Miss Dom's Insights for Feb?.... Golf Lessons, Sale of Business Update, Podcasts vs Bubblegum, Traction vs Scaling Up
Well I’ve got some excellent news to start us off – January is over and that means your local gym is empty again and there’s lots of room for you to get back there.
Have a Golf Lesson- ON ME...and with me. I have 8 spots reserved to take my "Dom's Insights" folks out for a golf lesson with Jonas Golf. Life is too short, and we can all invent reasons to just work all the time. Use this link to put your name on the list and I'll choose the location based on who's coming! This year I will do golf lessons, fly fishing lessons ( probably casting) and a cooking class. For those of you who came out with me last year, please don't be shy- you can come again!). Business Owners/partners only please.
January and February have been extremely busy doing Strategic Planning with clients. I won’t get into that here, but clients usually worry that a day of Strategic Planning takes them out of the office for a full day. However, by the end of the day they want more time! Who can blame them?
One of my goals for this year was to write a book by Jan 31 and I hit it! ( I started in October of last year) The 7 Secrets of Goal Setting Success is done! If you'd like to read it, just click here. I would really like your feedback so if you download it, please let me know your thoughts/ edits/ suggestions! Good and Bad, ok?
BIV Article for Owners who might want to sell one day.
Retirement Ready. As a business owners, selling your business becomes a real thing at some point. Last November, The Business Transitions Forum in Vancouver outlined how 3 local companies navigated selling. When you go to sell, you need to know there are 3 types of buyers who can or will buy you. #1 and #2 are good options, and #3 is (usually) a horrible way to go. Give me a call if you want to talk about 1, 2 or 3. (and No-I’m not a business broker- but this is powerful info you need to know) Read the whole story here….
I have been building out a Strategic Planning series for you on LinkedIn and here on my blog.
BCIT update. On Thursday Feb 9, I’ve been invited to be part of the Ask an Expert series . I’ll be presenting to the BCIT Students Association on How to Pitch your Business. If you’re a BCIT student, you can register at the Students Association. For the general public, let me know and I’ll get you on the guest list.
AWMAC- I’ll be presenting at the AGM on the subject “Profits in Partnership”. Of course as an AGM it’s a closed event, and if you’re an AWMAC member I’ll see you there!
GSEA update. For those of you who follow my Linkedin or Facebook posts, you’ll know that the GSEA is the Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. This is a global EO initiative, and our Vancouver Chapter has been one of the leaders in putting student businesses forward. The Canadian Finals are here in Vancouver on Feb 21. I only have 4 guest lists spots still available. Email me directly please.
I’m the GSEA chair for Vancouver this year, and I'll be looking for student applicants for the 2017 competition which will take place sometime in Q4. If you know what university-aged Business owner who is interested in applying please have them contact me directly, or if they can look at the competition rules here.
Still on the subject of GSEA I will be in Frankfurt Germany April 27-29 for the global finals for 2016. I’ve never been to Germany before this will be exciting!
Festivus. Yes it’s really a thing. I’m getting ready to do Festivus in March. Its my 3rd event and this time I hired a trainer. He’s taking it pretty seriously!
Books. If you’re looking for a book recommendation I have a few for you.
I’m reading…. “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish. Most of you know I’m a big Rockefeller Habits fan, and this is his updated version of the system. I love it. If you want to put Strategic Planning in place in your company this is an absolutely rock-solid system for doing it and the one I use most often with my clients.
I’m also reading- “Traction” by Gino Wickman. Although I’ve read this book before to use with clients I want to do a side-by-side comparison of traction versus scaling up. So I’m reading it this time and taking a lot more notes. If you find Rockefeller Habits heavy to read , this is a lot more simplified (and still rock solid) method for doing strategic planning. Stay tuned for more info.
And, I’m reading – “The Business Book.”- Big ideas simply explained by Marcouse et al.
Yes I like to read multiple books at the same time – I don’t know if I would recommend that for everyone though.
Courses I’m taking. I am halfway through Frank Kern’s system on the psychology of online marketing and crafting calls to action. It’s very interesting and Kern has a really blunt style that I like.
