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2024 New Year Countdown - Time to Plan

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If you don't have a Strategic Business Plan or need to revise your plan, join me as I guide you through assembling a strategic business plan for your company that is leveraged for growth in 2024. 
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Narrow Your Focus— for Growth in 2024

Time to Plan for 2024 - Part 4 of 9

by Marc L Daniels — 22 November 2023 -Volume 249
With your Vision defined, we move forward to Your Target Market

Effective companies focus their marketing efforts on appealing to and serving a specific target market customer. Your target market is the center of your marketing, your “bull’s eye.” It’s the sweet spot you aim for with your product & service design and marketing communications. 

Many Entrepreneurs and business owners I speak with are confident they know their target market, and they do for the most part. However, that being said, as we enter 2024, I encourage you to review and tighten up your target market — Narrow Your Focus

When you narrow your focus to a clearly defined target audience, your business strategy and marketing endeavors will be more effective. 

 - First, you will spend less marketing dollars.
 - Secondly, your marketing will drive greater returns.

Most importantly, your target market is a foundational component of your overarching strategic plan. Tightening up your target market will provide context to many of the decisions and projects you create for growth in 2024.

So, how do you tighten up your target market? Use my Target Market Workbook (for free) — Just 42 Questions that will help you define and tighten up your target market for growth in 2024.


Final Thoughts:

When you have a straightforward target market customer in mind:

   - Your product & service design has more clarity & focus – because you know who you are building it for.
   - Your customer communications are more effective – because you know who you are talking to.
   - Your target customer perceives you as the expert in meeting their needs – they can clearly see that “This organization is talking to me.”

Next Week:
Your Value Discipline

Build a Winning Team for Success— with Core Values

Time to Plan for 2024 - Part 3 of 9

by Marc L Daniels — 15 November 2023 -Volume 248

Over the last few newsletters, I have focused on the Vision of your company:

   • Why your company does what it does? — Your Core Purpose
   • Where do you want to get to with your company? What is your dream or Big Hairy Audacious Goal — Your BHAG

This week, the final component of the Vision is Your Core Values.

   • Who do you want on the journey with you? What are the values you want them to exemplify? Your Core Values

Core values are a critical component of building a winning team for success. Looking back over my forty-four-plus years in business, building a team aligned with the company's core values has been paramount to its success.

Core Values are the behaviors that define your culture. Core Values are clear statements of how you expect every person in your organization to act, regardless of their role. Core Values provide a moral compass for your people. They can help your people to decide on the right course of action, irrespective of the challenge they face.

Core Values are not the descriptions of our work or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. Core Values underpin our work. They define and guide us on how we interact with each other, the public, our prospects, and, ultimately, our customers. Core Values create alignment between employees and company goals.

There are no studies I'm aware of about the profit-building power of values per se, but there are plenty of studies about the influence of culture. Culture is the collection of internalized rules of behavior for the people in your company. Those rules form the basis for your Core Values. By identifying your Core Values and making them explicit, you shape your culture.

That's important because your Core Values and culture do several things for your company. Your Core Values provide a moral compass for your people. They can help your staff decide on the right course of action, regardless of the challenge they face. Your Core Values establish a basis for consistent decision-making by everyone. People who share the same Core Values tend to make decisions using the same principles.

Here's the catch – simply writing down some rules and turning them into a statement of Core Values doesn't work. Your Core Values must be unique to your company and reflect the values you have and strive to live. It's not an ambiguous and generic word like "integrity." It must clearly state, "Here's how we do things around here." 

In an interview with AirBnb co-founder Brain Chesky, he went through Airbnb's core values, "Golden Rules," in detail. 

  • Be A Host: "Serve others so they feel they belong. We stretch our empathy until our guests feel 100% appreciated. Everyone is a guest."
   • Champion the Mission: "Create a global experience of belonging for anyone, anywhere. Those who work for it, in, or around Airbnb, agree to Champion the Mission by living it."
   • Every Frame Matters: "Think holistically. Execute with obsession to detail. Success is measured by pride, not credit."
   • Be a "Cereal" Entrepreneur*: "Everyone is creative. Think scary big. Volunteer for impossible situations. Get shit done."
   • Simplify: "In every complex, impossible situation, we so clearly define the outcomes that all distractions are eliminated."
   • Embrace The Adventure: "We have fun, welcoming uncertainty. We master chaos through flexibility and youthful curiosity."

I love seeing Core Values so well articulated. It is so important for employees, subcontractors, prospects, and customers to see core values that are not just a few words of aspirations but so clearly defined.

   * Please take special note of Be a "Cereal" Entrepreneur. Cereal is not a misspelling. Airbnb's creative solution to funding woes was "Cereal" boxes. They created their own limited-edition cereal brands, Obama O's and Cap'n McCain's, and sold them online for $40 each, marketed as a way to support their favorite candidate and get a free night at an Airbnb listing. Also, note how this core value has included an element of BHAG thinking— "Think scary big. Volunteer for impossible situations."

If you've been in business for a while, you've probably already developed some unwritten golden rules, "the way we do things around here" that you'll sharpen into your Core Values later. In the meantime, here are some questions I want you to ask you to answer and think about before you write or refine your core values:

   • Who in your company is a living example of the right behavioral standards?
   • What is your company known for?
   • What behaviors are so important that you'll fire* anyone who doesn't consistently demonstrate them?

Final Thoughts:
Are you Building a Winning Team for Success? Start by ensuring your core values are clear and articulated so everyone understands how they apply to them. When you hire an employee, use your core values as a litmus test. A good resume, a DISC profile, a top grading, or a reference are all viable hiring tools, but my experience has taught me that they are all for naught if your new hire is a bad hire, if they are not aligned with your core values.

Next Week: 
We begin working on your Strategy and refining your Target Market.

Dare to Dream Big

Time to Plan for 2024 - Part 2 of 9

by Marc L Daniels — 8 November 2023 -Volume 247

"Dare to dream big; only big dreams have the power to move men's souls." 
— Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) 

"Dare to Dream Big", said Roman Emporer Marcus Aurelius — Nearly 2000 years later, in their book Good to Great - Jerry Portis and Jim Collins coined the phrase "BHAG," an acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. But it is nothing new.

Marcus Aurelius was spot on: BHAGs "have the power to move the souls of men" (and women, as added by me, Marc Daniels).

Bill Gates said this at a news conference in 2006. — "When Paul Allen and I started Microsoft over 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software. We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home."

Let's review through some classic BHAGs:
 • Ford — 1903 Henry Ford "Democratize the automobile."
 • Disney — 1934 Walt Disney's "Create a full-length animated feature film."
 • NASA — 1961 President John Kennedy, "This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth."
 • Nike — 1967 Phil Knight, "Crush Adidas"
 • Microsoft — 1980 Paul Allen and Bill Gates, "A computer on every desk and in every home:"

Now, how some have changed over time:
 • Ford — Transform from an automotive company to a mobility solutions provider.
 • Disney — Be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.
 • Nike — To be the number one athletic company in the world.
 • Microsoft — Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

And a few special ones for my entrepreneurial women followers:
 • Spanx — Sara Blakely — (Founder) To invent a product that I can sell to millions of people that makes them feel good.
 • 23andMe — Anne Wojcicki (Co-Founder) Change healthcare by empowering the patient to own their data.
 • Arria — Sharon Daniels (Co-Founder) Connect the data-sphere to humanity by giving It the power of language.

Now, some recent ones:
 • SpaceX — Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars.
 • Airbnb — To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
 • Tesla — Accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy
 • Uber — To make transportation as reliable as running water for everyone, everywhere.

Today, the BHAGs are taught in MBA Business School coursework. Business consultants and coaches globally teach their clients the importance of using them to motivate businesses to achieve massive success.

A BHAG is a visionary and compelling goal for the next 10–25 years of a company. It should feel intimidating, perhaps slightly impossible, but be achievable if the company puts forth its best efforts.

Four factors make up an organization's BHAG:
 • Big — The goal is enormous, and it cannot be completed in a year or even five years. The goal should take at least ten years to accomplish
 • Hairy — It should be risky since it will require innovation and maximum effort to reach it.
 • Audacious — The idea is bold and has the "gasp factor" that makes you stop and think about it.
 • Goal — Goals need to be measurable, even if they are BHAGs.

A BHAG is not just for you, though... While "becoming a millionaire" is an admirable goal for you, it will not excite the average employee. However, a goal like "we will build a human settlement on Mars" will excite them, and they will want to be part of the project. I love seeing the enthusiasm of SpaceX employees after a successful launch: smiles, hugs, and high-fives!

So what is your dream? What is your company's dream, and can you write a BHAG that will excite your employees?

Final Thoughts:
Developing a BHAG is a foundational component of your Vision and your overarching Strategic Plan. As your company grows and progresses, the possibilities are truly endless. So, as Marcus Aurelius said, "Dare to Dream Big" 

So, what is your Big dream? What is your company's dream, and can you write a BHAG that will dare to excite your employees?

Next Week - The final component of the Vision component of your Strategic Plan- Your Core Values.

Start Your 2024 Plan with "Why..."

Time to Plan for 2024 - Part 1 of 9

by Marc L Daniels — 26 October 2023 -Volume 246

"Everything, a horse, a vine, is created for some duty. 
For what task, then, were you yourself created? 
A man's true delight is to do the things he was made for" 
— Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) 

This week, we begin with a critical foundational component: Your "Why" Why do you do what you are doing? What is your core purpose? 

So, as Marcus Aurelius stated nearly 2000 years ago, "A man's true delight is to do the things he was made for.

So, what do you find delight in? What were you made for?

In Simon Senek's landmark book 'Start With Why.' He states that starting with your "Why" is how you explain your company's core purpose and why you exist and behave as you do.

But let me caution you: while your "Why" could be your passion, you must mix what you love with what there is demand for. If there is no demand for your "Why," then your why is just a hobby, not a business.

And then, while you personally need to find delight in your services, products, and what you do, you must give ensure employees a compelling reason to work for you beyond simply earning money. Your Core Purpose needs to provide meaning to the work your company does. 

Your Core Purpose is not "what" you do. It is not "how" you do it, either. Your Core Purpose is "why" you do what you do. Your Core Purpose transcends your current product or service offerings and speaks to your organization's passion. It speaks to the difference your organization wants to make in the lives of the people it touches.

To craft or refine your core purpose statement, start by answering these four questions:
  • Why does your organization exist (beyond making money)?
  • ​What is your organization passionate about?
  • ​What difference are you trying to make in the lives of the people your organization touches?
  • ​What is the "essence" of what you do for your customers?
The answer to these questions should provide a good representation of the essence of what your organization does for people and why you exist, and that's great. Now, I want you to crystallize your reason "why" into a clear, concise statement. Take just a moment to write or re-write Your Company's Core Purpose Statement for 2024. It is an important foundational block in creating your overarching strategy over the next several weeks.

Next week, I will continue with your Company's Vision — Where do you want to go, and what is your BHAG—Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

Just 80 Days Until the New Year

Time to Plan for 2024

by Marc L Daniels — 12 October 2023 -Volume 245

Yes, it's that time of year, with only 80 days until 2024. It is time to plan and create a strategy to make 2024 a year of growth for your company.

