Your key implementation plan framework to get you started
Dr Greg Fisher is a professor in the Management and Entrepreneurship Department at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a visiting lecturer at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in South Africa.
Over the past three years, GDP growth in South Africa has been small. Economists expect 2018 to see GDP growth at 1% or less. And yet the growth strategies of businesses are aiming much, much higher. How do you target 15% to 20% growth under such tight economic conditions?
According to Dr Greg Fisher, a professor in the Management and Entrepreneurship Department at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a visiting lecturer at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in South Africa, you can’t just ride the momentum of the economy. You need to do something more to fill that gap. And therein lies the challenge, because there’s no silver bullet that can drive double digit growth.
“Ultimately, you need to be able to critically think through and formulate multiple ways to fill that gap,” explained Greg during his keynote strategy workshop at the 2017 ThinkSales Sales Leadership Convention. “Success in anything — sports, raising children, learning and business — is driven by fundamental principles that need to be applied with balance and moderation.
“A conceptual understanding of what to do isn’t enough. You need to take action — your ability to drive double digit growth lies in developing a strategy based on five key principles, and then executing it.”
Here are the five key principles you must unpack in order to formulate and execute a growth-driven strategy.
1. You need a good plan
Every successful business shift begins with a good theory. It doesn’t need to be sexy. It does need to be insightful, and give you a map of what to do next, what not to do next, and what value needs to be created through which channels going forward.
Leverage foresight, insight and hindsight to formulate a mental model and hypothesise (or develop a theory) that relates to your market.
Take Steve Jobs as an example. He hypothesised that people would pay a premium price for ease of use and an elegant design in computing. This would form the foundation that other digital products could be added to.
2. Strategy is about making choices and trade-offs
Strategists are constantly faced with choices and trade-offs that need to be made if you’re going to stick to the plan. Remember, true value is created when you make a choice, and don’t try to dabble in multiple things at once. You need a clear and manageable goal. Choices require decisions, often relating to where you will be channelling your resources. A trade-off is not doing something. What will you do and not do? This must align with what you’ve already theorised. It doesn’t serve you or the business to follow too many paths and options.
Which markets will you pursue vigorously and which will you leave alone? Which customers will you target, and which won’t you? Which products will you produce to enact your theory? Which activities will you engage in inside your organisation, what will you outsource and what won’t you do at all? Who will you hire? Who won’t you hire? And which assets will you choose to own?
Everything is a choice and a trade-off. Take Ikea, a retail brand that’s enjoyed 70 years of successful growth. Why? Because of fundamental and particular choices relating to product designs and style. Ikea isn’t everything to everyone — it has a very specific value proposition and delivers on it relentlessly.
This is fundamental. Even if you’re the low-cost provider in your space, you still need to be doing something different to drive those costs down; you still need to be differentiating yourself and the way you operate. The world is more competitive than it’s ever been, and buyers have more access to information and options than they’ve ever had. To be competitive, you need to really interrogate your differentiators.
The strategy conversation tends to happen early, the profit conversation happens late. You need to bring them together. When you’re having a strategy conversation, you need to understand how it will drive bottom line growth. The role of strategy is to bridge what customers are willing to pay for a product or service, and what it will cost you to deliver it. The strategies you adopt are determined by theories, choices, differentiation and costs.
The formula is the following:
Profit = the number of products you sell x price of product — expenses.
How does your strategy impact this equation? Which lever will your strategy pull? You ultimately want to drive profit, and to achieve that, your strategy must point to one or more of these three elements.
In other words, either you need to sell more products, or you need to increase the price you can charge, or you need to decrease the expenses you will incur to get that product to market (or a combination of all three).
The key question is therefore: What can you influence to drive the outcome you want? What strategy will drive profit?
The variants on the profit equation that you need to consider include:
- Industry average competitors
- Uniquely differentiated competitors
- Low-cost competitors
- Competitors with a digital advantage.
