Same Path, Different Shoes

You can work in the same office or factory building and look out of the window. Chances are you’ll have a different view than the person stood next to you. Oh sure its the same stuff you’re looking at but you’ll see it differently, a slightly different angle, maybe some of the view is obscured, non-the-less different if only slightly.

Its these differences that eventually take each of us along a slightly different path than the next person. We all get the same training, rewards packages but somehow we all end up in differing positions.

The more you consider your future the more likely you’ll look back on the past. You’ll ask your self the what ifs and why certain parts of what you have achieved seem like such a black art. You’ll also be asking yourself if everyone faced the same problems you have and how they responded to the challenges.

Advice: if you’re thinking these thoughts then you are not alone. Plenty of people have thought them before and plenty more will in the future, its just that its so personal to you, that’s all. Here’s the advice bit; if you are now considering going alone and you need some financial help don’t just reach for the lowest cost help in terms of equity and/or value returns. Instead seek out a venture capitalist with a record of running a business, someone who’s been there before.

Look out for the ‘some experience’ bit in the pitch they give you for the opportunity to invest in you and your new business. Its this ‘some experience’ part that’s the most important. You are going to want people around you who know the pit falls, who will not panic when the stock market goes through a correction, who will offer insights and help if needed. This is where the ‘some experience’ pays off and the investment seems better than just low cost.

Keep in mind however, that although these types of investors have been there before and done the job for themselves, they haven’t yet done your thing. Its yours to make, yours to grow and yours to run. In short its going to be you who is the driving force and makes the difference, nobody will care as much as you about your new venture. They may have been great business leaders in their time but now they are investing in you and usually you alone so its you that’s got to build the great business, you that’s going to have to hire the great team and produce the great product or service.

Yes YOU!

Some place in the back of your head you should be able to hear the faint tick toc of a clock, this is the beat of your business and idea. Pay close attention and try to make it louder. The louder the better. Use you investors as mentors, and seek their help and friendship when the going is good not just when its bad or tough. the tick toc should not get so loud it drowns out all other noises but it should be a constant, it should be present in all your waking hours. But I warn you the tick toc will stop, and when your time runs out so does the tick toc. Its the rhythm and beat of your business, but one day, maybe not soon but one day that beat stops. You have to find a chair and decide what you are going to do.

Carry on? I suggest not

Sell up? If the value is there then yes, sell. You have a new beginning with your own seed money.

The only time I’d say not to sell is when you have a market dominant position and is unassailable in the foreseeable future. In this case you stay put, recruit some talent to run the business and carry on taking a payment. You are then free to do as you please, your business remains yours and you have provided opportunity to a talent for the future.

Thanks for reading.

Philip

Launch; RELENTLESSLY!

Launch!

What is the single most important aspect of a venture/business/product launch? What is the single most important aspect of enjoying and making the very most of an adventure or experience?

DEDICATION!

You must be able to give those who are helping you a rewarding experience or guess what? It just isn’t worth doing!

Nothing beats getting really stuck in and working hard. Strategies should and must be based on doing things, doing them well, doing them better than anybody else can do them, doing so that you would buy the product or service and pay more for it than you’re actually charging; that’s strategy! Basics win I hear, and I agree, absolutely agree, totally agree! Basics do win.

Business Basics 101; If you and your team are not enjoying what you are doing how do you think your customer is feeling about your product or service?

This question should not really need an answer, but if you feel you want to answer then you probably need to re-examine your product and service offering.

Do the first things before anything else, this is basics. Deliver on quality and value above all else then tell as many people as you can about your product. If you are delivering the basics of quality and value you really do have something to talk about. But don’t just talk, shout, shout loud, shout loud and often. Use Twitter, FB, LI, Tumblr… use whatever means you can. The public deserve to know just how great you are, how much your product rocks. And… they need to know just how DEDICATED you are to your product, the quality and value of what you are offering.

You must address how you manage, and how your team manages. The economic implosion of 2007/8 didn’t happen because nobody was watching, it happened because they were watching out for themselves only. No quality of service or value for money thinking got in the way of the undignified scrabble for personal gain. There is no way you can deliver great product and service if you are only interested in the money, in the personal gain you’re going to make.

DEDICATION! Be dedicated to your customers, give them great quality of product and value for money, work hard and base your strategy on doing things.

relentless

IDEAS FOR FOCUS;

Middle Line Managers; these are the people who make it happen so make them happy, treat them well and listen to what they tell you about your product, service, organisation and customers.

Integrate functions, make them work through problems together #1 way of making the business understand the business!

Listen, listen, listen, talk, then listen some more.

Embrace the ‘aging’ market, its growing at a pace.

Embrace the ‘female’ market, women spend more.

Use those meetings, the ones nobody wants to be at to shape the business culture and attitude.

WORDS OF INSPIRATION;

DEDICATION

ASPIRATION

RELENTLESSNESS

IN-TOUCH WITH THE MARKET

CUSTOMER NEED = CUSTOMER SUCCESS

WOW

PEOPLE; FIRST

MAKE IT MEMORABLE

WOMEN RULE, WOMEN BUY

THE MARKET IS GETTING OLDER

The Wall Street Journal asked Sallie Krawcheck the secret of her success in banking, her answer was enlightening;

There is absolutely nothing that beats hard work. You hoped when you were coming out of college that you were the smartest, it turned out none of us are. But I could sure out-work a lot of folks.”