"He who fails to plan is planning to fail." — Winston Churchill.

And it's true... 25% of enterprises without a plan fail within the first two years of operations. And 50% within five years.

The number one reason businesses fail... NOT HAVING AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGIC BUSINESS PLAN. 

Now consider what happens when you do have a plan... 71% of fast-growing companies have a strategic business plan.

This year, I aim to help 1,000 Entrepreneurs ensure their company has a plan. Therefore, my 80-day countdown has started.

Over the next ten weeks, I will step through the essential steps to assembling a plan. But not just any plan — a plan for growth in 2024. I will share my learnings with you and how I have taken companies from zero to millions.

Next week, I will cover step one... Your Core Purpose

Have the Summertime Blues?

We have the cure!

by Marc L Daniels — 24 August 2023 -Volume 244

Hard to believe it's the end of August— Do you have the Summertime Blues? 

Has your company hit the targets that you set way back in January? If not, as the summer winds down, it is an ideal time to step back, reflect on the first eight months of the year, and refresh your focus for the final four.

Also, it doesn't matter if you didn't do any formal planning at the beginning of this year. A Business review and the resulting strategies are paramount to your success and growth regardless of when it is done.

It's also okay to catch up on your goals and action plans. A review allows you to do a reset.

What should be included in your August Business Review?
In your review, you reflect on the last eight months of the year. As the leader of your company, this is when you put on your CEO hat. A review will clarify what has worked well and what has not worked well. Then you'll make some decisions about the last four months of the year.

If you have a team, you'll likely want to include them in the process.

During your review, you'll step through the annual goals and objectives you set at the beginning of the year. If you did any formal business planning, pull those plans out so you can refer to them.

Review your Strategy
Focus on your strategies. What has worked well, and what has not?  It is optimal time to perform a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), or if you are looking for rapid growth in the last four months, I recommend my adaptation of traditional SWOT called a SWaTOL4™. This approach focuses on removing obstacles and leveraging emerging trends.

Strategic Projects and Goals
Based on your SWOT or SWaTOL4 analysis, review and reset your strategic projects and goals.
  • Are your initial goals still relevant?
  • What have you accomplished so far?
  • Have any milestones been missed? Why? What was the roadblock or issue, and what needs to happen to get it back on track?
  •  Are any new priorities asking for a new strategic project?

Cash Flows and Budget
Regardless of your specific business and situation, there are some crucial points you need to consider:
 • Any collection issues that need attention? · Are you on track to meet your target income?
 • Are your expenses being managed appropriately?
 • Is it time to raise your rates?
 • If you're struggling, consider reducing your business expenses, revamping your offerings, or adjusting your marketing activities.

Plan Rollout and Executive Team Meetings
As you return from those August vacations, communicate your newly adjusted plan to the company to build excitement and drive engagement. Finally, ensure you get in the cadence of a weekly executive team meeting to review your weekly strategic plan, ensuring you are hitting your milestones, checking your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), and on track with your growth goals every week. 

Want some additional guidance?
Attend my End the Year with Growth Workshop (see sidebar) ➞

Special Note: To my southern hemisphere readers... I know it is not summer there, however if you are from Australia or New Zealand, keep an eye out for some exciting workshops for your region coming up soon!

Meeting Madness

Make Your Meeting Matter!

by Marc L Daniels — 9 May 2023 -Volume 243

My first experience with Meeting Madness was as a youth advisor to my church consistory in the '70s. The consistory held monthly meetings, and while there was an agenda, the meetings could have been better moderated; they ran for hours, with no defined time on agenda items. The discussions frequently went off-topic, sometimes with substantive items, but I often viewed them as trivial and unrelated. The worst issue was that often no clearly defined follow-up action or task was assigned. Even at a young inexperienced age, I saw the Meeting Madness. I realized they could be run more efficiently, accomplish more in less time, and set clear tasks or objectives to be completed before the next meeting.

Then in the '80s, I ran my own company, Computer Discount of America. There I controlled the meetings. While the meetings had more structure, my early meetings were still flawed— There was HIPPO in the room, and it was me. HiPPO is an acronym for the "highest paid person's opinion. This is not productive when the leader's opinion overshadows or prevents constructive feedback from other attendees.

It was in the '90s that I truly learned how to run a meeting properly - thanks to a great mentor Bob Trenkamp the CEO of Varityper. Some of his rules:
  • If You're Not Early, Then You Are Late: Being late, you are showing no respect to the other meeting members. Once, I was 5 minutes late for a meeting, and Bob had locked the door. I had to knock to get in. He let me in and said, "If you're not early, you are late! Please be on time next week." It sounds harsh, but he taught me the importance of timeliness and later explained the cost of having employees wait for a meeting to begin. I was rarely never late for a meeting again.
  • No Agenda, No AttendaI was running a new division for Varityper, and Bob asked me if he could attend one of my meetings. "Of course," I replied. He walked into the meeting early and asked to see a copy of the agenda. I replied, "Bob, I don't have an agenda for this meeting." He stood up and said, "No Agenda, No Attenda!" He walked out. He leaned back in through the door frame, and with a devilish smile, he said, " I'll be back next week; please have an agenda."
  • Come Prepared: At another meeting, I made a statement about something very controversial. Bob asked, "Do you have the data to back that up?" I replied, "No, but I can run a report for you." He paused and said, "We will pick this up at our next meeting. Next week, please come prepared. 
So you might think Bob was a harsh leader, but his comments typically came with a smile; he was my mentor, and I will always hold him in admiration for the lessons he taught me. The Three valuable lessons he taught me are now part of my "7Ps of Productive Meetings." I'll teach you all seven in my upcoming Masterclass, including how to keep the HiPPO out of the room! End Meeting Madness and Make Your Meetings Matter! 
See the sidebar for FREE Masterclasses →

Has Your Growth Plateaued ––––––––––– ?

How To Fix It ↗︎ 

Marc L Daniels — 25 April 2023 -Volume 242

An outdated business plan or one needing additional strategy are the most common causes of revenues going flat.

Gone are the days when you could assemble a yearly business plan in October and November, roll it out in late December, and then work the paln all year. Well— we live in a rapidly changing world; the business environment constantly changes politically, economically, socially, and technologically. The plan you began to assemble six months ago must be revisited because, before you know it, the year will be half over. So it's time to start a mid-year tune-up and adjust your plan to ensure the second half of the year is a period of growth.

When it comes to revisiting your business plan, the question I first ask is: "Is it a Strategic Plan?" Many companies confuse goal setting with having a strategy. A goal is a target you want to hit. A strategy is why you're setting that goal. It defines the reason for your goal choices and the tactics you will take to achieve that goal.

Frequent Strategy Reviews are the most critical component of a successful strategic management process. They allow your team to report on their progress against the plan, make changes, and establish a strategic focus for the next 90 days.

What is a Strategy Review? It is a short planning process where you review your previous results, allow your team to report on their progress against the plan, make changes, and establish a strategic focus for the next 90 to 180 days.

Mid Year Strategic Planning Review Checklist/Agenda:
Company's Core Purpose
State your company's Core Purpose, why you exist, and the difference your organization is making in the world.
Company's Core Values
State your company's Core Values.— Do a shout-out to every member at the Strategic Planning review meeting and give an example of how they exhibited an action aligned with your core values in the last period.
Review of Quarter-to-Date and/or Year-to-Date Financials
     — Revenue Targets achieved?
     — Gross Profit Targets achieved
     — Net Profit Targets achieved
     — Cost Reduction Target (if any) achieved.
Review your BAG of BHAG (Big Audacious Goal) 
     — Has BHAG progress been acceptable?
Confirm your Target Market & Customer 
     — Do we still have our Target Market succinctly defined?
     — Did our total number of customers/clients grow?
     — Retention rate - Did we retain our existing customer base?
Review of Quarter-to-Date Year-to-Date Strategic Initiatives
     — What went well?
     — What went wrong?
     — What Strategic Initiatives were completed?
     — What Strategic Initiatives still need to be completed?
     — What initiatives had marginal success?
Do a PEST Analysis (Political, economic, social, and technological.)
     — This  is used to gauge external factors that could impact a company's profitability. 
     — Keep your PEST in mind as you pick your Strategic Projects. (see step 9)
Do a SWOT or SWaTOL4™ Analysis
     — Perform a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats)
     — Perform a SWaTOL4 (Strengths, Weaknesses, and Trends, Obstacles - Leverage 4)
NOTE: This approach is what I use to grow companies rapidly by identifying new trends and then Leveraging the results of the analysis with 4 Strategic Projects. Based on your SWaTOL4, identify potential opportunities or projects.
Quarterly Strategic Projects - Pick four and focus on them, you will grow!
    — Align one project with your Strengths - "a sure bet."
    — Then pick one that will mitigate or eliminate a Weakness.
    — Identify a Trend project that has the potential to drive rapid growth.
   — The biggest Obstacle you face. — "The Obstacle is the Way."
        Create a strategic project that steps you around or directly through an obstacle. 
NOTE:  I recomend that most Strategic Projects are quarterly, with a precise end date. However the "obstacle" Project could be longer, six or nine months, or even a year.

Build a Culture to Win

Create an environment of Pride, Strength, and Unity

Marc L Daniels — 7 March 2023 -Volume 241

The ha​ka is ​a ritual performed before every All Blacks Rugby game in New Zealand. Traditionally ​a ceremonial ​Mojari War dance or challenge, a group performs the haka as a ritual and represents or displays a tribe's Pride, Strength, and Unity.

Several years back, I was at a friend's house in New Zealand to watch an All Blacks game, and he shouted, "everyone, please be quiet; come over to the TV. It's time for the haka." ​We stood around the TV— I had never seen anything like this. They were fierce and looked intent and certainly unified about winning the game. They did win; over their entire history, amazingly, the All Blacks, have been victorious in 76% of all their matches. ​- That says something about the power of Rituals.

Now let's define rituals; they are anything but passive, and they move you into action. Rituals help you enjoy the journey and provide a sense of purpose for you, your life, your family, your team, or even your company. They offer a sense of direction and time out from your everyday routine.

How do you use a ritual to advance your company culture?
No, your team is not going to put on war paint and perform a ha​ka

But this is what we do at our company as a ritual is— at the end every leadership team meeting we share a core-value story, which is basically a shout-out.

One of our core values is being a team player

As example my shout out would be; "Last week, Michelle stayed late to help the shipping department.  Even though she doesn't work in the shipping department, she stayed to pack boxes that had to be delivered to customer by Friday. What a team player, thank you Michelle."

By doing a shout-out to Michelle it reinforces our core values, brings them front and center. It's such a positive ritual to end meetings with...it builds an environment of Pride, Strength, and Unity.

To learn more about Rituals see the sidebar and attend my upcoming FREE Masterclass— Make Your Metings Matter  ➔

What's Your Game Plan?

Does your plan need an adjustment?

Marc L Daniels — 22 February, 2023 -Volume 240

This past Sunday in the US was one without American football — The end of the season came last week with Super Bowl LVII, and it was a thriller. The sports analysts and Vegas bookies favored the Eagles, but yet the Chiefs won. How? 

