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The Summit Blog

Want to enrich your business day with solid advice you can apply right away? Looking to be inspired? Want to warm up the old thinking cap so you can focus on what’s important? Check out The Summit Blog…

Are you the smartest one in the room?

What rooms should you be in that you are not in right now? What people can you add to the rooms inside your business to raise the corporate IQ and push you and everyone else to the next level? In what ways do you need to get over yourself and make yourself vulnerable enough to learn, risk failure, and stretch?  Want your business to grow? You know you want to. So go find some rooms already!

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Need more cash to fuel your business? Read this.

In each of the processes in the cash cycle you have options: reduce errors, take steps to improve your cycle times, or even change your business model (like Dell computer did when it started requiring payment up front for custom computers). You’re busy every moment of every day. You will have to make a choice to allocate the time to improve your cash situation. We can help you think through it determine the best next steps to take. Wouldn’t you like to have more cash on hand right now?

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Unleash hidden talents on your team

In the short term it might cost you a bit to make the space for talent discovery and talent development. But if you invest in discovering and developing the talents in your company, its value and sustainability return your investment many times over.

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Co. culture starts with core values and purpose

The ultimate test of alignment is when your team sees and hears you and the other senior managers in action. If you are not uniformly singing from the same hymnal and reinforcing the same things you will NOT succeed in shifting your culture. Your company can be no better than you are. If you see behavior downstream that is out of alignment, look upstream from those folks for the individual they are modeling after. Even if your outlier is a senior executive, if you are authentic about your core values he or she needs to go.

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Do your plan before you set your budget

Stephen Covey calls planning a Quadrant 2 activity – it is not urgent (pulling at you) but it is important. If you don’t plan now you will be more likely to be reacting later. Reaction is more expensive than prevention. If you don’t plan first – and we know you don’t have a bunch of extra time floating around – you’ll spend more time downstream making decisions because you don’t have research and resources at the ready.

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Market advantage starts with identifying core customers

This is not a broad and wide strategy. It’s narrow and deep. If you shift resources to focus on the needs of your core customers, you might not please everyone in your current customer base. You might lose some high maintenance clients, or customers who squeeze your margins in some ways. Losing some customers is OK – IF you have taken the time to identify your most profitable customers and their needs, and then built your products, services, and buying experience around them. 

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What problem does your business solve?

It is not only for your marketing department to determine and then communicate what the benefits of your products and services are. You need to know FROM YOUR CUSTOMERS what problems your products solve, and what customers want from them. Then you can use the information to inform your new product development, your manufacturing process, packaging, delivery – even billing and payment systems.

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Are you too rigorous, or too easy on your team?

As you found out in high school, the easy A only sounds good. The people who succeed over the long haul are those who are investing in the future with knowledge and accountability practices. And they are doing it routinely as part of the way they do business.

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Do you have the team you need to grow your biz?

Your senior team will make or break your ability to execute your strategy and operate with values alignment. This means that no matter how long you have been together, or how technically skilled they might be, you have to choose the person or the plan. Under the auspices of a plan, they are aligned and productive, or they are trained, or they are warned, or they are out. Your business is counting on you to do this. And your results will show whether you did it or not.

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7 signs that your business is running YOU

Why did you choose business ownership in the first place? Was it to create something unique? Was it to create jobs in your community or a legacy for your family? Did you start your business because you wanted more autonomy and flexibility than a traditional 9 to 5 could offer you? Or did you want to have the benefit of the financial rewards rather than handing most of them over to someone else?

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It might be time to take off your superhero cape.

When you start to do the “capeless” job of building triads (3 people) rather than dyads (two people) for communication, you start to build an operation that depends less upon you. (Remember, – that means longer vacations and bigger sale price when you are ready!) And triads contain a built-in tie-breaker. As these connections grow, the barriers between functional silos start to break down and the triads focus on customers and their needs rather than jockeying for position and positive attention with you.

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Do you try to predict the future – or control it?

Even a gorgeous strategy is nothing without the execution. Whether you decide to look around to develop a prediction or make a pre-emptive strike to control the environment and establish your strategic position, you implement, measure and adjust as necessary. Rinse and repeat. Fail from time to time, but fail forward and fail fast.

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Market Differentiation – Managing Customer Expectations

If you know what your customers value and what their expectations are, and if you know what your competitors are doing, you are on your way to differentiation by fulfilling those expectations. What would happen if you took it one step further, and raised your standards above and beyond what your clients expect? Imagine the buzz you could create, and the referrals your happy customers would send to you!

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Must strategy come first for business success?

Many companies have assumed that a strategy is a fixed sort of thing that must be perfected before it is implemented. The traditional strategy was intended to last for 24-36 months. But in reality, many of the multi-year, locked-and-loaded strategies are obsolete by the time they are communicated, much less implemented. Effective strategies evolve as markets change, supported by people and execution and fueled by cash. The Four Decisions form a framework that helps a business grow.

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