Is co-managing a business or department possible??

Co-managing a department is possible and co-managing businesses happen successfully everyday among partnerships and spouses.

However there are differences between couples and partners owning their own businesses and individuals working as employees managing a department. There are also similarities to successfully co-managing your own business and managing in a business or organization as an employee. This article will outline some of the pitfalls of co-management as well as my keys to success of how you can make co-managing work so that your time and energies are focused on being a well managed organization that benefits all of its stakeholders. For purposes of this article I will refer to spouses owning and co-managing a business together as partners.

Is it impossible for two individuals to manage an organization in the same way? Managing and leading a organization is a very individualized thing. While there’s volumes of books written about leadership skills, and management styles, each person applies these skills in their own individual way and has their own style of communicating with other stakeholders. Without exception each person has their own personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses that affect their management abilities and style. Personality traits such as whether you are  introverted, extraverted or somewhere in between have a huge impact on your management style and how you impact the performance of the other stakeholders in your organization.

There are some clear advantages if you can successfully make co-management work:

  • Having co-managers can be beneficial in that you’ve created redundancy so that there isn’t a gap or lapse in performance when one of these managers is out ill,  on vacation or leaves the organization. Each manager should have a basic understanding of the other managers responsibilities and have the ability to step in and fill the other’s role on a temporary basis so that until the other manager returns or can be replaced there isn’t a lapse in the day to day performance of the organization.
  • It is a great way for you to further the development and gain valuable experience for your managers and future leaders. You can determine who can take on larger roles within your organization and what each person’s strengths and weaknesses are. You may find a new or different role within your organization for one or more of these managers based on the job they did co-managing the department.  
  • If managed well co-management can be effective and allow you to accomplish more in a shorter amount of time than with one.

Keys to success:

  • Clear definition of responsibilities and expectations. It is imperative, and I cannot emphasize this enough, that there are a clear job description that details each manager’s role, areas of responsibilities and expectations. These should be written and shared among the other stakeholders so that each person within the organization understands what each manager is responsible for and who to go to with what question. However, without written job descriptions and a shared understanding of each person’s areas of responsibilities you’ve created a recipe for disaster that will end up in competition for control, each manager stepping on each others toes, sometimes unintentionally but often intentionally. It will create confusion among employees and other stakeholders as to who’s actually in charge and who can best help them fulfill their needs.
  • A strong pro-active leader willing to deal with conflict.  As a business owner or head of an organization when we create a management structure where two or more people are co-managing a department, we need to understand we have created additional work for ourselves and are ultimately accountable for the outcome, good or bad. By its very nature you have created a situation where two individuals are going to compete with each other, it is our job to manage those efforts and energies in a way that benefits the organization. As the leader we must lead to ensure there is a clear understanding of each manager’s role, area of responsibility and expectations of performance.  We must take the lead in ensuring the communication between managers is open and consistent. We need to be involved, even go as far as scheduling, daily or weekly meetings between the managers. Finally, I can’t emphasize this enough, be willing to step in early to resolve conflict. Ultimately you are responsible for the day to day operation of the department and if the management of that department isn’t working you are responsible.
  • Communication is the key. There should be daily or at the very least weekly one on one conversation between the managers as to what’s going on. What are the challenges and opportunities each is currently facing. Can the other manager help or offer another point of view?  Is the other manager better equipped to take on and solve the problem? Some decisions need to be made jointly and this allows for discussion among the managers and ensures each manager has the opportunity to express their opinion prior to these decisions being made. If these are co-managers reporting to a higher authority I would suggest the boss is part of these meeting so that all are on the same page and the boss has the opportunity to hear first hand from each of their direct reports. I would suggest the boss refrains for making decisions on behalf of these managers, however offering an  opinion is appropriate provided they let the managers come to their own conclusion. Their presence alone will have an impact on the discussions and on how these decisions are made.
  • Managing Conflict. In partnerships there are no bosses to settle conflict or to get a another point of view and ultimately settle a disagreement. If the partners are married this can be a dangerous things as conflict and disagreement can easily carry forward and affect family life or creep into the bedroom. If the managers are partners I would encourage setting time aside to discuss how to solve problems and share their opinions. This time might be at lunch or another place outside of the office. I might even suggest you agree on processes to resolve disagreements so they are resolved sooner than later. Letting ongoing issues continue to fester doesn’t get them resolved and can create all kinds of resentment and dysfunction that can eventually destroy a business, department and/or marriage. Don’t be fooled, if there is ongoing conflict between partners or managers, employees, coworkers and even customers know it.
  • Shared Vision & Mission. If two or more managers are pulling in different directions it won’t be long before they pull the department or organization apart. You all need to be on the same page working towards a common set of goals, have a common vision of where you want to take your organization and have the same mission for what you do. If you don’t have a Business Plan for your organization and departments, I would strongly encourage you to put one in place prior to creating a co-management structure. Involving these key managers in the creation of that business plan will ensure their respective buy-in and common understanding of where the organization is going.

Pitfalls of co-management. Before you head down the path of having two people share the responsibility of managing your business or department there are several significant consequences if this arrangement does not work that should be considered before creating such a management structure:

  • One of the co-managers will become frustrated, dissatisfied and will eventually leave. This often can be the better of the two managers. The one departing is often the stronger of the two, one that is better equipped to make decisions and create opportunity. Their decision to leave is a prime example of just that, they have made a decision to change and pursue opportunities this time for themselves, unfortunately not your organization.
  • High turnover within the department. We all look for leadership and want to be led, if employees can find that consistent leadership within your organization they will find it elsewhere. Without clear leadership, whether that’s accomplished with one or two employees, your employees  will become unsettled and confused about who’s in charge and the direction of the department, maybe even the organization.  It won’t be long before they  look for greener, more stable employment opportunities. You are operating at a clear disadvantage when you are spending your time and energies recruiting, hiring and training not improving your organization.  Your competition will run circles around you with a seasoned, trained, and motivated team.
  • There is a difference between leaders and managers. Leaders will almost always find a way to separate themselves from managers and not necessarily intentionally. To some lucky  individuals leadership and connecting with people comes naturally. People want to be led and will naturally gravitate to those individuals that show the greatest amount of leadership skills and empathy for the individuals they are managing . “Leaders don’t necessarily have to have a title to lead and just because you have a title doesn’t mean your leader.
  • Low morale and performance. Those employees that stay may lack the motivation to find other employment or are close to retirement and can’t afford to leave. However, their motivation for doing a good job will be lacking with ineffective management. Your department is a direct reflection of the environment you’ve created. If your department is in constant turmoil and stress because of conflict between your co-managers and your inability to correct the situation, it will function in a confused, stressed, and ineffective manner. Employees are often like children and they will look for the least path of resistance. It is very important that both managers have the same set of standards and operating guidelines so that they can consistently apply the organization’s policies.