Well, I'm no football analyst— but I am a Strategy Execution Coach. Obviously, an advocate of strategic planning, and I am very aware of the rapidly changing business environment we live in. Strategic Planning is not a yearly one-and-done event It is an interactive process that must be adjusted as each quarter evolves. This brings me to my football analogy— Coach Andy Reid's masterful Game Plan and the ability to adapt the plan mid-game that helped the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. The Chiefs went into the locker at halftime trailing 24-14. The offensive coordinator showed the players what had beaten them in the first half. They adjusted their plan. Quarterback Mahomes addressed his teammates — and other teammates spoke alongside him — he fired them up. They adjusted their attitude.

I frequently write about the importance of having a plan— and how the lack of a plan frequently leads to business failure. But, this week, I want to stress the importance of a weekly leadership meeting where you review progress towards your strategic initiatives. During the weekly meetings, it is essential to acknowledge success and make adjustments when a strategic initiative or project is off course. You also have to keep your team excited about the execution of your strategic plan — fire them up! 

No Agenda? — No Attenda

Make Your Meetings More Productive

Marc L Daniels — 1 February, 2023 -Volume 239

Fifteen percent of an organization's collective time is spent in meetings. In surveys done with managers after they've left meetings, sixty-seven percent rated them as ineffective, and 92 percent admitted to multitasking during them.

And since the pandemic, I've seen a further deterioration of meaningful meetings. With the lack of in-person office contact, online meetings became the norm, frequently held just to see the team. They often lacked a clearly defined meeting purpose, often had no agenda, were late joiners, frequently multi-tasking by attendees, and often without data being properly presented or shared.

Online or in person, how can you improve your meetings and make them more productive? I recommend you follow the 5Ps of Productive Meetings.
The Five P's of Productive Meetings 
Let's step through each of these; Purpose, Preparation, Process, Participation, and Progress.
  • Purpose: Every productive meeting has a purpose— participants should know precisely what the meeting is for. Oprah Winfrey has been quoted when she walked into every meeting asking, "Why are we here?" She's trying to establish the purpose of the meeting. Oprah is one of the wealthiest women in America. She learned a long time ago that to make meetings productive, you first have to understand and define their purpose, hold everybody to that purpose, and not let the discussion go sideways. Every productive meeting has a purpose— participants should know precisely what the meeting is for.
  • Preparation: Every attendee should come prepared with the right data and be ready to share their perspectives in order to achieve that purpose. Once early in my career, I referred to something in a meeting, and the CEO asked please, show me the facts to back that up." However, embarrassingly, I was not prepared. I turned to him and said, "I didn't have that report. I'll run it and bring it to next week's meeting." He stood up, walked to the door, swung his head back in, and said, "Well, I'll see you next week then." While that seemed harsh, I must tell you I never came to another meeting unprepared. 
  • Process: Productive meetings have to have a clear process defined by an agenda. The same CEO I referred to above came in to sit in on one of my meetings and said, "Let me see the agenda." I replied, "Well, I don't have an agenda, Bob." He stood up, walked over to the door, leaned back in, and, grinning, said, "No agenda, no attenda." He was back next week, and I had an agenda. I recommend a tight agenda with time blocks for each item to keep your meeting brisk and on track.
  • Participation: The participation of everyone present characterizes productive meetings. We've all been at a meeting of six, seven, or eight people, with two or three at the table who say nothing the whole time. People should be at the meeting because they have something to contribute. There will be quiet people who come into meetings, and you have to coax their participation out of them. If they can't participate, they shouldn't be there. It would help if you drove participation. Ask staff members who do not contribute, "What are your thoughts, or what do you think?" If you do that two or three weeks a row, that person will start volunteering. 
  • Progress: In a productive meeting, everyone should leave better than when they entered. They should have more clarity around what they need to do, what everyone else needs to do, and how it all fits together to drive the company forward. Checking in on progress is the most potent component of the meeting to drive accountability. If you're reviewing the progress of a strategic project, you can say, "Oh, congratulations, this project is on track," or "Oh, this project's a little bit behind. Let's see if we can get it moving forward next week." When a project is behind, you can say, "What seems to be the roadblock or the issue here? How can I help? How can the company help you? What type of roadblocks or challenges are you facing? How can the rest of this team at this meeting help you? Is there anybody at this meeting who could help you?"
The key takeaway of this blog: Follow the 5-Ps of Productive Meetings, whether face-to-face or online, for all your meetings. — Make Your Meeetings Matter!

Acceleration During Crisis

Marc L Daniels — 24 January, 2023 -Volume 238

Now is not the time to slow down! - It's time to put the pedal down and make this your best year ever.

Two-thirds of all chief economists have sounded the recession alarm for 2023. The global pandemic, then inflation, and now the probability of a recession have intensified existing trends, widening the gap between those at the top and bottom of the power curve of economic profit. Will your strategy keep you ahead of the accelerated pace of change?

Now is not the time to slow down because every financial crisis creates a vacuum, and in that void, new opportunities are created. How can you identify these trends, create a strategy, and leverage them to make 2023 your best year ever?

A good place to start out is with a modification of the standard SWOT analysis that I can a SWaTOL™. Most of you are familiar with a SWOT analysis. It is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The SWOT analysis was created over 60 years ago by Albert Humphrey at MIT. It is used by many companies during their yearly and quarterly strategic planning process. However, if we look back over the most successful rapidly growing over the last 1/2 century, they did not get there by identifying threats. They frequently got there by riding the wave of a new emerging technology or trend.  

So while it is always good for the company to be aware of potential external threats, we know with relative certainty what they are; inflation and recession.

So that is why I recommend putting the pedal down and accelerating your growth through the crisis by identifying trends using my SWaTOL™
So what is a SWaTOL? It is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, and then Trends, Opportunities, Leverage.

Strengths — First, make a list of all your strengths. The most common response that I receive is "our people." That is obvious; however, I do not expect a company to hire crappy people, so if you are going to list your people, state what is strong about them. Likewise, if you state your offering or product, say what makes your offering so strong.

Weaknesses — Now make a list of Weaknesses. Typically I get a short list or minimal response on this segment. But there must be areas you are weak. They could be Website, Social Media, Customer Service, Employee Training, Staffing, and Employee Culture- Think, and you will find them.

Trends — Companies grow when they identify an emerging need, technology, regulation, or requirement. Make a list of emerging trends in the world, your country, your industry, and your offering. It can be challenging but give this some time. When you find them, they can be quite magical and drive amazing growth

Opportunities — Now list all the opportunities that the above lists could address.
 - Opportunities that align with your Strengths
 - An opportunity to address a Weakness.
 - A Trend that will create an Opportunity for growth.  

Create three strategic projects for the next quarter; The first should align well with one of your Strengths, the second should mitigate or eliminate a Weakness, and the third project leverage a Trend and drive growth.

Need some guidance, use my SWaTOL Workbook. Download your copy by clicking here ResultsBI SWaTOL™ Workbook

Do This EVERY Quarter! - You will grow; the project that aligns with a strength is a sure bet. Addressing a weakness every quarter will make you a better, stronger company better poised to retain customers and grow. And while you may not always find that trend, if you go through this exercise every quarter, you will eventually find one that drives magical rapid growth. It's worked for me for 44+ years of growing companies.

The key takeaway of this blog: Economic Crisis creates new Trends or Opportunities, and Trends — Do a SWaTOL every quarter find a Trend and grow!

It's Not Too Late!

Marc L Daniels — 11 January, 2023 -Volume 237

So here we are, just eleven days into the new year; 
 — Do you need Plan for 2023?
 — Or you had a plan last year but wished it was more Strategic.
 — You may even have had a Strategic Plan but failed to Execute it.

If any of the above describes your company, you are not alone. Research studies give us this insight.
 — Only 41 % of companies have a yearly Plan
 — Only 23% of companies use a formal strategic planning process
 — Only 10% of companies Execute their Strategy.

Just one more statistic, 71% of fast-growing companies have strategic plans. With only 11 days behind us and 354 days to go, there is still time. It's still possible to put together a strategy for growth in 2023. 

What is a strategic plan? Strategy is an exercise where you define your vision, get clear on your target market, your offering or service, and understand your strengths, weakness, trends, and obstacles. Then you define goals and actions that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

One of the outcomes of developing a viable strategy is defining goals. You must have clearly defined goals and carefully chosen tactics that support those goals. You also need to be able to gauge your progress against your goals and make regular adjustments to your tactics and Strategic Plan.

I've seen too many clients need clarification on strategy versus goal setting. They are not the same thing, and it's essential to understand their differences;

 — Strategy is an exercise in understanding the problem and the solution or value you bring to your target market. The problems that a well-thought-out strategy is focused on solving are how you will gain market share or differentiate yourself and your content in the marketplace.

 — Goals are a measure of progress. Goals support the strategy. Goals that support the strategy are critical but do not solve problems. Tactics are the steps you take to realize your goal.

Then comes the challenging part, the Execution of the goals. As I often say, "Strategic Planning is essential to success, but the Execution is worth Millions."

So there you have it— the Building Blocks of a Strategic Plan.

Vision; Your Core Purpose, Core values, and your 10 Year Target Result
Strategy; Your Target Market, Value Dsciciple, Strategic Position, Ky Benefits, and Brand Promise
Execution; SWOT Analysis, Goals, and Tactics

It's Not Too Late! - If you do not have a Strategic Plan for 2023, now is the time to put one together! 

The key takeaway of this blog: 71% of fast-growing companies have a Strategic Plan and it's not too late to put together a plan.

What are Your Key Benefits?

Marc L Daniels — 16 December, 2022 -Volume 235

Features are facts about your brand. Benefits are what these things mean for your customer. Most companies sell features, but people buy benefits. Great marketing sells benefits. Your key benefits should be relevant and compelling. When you deliver on those benefits, you create superior value. There are three kinds of benefits you can use to create that value:
 
Functional benefits - describe what your product or service does for your customers. These are your offering's attributes, or "the service or solution to be offered."
 
Economic benefits - describe what your product or service means to your customers in terms of time or money. Economic benefits appeal to your customer's heads, their rational part.
 
Emotional benefits - describe how your product or service makes the customer feel. Emotional benefits appeal to your customer's hearts, which is why they are the most potent.

Let's use Nike Sneakers as an example to illustrate these benefits;

First, Functional benefits; these are reasonably evident; they are shoes, a necessity for all. However, Nike segments its product line across many personal interests, such as running, cross-training, walking, and more. By using this segmentation, they have functional benefits across many customer segments. 

Economic benefits; Nike uses a value-based pricing strategy to set its prices according to consumer perceptions about the value of the company's products. The company can determine its product prices, uses competitive prices and set attractive prices for different market segments according to its market dominance. Economic benefits appeal to your customer's heads, their rational part.

Another economic benefit is healthy living— and this leads me to the emotional benefit of Nike —

Emotional Benefit; Nike's "Just do it" campaign is one of the most iconic marketing campaign examples. Nike launched the campaign in 1988 and featured professional and amateur athletes sharing their accomplishments and inspiring viewers to do the same. One of the first television advertisements for the campaign featured an 80-year-old marathoner named Walt Stack, a dedicated athlete who runs 17 miles every morning. Functional benefits - describe what your product or service does for your customers.