The lesson to us all;

DEDICATION, HARD WORK, STRATEGIES BASED ON DOING, PRODUCT/SERVICE QUALITY, VALUE FOR MONEY

Thanks for reading.

Philip

JIA HO!

Jia Ho! (Let the Victory Prevail)

“Every Story always has a Beginning, a Middle and an End; But not always in that order” Jean Luc Godard

In business often times the language of conflict is used to describe the state of the business environment, especially when taking account of the competitive forces at play. There are 3 well recognised elemental states to a conflict;

  1. The time before the conflict, the period of onset
  2. Duration of the conflict
  3. Conflict resolution, the time between the end of the present conflict and the onset of the next

Or from an organisational sense;

  1. The time leading up to a product launch, change in strategy, entry into a new market… and the financing and planning of the product/service launch; the forecasting phase
  2. The time when the new or modified product or service is being delivered and the market reactions
  3. The time the market has settled, the organisation has found its place and a recognised market share

It’s probably reasonable to say that most people will only consider one and maybe two aspects of this cycle and that they are seen in isolation usually, moreover if all or some are viewed and considered that this is done in a linear fashion.

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FINNA demands that the single most important phase of the cycle is the forecasting phase and sets the dynamics for the rest of the cycle. All three parts of the cycle are important and each requires care and attention for success to prevail, but the forecasting phase is the most important by far. The other phases become or gain in importance as the un-planned for or unobserved dynamic factors come into play, and this is also very important to recognise and be prepared for. The future has not happened and so therefore we cannot honestly say with 100% confidence what will happen.

Good, indeed you should aim for Great, predictions rely heavily on the underlying data you have and have generated. But you should appreciate that in some situations, that in some markets, that conflict may not happen in the near future or that the market is immune from competitive forces at present, this normally applies to highly regulated markets. It all very much depends on the business environment. It’s the market reactions that should dictate how a forecasting phase should play out.

Traditional business models, the types normally taught in business schools the globe over, concentrate on the economists assumed view that business is about maximising profits and building growth. However, back in the real life situation’s among which we all find ourselves there will be competing objectives. Companies may lower their expectations on this basis, those that feel that maximising in this way is too hard, content themselves with a lower level of performance are said to be engaging in satisficing.

Reasons for this;  Owner/Managers running a business for income only, the hobby business

Business under short-term pressure who lose site of the long-term goals

Businesses with a broader social/public good linked to activities

Economists love the idea of the perfect market; many buyers, many sellers, a homogenous product. From a business perspective this is the very worst kind of market, buyers buy at the market rate and nobody can affect this rate. The only thing a seller can do is to sell an extra unit so long as the cost of doing so is less than the market price and the cost of manufacture/delivery is less than the selling price. In these kinds of markets no-one has an incentive to change their behaviour.

Markets will naturally move towards perfection over time and so companies find themselves seeking out a competitive advantage, the idea of seeing the market place as an area of conflict comes into effect. How does this play out?

Own-Price Elasticity;

Demand is generated by dropping the price below the market and even the cost value. If a good or service is reduced in price this has to be carefully thought through. If the percentage change in demand is less than the percentage change in price then cutting the price will reduce revenues.

Income Elasticity;

In an economy where living standards are rising a business that sells low-quality goods may find it has limited prospects. Demand typically will reduce in this situation. A business engaging in the luxury end of the market contrastingly may see that its prospects have improved.

Cross-Price Elasticity;

This kind of price elasticity normally comes about in markets which experience a level of inter-related and cross-functional sales e.g. cars and fuel. Fuel price rises significantly and the size of cars goes smaller. Many types of cross-price effects are very small and possibly short lived.

Elasticity of Supply;

This is measured as the percentage change in quantity of goods supplied divided by percentage change in price. If a good or service is difficult or impossible to increase production of, then at least in the short-term the price will rise.

Choosing which strategy can and often is a minefield but the common practice is to adopt Own-Price Elasticity as a way of generating revenues. Of itself this is a risky strategy at best and can lead to revenues reducing to a point where the business finds itself in serious trouble and may even close. The most appropriate way of using Own-Price Elasticity as a strategy for growth is to find a disruptive technology or methodology that radically changes the cost base of production.

Elasticity of Supply is almost entirely driven by the market and there is very little you can do to influence it.

The two main areas where competitive advantage can be gained is in the areas of Income Elasticity and Cross-Price Elasticity. In both cases strategic planning is key. Having an understanding of the market (the forecasting phase) is the single most important activity you can do.

FINNA takes account of many aspects and seeks out the goal. Essentially business activity and planning can easily be framed in the guise of a story. However, the beginning is not at the start, the true beginning is in the middle, in the ‘new’ market conditions.