As this article points out there are some clear advantages to successfully co-managing your business or organization. The real key is you and your strength as a leader. You have to be involved and positively affect the outcome.
Beartooth Business Consulting specializes on Strategic planning, organizational structure, and leadership training. We can assist in how you set-up and manage your organization. Please call us for a free initial consultation to see if you can benefit from our services. 406-690-5988 or email at mike#beartoothbiz.com

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15 Simple Questions that will make you a better leader

Leadership is about empowering and inspiring people to be successful at their jobs and take pride in what they do. Great leaders ask questions and learn from their teams so they can do a better job leading their organization. No matter how great you think you are you are only as good as the team you surround yourself with and allow them to be.

The following are a few powerful questions and statements you can use to change the course of any conversation to learn what your team is thinking and what’s important to them.  Whether you are a CEO leading from the boardroom, working with a small team in a county office, or leading a team of firefighters to battle a raging wildfire these simple phrases and questions will have a powerful impact on your team and further your success.

“I’m Sorry”

This can be the most powerful of all. It is usually unexpected and it shows you’re human. It also demonstrates you are willing to be accountable to the team and the company.

“Tell Me More”

It’s open-ended, it shows interest, and it demonstrates your listening skills. The important part is listening. If you encourage your employees to open up to you and only hear, not listen they will never tell you more again. Remember your conversation, take notes if appropriate and act on those things that are actionable.

“What’s Working?”

Especially good if everyone’s on your team is complaining or in a funk. This one will  help you refocus on the positive. You can’t ignore the problems but by building  on what’s working you’ve changed the conversation so the problems may not seem as important.

“I’m Proud of you

Everyone needs to be recognized and as the boss you hope your team likes and respects you. These simple words when stated in a sincere fashion are powerful because they are clear, concise and from the heart.

“How can I be of help?”

Simple, but I’m often surprised at the responses. It may be that simply offering an ear is help enough, but often there are few specifics offered that really can make a difference and are easy to do.

“What are your Goals?”

This may be the goal for the team or for the project. It may also be personal goals including career aspirations. Knowing each team member’s goal, as articulated by the person, can change your opinion or perspective of them and their capabilities.

“What’s the most common things you’ve heard employees grumbling about?”

Try this one, Many will be shy about complaining. They don’t want to be seen publicly as the naysayer. But this question allows them to say what “others” are thinking and therein lies the power to get to what that person is thinking.

“You have my full Support”

If you desire to instill confidence that your team or a member of it has your support, this simple phrase will do it.

“Let me start by bragging about you and this team?”

There’s no better team builder than to give them accolades in front of an audience. Make it about them not you.

“If you were my what one thing would you change?”

This question gives them the opportunity to say what their thinking. The question is will they be honest and really say what’s on their mind. This is an opportunity to see how much they trust you.

“ What’s keeping you up at night?”

You may be up at night thinking about a major organizational change or a strategic issue. There can be an assumption that everyone is thinking about the same problem. That’s probably not the case. Ask this simple question and listen to what others are worried about and then help them solve their challenges. You may learn about a challenge you never knew existed but that could have a significant impact on your organization if it doesn’t go addressed.

“How could we get better and faster?”

How do we get better, how can we service our customers faster, more efficiently and with the same or better quality. These are important questions  to ask. As a consultant I make my living asking questions, writing down the answers your employees give me, and then putting them into reports for you.  By asking these same questions, you will save time, a lot of money, and more importantly build the kind of rapport with your staff that will enable you to lead.

“Tell me what you’re hearing from customers?”

Customers are the lifeblood of any organization. A good leader is listening to customers directly and talking to their team who have a vast amount of information about them. They may have a completely different perspective than you do or may reaffirm your assumptions, There may be a problem with a particular customer that only you can fix but if you don’t know about it how can you fix it. I remember many similar conversations I had with my team in a mood of frustration, maybe in those days even anger, about why did I not know about a particular problem. I don’t have enough fingers and toes on my body to count how many times the response was “You never asked”. Touche!!

“What else?”

A catch all question that can evoke a lot of different responses. That’s the point you have just opened the door and allowed your employee to talk about anything that may be on their mind.

“Why are you proud to work here?”

The answer may surprise you but in most cases it will allow people to talk about their co-workers, helping customers or maybe even you. Listen carefully you may hear accolades and praises for another employee who pitched in on a project or stayed late to meet a deadline. Leaders need to seek out the unsung heros and sing about them.

 

There a only a few moments in every conversation that allow you to impact the conversation and empower your staff to open up and tell you what’s on their mind. They almost always have the best interest of your organization in mind and you should take whatever they say in this spirit. Keep these simple phrases in your back pocket, they will help you move your organization forward and build a loyal empowered team around you, after all it’s your success that’s at stake.

 

Beartooth Business Consulting’s purpose is to make a positive impact on businesses and organizations through strategic goal setting, operational excellence and leadership coaching.  We can be reached at 406-690-5988 or by email at mike@beartoothiz.com

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Mission, Vision and Values

Mission/Vision/Values, the guiding principles of your organization & the starting line for your  Strategic Planning Process

These three words and their respective statements will guide your organization through its long term strategy, long term goal setting, short term objectives, and how it will conduct its business in order to fulfill the mission and ultimately reach the vision.

I recently sent an outline to a new client for their strategic planning process. The very first items to discuss with their leadership team and board are their Mission, Vision and Value statements. The follow-up conversation with the executive in charge was all about how they frame the strategic planning process. As I explained each individual statements role in the leadership and management of the business it occurred to me this conversation would be a great blog topic to share with my world.

Mission. What is our purpose, what is your reason for being, who and why do we serve. A Mission Statement should be relatively static and should be the guiding principles as to why the organization exists and why it does what it does. In the nonprofit or 501(C)-(3) world mission statements are often synonymous with the stated purpose in their Articles of Incorporation. Mission Statements can be relatively short, here are a few examples.

Expedia+ the internet travel company mission statement is: To Revolutionize travel through the Power of Technology.

The Mission Statement of the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center where I once served as Vice-Chair remains the same since it’s inception in 1976, and is still relevant 40 years later: “Our mission is is to expand the potential of people of all abilities through meaningful, educational, and inspiring outdoor experiences.”

Headframe Spirits has aligned themselves very closely with preserving the historical importance of the city of Butte, Montana where it is located , here is their Mission Statement: “To produce quality spirits, to promote responsible alcohol consumption, to create jobs in our community and to use the history and culture of Butte Montana to inform our production and product marketing. We live in a wonderful place and our craftsmanship should reflect positively upon it.”

