on your efforts and strengthen your reputation among consumers.
  • Assessing the viability of your ideas – While you’re analyzing your situation, it pays to know just how plausible any ideas you might come up with would be. You may want to test certain practices, seek advice from colleagues and mentors, and study any similar situations that may have occurred in the past

Testing your ideas will allow you to see how well they might thrive in the market or, conversely, how poorly they might do if rolled out on a larger scale.  By testing your ideas early, you can either generate a positive buzz and create anticipation for a future product, or kill an idea before it hurts your revenue and reputation.  Analyzing your situation is a step in the right direction but, once you’ve done that, it’s time to follow through.  After you’ve looked at the circumstances, the next step is identifying business strategy by establishing long term goals.

Key Long Term Goal Areas to Examine

Since every business is different, there is no true one-size-fits-all formula for coming up with an effective business strategy, but there are a few areas in which every business should establish goals.

Some of those can include:

  • Your standing compared to the competition – Look at what the companies you compete against do as far as business is concerned and figure out where you want to be. By knowing your standing, you can figure out if there are things that you can do better than them, capitalize on those areas, and try to take some of their market share.
  • Your employees – Not only do your employees serve as the face of your company, their skill drives it; which makes them a core part of identifying business strategy.

From providing additional training in important skill sets, to implementing policies that keep morale and productivity high, you should work to develop your employees and offer an example that other companies will want to follow.

  • Growth – This goes hand in hand with planning your business’s future, but you should clarify just what kind of growth you want to achieve.

Do you want to get a larger office? Open additional locations? Expand the variety of offerings you bring to the market? Expand the geographic area that receives your product?  Growth in business can mean many different things and part of identifying business strategy has to do with just how you want to grow.  By identifying the type of growth that you want your company to achieve, you can establish a clear path for how to get there.

In order to plan a corporate strategy effectively, you have to look to the past, the present and the future.  Only by knowing where you’ve been, where you are right now, and knowing where you want to go in the future, can you establish a strong, well-thought out plan that will help you navigate your industry and outmaneuver your competition.

By taking the right steps in identifying business strategy, you can not only avoid actions that might harm your business, but seize opportunities that will take it to great places.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

For more information on business analysis, business planning, and ways to grow your small business profitably, please check out our website www.portalcfo.com.

This post is a part of a series that helps you identify opportunities and problems within your small business.
Click here to read more related posts.

Identifying Business Requirements

business requirements

In operating a business, you know that it’s important that everyone benefit from the products and services that you offer, right?  That is why identifying business requirements is such an important practice.  With the time, resources, and manpower that often go into developing your offerings, the last thing you want to happen is for your efforts to go to waste as the finished product doesn’t fulfill any of the needs that have to be addressed.

In order to do this effectively, it’s important to ask of your business:

  • What” are we doing?
  • Why” are we doing it?

With these questions on your mind, you will be well on your way to establishing the kinds of practices that will be beneficial to your operations in your long term.  This applies to what you do internally at face value, but it’s important to remember that the “what” and “why” are followed closely by the “how.”  How you end up doing things will directly affect not just your own team, but your customers and other stakeholders as well.

So, just how do you go about identifying business requirements?

Ask Yourself Who’s Involved

When I say that, I don’t just mean those among your personnel, but those among your customer base as well.  Every decision that you make likely affects your customers somehow. In some instances, the effects are so minute that the customers might not even notice, but you want to go into the decision-making process with the mindset that everyone is going to be impacted. This will allow you to get their input on what should be included during the development process.

By gathering input and finding out what people expect from whatever it might be that you’re developing, you can create an offering that will address as many of those needs as possible. This is an important step in the process of identifying business requirements because doing this early on will not only help you avoid potential setbacks, but any potential issues with the product can be caught and addressed early on.

Look to the Future

When it comes to running a business, it never hurts to have a plan for where you want to be within a certain time frame.  It could be month-to-month or annually.  Having some foresight about how you want things to develop could serve as a sort of road map for where you want to go.

In all likelihood, some details on your vision might change. You may find that your vision was too ambitious and you have to scale back some expectations, or you may find that you can take on more than you initially believed you could.  Either way, looking forward is a good method for identifying business requirements simply because having a plan for future development will keep you on the task of reaching that goal. Having that goal in your sights will allow you to figure out just what tools you need in order to get there.

Run Tests

Even while looking ahead is a good way of identifying business requirements, you have to remain rooted in the here and now to make sure that everything continues to go smoothly.  That’s why, when introducing a change, either internally or externally, it pays to test something out before rolling it out completely.