Podcasts I’m listening to.
For those of you who are Brian Tracy fans and recall that Bryan and I are business partners, you’ll recall that Brian always says turn your car into a university.
That’s exactly what podcasts allow you to do. Instead of listening to “Donkus 106” radio, why not use your drive time wisely and listen to intelligent podcasts that will feed your mind instead of stuffing your ears with bubblegum. ( now you know how I feel about that!)
Podcast are a great way to do that as are e-books through <<audible.com>>.
The podcasts I’m listening to right now are:
Freakonomics - The hidden side of everything. This is produced by WNYC University and hosted by Stephen Dubner. It’s simply excellent and very,very interesting.
Smart Passive Income Blog – by Pat Flynn. Pat speaks on topics around the Internet and business models surrounding it. If you are a business owner his podcasts are aimed nicely at how to effectively use the Internet and social media marketing strategies to build your company.
Stuff you should know. Part of the How Stuff works family of information sites, you will either love or hate Josh and Chuck as they walk you through all sorts of really interesting – and sometimes odd topics like – Can you live without a bank account , or How Porta- Potties work. I like this podcast because it talks about the history, the present, and the future of any given topic and gives excellent context to their topics. Where do you think I get my stories in the middle of those coaching sessions??
In my last post, we started picking apart strategic planning by looking at the S.W.O.T. assessment. S.W.O.T. of course stands for Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats.
You can go back and read that article here if you like.
For those of you who still think that Vision, Mission, Culture, and Purpose is nothing but Unicorns and Rainbows… I don’t think you'll like this blog post very much.
However, I get to be the guy who gets to give you the straight goods. All of those things are critically important – if you ever want to grow beyond a 1 to 10 man show.
The reason we do Strategic Planning is like setting a clear project scope or the blue prints, elevations and take off drawings of the trades world.
It would be foolish to try and build a solid stable structure without a set of blueprints. And you’d never get the project done right by a sub-trade if you didn’t have a common set of prints to work from.
It’s really the same with Strategic Planning. We set out to create a plan so that we can get our staff and employees and subcontractors to help us achieve it.
Or - - we stay small and continue thinking about how we can work harder to get ahead instead of how we can work smarter.
And Strategic Planning is working smarter.
Again, to start this process off you might want to go back and read the first couple of blog posts in this series. If you’ve already done that then let’s talk about Purpose.
Our purpose is our “why”. Our “Why” is what looks like a really short statement; but takes a lot of thought.
The good news is that there’s a system for writing this out. Use this to create your own. As you’ll see in my examples, you have some leeway as long as you get all of the parts in there somehow.
The Purpose Formula
(Our company) + exists to provide + (name the benefit) + to + (the clients we serve)
So if you were a Trades company ,your purpose might read like this
Hot Tin Roofing exists to provide and install hi-tech living roofs for a caring world.
Polar Bear HVAC is the most educated and efficient contractor for Hotels who value comfort and consistency for their guests.
…And if you were a company that built websites and apps;
At Gremlin-ware, we’re here to make programming seamless and integrations flawless for Freight and Distribution networks .
You get the point.
So - now can you see the value? Where can you use this Purpose Statement in real life to help grow your company?
Here, let me lay a few out for you…
Hiring new staff –
(You) : ”Ok Samantha- tell me about a time you rolled out a project where the programming was seamless and the integration flawless….”
(Samantha saying to herself) Oh wow, they do that here? I have to get this job!
Training / Onboarding new people -
(You) : “Fred, today we’re going to learn about heat loads and volume displacement for industrial buildings and how we do it here at Polar Bear HVAC. You see, we are the most educated and efficient mechanical contractor for Hotels in BC.”
(Fred says to himself) – Wow, this place is great. I’m going to have to work hard to keep up.
In your marketing – Call us at Hot Tin Roofing- Your roof is our baby!
In your sales script – What’s important to your Hotel in a Mechanical Contractor?
For customer issues/ installation questions in the field: To answer the question- what should we do to fix things when something goes wrong.
