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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…

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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Your cash cycle – measuring performance in sales

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) measure your progress toward your desired strategic outcomes. Some of them remain consistent over time, so you can compare this period’s results to a prior period. Some are derived by looking at past performance and identifying patterns. Some of your KPIs will likely be looks in the rear view mirror. But you can’t determine future direction by focusing only on where you’ve been. If you are measuring only based upon results and the sales cycle times in your industry are long, it could take you months to determine whether an individual or group is effective. That means that you can incur significant cost and risk before you fix a problem. You need some KPIs that are predictors of future success, leading indicators.

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The strategic value of choosing to be bad at something

What would you be willing to sacrifice in order to be really outstanding – industry leading? Would you be willing to sacrifice design for functionality, or functionality for design? Would you be willing to trade speed for one-of-a-kind craftsmanship? How would you choose to be bad in order to differentiate your business?

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Do your work processes support growth – or slow it down?

Do your processes operate without drama while delivering industry-leading profitability? Sometimes when companies think LEAN they focus on their factory floor – on their make/production and inventory cycle. But the overall cash conversion cycle in your business (it’s the oxygen for growth, remember?) also includes your sales process, your delivery process, and your billing, payment, and collection processes. Even if your production floor is operating like clockwork, if your sales process takes too long or clients don’t pay on time, financially-based high drama can ensue.

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It’s time to act. Do you speed up or slow down?

When it is time to act, deciding whether to speed up or slow down is for many people a mashup of rational analysis and gut response. For business owners and leaders, deciding whether it is time to act may be a reflection of deeply held values. Or it might be based on habits that may or may not be as relevant now as they were when the behavior pattern was first established. 

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Using huddles to synchronize your business

The daily huddle creates clear communication without all the interdepartmental filters. It builds relationships as team members grow more appreciative of what their colleagues must achieve daily. It creates collective intelligence as the participants share information about their respective areas of the business. It creates peer pressure through visible accountability for results. And maybe best of all, you may find that the huddle, as part of a framework, saves you hours of time that you used to have to spend in meetings.

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CEO challenges in a growing company

Even the best CEOs don’t have all of the answers, so you don’t have to either. Savvy CEOs know, though, that it’s smart to tap into resource that can provide information that you need. SummitHRD knows how to help you install the framework to support your business, and to support you, as your company grows.

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