It happens all the time in many industries:

  • Technology firms and car companies will build prototypes
  • Restaurants may roll out a new menu item in certain regions before deciding whether or not to go national
  • Software companies often have alpha and beta tests for their products before going to retail with them

These are just a few examples where it pays to test something in order to make sure that it has viability in the market.  Running those tests is a good way of identifying business requirements.  So you should do it, no matter what your industry is.

The same practice can be applied internally as well. You may have new policies that you’re considering implementing.  Rolling them out gradually to see how people within your company adapt to them is almost always preferable to putting them in front of everyone and simply saying “this is the way it’s going to be.”

It could be that something you thought might be a morale booster ended up doing nothing of the sort or that a new policy that you put into play helped in identifying business requirements that you weren’t initially aware were necessary.

With any endeavor that has the power to change the way your company does business, whether it’s an effect on employee morale or a complete operational overhaul, cautious steps are always better than rushing into it.

Your Business Requirements Affect Everyone

At the end of the day, every step in the process of identifying business requirements should be conducted with those who are going be affected in mind.  Whatever you are doing to change your company, it has to benefit as many people as possible while still being a viable course of action.  With careful planning and the right implementation over time, you can certainly use those requirements to shape your business into something special.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

For more ways to grow your small business profitably, please check out our website www.portalcfo.com.

This post is a part of a series that helps you identify opportunities and problems within your small business.
Click here to read more related posts.

Identifying Business Drivers

Identifying Business Drivers

Why Knowing What Drives Your Company is Important

As an entrepreneur, you owe it to yourself, your employees, and anyone else who has a vested interest in your company to make the business as profitable as you can. You can make sure that happens by identifying business drivers that will bring in more revenue as time goes on.

With the competition becoming more aggressive, making sure that customers continue coming through your doors can be a difficult enough task. Without growth, however, you could risk losing your market share through stagnation.

That’s why it pays to know what causes people to choose your services over what your competitors offer and to be aware of key business performance indicators/KPI’s.

Only by being fully-aware of those driving factors can you foster growth and make sure that your company is able to not just weather tough financial times, but fully-capitalize on the conditions of strong economic climates as well.

As you know, there are a number of factors that influence whether or not people come through your doors, so it isn’t as simple as pinning down a single trend, event, or practice that makes money and causes your business to thrive.

So what are some ways that you can go about identifying business drivers to help your business thrive?

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Identifying Business Problems

business growth planning

Identifying business problems is a big part of how you handle the issue of your company not making as much money as it realistically could be. Being able to quickly identify problems within your business is even more important when your company is losing money.

In many instances, a problem with a business may not be readily apparent from the start. It isn’t uncommon for a problem to go unnoticed until it’s been around long enough to cause some damage.  At that point, you and your staff could find yourselves scrambling to deal with the issue, so that you minimize the impact.

Even if you manage to catch it quickly, your revenue and market share could suffer just as easily as your reputation with your customers and clients.

So how do you go about Identifying Business Problems so that you can deal with them as early as possible?

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How to Enhance Business Performance

Enhance Business Performance

When you’re running your own business, one question you’re constantly asking yourself is how to enhance business performance?

If it isn’t, then it should be!

Starting your business and making a name for yourself in your given industry is a tough enough task; but you should never rest on your laurels once your business is off the ground and earning money.

As with any kind of operation, there is always room for improvement. There is always something that you could be doing better, more efficiently, and in a way that you will win over more customers and bring in more revenue for your company.

Businesses like yours involve a lot of different moving parts that work together to make the entire venture run smoothly.  Things will only become more complicated as your company grows and expands with time.

You need to learn how to enhance business performance while your company is still young. If you don’t, then the road ahead will be that much harder as time progresses.

Let’s take a look at many of the different things you can do to optimize your company’s performance and you’ll see just how involved the process of getting the most out of your company can be.

Sharpening Your Talent

Your company wouldn’t be anything without the talent that goes into selling your products and services.

Whether you have a team of employees, or your company is a single-person operation, the skills used to persuade potential customers to part with their hard-earned money requires that your talents always be in the best possible shape in order for you to have the competitive edge.

With that in mind, know that there are several things you can do in order to keep your skills current:

  • Follow industry-relevant news and developments like it’s your job because, in a way, it is!

In just about any industry, things can change at the drop of a hat. The latest and greatest can quickly become obsolete. The last thing you want to happen is having to play catch-up because you weren’t aware of a development that affected the whole industry.

  • Take continuing education because graduating from school doesn’t mean that you stop learning. In order to keep up and make sure that you’re using the latest bit of knowledge related to your company, you should look into enrolling in classes every now and then.
  • Learning from your mistakes is practically “how to enhance business performance 101.”  Everyone stumbles at some point in their lifetime, and it’s no different in business.  You want to be sure that any shortcomings you’ve faced in the past are looked at closely so that you know what went wrong and how to keep it from happening again.