Fred calls into the Polar Bear HVAC office to talk to Paul the owner.
Fred: Uhh, Hi Paul, we have a problem. The Hotel wants me to put in the smaller, cheaper unit.
Paul- for the Ballroom? It won’t be able to keep up.
Fred: well- that’s what they want.
Paul- Their guests wont be comfortable and they’ll end up getting complaints. Can you go up and talk to Susan the VP Ops? She knows we researched all of this on the original install. …Fred- we’re the most educated HVAC guys in BC, right? This is free, good advice.
Can you go talk to her? Let her know the right thing to do for guest comfort is to go with the unit we suggested.
Fred: Yup, I’m on it
So, without scripting all of these, I’m hoping you’re starting to see why this matters.
A Purpose Statement tells our clients, employees and the world why we exist.
If you’re like me, you didn’t start this company so that you could just come in with the cheapest bid. You are excellent at what you do, you’re proud of what you produce, and you want to deal with clients who respect the effort you put in.
That’s why we have a purpose statement.
So- I get that every single company is different, and that every market is different. And you might completely disagree with some of the examples that I gave above.
And that’s okay. You also might have completely agreed.
For those of you wondering if I would share my own Purpose Statement here it is.
BizStratPlan works exclusively with family and privately held businesses to show owners and entrepreneurs how to work even smarter.
This is a good place to wrap it up for now. Again if you want to know more about Strategic Planning, this is a link to the first post in the series.
If you want to know why Strategic Planning takes a whole day, I suggest you read this post! You’ll hear what one of my clients had to say about the process , after they stalled on it for 3 years!
As you know, I love what I do. If you ever want to talk about your business, lets get on the phone for 20 minutes.
One more thing – I’m the Chairman for Vancouver’s GSEA this year. The GSEA is the Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and its hosted by EO Vancouver*. Do you know of a University Student who also runs their own business? They qualify for this prestigious award.
The 2015 winner was Daniel Dubois, founder of ShareShed.com and graduate of Capilano University.
The 2016 winner is Bunny Ghatrora of BCIT, with Elleboxco.com. Bunny will be competing at the National Finals here in Vancouver on Feb 21 at the Hootsuite offices. If you’d like to be on the guest list, let me know!
Click here for more information on the GSEA and EOVancouver.
As the New Year approaches, you’ll hear a lot about goal setting- even from me! But lets do this a bit differently….
I truly hope that part of your goal setting is that you’ll do (or revisit) your company’s Strategic Plan.
As a business owner, having a clear vision of the future is important. Unless you like the drudgery of dealing with the same issues the same way, every day.
Part of Strategic Planning is doing a SWOT Assessment or SWOT Analysis of your business.
S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats.
Grab a coffee as you read this article, and also grab a pen and some paper. And keep checking back to the blog because I’m going to do a step-by-step walk through of effective strategic planning here.
Our Strengths and Weaknesses are internal. We can control them or have influence over them.
As you write your notes, use short crisp language. Be succinct and painfully honest with yourself. Think of your internal strengths. These need to be true strengths. If you write down “we have the lowest prices”, please call me immediately! You’re in trouble!
What are your real strengths in your business? Do you have a truly great Customer service system? Do you have unique machinery, unique skillsets? Maybe you’re the undisputed leader in something special in your industry? Are you the best marketers in your industry? Work on your list until you come to only 4 or 5 distinct strengths.
Now, lets be painfully honest with our Weaknesses. How is your A/R? What about your people? Do you have a healthy team? How many of your key people will retire in the next 3 years?
Whatever it is, being brutally honest with yourself pays dividends later. You would hate to be the Emperor with no Clothes on this one.
Ok, now we can move on to the external factors. What are the Opportunities and Threats you or your industry faces?
I’ve often found that clients like to get lost in the Opportunities column. Because, of course, its fun.
The best thing you can do when this is part of strategic planning is making this just another section. Sure- get excited, but don’t let that excitement cloud reality!