On the other side:
- Customer willingness to pay
- The cost to produce and deliver your goods.
Profit lies in the middle. Focusing on two or even all three of the levers is challenging, but it will result in the greatest results if executed properly.
But remember: The management of the profit equation is ongoing. You need to manipulate it in action and create a strategy that can be adjusted when and where necessary, always tying it back to the bottom line.
Ideally, you want to spend less while delivering more, resulting in higher profits. Before you can do that though, you must identify your profit levers. Finally, does your profit equation tie back to your points of differentiation, trade-offs and choices and ultimately business theory?
5. Activity integration
Your fifth, final and most important point is activity integration. You need to make your strategy happen. The previous four steps are meaningless unless you can do something with them.
Activity implementation is the result of the business performing a certain set of discreet activities. These include the sales force, managing customers and managing returns. This is your core and critical to business. Think of each business unit as a part to a mechanical watch.
The challenge becomes: How do they all work together in the service of the four points above? Your goal is to ultimately create something that is beautiful and precise. Independently, these departments are meaningless. Success lies in multiple activities, all working together to drive your strategy.
Start by driving your strategy and ensuring integration
To get started, consider which activities are necessary to drive your strategy and ensure integration. How these activities work together reinforces everything you’re doing. Activities amplify each other, until 1 + 1 = 3.
The problem is that multiple activities working together is difficult to replicate. There is no single activity (or silver bullet) that will drive success. You need to optimise all of your activities — you need ten primary activities, and you need to do them all very well. That’s activity integration.
The problem is that it’s not easy, which is why so many organisations fail at this stage.
If you can get this right though, the results will speak for themselves. 1x1x1… to 10 = 100%. 0.9×0.9×0.9… to 10 = 35%. That’s the power of activity integration. It also means that doing each activity at 90% will bring the entire organisation down to 35%.
Walt Disney conceptualised the entire Disney business according to activity integration. Each element worked into the next, starting with movies at the centre. Get that right, and all the other activities — Disneyland, merchandising and so on — work. Negate the movie piece and the rest disintegrates.
Bringing it all together
- What’s your theory?
- Do you have a clear, consistent and concise theory on how to succeed?
- How does that theory translate into your choices and trade-offs?
- What definitive things are you choosing to do and not to do?
- How do these choices drive differentiation? You need a core differentiation that customers can appreciate, value and buy into.
- How does your differentiation ultimately drive profits? Can you articulate it, and what levers are you pulling?
- What activities do you need to implement your strategy, and how do they ultimately integrate with each other?
Your Business workplan
Your key business plan to discover and implement the five core elements of a business strategy
Briefly describe the THEORY underpinning your organisation’s strategy.
A theory is a mental model about how your organisation does (or could) create value. It reveals hypotheses about how an organisation can create significant value. It usually entails:
- Foresight about the evolution of the industry in which you operate
- Insight into how your organisation can create value in the industry as it evolves
- Hindsight about how you might build past competencies, relationships and assets.
We theorise that
Key questions about yourself
- What are the assumptions embedded in your theory? Are they valid? Could they be tested?
- Would the other leaders in your organisation describe a similar theory underpinning your strategy? Do you have a consistent view of opportunities and mechanisms for value creation across the organisation’s leaders?
2. Choices & trade-offs
Identify the CHOICES & TRADE-OFFS that you have made, and need to make, to act on your theory.
A choice is a clear decision to do something specific and meaningful. A trade-off is a clear choice not to do something that is somewhat tempting or attractive to pursue.
- We have chosen to Identify 3 to 5 important strategic choices you have made
- We still need to make choices with respect to Identify 3 to 5 important strategic choices you still need to make
- We have chosen NOT to Identify 3 to 5 important trade-offs that you have made
- We still need to decide NOT to Identify 3 to 5 important trade-offs that you still need to make.
Key questions to ask yourself
- Do your choices and trade-offs clearly reflect your theory?
- What’s preventing you from making the choices and trade-offs that you still need to make? What would it take to definitively make these choices?