After the campaign went live, thousands of people submitted personal stories about times when they decided to take the leap and "just do it," from quitting their stagnant jobs to losing over a hundred pounds. The line became Nike's emblematic tagline and continues to represent the brand. 

What made this marketing campaign successful?

Nike identified an emotional connection with its audience and connected meaningful stories to its core values, like motivation, inspiration, and healthy living. Nike's decision to integrate the company's value proposition with an emotionally-driven message made for a wildly successful marketing campaign.   
Critical Takeaways as you put together your strategy for 2023: 
Align your strategy with selling benefits, not features. Looking at your target market, clearly define the Functional, Economic, and Emotional benefits your offering provides for your target market.

Read next week's Strategy Execution Newsletter — I will review the creation or refinement of your Brand Promise. It is derived from and supported by your three Key Benefits. .

Who are You?

Marc L Daniels — 8 December, 2022 -Volume 234

Do you have a Strategic Positioning Statement?

Many companies have flawed marketing strategies. They try to market themselves by saying things like: "We've got the best quality, the best product, the best service, the best people." Yes, all those things are important, but they won't help you be successful with your marketing. It simply lacks strategy. 

As part of your strategic planning, you need a strategic positioning statement that precisely expresses the essence of your brand. This persuasive one-line statement is internal-facing and designed to guide the business forward purposefully. Unlike a mission or vision statement, a positioning statement is not a public-facing tagline.

Strategic Position is the concept you want your customers to think of when they hear your brand name - a piece of mental real estate that you can "own" in the mind of your target customer. Your Strategic Position is "a statement of who you are." 

The Positioning Statement definition comprises four parts; the target market, the category, the differentiator, and the payoff. 

Target Market - The target market must be clearly defined: demographics, geography, psychographics, pains, needs, etc. 

The Category - You need a frame of reference for your product or service. This is a achieved by stating the category where you play. 

The Differentiator - One single point of differentiation is best... multiples create noise. What is makes your offering different - The problem you solve for your target market customer. 

The Payoff -  This ties the differentiation with the needs or goals of the target market. The problem you solve for your target market customer.

This is the basic structure of crafting a Positioning Statment- "To [target market], [brand] is a [category] that [differentiator] because [target market] needs [the payoff]."

Let's use ResultsBI as and example:
 — [target market] = CEO and Owners 
 — [brand] = Results BI Strategic Planning Software
 — [differentiator] = Simplicity
 — [the payoff] = Certainty of growth.

For CEO's and owners ResultsBI software makes Strategy Execution Easy. We we provide the tools to create a roadmap for success, eliminating stress, providing certainty, and ultimately helping companies grow.

Take a stab at it!  If you would like to share it with me I would love to see it, email me at marc.daniels@resultsbi.com.

What is your Value Discipline?

Marc L Daniels — 30 November, 2022 -Volume 233

Do you know what game you are playing?
Are you playing to win?

Value Discipline is the way that you deliver value to your target customer. It's also the skeleton of your strategy. You choose a Value Discipline based on who your ideal target customer is and what your ideal target customer values most. There are three generic strategies (Value Disciplines); Operational Excellence, Product Leadership, and Customer Intimacy. 

Think about your ideal target customer for a moment, who's right in the center of your bull's-eye. What's most important for those customers?
  • Operational Excellence- Is low cost the most crucial thing for them? Low cost can be low price, but sometimes it's the lowest overall cost of ownership. Sometimes it's the lowest cost of time and irritation because they want an efficient, consistent, dependable supplier.
  • ​Product Leadership- Does your ideal target customer demand the very newest and best? Is that what's most important?
  • ​Customer Intimacy- Your ideal target customer may think that a personalized solution or customized product is most important.
Which of these three things do they value most? Remember that every customer wants every benefit, but one of these three "Value Disciplines" is most important to them.

Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema first described Value Disciplines in their book The Discipline of Market Leaders —The basic premises are simple: "Different customers buy different kinds of value. You can't hope to be the best in all three dimensions, so choose your customers and narrow your value focus. Producing an unmatched level of a particular value requires a superior operating model – a machine – dedicated to just that kind of value." 

Your Value Discipline determines your strategic focus.
The basic idea is to compete in a Value Discipline where you can establish a competitive advantage. Deciding on a Value Discipline sounds like a simple and easy process, but it's crucial, and people have strong feelings about it. You're going to pick a single discipline to be your primary Value Discipline.
Look at the following diagram.

What is your Value Discipline?

You want you to commit to becoming truly excellent at one Value Discipline and good enough at the other two. "Good enough" means that you match the industry standard in areas that are not your primary Value Discipline.

Select the one Value Discipline your organization should develop true excellence in - by building an operating model designed to deliver this kind of value in a truly excellent fashion.

Your Value Discipline determines your strategic focus. You build your operating model to deliver this kind of value in a truly excellent fashion.

How your Core Values can drive Growth in 2023

Marc L Daniels —  15 November, 2022 -Volume 232

Over the last three weeks, I have reviewed the importance of having a clear Vision for your company— Your Why, Where, and Who. Now, with a clear Vision and just seven weeks until the new year, it's time to start working on your strategy, which begins with your target market. 

Your target market customer is one of the most critical components of developing a sound strategy for 2023 because it provides context for the balance of your strategy. When you get your target market right, everything falls into place. 

Effective companies focus their marketing efforts on appealing to and serving a specific target. At the center of your marketing is a bullseye—it's the sweet spot you aim for with all your product and service design in marketing communications.

Now, it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll only sell to these people, but they are who you will target your product and service offerings to. Once you define your target market customer, your market endeavors will be much more effective. 

Professor Phil Kotler, from the Kellogg School of Management, said: "There's only one winning strategy. Carefully define your target market and direct a superior offering to that target market.

And that's where you want to start. To win, you must aim for the center—narrow your focus. If you go too broad, you'll be advertising to the masses, it's costly and challenging to build successful business advertising to everybody. As author Seth Godin said, "You want to delight the few to attract the many". You must understand who your target market customer is and narrow your focus.

When you have a clearly defined Target Market:

— Your Product/Service offerings have more clarity and focus.

        ...Because you know who you are building it for.

— Your Marketing Communications are more effective.

        ...Because you know who you are talking to.

— Your customer perceives you as an expert at meeting their needs.  

         ...They say, "This company is talking to me." 

            And they are more likely to choose you.

How your Core Values can drive Growth in 2023

Marc L Daniels — 8 November, 2022 -Volume 231

In this week's Strategy Execution Newsletter, I write about the final component of your Vision, your Core Values

The Vision you have for your company includes three primary components:
Your Why — or Core Purpose the change you want to make in the world.
Your Where — are you going or your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
Your Who — your Core Values, the type of person you want on this journey with you.

Your Core Values are fundamental and are frequently overlooked as a company creates their Vision. However, they are critical to your company's success.

First, you have to have meaningful core values. Many companies use vague, generic aspirational words to communicate their core values. I googled core values, and it popped up with this list of core values:
  – Loyalty. 
  – Honesty.
  – Trust.
  – Ingenuity.
  – Accountability.
  – Simplicity.
  – Respect.
 – Value-centricity.

And while these are meaningful, sound principles, generic words do not drive behavior. Ironically two of these core values were listed in an annual report of Enron; once a Wall Street darling, it had massive fraud that resulted in a 63 Billion dollar bankruptcy. 

Now let us turn to a powerful, detailed core value statement that goes into great detail. "The Kraft Group" thy have just 4 Core Values:

At the Kraft Group, each employee or contributor, regardless of which position they hold, for which company they work, or in which country they operate, should be guided by the following:

1) Think and Act like an Owner
Think and act with an owner's mentality
Keep it simple and innovative
Drive results with an intense work ethic
Pay attention to detail
Be hungry, move faster than the competition
2) Exercise Good Character
Take responsibility for your actions
Be open to new ideas and recognize your challenges
If you have done your homework, don't be afraid to respectfully disagree with management
Be humble and operate with an underdog mentality
Respect and abide by all applicable laws, policies and regulations
3) Be Inclusive and Respectful
Welcome and appreciate diversity
Respect and be sensitive to the environment
Give back to your community
4) Focus on our Products and Customers
Understand and service all needs of our customers
Deliver quality and excellence at all levels with a culture of continuous improvement
Be brand ambassadors

If you worked at Kraft Group and read these, you would know precisely what it means to "Think and Act like an Owner," "Exercise Good Character," "Be Inclusive and Respectful," and "Focus on our Products and Customers." These are powerful Core Values clearly stated and communicated. My daughter, Jessica, worked at Kraft Group several years back in the Marketing Department of the New England Revolution. She shared with me that during their employee onboarding, they invested time stepping through the core values in detail. (Full disclosure- these core values are posted on their corporate website by The Kraft Group, they are proud of them.)

Once you have defined or refined your company's core values, how do leverage them to drive growth in 2023?
Well looking back over my career, my hiring mistakes have frequently been in hiring people not aligned with my Core Values or the company's Core values. You see, employees need to be aligned with the company's goals. 

At Paypal, it was referred to as "Thiel's Law," named after founder Pater Theil stressing the importance of building a team of people aligned with the company's core purpose. Everyone needs to be aligned, and it all starts with your core purpose.

As I look back over my 40+ years of business and many companies I was involved with, the employees that I have had to part ways with were most often simply not aligned with the company's core values. While my most tremendous successes were always achieved with a team aligned with the core values—one dream of why we existed, excitement about where the company was going and with common core values. 

Yes, DISC Profiles, great resumes, and top grading can help, but if not aligned with your core purpose, that employee and your company's Growth will be challenged. The growth accelerator is building a team of employees aligned with your why, your where, and your values. Growth happens when everyone is on the same bus! 

So my guidance to you is to revisit your core values, refine, republish them and reinforce them with your team to ensure everyone is on the same bus to drive growth in 2023.

In 10 Years — Where Do You Want to Be?

Marc L Daniels — 1 November, 2022 -Volume 230

Where do you want to get to with your business 10+ years from now? This is what author Jim Collins called your BHAG - Your "Big Hairy Audacious Goal. (pronounced BEE-hag) It is a concept from - Built to Last - Succesful Habits of Visionary Companies. A BHAG is a long-term goal that challenges the very nature of what is possible. 

A BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying point of reference for you and everyone that works for your company. It has a precise finish line so you can measure it and know when it has been accomplished. 

BHAGs are more significant and much bolder than short or long-term goals. Think in decades; Bill Gates once said — "Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.

What was Microsoft's BHAG? — When Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft over 30 years ago, their BHAG was "a computer on every desk and in every home." I don't know about your house, but we have at least four computers in our home, and I'm not counting cell phones.

Since Built to Last - Succesful Habits of Visionary Companies was published in 1994; BHAGs have inspired thousands of companies since then. Back in 2003, it inspired my company and me — As one of the founders of Diligent Boardbooks, our BHAG was to serve the Boards of over 2000 companies. We had just three clients when we set that BHAG, and at first, no one in the company knew how we would ever achieve it. 
The rest is history because, in September 2013, we signed board number 2,000. — A 10-Year and 1 Month BHAG! And the icing on the cake in 2016, the company sold to private equity for 941 Million NZD.  

