There is no strategy without process A small business must manage all the moving parts of a large one, with fewer resources. My work keeps these moving parts effective.
Know that investors will be looking primarily at three things:
- Your market opportunity: have you identified a need and an audience for the thing you sell? What is the potential market share? What is the buying power?
- Your team: are you somebody who can work hard and adapt quickly? Is that true of the rest of your team as well?
- Your finances: will you make good decisions with another person's money?
What is true across all those different experiences?
A personal brand means what is it about YOU, rather than you business, that will stand out.
Focus on the constants for you, regardless of industry or country or job. Consider these questions:
- What motivates you?
- What do you take pride in?
- How do you want people to think about you?
- How do you describe "quality"?
Use these sorts of questions to build a description of how you act, interact, communicate, and prove your value. And that will be your personal brand: constant truths.
Don't start with the KPIs, start with the responsibilities.
Think of everybody in your business and list out what your performance expectations are of each person. Then determine how you will know if those expectations have been met: what are the outcomes you will track for each.
Those are your KPIs.
For example: you expect your sales people to sell. That is a fine starting point. But what does that mean?
- Do you expect new clients? And if so how many? At what value?
- Do you expect return business? How much? How often?
- Do you expect up-sells? How often?
- What activities to expect to see to lead to these results?
- How many clients do you expect to see? What percentage of business is new, versus old? Are you high value low volume or the other way around?
This will be a more effective way to find realistic measurements that are both easy to track, and easy to share and "sell" to your employees.
2 issues to address: (1) dependency on one employee and (2) dealing with a difficult employee. Both are addressed below.
(1) Ask yourself why you feel dependent on this employee. If it is merely because of what he does, then finding an alternative is not too hard. It may mean spreading the work between other people (you included), and it may mean others being busier for a while. Consider what you can outsource or automate, or hire a temp to cover. That is better than allowing toxic attitudes in the workplace.
If it is because of knowledge he has or relationships he has with clients, start working right now to change that. Find ways to capture and share information, make sure your clients associate positive experiences with the company as well as the people. If your employees capture knowledge in their heads then start new procedures to manage a CRM Or system to keep client files up to date.
Never let an employee hold your business hostage.
(2) Dealing with a difficult employee - there are good tips here already. I don't know how close your relationship with this person is but remember that the workplace is not the back-yard: loyalty is rewarded but loyalty is not the same as longevity or seniority. If he is causing damage to your business, that is not loyalty.
Have a clear conversation, talk about the work issues: is he dropping the ball? Is he not doing what is expected? Is he not performing to your required business standards? Ask him if there is something he doesn't understand, or if he wants more training. In essence: when you speak with him come to the table with solutions. If he refuses each one, then give him his warning and be explicit about what that means.
Best of luck with this difficult situation!
Most important of all: think of this from the point of view of your buyers. Make sure you are networking with your clients, rather than your competitors or peers. Learn what they want and when building your sales process don't ask yourself "what should we do next".
Rather ask yourself: "what happens next for the prospect? What would they need from me?"
Understand their buying journey to build your sales process.
Specific is Terrific!
But how do you choose?
Work to your strengths!
What problem do you solve and how do you solve it?
Now look to your market: who has that problem, and who wants/needs it solved in your particular way?
Start there to build your niche market, then work outwards to demographic criteria.
Reframe your entire business from the point of view of your clients.
Instead of what you sell consider what they buy: what problem does it solve for them? How will their lives improve? How do they use your product/service?
How do they buy from you? What experience do they get? What language do they use when discussing their own situation and problem? What outcome do they want?
Create a message and position within their context and language, and then move on to the launch strategy and tactics.
Let others do the heavy work: use a software solution.
There are many out there, so start with exactly what you need to know (the information you need to have available comes first, then you determine what and how to track). Do some research on the available software and then call up a few companies and explain what you need, asking how they solve that problem.
Think of your priorities here: the right solution should be simple to manage, give quick access to information, not require a lot of interpretation, etc.
Beyond the software, think about what you can plan for to help give you the information you need. Build certain budgets to help manage how you categorize and view different invoices and areas of cashflow.
Remember, the key is to have immediate information, not just data.
Start by asking yourself: What do you want people to say about you when you are not in the room?
How do you want to be known? When people talk about you, how do you want them to describe you?
Now go back to your business: how do you become that person? And how do you manage your actions to always reinforce that person?
As part of this exercise also consider:
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What do you enjoy learning?
- What comes naturally to you?
Use this information to create a description that can apply to you and only you (it may not be one single trait, but it is a combination of traits). Then be that person, and project it clearly.
It also helps to do all this with a brainstorming partner, so you can talk it through out loud.