Identify the points of DIFFERENTIATION that are embedded in what you do (i.e. in your theory, choices and trade-offs).
Differentiation is something that clearly distinguishes an organisation from others in the industry. It is something that other organisations targeting the same customers are not doing and which those customers ultimately find valuable.
- We are different (or strive to be different) with respect to
Key questions to ask yourself
- Do your customers see and experience these points of differentiation? Would they agree you are different in this regard?
- Would the employees in your organisation describe similar elements of differentiation? Do you have a consistent view of your organisation’s differentiators across the organisation?
- How easy is it for your competitors to emulate your points of differentiation? Could they easily copy your points of differentiation? If not, why not?
Identify how your points of differentiation drive PROFITS.
- A useful way to examine the connection between strategy and profits is to examine a simple version of the profit equation as follows: Profit = (Number of products sold x Price of products) – Expenses. Identify how the organisation’s differentiation elements drive profits as follows:
- Identify those elements of the profit equation that apply for your strategy and complete the statement where applicable
- We are able to sell more products than rivals (YES/NO) because
- We are able to charge higher prices for our products than rivals (YES/NO) because
- We are able to reduce our expenses relative to rivals (YES/NO)because
Check those that are appropriate and complete the statement
- We sell more products because
- We charge higher prices for products because
- We reduce expenses because
Key questions to ask yourself
- What more could you be doing to increase volumes, charge higher prices and/or reduce expenses?
- Does your profit equation tie back to your theory, choices and trade-offs, and to your points of differentiation?
- Is the profit equation consistently understood across the organisation?
5. Activity integration
Identify the ACTIVITIES needed to deliver on your points of differentiation, and assess whether these activities are adequately INTEGRATED with one another (i.e. reinforce one another).
- STEP 1. Write up a brief description of each activity required to deliver on your organisation’s elements of differentiation.
An activity is something that a organisation does repeatedly in the process of developing, marketing and delivering products and services to clients.
- STEP 2. Draw links between the activities that currently reinforce each other.
Reinforcement between activities comes about when two activities support each other such that when they operate together, they are more effective than if they operated independently i.e. doing one activity well enhances the other activity.
Key questions to ask yourself
- Do we consistently view our organisation as an integrated system of activities that reinforce one another, or do we tend to deal with each activity independently?
- Are our activities arranged in a way that consistently and effectively delivers on our key points of differentiation? If not, how could they be rearranged to more effectively deliver on key points of differentiation?
How To Immigrate With Your Family By Starting A Business In The UK
The simple way to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true in the UK.
Many people, especially those with families, are reluctant to up sticks and move to the UK. These would-be movers are often worried that they will not be able to secure employment in the hugely competitive UK job market. This source of stress alone is enough to discourage some from pursuing their dreams of living in the UK. But, there is an innovative and accessible solution.
The UK has several visa classes aimed at individuals who wish to invest in the country. These give an individual the right to live and work in the UK with their families, if they make a defined investment. A visa that interests South Africans is the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. We have developed our UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme to help South Africans looking to immigrate to the UK alone, or with their families.
The basics of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa
To be awarded a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, you will need to invest at least R3,5 million (£200,000) in an existing UK business or one you start up. There are certain other requirements, but these are not particularly onerous, and most investors will qualify if they submit their application correctly.
The entrepreneur visa allows you to live and work in the UK, and take dependant family members with you, defined as your partner and your child under 18. If you have the capital, or are willing to liquidate your assets in South Africa to raise it, the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is a great way to relocate your entire family to the UK.
Do note: You will need to make specific applications for each dependant, so it is vital you consult with an immigration expert before beginning the application process.
You’re not just immigrating, you’re investing in the UK
By starting or investing in a UK business as part of our programme, you will be granted the right to live and work in the UK, and earn an income from that business.
The business you invest in will want you to play an active role, not just contribute seed capital. If you want to invest in a business without being an active director you will be allowed to do so, but you may not be eligible for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.