Please note: Diligent's BHAG was not to sell the company for a billion dollars; instead, our BHAG was how many companies we would serve. As I often say, "figure out first how you will help the market you serve, and the money will follow."

A visionary BHAG is a 10-25 year compelling goal that stretches your company to achieve greatness. It should be a huge, daunting task that nearly seems impossible. A BHAG should inspire your entire company. I always enjoy watching the SpaceX launches, but in addition to the actual launch, I love seeing the passion and excitement of the SpaceX launch team. SpaceX's BHAG is; "Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars." And from what I see, the employees are engaged in their BHAG.

A great BHAG will cause your team to stretch beyond the obvious and the company's present capability. As at SpaceX and many other companies, a BHAG creates an environment of innovation. It helps build a cohesive team working towards a common goal.

In last week's Strategy Execution Newsletter, I wrote about Core Purpose. Combine your BHAG with your Core Purpose, and your people will embark on a mission to achieve greatness.

Follow the Strategy Execution Newsletter over the next several weeks as I write about the most critical components of assembling a Strategic Plan to make 2023 a tremendous success for your company. 

Next Week - Your Core Values

Recommended Reading as a follow-up:
   Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies 
                                        — Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Find your purpose, and everything falls into place...

Marc L Daniels — `12 October, 2022 -Volume 229

In 1979 I launched Computer Discount of America, one of North America's first Computer Mail Order companies. At the age of 21, straight out of college, I was running a multi-million dollar company. 

While I thought I had found my purpose, my company's purpose, "selling lots of computers at a discount"— 
  
   I was wrong— I had not found my true purpose! 

Life suddenly threw me a curve ball— "Stagflation," and Computer Discount started to struggle.

Stagflation is a term that refers to high inflation that happens simultaneously as stagnation of growth or outright recession. But sometimes, the shocks hitting the economy, rather than coming from changing demand, can come from the supply side: an oil-price shock, say, or a rise in food or other commodity prices. 

Sound somewhat similar to some of the economic aspects of our world today? While not quite the same, it shares many similarities. The Fed Rate climbed as high as 19.83 to get inflation in check. But don't get too alarmed— that was extreme. Stagflation is typically accompanied by high unemployment. 

With Computer Discount's sales falling rapidly, how could we survive?

With the company struggling, I called a meeting, and in what may have been my first "Strategic Review."; we figured it out! - Our Core Purpose, My Core!

I found our company's purpose— our why, my why! 
As we looked through our sales, something jumped out at us; in many of the sales, we made next to nothing! However, Melissa, one of our call center agents, pointed out that the most profitable sales were calls that had been transferred to me. Melisa's observation led to us finding our core purpose.

When someone required a customized system, the call was transferred to me, whether a desktop publisher, a retail store, a lawyer, a race car team, or a musician. With a knowledge of the many different components on the market, I would design a customized computer system to meet their needs.

   — An advertising agency required desktop publishing software, a large screen monitor, and a special video card to drive it. 
   — An law firm required legal database software and a printer that looked like it had come from a typewriter.
   — A race car team needed a lightning-fast, durable computational computer. 
   — A retail store required Point of Sale (POS) software and a fast dot-matrix printer.
   — And musicians required a MIDI interface (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) with a large hard drive.

The company's core purpose, my core purpose, became clear. Our Core purpose was to provide knowledge and design a computer system configured with components and software to meet a client's specific needs.

Once we found our core purpose, many components of our overarching strategy fell into place.

   — Target Market
   — Target Market Needs
   — Value Discipline
   — Strategic Positioning
   — Key Benefits
   — Brand Promise

Determining our core purpose provided clarity for all of our Strategic Planning. 

As Simon Sinek states in his best-selling book; Start with Why— "People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

My WHY was to help customers design a system that met their needs

It became the company WHY. Our company became known for designing complete ready-to-run systems. 

What is your Core Purpose? What is your WHY?

Additional learnings on this topic: Listen to Simon Sinek's TEDx Talk— "Start with why -- how great leaders inspire actions."

Are you a Dreamer or a Planner ? 

Marc L Daniels — `12 October, 2022 -Volume 228

There are dreamers, and there are planners. When you plan, you can make your dreams come true. 

There are just 80 days to go until the New Year; first, I want to apologize for coming to you each week with a countdown. However, I am passionate about the importance of having a yearly strategic plan, and it is time to plan!

Some important facts about strategic planning:
    — Companies without a plan are more likely to fail.
    — Companies with a plan grow faster.
    — Only 30% of companies put together a plan.

Is it any wonder that so many companies fail?

      "No plan is a plan to fail." 

Therefore throughout the next 80 days, I am providing FREE Masterclasses on assembling a strategic plan. I will make Strategic Planning easy and help you create a plan for success in 2023! 

      See the sidebar for FREE Strategic Planning Masterclasses →

Also over the next ten weeks, the weekly ResultsBI Strategy Execution Newsletter will be stepping you through the TEN most critical components of assembling a Strategic Plan to make 2023 a tremendous success for your company.  Next Week - we start with why — Your Core Purpose.

Wishing you success, Marc

PS - Stop dreaming... Plan now!

Five Common Causes of Business Failure—

Marc L Daniels — 4 October, 2022 -Volume 227

I read recently read an article that listed the five common causes of Business Failure:
  – Poor cash flow management. 
  – Losing control of the finances. 
  – Bad planning and a lack of strategy. 
  – Weak leadership. 
  – Overdependence on a few big customers.

As I looked at this list, I initially said "yes" as I read each one. 

Then it struck me - four of the five listed result from just one cause on the list.

What is it? What is your guess? 

     Bad planning or lack of strategy! 

You see, with a solid strategic plan, you would have addressed the poor cash flow, losing control of the finances, weak leadership, or the overdependence on a few big customers.

A recent survey revealed that around 33% of small businesses have a formal business plan. Is it any wonder so many companies struggle? In fact, very few companies can last very long without one. About 20% of businesses fail in their first year, and a staggering 96% of companies will fail over ten years.

There are benefits to creating a good business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and working through potential obstacles to success.

Without a plan, you will be so distracted trying to figure things out as they come up, often too late, that you won't see valuable growth opportunities. You won't have the resources, time, or focus to find ways your business can grow and become or stay successful.

I'm committed to helping companies succeed during these challenging times, and to that point, I'm running FREE Strategic Planning Masterclasses nearly every week until the end of the year. 

See the sidebar to find one in your time zone, and make 2023 a fantastic year!
I read recently read an article that listed the five common causes of Business Failure:
  – Poor cash flow management. 
  – Losing control of the finances. 
  – Bad planning and a lack of strategy. 
  – Weak leadership. 
  – Overdependence on a few big customers.

As I looked at this list, I initially said "yes" as I read each one. 

Then it struck me - four of the five listed result from just one cause on the list.

What is it? What is your guess? 

     Bad planning or lack of strategy! 

You see, with a solid strategic plan, you would have addressed the poor cash flow, losing control of the finances, weak leadership, or the overdependence on a few big customers.

A recent survey revealed that around 33% of small businesses have a formal business plan. Is it any wonder so many companies struggle? In fact, very few companies can last very long without one. About 20% of businesses fail in their first year, and a staggering 96% of companies will fail over ten years.

There are benefits to creating a good business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and working through potential obstacles to success.

Without a plan, you will be so distracted trying to figure things out as they come up, often too late, that you won't see valuable growth opportunities. You won't have the resources, time, or focus to find ways your business can grow and become or stay successful.

I'm committed to helping companies succeed during these challenging times, and to that point, I'm running FREE Strategic Planning Masterclasses nearly every week until the end of the year. 

See the sidebar to find one in your time zone, and make 2023 a fantastic year!
See the sidebar for FREE Masterclasses →

No Plan is a Plan to Fail— Have a Strategy for 2023!

Marc L Daniels — Volume 226

Welcome to my annual 100-day year-end countdown. Yes, it's that time of year, with only 100 days until the New Year. It is time to start putting together a strategy to make 2023 a year of success for your company.

Benjamin Franklin said, "By failing to plan, you are preparing to fail." It is also similar to Winston Churchill's statement: "He who fails to plan is planning to fail." — These two great world leaders knew a lot about success against adversity.

You may wonder how many businesses fail in the short-term or long-term. Unfortunately, business failure is common: About 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, and a staggering 96% of companies will fail over ten years

Why do businesses fail? —

The number one reason businesses fail is NOT HAVING AN EFFECTIVE BUSINESS PLAN.

And like in the times of both Franklin and Churchill, businesses worldwide are facing adverse times; pandemic recovery, wars, supply chain issues, global warming, workforce shortages, inflation, and recessions.

Therefore I am proud to announce my 100-day countdown and a schedule of weekly FREE Masterclasses to help businesses around the world end the year strong and put together a Strategic Plan for success in 2023.

Join me for an event in your time zone, and have a strategic plan to ensure your success in 2023. 
See the sidebar for FREE Masterclasses →

The year is half over— What's the plan now?

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 225

Have you reviewed your Strategic Plan?
Yes, the year is half over—

In January 2022...
 — US President Biden was to meet with Russian President Putin 
 — The average US mortgage rate was 3.05%
 — Australia reported a record of 150,702 new cases of COVID-19

Today, on the 1st of July...
 — On the 24th of February, Russia attacked Ukraine.
 — The average US mortgage rate is now 5.72%
 — In June, most of Australia lifted mask mandates at airports.

As we reach the mid-point of the year, I want to stress the importance of a Mid-Year review of your business. So many changes have occurred globally since you did your strategic business plan for 2022. — It is time to make adjustments so you can ensure the second half of the year is a success.

Mid-year reviews help business owners see how they are doing and adjust to achieve their goals. Review the year to date— What went right? What went wrong? What adjustments do you need to make to your strategy to meet the changes in your marketplace and the world to ensure you end the year strong? 

As part of your mid-year review, I recommend doing a PEST analysis. PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social & Technology. This year more than any other year a PEST analysis is a critical part of your strategic planning!

What do you need to stop doing?

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 224

Prune some things off and stop doing them!
Strategy requires making wise choices about what you need to start doing, keep doing, and most importantly, what you need to stop doing!

You need to choose what Products / Services / Activities are Core and Non-Core when it comes to satisfying your ideal target customer and implementing your value discipline.

Everybody tells you what you have to do. But what you don't hear often enough is what you have to stop doing! You should stop doing anything that isn't the best choice for getting the results you want.

The analogy I often give is that you have to seasonally prune an apple or fruit tree to ensure it grows new branches and flowers to bring the optimal amount of fruit the next season. By this, I mean you need to prune some things off and stop doing them to be successful over the long term. For example, do you have a product or service offering that you know will be less relevant in the future, or do you have any ongoing projects or critical initiatives that never seemed to fulfill their original promise? 

There are dead projects that you know you need to pull the plug on. However, it's tough— because we want to fix and grow things. It's hard to pull the plug on products and services or projects that are no longer working or something that was successful in the past, but they are not part of the company that you need to create to be successful in the future. You see, business execution requires courage is stop doing non-core activities. Decisions on where you demonstrate authentic strategic leadership— it's easy to keep adding new products and adding new services and starting new projects, but it takes real courage to say no and stop doing things.