The Mission Statement for Kampgrounds of America is:  “To make Happy Campers that recommend KOA to others”

The Mission Statement for The Women’s Fund, a non-profit organization, is brief and to the point “The Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., invests in women and girls through:

  • Grants
  • Advocacy
  • Education

Vision. Companies often stop at their mission statement but the Vision Statement is what the world or organization would look like once the mission is fulfilled. The Vision Statement reflects what your organization ultimately wants to achieve. The Vision Statement can be something that is ultimately achievable or can be a dream that may not be achieved in the current staffing lifetime but is still ultimately worth striving for. Vision Statements may or may not change over time. Essential elements of a successful Vision Statement are:

  • Future oriented
  • Likely to lead to a better future for the organization
  • Fits the organization’s history, mission and values
  • Sets standards of excellence
  • Clarifies the organization’s purpose and direction
  • Inspires enthusiasm and commitment
  • Reflects the uniqueness of the organization
  • Ambitious

As an example Ford Motor Company’s original Vision Statement  was to “Democratize the Automobile”, today it is “To become the world’s leading consumer company for automotive products and services”.  

The Ronald McDonald House Vision Statement is: A world where all children have access to medical care, and their families are supported and actively involved in their children’s care.

The Vision Statement of the Red Lodge Songwriter Festival one of my companies is: Our vision is to create an annual event that brings tourists and songwriters, including hit makers, to Red Lodge each summer to share their talent and skills with the local community. Through this interaction of songwriters and their music we will create an inspirational culture that promotes creativity in songwriting, performing, and collaboration among the artists.

Values. How do we want to conduct ourselves in our business and personal life. This should be the guiding principle on how leadership conducts

themselves in their business dealings and is reflective of how the outside community views the organization. Words like honesty, integrity, caring, transparency, knowledgeable are often reflected in value statements.

I’ll use Expedia again as an example.  They call their values Cultural Norms which is a great name. If the company abides by its values statement that is what creates the culture.  

“We believe being different: We feel new ideas, different ways of thinking, diverse backgrounds and approaches, because averages can lie and sameness is dangerous. Because of this belief, our norms aren’t rules or universal at all corners of our company, But they are important to our identity and how we work together. Like our company, these norms will evolve.

  • We Lead Humbly: Our leaders serve their teams. None of us has all the answers, but we are curious and we are always looking to learn. Though our leaders take their responsibility to our business and their teams incredibly seriously, they never take themselves too seriously.”
  • We are transparent: We communicate openly and honestly, at all levels, upwards, sideways, and downwards. We surface difficult issues quickly, we act, we learn.”
  • We Organize for Speed: We seek to gather data as fast as possible, and move. Speed allows us to make mistakes and constantly improve.
  • We Believe in the Scientific Method: Everyone’s ideas are equal in the face of hard data. We use data to guide but not define our actions.
  • We Act as One Team: We look to optimize for the greater good, not just our own, or even our own teams’ interests. We are actively interested in the success of others.”

The following is the Values Statement for Women’s Fund, A non-profit Organization for Women

  • Our core values are the foundation of all our decisions and actions. We intend this statement of values to be used across the organization to ensure that our decisions and actions are consistent with and supportive of our values and beliefs.
  • We believe that in order to create a just and sustainable society, women and girls must have opportunities, unlimited by gender, to develop and use their individual talents, abilities, and skills, along with the freedom to make their own decisions, guided by their personal values and beliefs.
  • We express our values by promoting and supporting open and respectful communication in all forums;
  • Full participation of women and girls of all backgrounds, including diversity of race, class, age, religion, culture, sexual orientation, and other identities;
  • Informed, educated, innovative action designed to have a positive, measurable impact on the lives of women and girls;
  • Collaboration among organizations and individuals working to benefit women and girls.

Whether you’re a for profit or nonprofit corporation having a mission, vision and value statement will guide you through your Strategic Planning, goal setting, day to day execution and ultimately permeate throughout your organization making you a more profitable, more sustainable and much more successful.

There may be a strong person within your organization that can lead you through the Strategic planning process however using an outside facilitator can
often lead to better results in a shorter amount of time. An outside facilitator can help drive the process without influencing the content, remain objective,  and will not try to influence the conversation. Beartooth Business Consulting is well versed in the processes necessary to make your organization stronger and more efficient with Strategic Planning. Give us a call to discuss how to implement Strategic Planning in your organization. Give me a call at 406-690-5988 or email me at mike@beartoothbiz.com. Mike Booth, President

 

 

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Partnerships can be Challenging

They start out well, all parties fired up and ready to go, everybody working hard to ensure their goals and interests are fulfilled. Sometimes these interests and goals align with the businesses, but in many cases they don’t or eventually move away from the needs of the business. Partnerships can form for a number of reasons and sources, spouses, friends, or business associates. In some cases the business may be small and relatively easy to manage, all is well, however as it scales one or more of the partners take on more and more of the work leaving a disparity and resentment due to the amount of work each partner is doing.

I have been in four partnerships during the course of my career each with their own dynamics. I am currently involved in two, one that produces an event the Red Lodge Songwriter Festival and the other that facilitates a high end business mastermind group, The Yellowstone Business Forum. Each one has it’s challenges and it’s successes. In this article I will share some of the pitfalls and challenges with partnerships and some preventive measures to make your partnership the organizational foundation for success.

Do you have the right partner. Having the wrong partner can be the source of a great deal of personal stress, it can also have a negative effect on your business and your staff.

If you can answer yes to any of the following questions you are probably in a bad partnership.

  • Your’e feeling like you’re carrying more than your share of the work. If you’re feeling this way I would suggest writing down all the necessary job functions of your business and #1 who is responsible for each and #2 who is doing them. By completing this exercise you can substantiate your feelings, not only to yourself, but your partner.
  • Your partner seems to have lost interest in your business.
  • You’re finding more and more to disagree about.
  • There have been changes in your partner’s life that are interfering with their ability to fulfill their duties. There may be times during the partnership that the other partner is willing to pick up the slack for their partner who may be dealing with temporary illness, family or personal issues. However a partner may have found more permanent interests such as another career, hobbies, or financial interests that are interfering with their ability to function effectively in the business. This may also lead to a conflict of interest if the other interests are closely aligned to your existing business.
  • Your interest in the direction of the business has taken a different direction than your partner. This often happens when the size of the business scales up. While all the partners originally shared the vision of a growing business there comes a point when the size of the job and the amount of work that needs to be done scales up relative to the growth of the business. Some partners are not willing to put in the additional work or effort to substantiate that growth. In these cases one or more of the partners will end up doing a disproportionate amount of the work to keep up with the growth causing serious resentment within the partnership.
  • Can’t talk to each other. Communication is so critical to maintaining a viable partnership. When partners get so busy doing their own thing that they can’t find time to sit down with the other partner(s), they will likely start to feel less engaged. An unresolved issue can also lead to partners being unable to communicate freely.
  • Employees come to you for direction, even if they report to your partner on your org chart. Employees are always a great barometer of success and failure within your business. If your employees are coming to you for direction or with their concerns rather than your partner, this is a pretty significant sign they recognize who is in charge and who’s is leading the company.