By starting in the middle you will be forming a view on how you think the competition (for business success) will be played-out. This will inform your forecasting process and so the strategy. Which market strategy will you go for? This should only be driven by your aims, what are looking to achieve and when by? Difficult and complex questions to ask of yourself no doubt but ask them you must and then keep them at the forefront of you plans. By doing so you may realise that business growth, market domination and price competition are not actually what you need or want. You will be looking to achieve contentment for yourself, your business and your life.

Doing more, running on the spot just to stay put; Own-Price Elasticity is almost certainly not going to deliver on your aims.

Waiting for the market to determine your fate is to let loose the reins; this is to rely on Elasticity of Supply. Again unlikely to delivery your goals and speaks to those who want to be planned for rather to plan for themselves.

Cross-Price Elasticity requires great levels of market knowledge and intimacy. Great if you have the time and dedication, not so great if you don’t. The market will catch you out and your goals will be nought.

Income Elasticity is probably where the real strategic advantages can be gained from. This requires planning, intelligence, aptitude, ambition, aspiration and a lot of hard work. It also means that you must remove the ‘ego’, markets will become richer and poorer over time and if you are looking to geographically grow your business you will need market intelligence from that nation or area. Do not assume that what works well for you in your home nation will automatically transfer to a different location.

Bread in a bag sold in the UK generally comes in pack sizes of around 800g and 20 – 22 slices, go to down-town Delhi in India and bread is sold in many shops by the slice.

By planning from the middle out you take account of the market conditions, how your competitors might react and when the market might stabilise readying itself for the next round of conflict.

JIA HO! LET THE VICTORY PREVAIL! FINNA

Thanks for reading.

Philip

Get the habit of seeking out enough

ENOUGH!

It’s important in life to know, really deep down know when you have enough of something, anything, and everything. I stress this point again KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE ENOUGH!

This means that you should know when you don’t have enough and when you have too much. Sounds simple? Yeah, so did I till I really thought it through. When will I know when I’ve got enough? But enough what? Money? Success? Talent? Time? A big enough house? A flashy enough car? What, enough of what? Yep you should have it by now, having enough is unique to each and every one of us. Only you will know when you have enough.

Having enough is a journey we all must undertake in the full knowledge we are seeking out enough. Having enough is about FINNA, it’s about being contented with your life and the things and people you’re surrounded by.

enough failth

Some founding principles of getting to the point when you have enough;

Be of Service; this is the only basis on which an organisation should be founded. Service is the very heart beat of an organisation. Making you customers, their customers and your staff happy through exemplary service is your # 1 aim each and every day, no exceptions, # 1!

Take moral responsibility for your actions and omissions; fairly easy this one, don’t cheat, don’t lie, and don’t deceive. Tell the truth, be honest and do not ever, ever, ever misrepresent yourself or your organisation (you will be found out one day, and when that day comes OH Boy is it gonna be a bad day at the office for you).

Aspiration is a way of life. When you get up in the morning, just before you go to bed and throughout the day aspire to better. A better you, a better team, a better organisation… Know your goal, know where you are at present and know how you are going to get there. Persistent aspiration is the secret of personal and organisational success of any and all kinds.

Offer individuals the opportunity for personal growth within the organisation. Be honest if you could not find a way of personally growing in your role, in your organisation would it be worth getting up in the morning and going to this place of stagnation? No! Didn’t think so! So offer opportunity to others and make their contributions worthwhile.

Profit is not a dirty word. Profit is a derivative of what you and your organisation does. No activity, no profit. One equals the other.

Dedication; do stuff, work hard, be courteous and most of all be the best. It’s often said that being the best is one of the least crowded places to be, I agree so be the best. It’s so much easier to stand out from the crowd when it’s not actually crowded!

Business Basics 101; out work the competition!

1st line managers are your source of advantage over any other competitive organisation. This is a fact! Those people who make it happen are the ones you must place central in your strategy. Your strategy should be doing stuff really well! Without them you will not be the best, you will not work hard, you will not have an organisation dedicated to doing stuff and being the very best.

Be obsessive about social factors and be memorable. The world is a social place, even more so today than yesterday and tomorrow will be even more social than today. To stand out you have to be memorable and to be memorable you have to be sociable. Communicate with your employees, communicate with your customers, communicate with their customers and tell a memorable story when you do.

Listen, listen way more than you talk and when you’ve listened implement what you’ve learnt.

Sweat, then sweat again then sweat again the details. The details are where you are at. Detail is your business, details are knowledge. Details are understanding where you are at present and knowing where you want to be and knowing how you are going to get there. SWEAT THE DETAILS!

Be on the offensive, look for opportunity, look for solutions, and communicate! Tell your story, tell it loud, make it memorable, and make it relevant, use it to actively seek out customers, better staff, and better opportunities.

Brand your world; again I got this from someplace else but it’s catchy; Distinct or Extinct! It’s a great phrase, and a great way of saying you have to be special, memorable, known, have an understanding of your environment.

KNOW WHEN YOU HAVE ENOUGH! This is where we started on this blog post. Knowing when you have enough is about your life-plan, about your starting place, finishing place and the plan to get there. It’s by no means simple but KNOWING WHEN YOU HAVE ENOUGH is FINNA.

Thanks for reading.

Philip