I've always liked this quote from Warren Buffett, "the difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything." So what are you prepared to say no to? What are you going to stop doing?
You see, leaders resist abandoning things or stopping doing things because it runs counter to what we've been judged on throughout our entire careers. How many resumes brag about projects that they pulled the plug on or product or service lines that they discontinued? You see we're conditioned to want to fix things and grow things. 

When something's been a complete failure it can be difficult to convince leaders that things that they have been involved in or that they created need to be cut loose. However, the ability to have a long-term strategic viewpoint that's is what defines true strategic leadership. Effective strategic leadership calls for continuing pruning; abandoning projects, abandoning lines of business, canceling products or services, and simply getting out of things. It's not as glamorous as building things up but it's just as important and it's the most overlooked aspect of strategic leadership. 

So here's an explanation of some of the key concepts. First off, Core Activities — core means any activities are offering set out strategically important for long-term industry success where you are going to develop special abilities that create a meaningful point of difference in the mind of our ideal target market customer. Those are the things we're going to keep doing or we're going to start doing them if we're not doing them already. 

Now on to Context Activities — These are things that do not differentiate us from the perspective of our target market customers and we're gonna do these the to the basic minimum standard.

And Non-Core Activities are any activities or products or services that are not important for long-term industry success we're going to stop doing these things or not get into them at all.

In summary, the essence of strategy is being able to say "no" you must prune the fruit tree and focus your resources. Strategy requires trade-offs and if you are not making trade-offs you don't have a strategy. So what are you not going to do?

Need some additional guidance? Check out my free Core vs. Non-Core Activity Workbook.

Do You Know Your Value Discipline?

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 223

Refine & Leverage your Target Market 
Value Discipline is the way that you deliver value to your target customer.

The three generic value disciplines are:

 — Customer Intimacy
 — Product Leadership
 —Operational Excellence

As I review this with the owners and executives of companies, I often get a response similar to this... "we deliver on all three. We are product leaders, have operational excellence, and are intimate with our customers." — However, the challenging part is to pick just one.

Value Discipline becomes the skeleton of your strategy. You choose your value disciple based on who your ideal target market customer is and what they value most. To pick your Value Discipline, you need to define your Target Market Customer first. 

While deciding on your Value Discipline sounds simple and easy; however, it is imperative to pick just one of these three to be your primary discipline. This does not mean that you can ignore the others either. 

While it would be fantastic if you could be excellent at all three value disciplines, you simply can't! Each value discipline requires a different strategy, different structure, different operating model, and you may even have to employ different people to make it work. 

So you need to make a clear decision about what Value Discipline you will specialize in so that you can create an operating model that delivers the most critical Value Discipline to your ideal target market customer in an excellent manner. This approach gives you a competitive advantage and helps you create a winning strategy!
I encourage you to get clear on your Value Discipline. Know the game you playing. Need help? Use our  FREE Value Disciple Workbook.

Revist Your Target Market— It's Time to GROW

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 222

Refine & Leverage your Target Market 
As we move forward from the financial crisis that COVID-19 has caused, I recommend revisiting your target market. Many of you may say, "We know our target market." Nevertheless, please humor me, and let me share an experience I had at New Zealand listed Diligent Board Member Services during the last financial crisis back in 2008/2009

As SVP of Diligent back in 2006, we had identified and refined our target market; The General Counsel and Corporate Secretaries of publically listed companies. As background, Diligent removed the need for traditional large paper board material packages to be printed and shipped to the Board of Directors prior to a board meeting. Instead, they could now securely downloadable their board material to their laptop for viewing and annotation. We enjoyed a rapidly growing client base in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, and then the financial crisis hit.

Many of the companies in our sales funnel put their buying process on hold, waiting for the financial downturn to pass. The company's survival was at stake; we began to cut expenses and let staff go. 
Then we took a careful look at our Target Market and found that of the clients we were still signing, the bank segment was growing. Of course, the banking market and their leveraged real estate portfolios had caused the financial crisis. Governments worldwide were auditing the banks, and the banks needed electronic board books that could be quickly assembled and securely disseminated. We refined our target market to be banks and quickly changed our marketing approach. 

The rest is history; I attended banking trade shows, signing banks from coast to coast for several years. Then something extraordinary happened, board members who sat on banking boards and public boards began to request Diligent Boardbooks for the other companies they served. Diligent sold to private equity for 941 Million NZD in 2016.

I encourage you to revist and refine your Target Market. Need help? Use our FREE Target Market Workbook

Have the right people to grow your company?

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 221

Why, Where, and Who? - Don't neglect the Who!
In the execution newsletter two weeks ago, I wrote about your Why. Why you are in business? Your "Why" is commonly called your "Core Purpose." Last week I wrote about your Where. Where are you trying to go with your business? Your "Where" is also known as your BHAG, an acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

This week I round out your Vision with your Who. Who are you? Your "Who" is commonly known as your "Core Values."

Why, Where, and Who? These three components round out your Vision. And are all critical foundational components to formulating a solid strategy for growing your company. Don't neglect the Who!

Do you have the right people to grow your company? 

Core Values are the behaviors that define your culture. Core Values are clear statements of how you expect every person in your organization to act, regardless of their role. Core Values provide a moral compass for your people, and they can help your people decide on the right course of action, irrespective of the challenge they face.

Core values are often overlooked in the hiring process; interviews, top-grading, and DISC profiles are frequently used to ensure the right person is hired but is your new hire aligned with your core values? Core values should be a litmus test and part of the hiring process.

Aligning your employees and new hires with your core values will build a team that you will be proud of and drive your company's success.

If you need help with your core values or want to revisit your core values. I've designed a workbook to help capture your individual vision of the behaviors and values you would like to see adopted and demonstrated by everyone in your company

Click below to gt your copy of my core value workbook.
DiSC is a Registered Trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc
BHAG is a Registered Trademark of Jim Collins and Jerry Porras 

Do you know where you are going?

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 220

             "If you don't know where you're going, 
                     any road will take you there."
This oft-cited quote is from Lewis Carroll's classic children's tale, Alice in Wonderland. 

While Carrol's quote was part of a children's tale, over 100 years later, Jim Collins and Jerry Porra coined the acronym "BHAG" a "big hairy audacious goal" in the book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.

A BHAG is a clear and compelling target for an organization to strive for. It is a long-term goal that everyone in a company can understand and rally behind. BHAGs excite and engage your team to implement a big picture-type plan that could take a longer time frame, like a decade, to complete. They are a clear statement of "Where" you are going/

In fact, after knowing "Why" you are in business, I see knowing "Where" you are going as one of the essential foundational elements in putting together a strong strategy for your company's growth. Knowing where you are going helps you get on the right road, and it provides context for all of your future Strategic Planning.

There are some very popular BHAG's; everyone always quotes President Kennedy's famous BHAG, "This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth." But here are some you may not have heard before"

"a computer on every desk and in every home."Bill Gates, Jr, and Paul Allen - Microsoft

"organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."Google

"make the world more open and connected" and "give everyone the power to share anything with anyone."Meta (formerly Facebook)

"To enable human exploration and settlement of Mars."Elon Musk - SpaceX

"I want to put a dent in the universe."Steven Jobs, Apple, Next, and Pixar.

Research has shown that companies with clearly stated a compelling BHAG grow more rapidly and quite frequently achieve their big hairy audacious goal! If you are don't have a BHAG or wish to revisit your BHAG, I encourage you to download my FREE ResultsBI BHAG Workbook.
BHAG is a Registered Trademark of Jim Collins and Jerry Porras 

Are you in Business to Make Money—

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 219

In Business to Make Money—
or do you have a greater purpose?
What's Your Why?

Some people claim that the sole purpose of a business is making money or "maximizing shareholder value." That may be true for economists, but real people don't get excited about those things. If you want your people to get excited about what they do and give effort and attention beyond the minimums, you need to provide them with something to work for beyond the numbers.

When people have a purpose that goes beyond the numbers, they pour more energy into their work. They give it more thought. They're more likely to be what the management gurus call "fully engaged."

Simon Senick says it well... "Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion." — Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Your Core Purpose is not "what" you do, and it is not "how" you do it either. Your Core Purpose is "Why" you do what you do. Your Core Purpose transcends whatever your current product or service offerings may be and speaks to your organization's passion, and it tells the difference your organization wants to make to the lives of the people it touches. 

If you are unclear on your "Why" (your core purpose) I encourage you to download my FREE ResultsBI Core Purpose Workbook
Another good resource to help you further refine your Core Purpose is Simon Sinek's Book "Start with Why

You may also enjoy the Top 30 Quotes From Start With Why by Simon Sinek

The Importance of a Quarterly Strategic Review

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 218

The most critical component of a 
successful strategic management process
Quarterly Strategy Reviews (QSR) are arguably the most critical component of a successful strategic management process. They allow your team to report on their progress against the last quarter's plan, make changes, and establish new strategic projects for the next quarter. 

The QSR should include a SWOT Analysis or derivative thereof. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is the traditional framework used to evaluate a company's competitive position and to develop strategic planning. While a traditional SWOT provides tremendous value to the strategic planning process in this challenging time, it is missing one critical component to help drive growth — "Trends".

This quarter, I recommend trying a modification of the traditional SWOT— what I call a SWaTOL™ which is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, and then Trends, Opportunities, and Leverage. My greatest successes have always come after we have identified an emerging trend opportunity and leveraged it to result in Growth.

And now, in 2022, as we gradually move past the pandemic and the global financial issues it has caused, trend opportunities will abound. You see, every financial crisis creates a vacuum, and in that void new opportunities emerge. 

Let "Growth" be your New Year's Resolution!

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 217

2021 was a challenging year for many of us and our businesses... but now, in 2022 and it is time to Grow!

The first step to growth starts with a plan. And I'm not talking about an Excel worksheet; that's a forecast, and I'm talking about Strategy— a plan of action designed with strategic projects and goals to help you achieve your Growth.

ResultsBI's goal is to help you achieve your New Year's Growth Resolution. And to do that, we are offering FREE Strategic Planning resources every week throughout the first quarter of 2022. 

 — FREE Strategic Planning Masterclasses — See the sidebar →

  FREE 30 day access to the ResultsBI software — Click for FREE Trial

Let "Growth" be your New Year's Resolution!

Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with Growth! — Marc

Better Days Are Coming—

Marc L Daniels — Volume 216

"I heard someone say, Better Days are coming, you're going to wake up and break this curse, better days are on the way because you know, and I know you it can't get much worse."
                                                       — Southside Johnny, & The Asbury Jukes.
The lyrics of this Southside Jonny song from the '90s come to mind as we get ready to enter 2022. While there are still challenging times ahead, however— Better Days are Coming! 

The pandemic has caused an unprecedented global financial crisis. However, every financial crisis creates a vacuum, and in that void opportunites abound. And this year, to capitalize on emerging opportunities and rebounding economies, it is more important than ever to have a strategy.

What do the ecomomist have to say about your country's 2022 economy?

A plan for growth in 2022 —

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 215

It is Columbus Day in the US (a holiday in the states)— Most of us know that Columbus's core purpose was to find a new route to India, China, Japan, and the Spice Islands. 