If you answered yes to any of these questions you are in a bad partnership and should immediately take steps to take charge and fix the partnership or end it.

Here are a few steps to give your partnership the best chance to succeed.

What business are you in. Seems like a pretty simple question but if you cannot agree on what business you’re in you’re probably never going to be on the same page. In one of my partnerships my partner and I co-produce a Songwriter Festival in Red Lodge. It takes place over three days drawing tourists and music lovers into our community. My partner is a musician and naturally sees the festival as a music business. However, it takes all the elements of a good event, venues, fundraising, personnel management, talent, marketing, ticket sales etc. to make it work. I naturally see it as an event business whose product happens to be showcasing songwriters. This disconnect is a fundamental problem. My other partnership is the organization and facilitation of a high end business group. We both share the vision of helping business people be more successful and better leaders. We also understand each other’s strengths and limitations. We often use our partnership as a sounding board to further our other careers as a non-profit executive and business consultant.

What is each person’s expectations and needs. This can easily become a conversation of self interests and that’s OK. It’s important to get this information out on the table early. If not it will surface somewhere down the road and may make the partnership uncomfortable or worse create a conflict of interest for the business. 

What are the company’s goals? Define your company’s goals and create a business plan with the steps necessary to accomplish those goals. Accountability is key for the success of any business. Defining each partner’s responsibilities and commitment to accomplishing those  goals is key to your businesses and partnerships success. When personal goals become more important than the companies goals the business and partnership will suffer. 

What is each partner’s role. This is probably the most important aspect of a successful partnership..Understanding and defining each partner’s role and responsibilities is key for the business to run efficiently and the partners getting along. A lack of clarity around job descriptions and roles is a source of major frustration and disappointment in most partnerships and can often lead to their demise. These responsibilities should be written down and become part of the businesses strategic business plan. They should also be reviewed at least once a year and updated if necessary. These roles should be based on each person’s skill set and needs, many subsequent decisions can be made such as percent of equity, position within the company, decision making abilities and titles once the roles are set. There is no written role that partnerships are 50/50 propositions and that partners need to equally share in decision making responsibilities. In most cases someone has to drive the bus, be overall responsible for getting things done and be accountable to customers, employees and other stakeholders.

In one of my partnerships my partner is very out going, an A type personality. He also has close ties to music talent in Nashville. On the flip side he weak on commitment and follow thru. His role is talent acquisition, sound and PR. He does a great job of being the frontman for our festival making sure everybody is having a great time, and the artist needs are being met both onstage and off; an important role. The day to day running of the business has to be picked up by the other partner, in this case me. Marketing, bookkeeping, fundraising, logistics, etc. We both have opinions but once the overall business plan is set the final decision when it comes to our areas of responsibility lies with the individual.

Handle disagreements, frustrations and disappointments early. As in any type of partnership disagreements will happen. It is best to address them early and not let them fester over time. It is also important to address them in person. All too often in our electronic age of instantaneous response an email or text is sent that can be full of emotion or words that can easily be taken out of context. Regularly scheduled sit down meetings or lunches is a good time to discuss issues that the partners may see differently and attempt to get back on the same page. If you have clearly defined goals and action plans this is always a good place to go back to if there are disagreements. Many a disagreement can be resolved by going back and seeing how each person’s belief will impact the goals of the business. If there is a need for a change to those goals now is a good time to discuss it.

Can the partnership be fixed? Breakups are hard and can be time consuming taking the focus away from the business and if attorneys are involved valuable monetary resources. In many cases the partnership can be fixed but it will be up to you to take action. Here are a few steps to take to right the ship

  • Be proactive
  • Be clear in what you want
  • Schedule time to talk
  • Discuss actions you are each willing to take, compromise might be necessary.
  • Write a plan for agreed upon changes

What happens if the partnership no longer works? It is important to have an exit plan upfront so that each partner knows when and how they can exit the partnership and what they will leave with. It should also addressed how a partner can be fired and how that might affect their equity. There’s no written rule that partnerships last forever and in fact most do not. For a number of reasons, some listed here, others not, partnerships will end and you should have a written plan in place on how to unwind the partnership so it has minimal effect on the business. Things like client relationships, non-competes, proprietary information, client lists, patents, financial information should be addressed and how any equity is paid out or in some cases if the business is in debt what the exiting partner is responsible for should be spelled out.
There are times when using a mediator or a third party to facilitate that conversation is useful. Beartooth Business Consulting can be that resource. Please call us for a free consultation to see if we are the right tool for your situation. 406-690-5988 or email us at mike@beartoothbiz.com

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A Special Invitation for You

Do you want to become a better leader, increase the profitability of your business, and/or overcome the challenges that are holding you back?

Over the last several months we have visited with dozens of business leaders vetting the idea of an high level group of business owners and executives that are organized with the sole purpose of theirs and each other’s success. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

They told us how beneficial it would be to hang out with other like minded successful business people to share ideas and discuss problems in a confidential and nonjudgemental environment. They said that learning effective leadership skills and finding fresh ways to overcome problems and seize new opportunities on a regular basis with the same group members would be awesome. Most importantly they wanted the sharing, support and accountability that comes with being in a mastermind group.

So we’ve created this exclusive business group, the Yellowstone Business Forumfor leaders like you.

The introductory meeting for this group will be May 15,2017 at the Billings Petroleum Club. We have invited a select group of business people who we think will fully participate, not only for their own benefit but to support others with their expertise and experience. We recognize that leaders have different needs and will facilitate two groups, one for business owners and one for business executives. Group sizes will be small with a maximum of 10 leaders in each group.

When you join the Yellowstone Business Forum you will also be invited to our YBF Retreat Weekend, October 2017 in Red Lodge, MT. This 2-day event is a chance to learn new leadership skills and work on your Strategic Plans for 2018 with other Yellowstone Business Forum members. You will get the opportunity for a deep-dive hot seat where you can really vet challenges and opportunities with other bright minded people.

Learn more about the benefits of Yellowstone Business Forum and how to become a charter member at www.beartoothbiz.com/ybf

To join Yellowstone Business Forum or figure out if Yellowstone Business Forum is right for you, let’s schedule some time to talk about your situation and what your goals are, email Mike or Erika at mike@beartoothbiz.comor erika@erikawillisassociates.comand we set up an hour to talk either in person or by phone.

Here’s to all our success, Mike Booth & Erika Willis www.beartoothbiz.com/ybf

Yellowstone Business Forum A Place where Success is Accelerated

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Location, Location, Location, is this still enough?