Another restriction is that you cannot hold this visa and work for a business other than the one you are invested in. But, your partner will be allowed to work in whatever field he or she pleases.
How do you choose the right business to invest in?
There is always an element of risk when investing in a foreign business, particularly when you’re thirteen thousand kilometres away from the country you’re investing in. It’s important to understand exactly what you’re investing in before you take the plunge.
That’s why our UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme is hugely beneficial. It matches your investment capital with a pre-approved investee business. We’ll make sure that your skills are matched with an appropriate venture so you can be an active director of that business.
We’ll also handle your visa applications, providing you with a comprehensive immigration and investment solution. Our partner’s list of investee businesses is over 200 strong, giving you an array of choices in various industries. This allows us to pair you with the business that best suits your investment goals and skills.
But what if you have a successful business in South Africa?
It’s no secret — emigrating from South Africa is difficult for many families who have deep roots and thriving operations. There’s no reason why you can’t keep your business in South Africa as well as relocate to the UK.
Nothing restricts a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holder from owning and overseeing businesses in other countries while they are on this visa. Many clients choose to relocate to the UK while ensuring that their original business continues to operate. In this way, you will be supplementing the income from your UK investment with revenue generated by your South African business.
You can hold British and South African passports if you apply for your British citizenship in the correct manner. You must obtain permission from Home Affairs in South Africa to avoid having your citizenship revoked. Retaining your South African citizenship will make it much easier for you to continue running a business here.
Talk to us today
There are compelling reasons to move to the UK — a brighter future for your children and a more stable country in which to retire. Our comprehensive solution will ensure you get the most out of your relocation.
If you’re thinking of immigrating to the UK or investing offshore — either or both — we can help.
8 Negotiating Tactics Every Successful Entrepreneur Has Mastered
How you would negotiate if you were talking for the other side? Now you know how your offer looks to them.
Deep down, we’re all a little greedy. We all want the best outcome for ourselves. We can’t help but consider what’s in our own self-interest any time we negotiate a deal.
But to become a truly successful negotiator, you have to learn to put aside pure self-centeredness. Because if all you care about is serving yourself, you’ll blow the deal before you even start.
Negotiations are a delicate balance of give and take. Learning to strike this balance is necessary for any entrepreneur hoping to build a prosperous business. It takes time and practice and whole lot of patience to hone a winning strategy. And yet each deal is unique and needs to be approached correctly, which is why a one-size-fits-all approach will never work for long.
Here are eight of the most important skills every entrepreneur should learn to become a master at negotiations.
1. Do your prep work
Successful negotiations are built on solid prep work. This means you know something about the parties involved, you’ve done a little background checking, you know about their business and maybe you’ve even talked to others they’ve worked with to get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses.
The same is true if you are on the other side of the table and are looking to invest in a product or service. You should have a solid understanding of the pros and cons of the commodity they are selling. The bottom line is, you need to have a good idea of who you are dealing with and what they can offer.
You should always go into negotiations with your best foot forward. You should be well rested. You should have eaten something (being “hangry” can swiftly detonate any negotiation). You should show up on time – maybe even early, so you aren’t walking in feeling rushed.
If you’ve done the above, you should be feeling positive and are going in clear-headed and confident. You will have the stamina and energy to get this deal done.
2. Consider all the details of the opening offer
The opening offer usually acts as an anchor for negotiations. It’s also where the details get hammered out, so it’s important that it’s done carefully and thoughtfully.
The basic elements of an offer include the offer price, the work being proposed, what goods or services are included, when it will all be delivered and if there are any performance incentives, warranties or terms and conditions. Obviously, price is a key component to any deal, but keep in mind the other details. They can matter nearly as much in the long run.
If you are the one initiating the opening offer, this is your chance to set the stage for the negotiations ahead and start with the upper hand. You won’t get what you don’t ask for, so be bold! If you’re on the other side of the table, the offer is key to seeing how close together you are.
