Aligning With Your Business

Aligning your Business?

When you stepped on this path of entrepreneurship, if you’re like me, you became a sponge for knowledge. If there was a new strategy you heard about, you found a resource to become skilled in learning that strategy. If there was an event you knew you needed to be at, you figured out how to get there. You were an “eager beaver” to learn, learn, learn and implement what you learned in your business.

But chances are, nobody ever suggested you stop with all the information gathering and ask yourself the deeper questions of, “Is this right for me? Is this aligned with who I am, what my business is and what’s important to me?” Many entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with are just now stepping back to ask themselves what they’ve been doing for the past several months (or years)… and if it’s really working for them.

What several of these entrepreneurs are discovering is that they’ve been going after what they “thought” they “should” be doing based on watching and modeling someone else. It’s an honest thing to do. You’re taught to model others. But, you’ve got to be mindful of knowing where the line is between modeling in a way that serves you and modeling in a way that pulls you further away from who you are.

On that note, I want to share with you the ABC’s of aligning with your business so no matter what stage you’re in; no matter how much knowledge you have; no matter your level of success (or frustration) these three tips will help you make sure you are on track to be in total alignment with your business as you head into 2010.

Assess

In order to get from “Point A” to “Point B” in terms of aligning with your business, you’ve first got to assess where you really are. Many entrepreneurs just keep going, keep plowing through their to-do list without taking time to step back and truly assess where they’re at and what direction they’re headed.

In this phase, you’ll allow yourself to see what’s working in your business and what isn’t working in your business, and more importantly what is and isn’t working for YOU! It may be that your greatest source of income is also coming from the service that causes you the most amount of stress. This is not in alignment. Your income ought to come from your greatest joy. So, these are the things to be looking for. Where does your business FEEL right and where doesn’t it?

Be Brave

The assessment phase may uncover some things that perhaps you’d prefer not to see. I know when I went through the assessment phase in my business, I saw I was doing things that I really shouldn’t have been doing. These were some of the things others had suggested I do, so they didn’t purely come from the intent in my heart, but by what someone else thought.

So, this next phase invites you to be brave in facing what you see. Yes, it might feel temporarily easier to pretend that what you see isn’t really there. It’s natural to want to avoid that kind of pain. However, if it’s there, it will always be there and it can’t really be avoided, it can only be postponed. So, allow yourself to face whatever you see straight-on and you will be one step closer to totally aligning your Self with your business.

Co-Create

Finally, the third phase is to embrace the concept of co-creation. Co-creation happens when you are fully awake, aware and conscious of the reality that everything created through you is created in partnership with Spirit. In order to truly be aligned with your Self and your business, it’s essential to not let your human will or your ego feel like it’s the creative force behind what you do.

Alignment happens when your ego is set aside, when your intent is pure, when comparison and competition (or what you think you “should” do) aren’t part of your process. This can be the greatest growth opportunity of all… to allow yourself to “let go” enough to make room for grace. So, don’t feel like you have to do everything in your business (or your life) alone, be open to seeing that when you’re in alignment you’re opening to a world of infinite possibility.

Author: Christine M. Kloser

A Roadmap to Business Growth and A Prosperous Future

Do you have the key to Growth?

For almost three years, JR Andersen, CEO of mid-size software company Andersen High Tech (AHT), and his board have been uneasy. Business growth has been “OK” at eight percent but the market has been growing at a 15 percent annual rate. With almost half the growth from price increases, unit growth for the main product line has been less than five percent. Fortunately, margins have been expanding nicely along with management bonuses, so things aren’t too bad.

Or are they?

With business growth rates well below the market, AHT is losing customers and hence market share. At a minimum, this means lost opportunities.

Competitors are gaining enough critical mass to develop the next product faster or better. AHT’s biggest competitor has won three bids with “leading edge” requirements, leaving JR worried about his next generation product.

If you were JR and his board, where would you look to escape this predicament? My experience suggests the answer is in marketing strategy, not in technology.