Does the old adage of location, location, location still hold true for storefront  businesses today? Or do these businesses need to add to their physical location with a professional online presence. I can answer that in one word, yes. I’m still a believer that a great location can make or break a business, I also believe that a great online presence won’t overcome a bad location, but I strongly believe that having a strong online presence will give any location a boost and in most cases give you a competitive advantage over your competition. I’m not suggesting you have to have a knock your socks-off online store or even offer online shopping but rather have a professional website that communicates what you sell, the brands you sell, your hours, how to contact you, what makes your business unique, and the experience someone can expect while shopping in your business. If you are a restaurant or tavern, your hours, your menu, how to contact you, the experience someone would have if they would patronize your establishment, how many beers you have on tap, and so forth.

I live in a small resort community where we have several really nice retail shops that sell everything from mountain gear to outdoor apparel to guitars. We have great restaurants and taverns too. Some of these businesses have a professional website that meets the requirements listed above, but others have nothing or if anything, a facebook site. Some of these businesses are sponsors of my Red Lodge Songwriter Festival. When I go to link their logo posted on our website there is nothing to link to except the occasional facebook page. What a missed opportunity.

Many tourists research their destinations prior to going where they’re going, and become familiar with where they’ll visit long before they ever leave home. They become familiar with places to eat, where to drink, where to buy new gear, or buy the latest Red Lodge sweatshirt.  Creating awareness of your brand will increase the chance they will visit and buy from you first.

 

Having a URL for your business and a website allows you to be found on the web. It also allows you to connect to other websites and vice-a-versa. Connecting to event sites you sponsor, the websites of the brands you offer, the chamber of commerce site, and others will increase your SEO and the opportunity for people to find you. As an example, someone may be traveling through or staying in Red Lodge and in need of a new raincoat. They might search on their cell phone, “raincoat patagonia red lodge”, that business or businesses that have a good website with the name of the brands they carry and the type of products they offer will come up in the buyers search. If you sell patagonia raincoats you will come up towards the top. It’s not hard to guess where they’re going to buy.

 

 

A professional website does not need to be a capital or labor intensive investment. There are a host of do it yourself platforms that enable you to create a very professional websites for a few hundred dollars and a few hours of your time. You will need  photos of your business, preferably taken by a professional photographer, but yes your iphone is better than nothing at all,  and possibly some stock photography, which if your town is similar to Red Lodge our local Chamber has hundreds of photos to choose from.  Here is a list of several web services that are inexpensive and have lots of do it yourself templates to choose from.

  • Squarespace
  • GoDaddy
  • Web.com
  • Many, many more.

I use GoDaddy for hosting my sites and WordPress as my web platform. WordPress allows me to control my content and has lots of options to add commerce, video, photography, blogging and other features should you decide to invest the time.

 

            

 

It takes a consistent effort to keep up with your website but not necessarily a lot of time and it will be one of the best return on investment you can make.  If you don’t know where to start or would like a FREE one hour web site consultation or review of your online presence please give me call. www.bearttohbiz.com. 406-690-5988, mike@beartoothbiz.com 

 

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Five Problems Marketing Can’t Fix

Motivational saying that change happens one step at a time and it not a one time event

 

This is a busy time of the year with businesses planning for next year, which for me means lots of conversations with organizations and businesses attempting to change. Some people have their ducks in a row, they know where they are going and they have a strategic plan in place to get there. They are looking for help on tweaking their plan to make their business even better. Others are looking for a magic pill to quickly solve their problems, many of these conversations start out by “I need help in generating more sales” or “how can I better market my business.”

My apologies to all my marketing friends but many businesses think marketing is the fix for all their problems. I’ve witnessed great marketing and sales companies struggle because their systems and management are so poor they are constantly having to find new customers because they can’t hold on to the ones they have.  In order to realize real sustainable growth you must fix the internal problems that exist within your company. The process starts with self-examination. In many cases hiring an outside consultant can help define the weaknesses in your business and provide systematic solutions. No consultant worth their salt would throw a marketing Band-Aid at a problem that marketing can’t fix.

imgresHere are five examples that even the best marketing won’t fix.

1.) Undefined Competitive  Advantage

2.) Poor Sales Performance

3.) Lack of Vision

4.) Inability to Change

5.) Cultural Bankruptcy

1.) Undefined Competitive Advantage. What is your business’ competitive advantage? Can you or does your marketing message clearly communicates the value you provide for your customers in ninety seconds or less? Statements such as “We offer great service”, “Thirty Years of Being in Business”  or better yet “We’re just better”, are not actually an advantage- it’s the outcome of an advantage. These types of statements can also be asserted by many if not most of your competitors. If you can’t come up with a clear, defined advantage its time to dig deep enough to discover what makes you better. What do you do well? When customers compliment you what do they say? When customers leave your business why do they leave? Why do you do business the way you do? What do you sell or offer to your customers that competitors don’t? These are all questions that can help you define your competitive advantage. From the answers to these questions you can craft a marketing message and communication plan to clearly give your business a competitive advantage?

2.) Poor Sales Performance. Marketing is about generating leads, but the sales process is your closer. The best marketing in the world can’t close the sale. Uninformed and unprofessional sales representatives, ones that love to hear themselves talk, super smart sales reps being condescending to customers or sales prospects, and unmotivated sales reps who don’t want to interact with clients are a management problem – not a marketing problem. Cultivating sales leads for a sales team who can’t close the sale doesn’t help grow or even sustain your business. Most businesses naturally lose 15% of their customer base each year through natural attrition. Customers move, choose another vendor, or simply no longer have a need for your goods or services. Your sales team must generate 25% in new sales each year for your company to grow by 10%. Boost your marketing efforts and your lead to close ratio by sharpening your sales team’s skills, your sales training, and your management skills. It will make a significant difference to your bottom line.

3.) Lack of Vision.  Marketing cannot be effective is there is not a clear vision for your company. Why are you in business and what is the value proposition you are offering to the marketplace. If you don’t already have one, putting a strategic plan in place with a clear set of goals will help you build a marketing plan to match your plan and achieve your goals . If you’re not good at it or don’t know where to start call Beartooth Business Consulting, that’s how we help companies like yours. A business plan and a strategic plan are much the same thing, if there is a difference, it is a business plan is often for only one year where a strategic plan can look out  for as many as three to five years. These plans will change and adapt as time goes by, however they provide you and your management team something to refer to when making decisions and a benchmark for your progress and performance. Marketing will put wind in your sails helping you get to where you’re going, however marketing is not a roadmap on how to get there.