Know your bottom line – what are you willing to accept? And remember to take a close look at the details. What else are you getting for your money and what else are you potentially signing up for?
3. Check your ego and emotions at the door
While you should have confidence and assurance because you’ve done your prep work, you also have to check your ego at the door.
Letting your emotions run the show will never serve you well. In fact, you should be going in feeling as neutral as you can about the situation. Leaving your ego behind will free you to think objectively during intense bargaining. You can then negotiate from a standpoint of flexibility.
To be successful you have to be able to think clearly in stressful situations and be willing to work to find common ground. If you walk in with a middle-of-the-road attitude, you’re more likely to strike a balance between getting what you want and not giving away too much.
On the other hand, you don’t want to give something away without getting something in return. Losing your ego and putting your emotions aside will help you find right path forward.
4. Play the game rather than letting the game play you
If you’re entering into high-stakes negotiations, it may be helpful to run through possible scenarios with a friend or colleague.
This will help you feel less nervous, and it may also show you objections to the offer that you hadn’t thought of, or help you see a side of the deal that you hadn’t considered.
Playing through the scenarios, even if it’s just in your own mind, may help you feel less attached to the outcome. In order to treat the whole thing as a game, you should care…but not too much!
Having a little apathy will help you stay neutral and keep your feelings in check. And remember, negotiations are like anything else: the more you practice, the better you’ll be.
5. See your strengths and weaknesses clearly
Self-awareness is key when you begin negotiations. You are essentially looking for the other side’s strengths and weaknesses. Not in a cruel way, but to help you determine your next play.
At the same time, you must also be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, so you don’t allow yourself to be exploited. Try to take an honest inventory of your strong points and vulnerabilities.
If your company is small, what is its growth potential? Are you able to be more responsive to the market than a larger company? In short, what can you offer that the other side can’t, and what can the other side offer that you can’t compete with? Knowing where you stand on the negotiation chessboard will help you determine how to land the best deal.
6. Know when to walk away
When you enter into a negotiation with the knowledge that you are willing to walk away if things don’t go as planned, you come from a position of strength. That’s why staying neutral is key to a successful negotiation.
You can’t be bullied into a deal if you just leave. But often we tell ourselves that this deal means everything to us. Our ego is involved, and that weakens our position.
It’s about mindset. You have to believe that if this deal falls through, you aren’t losing an opportunity. You are keeping that space open so when a better opportunity comes along you can snag it. If you force a bad deal to happen, you are stuck.
Related: Let’s Make A Deal
You are no longer able to grab hold of something better. And there is no shortage of business out there. So if you are pinning all your hopes on one deal, you may be killing future business.
7. Negotiate in good faith
Whether you’re negotiating a long-term business deal or setting up a quick sale, it’s natural to feel on the defensive when you begin negotiations. We are all protective of our interests and we want to cut the best deal in our favor.
But if you are hoping to walk away with your reputation intact, you need to practice negotiating with compassion and good faith. Engage in active listening and really hear what the other side is saying and asking for. What are the issues that are making them hesitant? Then make sure that you relay your own priorities.
This is the basis of a “win-win” solution, when both sides explore each other’s positions and walk away feeling heard and comfortable with the deal that was struck. Even if it appears that you are on opposite sides, there’s usually common ground to be had. Maybe the other side has a different goal or an opposing position. But if you look for it, you can usually find mutual gains both sides will accept.
8. Know how to close
Negotiations may feel like a game of chance, but they’re more like a game of chess. A successful negotiation requires a good sense of timing and the ability to sense the other side’s next move.
If you’ve done your prep work and are bargaining in good faith, you should have a solid idea of what they’re looking to get out of the deal. And of course, you should have a clear idea of your own bottom line. So you’re either working to bring the sides progressively closer, or the deal is going nowhere.
Ask yourself what the endgame is. Can the difference between both parties be split? If both sides are close but a few numbers are hanging up the process, what will it take to shake things loose?