But what is rarely written about is the extensive planning that went into his voyages. Columbus spent months planning with his brother, Bartholomew, an accomplished cartographer and cosmographer. While the plan to sail around the world was ultimately unsuccessful, it did provide his safe return to Spain — part of his plan included sailing with three ships, and when on Christmas Day 1492, the Santa Maria hit a rock and was wrecked. Columbus transferred to the Nina. He had a strategy in place.

So on this Columbus Day, as we are only 82 days from the New Year — and with the Pandemic recovery making progress, many businesses are sailing "uncharted" waters. This year more than ever, it would be best if you had a plan— a strategy to survive and grow. 

Did you know that 70% of businesses don't put together a yearly strategic plan? Perhaps this is why about 50% of companies have failed by their fifth year. However, 71% of fast-growing companies have a plan! 

Don't delay— be sure to set aside the time to put together a strategic plan for 2022; make this a year to remember.

Not sure where to start? Need help see the sidebar for FREE Masterclasses →

It's getting late early out there?

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 214

"It's getting late early out there."

— Yogi Bear

The major league baseball All-Star game marks the symbolic halfway point of the MLB season.

The Yogi-ism "It's getting late early out there" is a brilliant perspective on how quickly baseball games and seasons can get away from a team...

As an analogy, it's the middle of the fiscal year for most US, Canada, UK, and Ireland, and it is getting late early out there". 

We have entered a fantastic post covid period of opportunity. As I have repeatedly said, every financial crisis creates a vacuum, and as a result, new opportunities abound. Over 40 years of business, every one of my most enormous successes followed a financial crisis. But you need to have a strategy in place to find these opportunities and leverage them.

"The U.S. economic recovery is unlike any in recent history, powered by consumers with trillions in extra savings, businesses eager to hire an enormous policy support." —Wall Street Journal June 2, 2021

If you have not done so already— now is the time to pull your executive team together and do a Strategic Review of your company year to date and then create a Strategic Plan for the year's balance. 

However, remember "it's getting late early out there," and you need to move on emerging opportunities now! They will not be there for long.

How do you identify these opportunities?  

What is Your Customer Value Discipline?

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 213

A customer value discipline is more than just a benefit statement—it is a statement of strategic focus. It provides a context for a company to set its corporate vision and objectives, target its most profitable customers, and focus and align its activities.

Value discipline is the way you provide value to your target customer. It becomes the skeleton of your strategy. You choose value discipline based on your ideal target market customer and what they value the most. There are three primary generic value disciplines:

 — Product Leadership
 — Customer Intimacy
 — Operational Excellence

You must know what game you're playing—if you try to be everything to everybody, your marketing strategy will be too broad, and your marketing spends, and support costs will be high. Lack of Focus will doom you to mediocrity. 

A lack of focus when Lack of Focus will doom you to mediocrity. 

But when you have a value discipline, you will have a competitive advantage. 

Know Your Target Market

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 212

 "There's only one winning strategy. Carefully define your target market and direct a superior offering to that target market."  
                                                                                             — Professor Phil Kotler 

After you have formulated your vision, which includes your where, why, and who— the next step in putting together a sound strategy is defining or refining your target market.  

Your target market customer is the most crucial component of a strategy because it provides context for putting together the balance of your strategy. Successful companies focus their marketing efforts to appeal to and serve a specific target. At the center of your marketing is what I call a bullseye—it's the sweet spot you aim for with all your product and service design in marketing communications.

Now, it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll only sell to these people, but they are whom you're going to target your product and service offerings to. Once you define your target market customer, your market endeavors will be much more effective. 

The Vehicle of a Plan

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 211

""Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan. There is no other route to success." — Pablo Picaso

Picasso was not known as a business writer, but he started every painting with a plan. He would start by writing down the message (or vision) that he had for the painting. Picasso believed that once he envisioned a painting, having a plan was critical to creating a masterful piece— there was no other route. Moreover, it is much the same in business. There is no other route, except to have a plan.

So many companies do not get past their vision and never put together a strategic plan to execute their vision. How do you put together a strategic plan?

Get Radical 

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 210

"When I say I believe in radical truth and radical transparency, all I mean is we take things that ordinarily people would hide, and we put them on the table, particularly mistakes, problems, and weaknesses. We put those on the table, and we look at them together. We don't hide them."                                                                                                                       — Ray Dalio

Radical transparency is a term first coined at Harvard Business School two decades ago. It simply means that when everyone knows what is going on, they are happier, work together better, and achieve superior results. Try it in any aspect of your life. When your partner knows what's going on, your relationship is better. You're happier, work together better to solve your problems, and achieve a superior relationship.

Stop Chasing Rabbits!

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 209

Why do so many companies fail to at Strategy Execution?

Commonly, the threats to Strategy are from outside a company, often as reactionary steps taken to most off competitors or changes in technology.

While frequently from outside, the more significant threat typically comes from within. A sound strategy is undermined by staff as they take misguided stances against the competition, organizational failures, and the pressure to grow revenue. 

How do you avoid these two common reasons for the failure to execute your Strategy? You stop chasing rabbits! 

Catch the Wave!

Marc L Daniels — Volume 208

Some big waves are coming!

Consumers worldwide have amassed an extra $5.4 trillion in savings since the coronavirus pandemic began, setting the stage for a spending boom that could power a substantial uplift in economic growth this year.

On top of the consumers, governments are pumping recovery funding into their economies. We are about to see an unprecedented period of spending.

Do you have a strategy in place for your company to benefit from the upcoming spending boom?

Over my 40+ years of business, my greatest successes have always occurred after a significant financial downturn. My growth after past financial crises; 3 to 80 million, zero to 300 million, 6 million to 941 million, yes, all made possible by identifying an emerging trend during a downturn and leveraging it!

The challenge is to find those opportunities and jump up and ride that wave. Unfortunately, these trending opportunities will only exist for a brief period until they are gone. You must identify them quickly and put a strategy in place to leverage them.

Measure What Matters

By Marc L Daniels — Volume 207

Most companies measure outcomes...this is a mistake. To drive the results you are looking for; you need to track leading metrics.

If most of your dashboard numbers have currency symbols with them ($-£-€), you are most likely not measuring what matters.  Results are important, but you can not manage Results. What you can manage are the activity and effectiveness measures that drive those results. 

What Metrics should you measure? Metrics are what you use to measure the critical success factors that drive your present operating model; they drive business as usual and can improve what is.

How do identify powerful Leading Metrics?

Pandemic Recession Recovery Strategy

By Marc Daniels — Volume 206

Is it time to put together a strategy for a Pandemic Recession Recovery?

Harvard Business Review, after the last financial recession of 2008/2009, did a study. It looked at companies in the three years after the financial crisis and there were some startling key takeaways:
 — Seventeen percent of the companies didn't survive the recession. 
 — Three years later, 80% had not yet regained their prerecession growth rates for sales and profits.
 — Only 9% flourished after the recession.

Who flourished after the recession?
 — Firms that cut costs fast and deep? - NO
 — Firms that outspent their rivals during the recession? - NO

Who did well?

It's Not Too Late!

By Marc Daniels — Volume 205
The Bad News: Only about half of small businesses survive past the five-year mark, ranging from 45.% to 51%. Five years of hard work, money, and dreams are all gone, five times out of 10.

Beyond that, only about one in three small businesses get to the 10-year mark and live to tell the tale.

There's a particular reason for every failure, but they mostly ripple back to one underlying component, the lack of a strategic business plan. 

Procrastination kills businesses. But as the title of this article reads.. "it is not too late" read on to hear the Good News....

Share Your Plan and Engage Your Team

By Marc Daniels — Volume 204
If you are based in New Zealand, you are most likely in the process of putting together a strategic plan for your company's next fiscal year. Elsewhere in the world, you have hopefully completed the assembly of your strategic plan. Regardless, you've invested in an enormous amount of internal resources. You spent days in sessions with your key management team to assemble your plan.

What I find most disturbing is how often this effort fails, not in determining a business's path forward but in not disseminating the information broadly and effectively to all the organization members, especially those who were not part of the decision-making team. To execute your plan, you have to share your plan and engage your team!

The first step in engaing your team is driving acceptance and agreement of your new strategic plan with your wider executive and management team. The second step is to elevate engagement and participation company-wide—a communication plan must be created and rolled out to everyone. 

Plan or Fail 

By Marc Daniels — Volume 203
"He who fails to plan is planning to fail" — Winston Churchill.

This is perhaps the most overused quote of Strategic Planning Consultants around the world. I myself have stated it hundreds, if not thousands of times. Why is it used so frequently? Because it is real. To validate Winston Churchill's words, I have gathered facts from several published studies.

Only 20% of companies have a strategic plan, and as a Harvard Business School study also showed, 85% of those companies fail to execute their strategy. That means that out of 100 companies, only 3 will have a strategic plan and successfully execute their strategy.

Facts show a plan is critical to your success!

Inspired Employees Make for Stronger Companies

By Marc Daniels — Volume 202
What is a Core Purpose? — It's a compelling reason for employees to work for you beyond simply making money. It provides meaning for all the work that they and you do, and it keeps them going, even through tough times. It transcends whatever your current product or service offerings may be and speaks to your organization's passion. It speaks to the difference you want to make in the lives of the people it touches and the difference you want to make in the world. 

Time to Plan for 2024 - Part 3 of 9

Leverage Your Core Values to Build a Dream Team 

By Marc Daniels — Volume 201
Core values are the behaviors that define you, your executive team, your employees, and your entire culture. They become clear statements on how you expect every person in your organization to act, regardless of their role. They're going to provide a moral compass for your people and help the staff make the right decisions, regardless of the challenges they might face.

Dare to Dream Big

Time to Plan for 2024 - Part 2 of 8

"Dare to Dream Big", said Roman Emporer Marcus Aurelius — Nearly 2000 years later, in their book Good to Great - Jerry Portis and Jim Collins coined the phrase "BHAG," an acronym for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. But it is nothing new.

Marcus Aurelius was spot on: BHAGs "have the power to move the souls of men" (and women, as added by me, Marc Daniels).

Bill Gates said this at a news conference in 2006. — "When Paul Allen and I started Microsoft over 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software. We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home."

Let's review through some classic BHAGs:
 • Ford — 1903 Henry Ford "Democratize the automobile."
 • Disney — 1934 Walt Disney's "Create a full-length animated feature film."
 • NASA — 1961 President John Kennedy, "This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth."
 • Nike — 1967 Phil Knight, "Crush Adidas"
 • Microsoft — 1980 Paul Allen and Bill Gates, "A computer on every desk and in every home:"

Now, how some have changed over time:
 • Ford — Transform from an automotive company to a mobility solutions provider.
 • Disney — Be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.
 • Nike — To be the number one athletic company in the world.
 • Microsoft — Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

And a few special ones for my entrepreneurial women followers:
 • Spanx — Sara Blakely — (Founder) To invent a product that I can sell to millions of people that makes them feel good.
 • 23andMe — Anne Wojcicki (Co-Founder) Change healthcare by empowering the patient to own their data.
 • Arria — Sharon Daniels (Co-Founder) Connect the data-sphere to humanity by giving It the power of language.