4.) Inability to Change. Several years ago the hot buzz word in the business world was a paradigm shift. Paradigms, old habits, comfort zone, are all synonymous with the inability to change. Change is what grows business, creates innovation, and excitement in business. This inability to change may be what’s holding you back; the inability to attract new customers, retain good employees, or find new ones. Change for the matter of change isn’t always a positive thing however taking a realistic look at how you’re doing business and why you’re doing things a certain way will lead to positive change. Involve your employees, key customers, if appropriate, and key vendors in this process. Communicating positive change is a marketers dream.

5.) Cultural Bankruptcy.  People who work in a bad culture know what I’m talking about. Your boss, your co-workers, and even the assigned work can become an energy vacuum, sucking the life out of you and the company. There are a host of reasons for a negative culture within a company however in most companies the culture and leadership, or lack thereof, is a direct reflection of the owner(s) and/or senior management. If you think a negative culture is not noticed by your stakeholders, customers, employees and vendors think again. A negative culture cannot be masked by a smile at the counter, or a cheery “good morning how can I help you” telephone greeting. This bad culture is quickly transparent in the quality of the work, the delivery of the work and the ongoing interaction with the customer. There is an old adage that states, promise a little and deliver a lot. In most culturally bankrupt companies, it’s just the opposite, marketing promises a lot and the people and systems within the company deliver a little. Make marketing your company easy by creating a vision and culture that celebrates success and promotes great service to your customers, employees, and ownership.

Being in business for yourself or leading a team of people is not easy however you have the ability to change and create a positive culture that leads to greatness for you and your business. When these changes happen marketing your business becomes easy and is the propellant to success.

If you need help getting started with your plan or strengthening your plan we can help,MBhsfrnt call or email Beartooth Business Consulting  at 406-690-5988, or by email at mike@beartoothbiz.com. 

 

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What kind of boss are you?

People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads and the boss drives. Motivational background. Typography poster.

In twenty-seven years of business I have experienced a lot of bosses and a lot of years of being a boss. Being a boss is not easy. You’re trying to get things accomplished by directing and encouraging others to affect an outcome that drives you and your business forward.  Often that outcome doesn’t always match your expectations. Being a boss takes patience, discipline, compassion, empathy, dedication and most of all great listening skills. Trust me when I tell you I have made all the mistakes that come with being a boss.

However, when I look at the small businesses I admire the most for their tenure, financial accomplishments and market share they have one thing in common, great employees. Having great employees is not a matter of luck. Recruiting, selecting, and most of all a dedication to developing them are all key ingredients to having a great company. After all, your employees are your greatest asset.

Most great companies, small, mid-size or large, had a boss or bosses at one time that the employees revered and were inspired by. Their leadership attracted talented people to work for them and allowed them to build their companies well beyond their dreams.

I have experienced the best and worst in bosses and at times have been both myself. The one thing I wished I would have done differently in my career was being a better boss.  In retrospect I would spend most of my time developing the people that worked for me, and less time worrying about how their actions were affecting my own career and/or business.

I have tried to list and explain the many types of bosses that exist and some of the traits they exhibit. You might be one or a combination of several. Use this list as a self-examination tool and involve your employees in determining your strengths and weaknesses as a boss.

When it comes to great leaders, they don’t take, they give back to those around them. 

Aspiring – We all aspire to be successful in our careers and personal lives.  However, to truly be an inspirational boss we need to help others reach their aspirations and goals. Investing your time, expertise, experience and resources to develop your employees as contributors to your company and furthering their professional skills is a great way to build loyalty among your team and attract other talented people to your company. Some may take the skills and self-confidence they’ve learned from you and practice them elsewhere, but they will always have a sense of appreciation for the skills and opportunity you provided for them. Everyone wants to be associated with success: current employees, past employees, vendors, and most importantly customers.

I recently met with a perspective client who told me his number one goal is to be the best employer in the state of Montana. A lofty goal, but one that is certainly attainable provided he is dedicated to the personal development of his team. I don’t think it is a coincidence he has the largest and most profitable business among his competitors in the Rocky Mountain region.

Human – Were all human and we have a desire to be liked by our friends and employees. However you’re the boss and your employees often feel uncomfortable approaching you or even greeting you outside the office environment. These situations almost always feel awkward. That’s why showing vulnerability is a humanizing way to breakdown the artificial barrier that typically separates you from your employees. There are several easy ways to breakdown these barriers.

First is simply by asking for their help in a genuine way. You can ask in the wrong way by puffing out your chest and demanding, “Listen Sue, I need your help.”  Sue knows you really don’t want her help but you need her to do something. Instead, ask for their help in a humble way so that Sue can see you really need her help to do something you are neither capable of or have time to do. You’ve lowered your guard and you’ve shown your vulnerability.  Build their trust by demonstrating that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.

Another way to take your relationship beyond that of boss-employee is to invite your employees into your home. By doing this you show your employees how you live, your interests, who your family is and their interests. You’ve also dispelled any mystery about where and how you live. The holidays, as well as summer BBQs are great opportunities to extend your hospitality and show your gratitude to your team.

Difference between boss and leader. Boss help employee for working to success Boss shouts to employee in work fatigue Leadership business concept Vector illustration.

Encouraging – Compliments don’t always have to be earned, Sometimes a compliment can be like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Employees need to feel they can have input on how things are done and also contribute to the growth of your company.

Let your employees feel the best ideas are their ideas and give them the latitude to take your ideas and make them their own. ·

  • Employees, especially new employees, are often uncertain as to whether they are doing the job that is expected of them or are fitting in with your company’s culture. Assuring your employee(s) that they are doing a good job, fulfilling the mission of your company and serving your customers is a quick way to build loyalty in your team. Demonstrating both privately and publicly that you believe in them will immediately transform to believing in themselves.  If they believe in themselves and in you, they will do the best job they possible can for your company.
  • Everyone loves attention, unfortunately you don’t have unlimited time to devote to each employee.  So make the most of the time you do have. Don’t just comment on big successes, find the small detail, something positive that happened that day, or something unexpected to comment on. Giving affirmation on a consistent basis will not only demonstrate you are paying attention but your employees will feel better about themselves and work harder for you.

Teacher – Managing employees and owning a business is all about learning. Good bosses constantly look for teaching moments. For example – something’s gone terribly wrong and someone messed up and you are more than a little pissed off. Instead of firing off reactionary criticisms, take a big breath, count to ten and use this opportunity as a teaching moment. The employee knows they screwed up and probably feels as bad about it as you do. The fact it cost you in the wallet is insignificant at this point. Talk about what happened, take your time and stay logical, allow your employee to talk about the decisions that led up to the problem and how they would approach it differently in the future. If you have something to add to the situation, now is the time. If the right approach is taken, whatever the cost of the mistake, you have just invested in the training of a good employee. Now let it go.