If you can strike a bargain that makes sense, it doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to work for both parties involved. If you can get to that point, you have set the stage for the final handshake. If not, you have to be willing to walk away knowing it just wasn’t the right time.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Peak Performance: How Do I Build A Culture Of Sustainable Growth?
A business cannot move forward and grow in a sustainable way unless the people move.
As a Peak Performance coach I have been involved in numerous transformation journeys, from facilitating the transformation of a toxic culture to one of positive and exponential growth, from assisting a person to move from a state of depression to a joyous and fulfilling life, and to see people move from poor performance to unleashing their true potential.
Two key learnings for me as a coach has been:
‘The company or business cannot move forward in a sustainable way unless the people move’
‘Most businesses are over managed which drains the teams’ energy and passion and under-led resulting in a lack of purpose and vision’
Thus ‘moving’ the people in your business and ensuring that there is a healthy balance between leadership and management are critical factors to build and maintain a sustainable culture of growth.
A business cannot move forward and grow in a sustainable way unless the people move
An uninspired workforce whom in general just view their jobs purely as a source of income can easily become ‘a slow poison’ that eventually causes the death of your venture as a business leader. Move and inspire your teams by instilling a sense of purpose and Vision. When the people within an organisation have found their purpose ( the very good and inspiring reason to do what they do) and that purpose aligns with what the company is aiming to achieve, they can work effectively without supervision and act in the best interest of the company at all times, even when no one is watching…
A shared value system that is not merely a philosophy but rather becomes visible action on a daily basis combined with strong commitment and tenacity in the face of challenges is a powerful tool that empowers your team to be a catalyst for sustainable growth and development of people and profits.
When the team co-creates a Vision that they are really inspired by and when this vision is underpinned by a shared and actionable value system that is not there for show but are guidelines within which every team member operates a nucleus of strong leaders will emerge that can help your business to grow exponentially.
It is a myth that you as a/the business owner can motivate others as internal motivation is a decision that falls upon each individual. It is however very possible to create an environment as a leader within which it is easier for others to motivate themselves. Partly this is done by constantly inspiring others by your example as a leader and by establishing a culture of constant learning within your business. If you are not learning you are stagnating and the undesirable next step after stagnation is inevitably to go backwards.
Peer management where all team members are held accountable can be an effective tool towards exponential and sustainable growth. Personally I am a big fan of ‘stand-ups’ which is an impactful and speedy version of traditional meetings. The length of a stand –up is determined beforehand, everyone is standing during the meeting to create a better chance at an energetic environment. Everyone is notified and given enough time to thoughtfully prepare for the next stand-up. During each stand-up all team members look each other straight in the eyes and hold each other accountable to living the Vision, purpose, and values of the company and very directly tell other team members what they expect and need from them in order to be more effective within their respective roles. Peer management is only effective within a culture of positive action and where excuses is viewed as an ill devised practise to engage in.
‘Most businesses are over managed which drains the teams’ energy and passion and under-led resulting in a lack of purpose and vision’
There is a vast difference between management and leadership that unfortunately is ignored by a large proportion of companies. Leadership is about inspiring people towards the co-creation of a desired future state.
Management is a day to day orientation where activities are closely monitored and measured. Both Leadership and management is sorely needed to be a sustainable success. However if the balance shifts dramatically in the favour of management at the expense of inspirational and servant leadership often ‘the joy of and inspiration behind doing business is just sucked out of people’ and their levels of motivation decrease dramatically.
On the other hand when the balance shifts dramatically in the favour of Leadership at the expense of sound management principles and practises you end up having this wonderful dream of a global and sustainable business without any strong foundations under this dream.
By co-creating an in inspiring vision with your team and always ensuring that there is a strong element of future direction and inspiration within all meetings, systems and processes and that you take action based upon your companies shared value system you can be empowered to create a balance between Leadership and management which indeed is a potent combination.
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