Opportunities can come from so many places. Here’s one that is often overlooked … Have you really tapped into the leverage point that is your client or customer feedback? Look at your Yelp reviews or at feedback from your customers. Do you do a Net Promoter Score? If so are you using it as a tool for growth or change?
Again, make sure you are jotting these things down. In a strategic plan this is one of the first sections you’ll complete!
As a business coach, and trainer of business coaches, I’m a big fan of taking action.
So all I’d ask you to do is commit to taking one action form this article. At the very least, take a post-it note and write “S.W.O.T.” on it. The put it on the dashboard of your car!
That’s how I get into your head!
Here’s what we’ve found amongst all our coaches, and all our clients. Some of you may know that I’ve built a high performing team of professional business coaches around the world. Those coaches report back that most business owners don’t do regular strategic planning.
So- just by doing this exercise makes you one of the top 20-25% of Business Owners.
By taking action on the insights you get form doing a SWOT, you move into the top 2%.
Nice place to be, isn’t it?
Thanks for reading; I’m looking forward to your comments, thoughts, tips and tricks on this one!
You can read this on Linkedin too!
Title photo credit;Headlineshirts.net
A few weeks ago I went to the BC Food Processors Association meeting . With all the media about how bad CETA was going to be I wanted to see if there was a shred of positive. I mean- there’s got to be a reason for doing this right?
Plus I hate it when I hear faceless people complaining without offering real solutions. Frankly it’s a waste of my time.
So I went to the event. I have to say- it was quite the eye opener.
They had Monica Gervais who is the Senior Manager of Trade Policy and Negotiations from the BC Ministry of International Trade give us the run down. Afterwards, she shared her slides with me and I gleaned some good info for those of us who want to see the opportunities (and potential threats) in time to course correct and take advantage. (See below for links or call me)
Some of this info should find its way into your Strategic Planning or SWOT assessments- and its about more than just food!
It was a pretty long talk with lots of detail so I’ll give an overview here. If you want more detail, let me know, or see the links below.
To set the context, it turns out Canada has been pretty aggressive at pursuing free trade agreements. There are 3 that came up at the meeting.
· Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA)
· Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
· Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
I had heard about the CETA deal about 6 or 7 years ago when the Italian Chamber of Commerce did a cross-Canada road show on it. I’ll focus on CETA here…
So its coming into effect in 2017 and covers….
Monica Gervais pointed out that Canada is the only G7 country with preferential access to both the EU and USA ( we’ll see what the new US prez really does about that)
Here’s some more detail for your Christmas, Hannukah and New Years Eve trivia convos……
· The CETA agreement will eliminate tariffs on some key BC goods including Agri-foods products
· 94 percent of agriculture products going to the EU will be duty-free, including:
-->Fresh and Frozen fruit (9 to 12 percent)…. That’s good for our for Okanagan Apples
-->frozen, fresh, and processed blueberries (tariffs up to 9.6 percent)… that’s great for most of Richmond and Pitt Meadows
-->Processed Fruits and Vegetables such as dried cranberries (14 to 17.6 percent) …Again Richmond!
o Cherries (up to 12 percent) …that’s great for the Interior
o Mushrooms (up to 18.4 percent) …I’m assuming the legit kind !
· It will also Reduce non-tariff barriers like:
-->Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee
· Improves labour mobility: business professionals, technicians
-->Hmmm …. Some labor markets in Vancouver/BC are already super tight here.
* The implications here should be part of all Strategic Planning conversations going forward
· Improves access to government procurement to the local government level: a $3.7 trillion market in the EU
· Supports collaboration, sharing knowledge and research in science, technology and innovation
--> Hmm…I wonder what this will do for SRED Credits. Ill have to ask Kevin Wong at Stonecracker Law
Ok this was a bit of a long one, but that’s what you get for reading a blog post about government policies….I’m pretty sure this will be a polarizing topic, but , I cant simply choose to ignore it if my clients ask me about it, right?
If you have thoughts, or helpful links, definitions, or clarity, PLEASE let us all know here.