It’s important to note that dooming yourself to repeat a mistake can ultimately lead to failure or, at the least, stunted growth as a company. Whenever you make a mistake, you should note it, regardless of how insignificant it might seem. You’ll be glad you did later.

Make Use of All Resources Available to You

Some entrepreneurs have already figured out how to enhance business performance by going beyond their immediate circle and outsourcing certain aspects of their business. There’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same.  Outsourcing means fewer resources used than would be the case if the task was taken on in-house and doing so can save you time and money.

In figuring out how to enhance business performance, many companies have turned to outsourcing services like:

  • Accounting
  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Marketing
  • Payroll

With important aspects like these being handled by other specialist companies outside of your own, you can easily focus on what makes your business work and how your customers can best benefit from what you offer. You won’t have to fumble around with things that require a certain level of expertise in order to execute effectively.

Build Your Alliances

In a way, this tip harkens back to the previous one about sharpening your skills.

Every entrepreneur wants to know how to enhance business performance, but few realize that one extremely effective way to do this is through networking, building alliances, and creating mutually-beneficial relationships with other entrepreneurs.

In the world of business, it pays to have as many allies, contacts, and partners as you can. You want to take every available opportunity to attend events, seminars, and conferences where you can meet people who will be able to help you in the development of your business.

Whether these people are potential clients, suppliers, business partners, or even industry veterans who can offer you some help and guidance, it pays to put yourself out there and see how others will be able to help you.  You never know who you might meet!

Giving It Your All

When running your business, you should never skip out on anything that could help your company move to the next level.   You want the product or service that you offer to have a strong reputation in your markets, but you can only do that with enhanced business performance and efficient management.

From making sure that the people working for you have the skills and equipment they need to do their jobs, to looking at your resources and planning ahead, your company’s day-to-day practices are just as important as your long-term plans.  When figuring out how to enhance business performance, you need to look at all possible avenues to be sure that you’re employing the best possible practices.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

For more information on business analysis, business planning, and ways to grow your small business profitably, please check out our website www.portalcfo.com.

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How to Reduce Business Overhead: Tips for Cutting Costs Without Losing Customers

cost cutting tips for your business

How to reduce business overhead is something that many entrepreneurs like you thinks about when it comes to running a company.

And with good reason.

How to reduce business overhead is a question that’s been on the minds on entrepreneurs like you since people first started running their own businesses. It also becomes something that more and more people ask when economic times are less than ideal.

With much of the world still recovering from a time of economic turmoil, it’s an especially important question for owners of small businesses.

How High Overhead Hurts You

High overhead means that you spend more on business upkeep than you do on development and growth. Profit margins might be razor thin in the cases of many smaller businesses, meaning that every dollar has to count towards something meaningful.

But what are you supposed to do?

Besides eating into your revenue, rising overhead can cause you to raise the costs of your products and services to keep up with the increase in operating expenses. It goes without saying that if you raise your costs then your customers may jump ship and go with what your competitors offer instead.

Rising costs go hand in hand with the expansion of your business; that much is inevitable. As your company grows over time, you’ll undoubtedly have to hire more employees in order to keep up with customer demand.

Beyond that you may need to do things like order supplies in greater quantities, open additional branches, increase marketing, and move offices in when you have more employees.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Four Things You Can Do to Cut Costs and Stay Ahead

There are several things that you can do to minimize the costs your company takes on and enjoy the benefits of the increased revenue as a result.

  1. First, you have to know what your operating costs are – When it comes to figuring out how to reduce business overhead, it’s important that you know exactly what you’re up against.Take a look at your current costs with the most up-to-date numbers that you can acquire. This will give you an accurate assessment about what you’re spending to keep things moving behind the scenes so that the needs of your customers are met.You can also go a step further and get the same information from previous years. Chances are that comparing the current information with past information will show a trend in costs rising over time.If the changes that you see are drastic, then you know immediately where you can begin making changes as far as how to reduce business overheads are concerned.
  2. You can negotiate with other companies – It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run, you likely have to use some kind of service to process payments. Likewise, you need a company that provides you with supplies.If you have strong business to business relationships with these other entities, then it could be to your advantage to try and lower your costs by negotiating terms with them.The competitive nature of these industries means that they might be willing to work with you so that you reach a cost effective solution and they retain you as a customer.
  3. You can outsource some services to specialists – One way to cut costs is to let professionals handle certain tasks that your company needs.In finding methods on how to reduce business overhead, some companies have turned to outsourcing important functions like bookkeeping and information technology maintenance and support.Companies that provide these services excel at them. By having them do it, you can save yourself time and money so that your own company can do what it does best.
  4. Evaluate your true need for an office space – One mistake that you can easily make is buying more of an office space than you truly need to run your company.Take a look at how much space is available to you versus how many employees your company has. There’s a chance that they could occupy a smaller space without much of a change in the way that your company operates.

