I was digging through old files tonight and found some business plans that I put together for my senior thesis at Auburn. It made me google business plan writing, which led me to this image.
It is amazing how simple things seem when they haven’t started yet, but when they get going, how complicated things can get. A good plan will get you started but in all honesty it doesn’t help you put out fires. It doesn’t even help you get more business. All that a business plan is good for is making you and all involved have conversations before you have to. When the founders all agree that they want to be the best experience in town, and not the low cost leader, that guides a lot of decisions later down the road. There are things that are off the table because everyone agreed to that.
As I think about it, here are the big mistakes with plans:
– Planning too far into the future. (You don’t have a crystal ball, so don’t plan for 15 years from now.. you just can’t do it.)
– Sticking to the plan. (When you actually get started, you have to be willing to throw the plan out the window and make the right decision with the information that you didn’t have when you got started)
– Thinking you are superman. (Your yellow pad brilliance won’t help you make payroll in month 7. So make some realistic plans, and have an exit strategy.)
At the end of the day, you have to remember what Eisenhower said.. “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”
The act of planning is more valuable than the plan itself. Planning makes you realize that you can’t just show up and wing it. A plan once made, on the other hand, can keep you from making the best possible decision. So plan and plan well, but just don’t follow it too closely once it is done or you will head somewhere you might not want to be.
What are your thoughts? How often do you make a plan, stick to it, and it works out.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the new Matchstic.com website. Remarkable in every sense of the word. If the goal is customer engagement, then here is someone doing it well.
Let me throw this out there. For a branding company, the majority of your business is project based. Most clients are one time clients, due to the fact that you typically aren’t rebranding everyday. (unless you are doing something very wrong) So to keep a dialogue going with clients, to keep a relationship going, and even more to keep your customers (or friends as they would call them) engaged, is a huge challenge for a firm like this. In my opinion, not many people do it better than these guys.
I must admit I am biased, but I will say that there a few days where I don’t mention something that I learned while I was at the stic. I am therefore very appreciative of the guys that took a chance on me, and have connected me to everyemployer that I have had since. (all former clients, and now friends)
I have been spending a lot of time working with teams lately… everything from how well people are getting along, to do we have a good mix of the ever-overused word – “Synergy”.
It is easy to be cynical about the importance of teams and teamwork, because it has become such a “red ocean” of coaches, resources, etc.. In the midst of all of that, I bet at the simplest of levels we could all agree that teams are important.
All that to say, I just finished listening to the MP3 version of “Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team“, and it was helpful. It is a very simple tool, that can easily help you put a list of values that your team can all agree is the goal of the group. Then, once there is buy in, you immediately have a litmus test of how well you are doing.
If on the other hand you are stuck on being cynical about teamwork… then this is for you… (despair.com – place for a smile today… if you have a sense of humor that is)
I might be late to the game, but I just found out about this “Way Back Machine” thing that is going on. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, like I hadn’t until last week, it is essentially a website that will show you the history of any website in its existence. You can see anything from Google’s first website or remind yourself of your website when it first launched.
Here is the lesson that I learned from it. If apple’s website once looked like this but now can look like this, then there is hope for us all. We all HAVE to keep refining what we do; growing, learning, and changing. If you don’t change, you will be left behind.
Also, Google’s website then and now. Really not that different… Pretty amazing the level of focus, foresight, and consistency that they have been able to show to stay on top of their game, and yet still be so true to who they were from the beginning.
I learned quite a bit last week. Here are the top 10 quotes in bullet form:
1. Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. – Churchill
2. Raving Fans, not satisfied customers drive our business.
3. Detractors drive it in a different direction.
4. People derive their value from where they are in your “grapevine”. – Share info in a Up, Out, Down, Around system.
5. Your Capacity can’t be tested, only proven. – Carneal
6. That which we persist in doing gets easier, not that the task itself has changed, but our ability to perform it has improved. – Emerson
7. Everything you do tells a story, and we are all bad storytellers. – Brett Trapp
8. Be interested, not interesting. – Carneal
9. Don’t let the current circumstances of life distract you from what truly deserves your focus today. – Dad
10. Accept help graciously, you will have the opportunity to pay if forward. Just remember to do so. – Dad
It seems all too classic a story these days. A brand gets tired of slow and steady growth, so they throw it all on the line to stretch their brand to something that they probably shouldn’t. It seems like both of these great companies are envious of the other… and here are my two stories as proof.
I overheard a person in the drive through order a “Mocha Latte” to which the woman inside replied, “Which one you want? Those are two different drinks sir. One is a Mocha, and one is a Latte”
When the person asked the difference, the nice woman didn’t really seem to know, so I helped out and explained the difference in the two…
I walked in and ordered a small Pike’s Place, one of my favorite coffee flavors, but the response that I got seemed out of place at best.
The typical response that I am used to is something like “Would you like room for cream?” but on this day, they had taken a cue from McDonalds, and the response was “Would you like to upsize to a Grande for just $.50 more?”
Be yourself, don’t copy someone else… Especially not someone on the absolute extreme of the quality/cost scale! Don’t overextend your brand, no matter how desperate your current circumstances seem to be.
I love the idea of having a website to make life easier for me, but maybe it is better for people to retain the ability to find the information, organize it, and then make the best decision for themselves. If the system that finds information is openly claiming to help people make decisions, it doesn’t seem like it is a stretch for Microsoft to conveniently steer you to what is beneficial for them. (Or whoever pays them the most)
I don’t get this… Kudos for the trying to solve a problem for people. But unfortunately Google isn’t a problem.
I saw a graph here that shows just how many social networks there are. It really blew my mind. Thanks to the Seth Godin 6 Month MBA folks for coming up with it.
Like anything, with more competition, or noise, demands more differentiation. Here are the basic steps to making sure that you pick the right network and find your tribe.*
1. Make a goal
Have a reason to get into this. It will take a lot of time, so have a reason besides bragging at parties. This goal needs to be measurable and on any given day someone should be able to ask you if you are succeeding or not, and you should have a definite answer.
2. Define your niche or audience.
This means that you should know what they like and value. Where they work, and where they play.
3. Find you niche on 1 or 2 networks at most.
Make sure they are networks that you can invest in and more importantly master.
4. Make a detailed plan to make them fans.
The reason you are investing in social networks is to make money. Know how you plan to make money off of people that are your fans.
5. Focus, and pull away from other networks.
Spread yourself too thin, and you lose.
*If you haven’t read tribes, then buy it. You don’t know how to invest time in a social network without reading that book.
For those of you that have never heard of Trader Joes Grocery Store, it is a magical place where they have thrown away the paradigm of what a “grocery store” is. It is quality food, made without big name brands, for cheaper prices. It is such a great experience it is hard to explain.
But, in my opinion the real success of Trader Joe’s is due to the simple idea of a $2 bottle of wine.
My first impression of Trader Joe’s, long before I went to the store, was this wine. This $2 bottle, ($33 case) isn’t the fanciest wine you have ever had, but if you have ever been to a wedding or party in Atlanta you probably have had it, and enjoyed it.
This wine does more than just make money though, it is what gets most people in the door for the first time, and what keeps them coming back every week for their groceries.
They might be taking a beating on the profit margins of this one item in the store, but they make it back with customer loyalty.
In a world with expensive advertising, and with switching costs seemingly higher than ever, advertising doesn’t always have to be an expense. What can you sacrifice (margins on the wine), to get people to be a loyal customer, and more, a true fan.