You can read this and my other articles on my blog here
A few days ago I met with a long-standing client for a day of strategic planning. This is a powerhouse team of two partners who are very dialed in, super smart, and very passionate about their business. In the last three years they have added three additional business units to their core operation. They are actually a dream client, because they implement and act on their coaching insights very quickly.
Both of them expressed a concern about how long the Strategic Planning process would take. With their busy operations they both felt that taking an entire day away from the office would be too much. (Ask me later why it took 3 years for us to get there)
Not to give away their final observation but by the end of the day they wanted more.
To make the best use of your time reading this, I’ll outline how a day gets consumed in building a proper strategic planning session.
To set the context for you, we started at 8:30, broke only for lunch, and finished at 6. Cell phones were off, and we were offsite so that we wouldn’t be interrupted.
Here are the time blocks for our day
Our Values/ Our Purpose/ Our BHAG- 2.5 hours
S.W.O.T. Assessment – 1.5 hours
Lunch- 1 hour (actually 45 mins)
What is our Brand Promise, and how can we measure it? – 1 hour
Our 3 to 5 year Projections and Critical Numbers- 1.5 hour
One year Projections and Priorities including Critical Numbers – 1.5 hour
Summary, Agreement on Action Items - 30 minutes
Open Items still remaining- Quarterly Projections, Actions and Accountabilities (target- 1 hour)
This type of facilitated exercise is very engaging and it feels like it goes by very quickly. I was impressed at how aligned these two partners are, and that certainly kept things moving well. Let me quickly define each of the sections a bit more so that you understand the value.
Defining our Values, our Purpose, and our BHAG. (2.5 hours) The reason Strategic Planning starts here is because alignment on these three items leads to clearly defined goals as well as projections and actions.
I once led a session with a dental practice where the three partners had very different values. It seems like a small thing but it had been causing a rift in the organization. One valued business growth, while another valued life balance. (The 3rd partner was newer and was still in practice building mode). As you might imagine, a value of “growth” came with statements like “I’m happy to work weekends”, and “lets expand”.
The partner who valued life-balance was expressing things like “reasonable hours”, and a cautious approach to taking on new practice space. Those values caused un-deniable tension. We worked though it with coaching but left unchecked, not being aligned is a cancer.
The S.W.O.T. Assessment. This acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. We invested 1.5 hours in this self-assessment, and it was worth it. Again, if I had to sum it up in one word it would be “alignment”. This is an excellent focusing exercise that becomes a reality gut-check on projections.
Lunch took us 1 hour. Before we left, I proposed a topic for lunch discussion around an industry trend that came up in the S.W.O.T. This particular industry has had an increasing number of lawsuits in their industry- how are we going to deal with that? An excellent side conversation!
What is our Brand Promise, and how can we measure it? This was a 1-hour piece of our planning session, and in this case it went by in a breeze.
Next was 1.5 hours on our 3 to 5 year Projections and Critical Numbers.
This was a really exciting exercise because we took last years numbers and had an Entrepreneur level conversation full of the “what ifs” that they had earned throughout the day. What I found interesting is that they both immediately agreed that one of their divisions had one more chance to make it, or it would be sold or shut down. As I said- these are impressive clients who really take action!
One year Projections and Priorities including Critical Numbers. We invested 1.5 hours peeling back the layers on the 3-5 year projection and getting it aligned with the 1-year expectations. This section usually spins off a lot of “must-do’s” and “why-haven’t- we-done-that-yet’s”.
Summary, Agreement on Action Items - 30 minutes.
As you might imagine this piece of the meeting goes quickly and has a lot of energy. A good coach will always summarize a coaching session with “who will do what, by when?
Remember, we started at 8:30 and by this point it was 6 PM. So- we were at 9.5 hours including lunch. Since we have regular, weekly coaching meetings, we decided to move our open items into our regular meetings.
The open Items still remaining are - Quarterly Projections along with the Actions and Accountabilities. Our target is 1 hour to complete that.
Sound exhausting or sound exhilarating? If you’re considering having a strategic planning session make sure your coach is experienced, well trained and follows a system you believe in. Then- jump in!