Beyond that, another way that you could be reducing business costs is by promoting a work environment where employees can use a virtual office setup if they’re so inclined.When you want to figure out how to reduce business overheads, consider having an arrangement where employees can work from their own homes.This provision can promote productivity by allowing your employees to work in a place where they are most comfortable, when they are most comfortable doing so.When this happens, you not only benefit from better work output but you may cut utility costs and have a reduced need for furniture and equipment at your office

Cutting Costs Should Never Come at the Expense of Alienating Your Customers

In the end, the question of how to reduce business overheads can extend much further than what’s brought up in this post. The truth of the matter is that there are countless things that entrepreneurs like you can do in order to minimize operating expenses. Whatever you decided to do, however, it’s important to remember that you always have to weight the risks of cutting costs against the rewards for doing so.

When figuring out how to reduce business overheads, you should do what you can reasonably get away with. Your cost cutting measures should never negatively impact the way you serve your customers or your ability to meet their demands. Keep costs low and customer satisfaction high, and your company’s name could easily be on everyone’s lips before you know it.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

How to Reduce Business Debt

how to reduce business debt for service business owners

Once you’ve got your business up and running profitably, you probably want to know all about how to reduce business debt, right?

Depending on the kind of debt that it is, it could be eating into your cash flow and keeping you from expanding the way that you want to. It makes perfect sense that you want to get rid of any business debt you accumulate as quickly as possible.  Keep in mind that in some cases, there is debt that is “good” for your business.  We will discuss “good” business debt in a future post.

In many cases debt is inevitable, especially during the earliest phases of a company’s development.

Fortunately, that debt doesn’t have be something that constantly hangs over your head and keeps your enterprise from being the best that it can be.

Let’s take a look at some of the different strategies that you can employ to reduce your company’s debt.  You’ll see how you can gain peace of mind through business debt reduction.

  • Work with your suppliers – In figuring out how to reduce business debt, one of the first places that you should look should be the suppliers from whom you buy raw materials

If you happen to be behind on supplier payments, you want to work out a payment plan with your suppliers that will help you to get current with them.

Your company most likely depends on what your suppliers sell you, so you want to settle any outstanding debts with them first and foremost.

Doing so will make sure that your relationship stays strong and that you continue receiving the items you need to provide your own goods and services.

  • Sell, sell, sell – In order to reduce debt, you need to increase revenue. That much is obvious. There are several ways to go about doing that; the most straightforward of which is to increase your sales volume and move more product and services than you have in the past.

Offer incentives to your customers to get them to buy more, as long as its viable for you to do so. As you manage to sell more products, you can use the additional revenue to reduce your company’s debt.

  • Restructure – When many business owners try to figure out how to reduce business debt, one thing they often fail to consider is how much restructuring might help them reduce debt.

From selling surplus inventory and unused equipment, to cutting back on excess around the business, there are a several small, but significant things that you can do to get closer to your goal of eliminating your company’s debt.

  • Reduce Your Operating Expenses – This could fall in line with restructuring, or be its own strategy entirely.

Think about the things that always cost your money around your business.

You have your utilities like electricity and water, as well as services like your internet connection. Furthermore, you have the office itself, which you most likely pay to rent.

While it’s true that these things are the cost of business, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to reduce them.

If it’s realistic for you to do so, consider moving to a smaller office or switching service providers for more cost-effective solutions. The money that you save could be reallocated to tackling your debt.

Likewise, you could consider alternative scheduling for your employees. If you encourage them to spend time working from home on their own schedules for part of the time, you can ease a transition to a different office.  Likewise, you may not need to purchase, power, support, and maintain as much equipment around your office.

  • Look over your taxes – Speak with your accountant, CFO, or any other financial expert that you employ and they can help you figure out how to reduce business debt.

One way that they might do this is by going over what you pay in taxes and making sure that you are counting all of your eligible deductions throughout the year.

It pays to do this often because tax laws are always changing and new ways for businesses to take advantage of tax breaks are always popping up.

You want to make sure that your annual tax bill is always at its lowest possible number, so that any money left over after you pay the IRS can go towards reducing your company’s business debt.

Keeping your debt under control is one of the most important things that you can do as a business owner, so you want to make sure that you’re taking every step that you can to pay back creditors and keep outstanding balances from impacting your company’s bottom line.

Remember, running a business successfully does not need to be complicated.  Keep it simple!

For more ideas on how to grow your business, please check out our website at www.portalcfo.com.