Friday, January 16, 2015

Startup Professionals Musings: Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

Startup Professionals Musings: Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

business-agility-petMost small businesses are trying to forget the recent recession, and get back to “business as usual.” They don’t realize that business as usual is gone forever. With social media and smart phone conversations, real product information spreads at astounding speeds. Entrepreneurs that are not listening, not engaging, and not changing will be left behind even in the best of times.

Business agility is defined as the ability to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently. It is required today for new innovation strategies, analyzing markets for new opportunities, and organizational changes. Today’s customers are much more proactive in going online for the latest information, rather than simply reacting to the “push” messages that businesses traditionally use to drive commerce.

According to a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research for Zendesk, 90 percent of respondents asserted that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, and 86 percent admitted buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Yet there is evidence that as many as half of the small businesses out there still don’t even have a website or go online.

If you as an entrepreneur are not “listening” to your online reviews, and not moving quickly to make changes, you are losing ground. Moving forward, you should expect the market volatility to increase, driven not only by customers, but by new technology, changing government regulations, and a surge in new competitors.

For a business, volatile markets are a source of great opportunities, as well as great risks. Every entrepreneur must be alert enough to spot the change early, and agile enough to adapt quickly. Here are some key elements of agility that are required for you to survive and prosper:

  • Stamp out organizational inflexibility. Bureaucracy can appear quickly in startups as well as large companies. The real problem is inflexible people. Every organization must constantly review its hiring practices, training, and leadership to make sure the focus is on people who are motivated, open-minded, and empowered.
  • Continually watch for new opportunities. Don’t wait for your competitors to uncover new markets that you wish you had jumped into early. An agile business doesn’t wait for their current product line to fail, before planning some enhancements. The days of the “cash cow” are gone. Make sure you have a process in place to find your next big thing.
  • Rotate team members into new roles. If a key person in your organization has never changed roles, that person is likely limiting their personal growth, as well as the growth of your business. Maybe it’s time to find the real strength of your team by giving top performers additional new responsibilities, and rotating the lower performers out.
  • Define a continuous innovation culture. Innovation doesn’t happen without active leadership, a mindset of commitment from the team, and a defined process. Discipline is required to continually track results, return on investment, and customer satisfaction. Let your continuous innovation become your sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Foster a performance culture, and avoid analysis paralysis. A strategy of speedy execution is required. If you organization routinely thinks in terms of months or years to make any change, it’s falling behind and probably already obsolete. Don’t wait for expensive outside consultants to tell you it’s time to change, or make it happen.
  • Practice small change experiments often. The “big bang” theory of change, where innovations only come through huge and expensive new projects, with big rollouts, is a thing of the past. New innovations should be seen as experiments, which are inexpensive, measurable, quick to fail, and without retribution if they don’t work.
  • It all starts with agile leadership. If you are the entrepreneur, or the top executive, you set the model and the tone of your business. You can’t have an agile business without effective communication, an empowered team, and a constant influx of new ideas. Managing an agile business means managing change, not solidifying a status quo.
Business agility is simply to ability and intent to make small changes, on a daily basis, to penetrate new markets, add new revenue streams, reduce costs, and prune out products that are no longer carrying their weight. All you need to win with customers is to be slightly more visible and have a few more evangelists in the marketplace.

It’s time to take a hard look at your own business. Is it pulling ahead, or falling behind? Standing still in not an option.

Martin Zwilling

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Entrepreneurs – Have You Got What It Takes To Succeed? |

Entrepreneurs – Have You Got What It Takes To Succeed? |

You’ve got a great idea, you are pretty sure that what you have will sell, you’ve even got some cash together. What else do you need?
Vision: You must be able to see where you are going and what the future will hold. See what others are not able to see and build your business on these visions.
Courage: The ability to act upon your vision despite having doubts. The readiness to give up job security and a planned future for the chance of making a success with your new business. This takes courage.
Strategizing: Having the courage to act upon your vision, you now need to build your strategies. You will need a business and a marketing strategy. These are the formulas that you will use to drive forward and manage your business.
Planning Skills: To ensure that you reach your vision, you need copious amounts of planning. Planning how you will reach your targets, how you will meet new changes and challenges and how you will improve your business. You will need a business plan and a marketing plan.
Researching: Having decided what your business is going to be, then you will need to find out who will want to buy from your business and at what price. This takes a fair amount of researching.
Conceptualizing: Knowing what you want to sell and to whom, you now need to define your products and services. Brainstorm different things that you associate with your company. Include everything, good and bad, until you are out of ideas. Keep in mind that ideas generate ideas. Write everything down, this is how you move your company forward. Use this period to design your products, what you want your company to look like and how you want it to be perceived by your customers.
Creativity: You will need the ability to think outside of the box. Keep ahead of your competitors by coming up with new, unusual and unique concepts and solutions to their needs. You will need to create marketing materials, packaging and sales pitches – all will need verbal and visual creativity.
Determination: Along the way you will come across many hurdles and set backs, you will need to dig deep, make your changes and keep going. Determination and the belief in your visions and plans will keep you on the road to success.
Humour: When all the world seems against you and all seems to be going wrong, when your customers seem to be your worst enemy then you need a sense of humour to carry you forward.
Lastly good luck!
By  Martin   Brown