Natural – There are very few natural leaders and/or bosses.  Most great bosses have learned from their mistakes. They have a desire to have a great company and know that this can only be accomplished through the help of a great team around them.

There are a few exceptions, Don Lowe, the CEO of Franchise Services Inc., is a natural leader and great boss. His personality never seems to change whether he was directing a team during a major acquisition or playing tennis with his friends. He always has a presence and command of the situation. Whether you knew more about the financial implications of the acquisition or were a better tennis player you always felt comfortable knowing Don was there and he would give you the confidence to do your best. Because of his presence, character and respect you always strived to do your best.   You did not want to let him down because you knew he would give everything he had for you.  

Approachable – Are you an approachable boss? If one of your employees has a personal problem unrelated to your business and needs advice, are you someone they would come to for that advice? Small businesses are often like family and you spend more waking hours with your employees than with your own family. As a business owner you are often the most influential person they know. Being a person that is easily approachable and willing to listen to your employee’s issues will build tremendous loyalty and respect. Just because they bring their problems to you doesn’t mean you have to solve them.  It just requires you to be a good listener.

Good bosses are like a hat rack. Employees who need something, whether it’s a day off, a favor, a chance, or someone just to talk to often come to good bosses with hat in hand. They’re vulnerable because they need something of you. Take their hat and hang it up for them. You may not be able to provide what they want, but you can discuss their issue with compassion, generosity, and grace. Never let an employee stand with hat in hand. It’s one of the worst feelings in the world for a human being, and one you can graciously make disappear.   

Accountable – Are you accountable for your business and your team’s successes and failures? Training and communication are keys to the successful execution of your goals. When your team doesn’t execute to your expectations it is often a breakdown of these fundamentals or lacking the proper tools to get the job done. This is not your team’s fault, it is your fault. Pointing fingers or blaming others doesn’t build trust or loyalty with your employees. They need to know you have their backs and will take the criticism from other employees, departments, vendors or customers when things go bad.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I was the owner of Sir Speedy Printing in Denver. We were trying to set-up an online ordering system for a customer and just couldn’t get it right. We had all kinds of breakdowns, software, personnel, vendors and so forth. I blamed our lack of delivery on all these things until the customer fired my company. The customer explained to me, “You are the owner and these things are your responsibility to fix. We don’t care about the problems, just the solutions.”

Political – Are you more concerned with being liked and being in the right company circles than you are doing the right thing? Sometimes you have to make tough decisions that may not be popular with your employees or your peers and you must be prepared to defend your decisions even in the face of these unpopular opinions. Do you participate or facilitate company gossip or rumors?  If you do these are traits that will eventually erode the trust and respect of your employees. Be true to yourself and what you believe.  Be consistent with the principles that guide your decision-making. Managing for popularity rarely transforms into better results. In the long run, your popularity will be based on the respect of your employees and customers.

By the Book – If you are one who reads a lot of books about creating a good business and being a better boss, good for you. I compliment your commitment to learning. There is a lot to be learned from others but everyone has their own style and experiences with being a boss. Take the skills you read about and combine them with your own personality so they become genuine and natural for you. There is nothing harder than giving someone else’s presentation or trying to be something you’re not when leading a team of people.

boss scolding his employees and these will run

Undermining – Depending on the size of your business there are sometimes layers of management that require a person to have direct reports underneath them on a organizational chart and report to someone above them, often the owner.

The worst boss I ever had was this type of boss. He has no character. He would say one thing to me and then communicate something different to the people that were reporting to me. In many circumstances this not only undermined my authority but caused confusion on behalf of the employee. He would often be critical of one employee and then treat another employee differently or look the other way for the same actions or decision.

The end result was total confusion on the part of the employees, poor department morale, and complete disrespect up and down the chain of command. His own ego, insecurities, and desire to be recognized for his successes by his boss drove his actions. The result was a poor performing team and an inefficient department where all stakeholders, including customers, were negatively affected. This type of supervision will quickly destroy morale, confidence, and distrust within the organization.

One of the greatest examples of this type of behavior by a boss was when the opportunity presented itself for me to hire a new right hand employee to assist me at a former job.  Your number 2 person, or right hand, should be someone you trust, respect and feel confident with their ability to make sound decisions.  Even though we went through the motions of posting the job and accepting candidates, the boss had already chosen who this new employee would be. As circumstances had it this person was the last person I would have ever of hired or chosen. The end result was a total disaster. Neither of us are still at the company.

If you work for someone like this take my advice and run, find another job within the company or find another company. If you have someone like this working for you, fire them! They will never build an effective team or make a significant contribution to your company.

Self-Centered – You probably didn’t go into business for yourself just so you could create all these wonderful opportunities for your employees or serve better ice cream to your clients. Let’s be honest, you went into business to fulfill your own personal goals of business ownership, independence, creating a business that has value, and to make a better income than you would working for someone else. With that in mind, are you guilty of focusing more on yourself or on the development of your employees?

  • Are you often distracted, thinking about your upcoming vacation or tee time? Do you stop and listen to your employees and tune out personal distractions when they are asking for your attention?
  • Counting dollars is a good way to keep track of your business but it’s best to do it with your door closed.  Constantly focusing on how much you’re making, or not making, is a sure way to turn off your employees. You can easily cause unrest in your company if you’re often talking about the financial demise of your company. In addition, if you’re always talking about how much money you’re making and not rewarding your employees they will feel neglected and soon look for opportunities where there efforts are appreciated.

Angry boss concept as an outraged business manager with a short temper blowing steam and foaming at the mouth as a corporate symbol for anger and stress at work.

Out of Control – Being out of control can manifest itself into many negative styles of management including bullying and the complete fear of making a decision. It is critical that you are capable of staying calm in the face of constant challenges. And in order to get back in control it is vital to discover what is causing you to feel out of control and then fix it as soon as you can.

  • Are you overwhelmed? You have to be able to consistently prioritize and be a good multi-tasker. You can’t do everything yourself so you must be a good communicator and effective at delegating tasks to your team if you want to regain control.
  • Are you overworked and feeling torn apart by the demands of leadership and day-to-day decision- making? If this is how you feel most days, relieve yourself of that pressure and find a person to be your #2 and give them the responsibility of managing your business.  You can still lead your organization without being the direct supervisor of your team.
  • Are you the type of boss that often raises his or her tone of voice to intimidate your employees or get their attention?  In most cases your attempt to control your employees through intimidation is a direct result of you being out of control. By over reacting you quickly show your weakness by being unable to control the situation with reason, knowledge and good leadership skills. Your own insecurities, and stresses of ownership, are no reason to direct your frustration and anger toward your employees. It is the quickest way to destroy the trust and loyalty of the very people you need the most.

