SGIA Expo Pre-Show Panel Helps Owners 'Prepare for Success'
The pre-event training session “Your Business: Prepare for Success” on Monday offered advice from a quartet of expert speakers on subjects that every owner must master: time utilization, branding, sales and entrepreneurial management.
It’s crucial to learn to put “last things last” and to realize that being efficient isn’t always the same thing as being effective, said Ryan Sauers (Sauers Consulting Strategies). Failing to recognize the difference between “urgent” and “important” is another way owners fall into timekilling traps.
To avoid wasting time when confronting a decision about something either “do it, defer it, delegate it or drop it,” Sauers recommended. Since time is tied to business growth, hesitating isn’t excusable: “It’s not how you get started, it’s that you get started,” he said.
Decisions that successful owners make, Sauers said, have “smart” for an acronym: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
Vince DiCecco (Your Personal Business Trainer Inc.) stressed that every business has a brand - and that brand is a business asset requiring careful cultivation. On the simplest level, a brand is something that identifies the business it belongs to. But what it truly represents, said DiCecco, is “the alignment of what you want people to think about your company with what they actually do think about your company.”
The value proposition that a brand conveys is the thing that makes it succeed or fail. Its critical components, according to DiCecco, are its powerful appeal to an unmet need, its instant credibility, and the way it communicates uniqueness and innovation that the competition can’t match. However, he said, a value proposition isn’t final until it has been validated by the people it is meant to influence.
A “classic mistake” of management, observed David M. Fellman (David Fellman & Associates), is to assume that salespeople know all that they need to know in order to be the best salespeople they can be. They need to be trained to recognize that the people they are calling on fall into four categories: suspects (not yet qualified), prospects (qualified), customers (currently buying) and maximized customers (delivering maximum value in the relationship). Salespeople calling on “minnows” instead of big fish can’t be expected to connect all the dots by themselves, Fellman said.
Firm sales quotas with implied consequences are better for the business than aspirational sales goals that don’t communicate accountability, Fellman said. Compensation plans have to speak in a voice that is clear about the company’s sales objectives and what achieving them will mean on the salesperson’s end.
Tom Trutna, owner of Big Ink, a wide-format graphics business, had to change his management approach when the recession hit, taking away 30 percent of his revenue.
He found it in a methodology called the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), the subject of a book titled “Traction” by Gino Wickman. From it, Trutna derived five lessons that he described as crucial to the health of businesses like his.
Vision: This needs to be followed by all (FBA) and carried out by an integrator acting on behalf of the “visionary” the entrepreneurial owner.
People: Having “the right people in the right seats” is everything, including when it means separating people from seats they are occupying but not truly filling.
Data: Management needs scorecards, and data provides them. “Nothing changes unless it is watched,” Trutna said.
Process: Everything is a process, and there should be a process for everything: simplified, documented, and FBA.
Issues: Trutna recommended doing a “kill, combine or keep analysis” to determine how to deal with them, and assigning specific responsibilities for carrying the decisions out.