Now, some recent ones:
 • SpaceX — Enable human exploration and settlement of Mars.
 • Airbnb — To create a world where anyone can belong anywhere.
 • Tesla — Accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy
 • Uber — To make transportation as reliable as running water for everyone, everywhere.

Today, the BHAGs are taught in MBA Business School coursework. Business consultants and coaches globally teach their clients the importance of using them to motivate businesses to achieve massive success.

A BHAG is a visionary and compelling goal for the next 10–25 years of a company. It should feel intimidating, perhaps slightly impossible, but be achievable if the company puts forth its best efforts.

Four factors make up an organization's BHAG:
 • Big — The goal is enormous, and it cannot be completed in a year or even five years. The goal should take at least ten years to accomplish
 • Hairy — It should be risky since it will require innovation and maximum effort to reach it.
 • Audacious — The idea is bold and has the "gasp factor" that makes you stop and think about it.
 • Goal — Goals need to be measurable, even if they are BHAGs.

A BHAG is not just for you, though... While "becoming a millionaire" is an admirable goal for you, it will not excite the average employee. However, a goal like "we will build a human settlement on Mars" will excite them, and they will want to be part of the project. I love seeing the enthusiasm of SpaceX employees after a successful launch: smiles, hugs, and high-fives!

So what is your dream? What is your company's dream, and can you write a BHAG that will excite your employees?

Final Thoughts:
Developing a BHAG is a foundational component of your Vision and your overarching Strategic Plan. As your company grows and progresses, the possibilities are truly endless. So, as Marcus Aurelius said, "Dare to Dream Big" 

So, what is your Big dream? What is your company's dream, and can you write a BHAG that will dare to excite your employees?

Next Week - The final component of the Vision component of your Strategic Plan- Your Core Values.

Build a Winning Team for Success— with Core Values

by Marc L Daniels — 15 November 2023 -Volume 248

by Marc L Daniels — 15 November 2023 -Volume 248

Over the last few newsletters, I have focused on the Vision of your company:

   • Why your company does what it does? — Your Core Purpose
   • Where do you want to get to with your company? What is your dream or Big Hairy Audacious Goal — Your BHAG

This week, the final component of the Vision is Your Core Values.

   • Who do you want on the journey with you? What are the values you want them to exemplify? Your Core Values

Core values are a critical component of building a winning team for success. Looking back over my forty-four-plus years in business, building a team aligned with the company's core values has been paramount to its success.

Core Values are the behaviors that define your culture. Core Values are clear statements of how you expect every person in your organization to act, regardless of their role. Core Values provide a moral compass for your people. They can help your people to decide on the right course of action, irrespective of the challenge they face.

Core Values are not the descriptions of our work or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. Core Values underpin our work. They define and guide us on how we interact with each other, the public, our prospects, and, ultimately, our customers. Core Values create alignment between employees and company goals.

There are no studies I'm aware of about the profit-building power of values per se, but there are plenty of studies about the influence of culture. Culture is the collection of internalized rules of behavior for the people in your company. Those rules form the basis for your Core Values. By identifying your Core Values and making them explicit, you shape your culture.

That's important because your Core Values and culture do several things for your company. Your Core Values provide a moral compass for your people. They can help your staff decide on the right course of action, regardless of the challenge they face. Your Core Values establish a basis for consistent decision-making by everyone. People who share the same Core Values tend to make decisions using the same principles.

Here's the catch – simply writing down some rules and turning them into a statement of Core Values doesn't work. Your Core Values must be unique to your company and reflect the values you have and strive to live. It's not an ambiguous and generic word like "integrity." It must clearly state, "Here's how we do things around here." 

In an interview with AirBnb co-founder Brain Chesky, he went through Airbnb's core values, "Golden Rules," in detail. 

  • Be A Host: "Serve others so they feel they belong. We stretch our empathy until our guests feel 100% appreciated. Everyone is a guest."
   • Champion the Mission: "Create a global experience of belonging for anyone, anywhere. Those who work for it, in, or around Airbnb, agree to Champion the Mission by living it."
   • Every Frame Matters: "Think holistically. Execute with obsession to detail. Success is measured by pride, not credit."
   • Be a "Cereal" Entrepreneur*: "Everyone is creative. Think scary big. Volunteer for impossible situations. Get shit done."
   • Simplify: "In every complex, impossible situation, we so clearly define the outcomes that all distractions are eliminated."
   • Embrace The Adventure: "We have fun, welcoming uncertainty. We master chaos through flexibility and youthful curiosity."

I love seeing Core Values so well articulated. It is so important for employees, subcontractors, prospects, and customers to see core values that are not just a few words of aspirations but so clearly defined.

   * Please take special note of Be a "Cereal" Entrepreneur. Cereal is not a misspelling. Airbnb's creative solution to funding woes was "Cereal" boxes. They created their own limited-edition cereal brands, Obama O's and Cap'n McCain's, and sold them online for $40 each, marketed as a way to support their favorite candidate and get a free night at an Airbnb listing. Also, note how this core value has included an element of BHAG thinking— "Think scary big. Volunteer for impossible situations."

If you've been in business for a while, you've probably already developed some unwritten golden rules, "the way we do things around here" that you'll sharpen into your Core Values later. In the meantime, here are some questions I want you to ask you to answer and think about before you write or refine your core values:

   • Who in your company is a living example of the right behavioral standards?
   • What is your company known for?
   • What behaviors are so important that you'll fire* anyone who doesn't consistently demonstrate them?

Final Thoughts:
Are you Building a Winning Team for Success? Start by ensuring your core values are clear and articulated so everyone understands how they apply to them. When you hire an employee, use your core values as a litmus test. A good resume, a DISC profile, a top grading, or a reference are all viable hiring tools, but my experience has taught me that they are all for naught if your new hire is a bad hire, if they are not aligned with your core values.

Next Week: 
We begin working on your Strategy and refining your Target Market.
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(If you don't have a plan yet, I'll step you through getting one in place for 2024).

Share Your Plan and Engage Your Team

By Marc Daniels — 17 March, 2021
If you are based in New Zealand, you are most likely in the process of putting together a strategic plan for your company's next fiscal year. Elsewhere in the world, you have hopefully completed the assembly of your strategic plan. Regardless, you've invested in an enormous amount of internal resources. You spent days in sessions with your key management team to assemble your plan.

What I find most disturbing is how often this effort fails, not in determining a business's path forward but in not disseminating the information broadly and effectively to all the organization members, especially those who were not part of the decision-making team. To execute your plan, you have to share your plan and engage your team!

The first step in engaing your team is driving acceptance and agreement of your new strategic plan with your wider executive and management team. The second step is to elevate engagement and participation company-wide—a communication plan must be created and rolled out to everyone. 
First, provide an overview of the company's history, the previous quarter's results, and the upcoming quarter's major initiatives. Call a company-wide meeting every quarter focused on communicating your organization's strategic plan, either for the entire year or for the upcoming quarter. Introduce the group of people who were involved in putting together the strategic plan because you want them to know that this isn't just coming from the CEO and the CFO. You want to introduce the people that you've included as part of this process.

During the meeting, describe the basic principles of your strategic plan, as well as any new terms or definitions of terms. Show your team how strategy has played a part in the past growth of the company. They have to have a firm understanding that your company has put together strategies that it executes to success, unlike your competitors. In fact, over 75% of companies never put together a strategic plan at all. When you have no plan, you plan to fail. The more the staff and the employees truly understand what the plan is, the more buy-in you'll receive from them in the end. 

Provide key elements of what has led to your growth, the challenges you've incurred in the past, and how that has informed or helped guide you towards providing future direction.     
   
Clearly describe the company's strengths and weaknesses with specific examples, even if it involves mentioning the competition or calling out things that the executive team felt were weak within the company.  

This year is a greatly different year for most companies around the world. A successful year of recovery is a must for most. If you are carrying out your plans in a different fashion, you should communicate clearly that you've taken a new approach or have reworked the plan from the ground up. If you're not specific on how this year is different, you might have a tsunami of resistance against it before you've even begun. So, get ahead of the resistance by naming the difference—this will really help connect the employees to the plan.

Describe in detail how this strategic plan differs from the ones in the past. In other words, describe all the steps you've gone through that have gotten you to this point. Describe the SWOT Analysis (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Making connection points with employees will give them a mental place to store the information you're sharing. Many companies are disconnected from their employees, and it directly impacts employee management, engagement, the ability to hold them accountable and drive execution.

Describe the plan. Start with your vision, which includes, of course, your BHAG, your core purpose, what you're trying to achieve as a company, and core values. Dive into your core values in detail—if they've differed from the past, spend a lot of time on them now. If you're restating your core values, give them more context. Explain what barriers could arise to prevent your organization from achieving its vision.

Outline the three major strategic projects that the company has chosen for this quarter and the barriers that might prevent your organization from achieving these strategic objectives. Outline the metrics that you'll be tracking to ensure that you're achieving your strategic project's execution. Remember, a strategic project has to be measurable—it can't be vague. You have to have a way to measure its success, such as with key performance indicators or KPIs. (Some methodologies call them OKRs, objectives with key measurable results or OKRs, but they are essentially the same thing.)

Finally, remember that all employees have a different level of understanding. They come from different walks of life and are filling different roles within the company. Your plan needs to be described simplistically, as does every aspect of it so that everybody clearly understands what you're talking about. I've seen strategic plans that get way too technical for rolling out at a company meeting—you're not talking development, accounting, or legal jargon. You need to put things in layman's terms so that everybody understands. 

Share your plan and engage your team; it's the first step to ensuring you execute your strategy!

No Plan Yet? - It's not too late. See the sidebar for more information about upcoming Strategic Planning Master Classes - A Strategic Plan for your company in just 5 Days 

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Plan or Fail 

By Marc Daniels — 10 March, 2021
"He who fails to plan is planning to fail" — Winston Churchill.

This is perhaps the most overused quote of Strategic Planning Consultants around the world. I myself have stated it hundreds, if not thousands of times. Why is it used so frequently? Because it is real. To validate Winston Churchill's words, I have gathered facts from several published studies.

Only 20% of companies have a strategic plan, and as a Harvard Business School study also showed, 85% of those companies fail to execute their strategy. That means that out of 100 companies, only 3 will have a strategic plan and successfully execute their strategy.

Facts show a plan is critical to your success!

Inspired Employees Make for Stronger Companies

By Marc Daniels — 3 March, 2021
What is a Core Purpose? — It's a compelling reason for employees to work for you beyond simply making money. It provides meaning for all the work that they and you do, and it keeps them going, even through tough times. It transcends whatever your current product or service offerings may be and speaks to your organization's passion. It speaks to the difference you want to make in the lives of the people it touches and the difference you want to make in the world. 

Leverage Your Core Values to Build a Dream Team 

By Marc Daniels — February 16, 2021
Core values are the behaviors that define you, your executive team, your employees, and your entire culture. They become clear statements on how you expect every person in your organization to act, regardless of their role. They're going to provide a moral compass for your people and help the staff make the right decisions, regardless of the challenges they might face.

Published weekly, the ResultsBI Strategy Execution Newsletter provides executives with guidance on strategic planning and successful execution. Feature special offers and info about upcoming Results BI Strategy Execution Workshops.

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