To increase your company’s business growth, your new thinking and priorities should focus on:

– Finding hidden opportunities – Your potential business growth solutions are buried inside your current approach to product enhancement and development.

– Applying product discipline – You need to find and apply the right balance of technical and business factors for proactive product management.

– Discovering customer niches — You need to find specific customers with unique needs that you can serve better than others could.

Six months ago, JR started down this road. Here is his path to business growth success:

Finding the hidden portfolio gold & fixing your R&D investment black hole

AHT had a large “portfolio” of products and product enhancements in development. Like many companies I’ve seen, AHT’s pipeline had many small, incremental projects and very few truly innovative ones.

To fix his R&D problem, JR decided that he needed to divide the projects into 3 categories:

1. Major new products: Greater than 10 percent of firm revenue within three years.

2. Significant product enhancements: defined as substantial new customer functionality.

3. All other.

JR knew there were only four new products underway, counting two in the very early stages. He was surprised to find only seven significant enhancements, and even more surprised to find 73 “all other” projects.

Next, JR needed to understand the resources assigned to each category. Because there had been no central resource tracking, this step was hard for JR’s staff. They had to visit each product group and each functional organization several times before obtaining the necessary information. Everyone was surprised to discover only 20 percent of the resources assigned to major new products and another 15 percent on enhancements–with the remaining 65 percent working on “all other.”

The solution was obvious. Take resources from “all other” and add them to new product development or product enhancements. Not only did this improve confidence in launch dates, it opened a floodgate of possibilities for new products.

Applying Product Discipline

While looking at the AHT product development projects, JR first drew them out on a calendar showing launch dates. Then he asked his engineers and product managers some questions. They included:

– When are intermediate reviews scheduled and who is participating?

– Can you show me the specific customer needs that preceded the technical work?

– For existing products, do the product plans line up with corporate objectives?

– What are the skills and background of the people in product manager roles?

Like many companies, he found AHT only addressed these issues intermittently, meaning he received many answers he did not want to hear. In discussions with the vice presidents at the next staff meeting, JR and his executive management team agreed they needed to personally apply more consistent attention and focus.

Discovering Niches and Segments

Next, JR dug into the product plan for AHT’s product with the largest growth objective. He found the sales target, marketing communications plan, and the planned product enhancements. But the assessment of competitors was weak. Worse, the description of target customers and applications was missing. In other words, no description of why a customer would buy AHT’s product or which customers should be interested.

I’ve seen this pattern at many companies. The value proposition is missing or too broad, without real and specific customer benefits. Crafting a great value proposition includes becoming very specific about benefits in terms that affect the customer’s bottom line.

JR quickly realized that the most productive place to look for revenue growth was in incremental uses and new customers for AHT’s three key existing products. He asked his marketing, sales, engineering and customer service leaders to carefully understand and document each benefit received by current customers, then identify other similar customers.

Business Growth’s Bottom Line

After six months of focus, JR and his board are feeling better. Revenue growth for the last quarter was 17 percent and the most recent product launch was on time. The whole company now has a positive outlook and people are buzzing with energy. It took two new product managers and a lot of executive attention, but the customer niche/value proposition concept has really taken hold. The VP of sales even became a believer when he landed an elusive key account after a presentation of AHT key product benefits (rather than their technical capabilities).

The product launch schedule has six new products and fifteen enhancements in the pipeline, all with strong executive support and no more “black hole.”

I sincerely hope your company isn’t facing the problems faced by JR and his board at AHT. But if you are, try JR’s roadmap for business growth. Find the hidden opportunities, apply product discipline, and discover your customer niches.

B2B marketing expert, Bill Gilbert, has extensive experience in moving telecom and high tech firms, just like yours, from technical focus to a customer-driven brand. For more free business growth tips on how to drive a compelling value proposition, proactively manage new product development, and exploit product portfolios to systematically build brands check out Bill’s blog at: [http://www.b2bgrowthmarketing.com/marketing-blog/]

Author: Bill Gilbert