Cartoon Businessman marionette on ropes controlled by hand, vector illustration in flat design on blue backgound

Controlling – Are you the type of person that needs to control every aspect of your business and the actions of your employees? Is your ego such that you can’t allow your employees to use their own creativity and work on their own solutions?  Do you constantly suspect that your employees are goofing off or are trying to undermine your authority?

If you are, then not only are you demoralizing your team but you are also killing productivity, innovation and the ability of your company to grow beyond your own limitations.  It is more effective to communicate the desired results and then step away, allowing your employees to employ their own means to accomplish the end result. More often than not they will find new efficiencies that will make your company more profitable. Of course there are bound to be unforeseen negative situations, so just correct their actions by allowing them to learn from their mistakes.  If a mistake is made that costs the company money, consider it a training expense. In most cases it will be far less expensive and disruptive than firing, hiring and training a new employee.

The best boss I ever had is a man named Dan Beck. Dan is a savvy executive who came from modest means in South Dakota. Dan never raised his voice or showed anger. He was a great communicator of what was expected and then allowed you to work towards meeting those expectations, often asking if his help was needed but never telling you how it should be done. 

Demanding – It is not necessarily bad to be demanding as long as your demands are realistic, consistent and within the capability of your employees.

Setting expectations and managing to ensure those expectations are met transforms itself into a results oriented company. Just be sure that you aren’t demanding things from your employees that are not realistic and things you would not demand of yourself or family members. On the other hand, just because you want something done a certain way, or are self-taught, doesn’t mean that your team can’t accomplish the same results through their own set of talents and efficiencies.

A good rule of thumb is to inspect what you expect and monitor the progress along the way. As I stated in the opening paragraph, being a boss is difficult. However, if you are able to master the traits of being an inspirational leader and boss, the opportunities for your business are limitless.

Magic happens when you have a talented team of inspired employees around you all focused on the same goal.

If you’re not sure where to begin in fixing issues that trouble your business, Beartooth Business Consulting can guide you through this process and help make you and your business stronger and more successful. Call us at 406-690-5988 or email at mike@beartoothbiz.com  

MBhsfrntMike Booth is President of Beartooth Business Consulting. Beartooth Business Consulting is a Strategic Management firm committed to the success of small businesses like yours.  We help you understand where your business is at today, create a vision of where you want your business to go, and define the steps needed to realize your vision.

 

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Mid-Year Check-up, Is your business on target?

 

Motivational saying on chalk board with chalk

With half the year in the books now is a great time to access your businesses performance for the first half of the year.  You may be taking a well-deserved summer vacation to refresh your mind, which will give you a new perspective on the day-to-day issues that exist in your business. This is a great time to review your business and financial plan to see what adjustments need to be made to improve your results for the next six months.

Is your business on track to achieve your revenue goals and more importantly your profit goal, your paycheck? From evaluating your staffing needs, accessing your cash flow situation, and revising your business plan, your business will benefit from a mid-year review.

Business Plan Six or seven months ago you identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business and you wrote down your goals on how you would overcome these weaknesses and exploit your opportunities. Are you on track to achieve those goals, are those goals still realistic, or will you achieve much more than you anticipated? All these are valid questions to ask yourself in re-evaluating your business plan. You may need to ramp your sales goals up if your having a great year or maybe the business environment has changed so that one or two new goals are necessary to accomplish your overall financial goals.  If you are consistently coming up short of your goals you need to ask yourself why and find new ways to motivate you and your staff.

Financial/Cash Flow Plan. The key element of any well-written business plan and financial plan is setting a profit number and managing to it. The business and financial plan work together, the business plan supporting the financial plan and the financial plan supporting the business plan all to make your desired profit a reality.  If one or both of these are out of alignment with the other the end result will be disappointing profits or much worse negative cash flow. Now is the time to re-align them so you can take advantage of the next six months to achieve the goals you set forth at the beginning of the year.

We all know cash is king and in order to grow a sustainable business, maintaining positive cash flow is critical.  If you are not achieving the cash flow targets you set now is the time to make adjustments, do you need to cut expenses or possible staff to stop the bleeding, or if you are exceeding your cash flow targets do you have a plan to set cash aside for taxes or re-investment.  These are all decisions that will benefit your business sooner than later.

If your not sure where to start Beartooth Business Consulting can guide you through this process, making you and your business stronger and more successful. Call us at 406-690-5988 or email at mike@beartoothbiz.com

MBhsfrntMike Booth is President of Beartooth Business Consulting. Beartooth Business Consulting is a Strategic Management firm committed to the success of small businesses like yours.  We help you understand where your business is at today, create a vision of where you want your business to go, and define the steps needed to realize your vision.  

 

 

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Event Management, Details, Details, Details

RvsdLogoOnlynogloMy buddy Cory Johnson and I just got done putting on the Inaugural Red Lodge Songwriter Festival last weekend. This was an idea that started eight months ago over a couple of beers, which evolved into nine performances in six venues over three days. It was an enormous undertaking that took the cooperation and efforts of a lot of people, some paid but mostly volunteers. The success of this event and others like it can be attributed to the talented artists that performed, but mostly it was having a good plan to start with and managing the details leading up to and during the event.

Every event has literally hundreds of little details that need to be planned for, budgeted for, and eventually executed on. If your event is a first time event work very hard at anticipating the unexpected. A friend once said “Murphy was an Optimist” and when it comes to event management I believe that rings true.

In the early planning stages of your event build an event resume and begin to write down and account for everything that will happen and influence the successful outcome of your event. In the case of the Red Lodge Songwriter Festival it was things like:

  • songwriters-2016-_0251Travel Schedules
  • Transportation to the event
  • Transportation during the event
  • Welcome baskets for songwriters
  • Lodging
  • Sound systems
  • Ticket sales
  • Fundraising
  • Advertising the event
  • Team management
  • Graphic Design/Printing
  • Media
  • Budgeting
  • Public Relations
  • Seating configurations
  • Ticket distribution
  • Communications
  • Point of sale systems
  • Storage
  • VIPs
  • Signage
  • Wifi at the venues
  • Photography/Video
  • Staging
  • Sound technicians
  • Meals
  • Caterers
  • Etc., etc., etc.

This is by no means a complete list and there will always be things that you did not anticipate happening that you need to be alert for. Having a good team around you that are willing to roll up sleeves and get the work done is a big plus as well. Everyone wants to be involved with events especially if they are fun events. Your team should be made up of people you can trust and will get things done when they say they will. There is nothing worse than to rely on someone who says they did something only to fall back on you at the last minute because it didn’t get done. It’s OK to have a small team of doers and tell others thanks for your offer but we have it covered.

songwriters-2016-_0321Beartooth Business Consulting can help you plan, manage and execute your event whether it is an industry event, fundraiser or corporate function. Please call us at 406-690-5988 or by email at mike@beartoothbiz.com   

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