A "watch list" for growing companies

Another one from Decker Marketing, this article is pointing at the Dando Advisors site, but i couldn’t find the original article on the Dando site.

At any rate, here’s a list of “business health” indicators. I’m loving this one. I recently had an experience in a company in which every single one of these red flags was flying. Ugh.

Read on for the list…

Dando’s Top 10 Watch List for Growing Companies

Wrong people in key positions. These include friends, family members or long-term loyal employees who are not qualified to occupy key positions.

Poor communications. Senior management feels it is losing control as a result of having less direct contact with day-to-day operations.

Vague hierarchy. Watch out that the leader’s role is appropriately defined considering the company’s size and leadership needs and the leader’s skills.

Bloated hierarchy. Too many people reporting to the president and/or other senior staffers. Thus, the senior management team really does not operate as an aligned team to guide, plan, lead and manage the company.

Management deficiency. There is not an aligned executive leadership and management team that is staffed with individuals who are proven and skilled at getting desired results with efficiency and quality; developing people to successfully do their jobs; identifying operating inefficiencies, overcoming obstacles and implementing the needed systems and structure to correct the inefficiencies.

Imprecise accountability. There is a lack of clarity for management accountability and design of specific data needed for creating accountability.

Poor rewards. There is lack of an appropriate middle and senior management compensation process that is tied to accountability and results.

Old habits. Accounting, financial performance reporting and control systems have become obsolete for the size of the company, and the complexity and level of information needed to operate a more sophisticated company. Sometimes old processes limit the ability to make hard decisions on a timely basis.

Careful growth. Diversification into products or businesses do not fit the company’s expertise and market experience, or acquisitions are made prior to the company being properly structured to integrate them.

Precise balance. The company is not properly balanced between marketing and sales. There is increased competition and a lack of planning to effectively react to the competition and the market.

Business recovery — putting things back on track

This article in the Decker Marketing blog lists ingredients for a turnaround effort. By my lights, these aren’t bad things to do in any project, not just the turn-around efforts. Don’t get me started about how so many projects are miserable just because people don’t run ’em well.

Read on for the list…

1. Get the right people together
2. Have a strong facilitator who owns the plan
3. Analyze root causes
4. Choose the levers that need to move to move the business
5. Identify what every and any team can do to drive those levers.
6. Focus them on these activities. Assert timelines and results for all initiatives
7. Report back soon on status and progress.
8. Have senior management present for accountability, if necessary.
9. Repeat until sufficient progress / trajectory is achieved.
10. Take a day off. You deserve it.

Seven habits — includes a good customer segmenting list

Brian Tracy has a piece on the Entrepreneur.com site that has a good planning list as a starter for doing the customer segmentation. Doesn’t hurt to repeat these questions every few seconds if you’re in a fast-changing market (who isn’t).

Read on for the list…

  • What exactly is my product or service?
  • Who exactly is my customer?
  • Why does my customer buy?
  • What does my customer consider value?
  • What is it that makes my product or service superior to that of my competitors?
  • Why is it that my prospective customer does not buy?
  • Why does my prospective customer buy from my competitor?
  • What value does he/she perceive in buying from my competitor?
  • How can I offset that perception and get my competitor’s customers to buy from me?
  • What one thing must my customer be convinced of to buy from me, rather than from someone else?

RSS feeds for PR folks

Ok, I’ve been one of the ones who took a long time to “get” blogging, so I’m probably going to preach with the enthusiasm of the recently-converted. But it seems to me that there is a tasty middle ground between the monsto-blogs (for example the New York Times front page) and the pipsqueak-blogs (like this one) in which lots of interesting things could happen. One that comes to mind is switching the PR industry away from “pushing” out their stuff (with web pages, email or gawd-forbid fax) towards publishing RSS feeds so that journalists can “subscribe” to their press-release stream and gain all the productivity gains that would arise if reporters could “cover their beat” by watching RSS feeds rather than slogging through the daily deluge…

Nope, not a new idea by a long-shot — Mark Jones has exactly the same idea in

this piece

that ran in

Infoworld

last November. But it’s worth amplifying, and explains why I’m starting to “get” blogging as a useful gizmo for the mainstream business type person.

*My* revelation came while talking to the PR person at a large local outfit and asked him what his day was like. The story he told got me to thinking… He spends his day mostly rasslin’ with the logistics of getting his stuff *out* rather than actually writing. He’s held captive by Joe, The Webmaster From Hell to get the stuff out on their web site. He waits for the fax machine. He juggles a huge list of email addresses.

If our hero had an RSS-capable blog at his disposal, he could push his own content to the web page, and reporters who cover his beat (of which there are many, this is a pretty important outfit he works for) would be able to peruse his stuff the way we watch RSS feeds. You know, “boring” “I don’t care” “yawn” “OH! Now *that’s* interesting…”

I think both sides of the equation would be better off. The PR person would do more writing, the audience would do more reading and a lot of awful middle-stuff would be gone.

I also think there are a lot of projects out there for blog-builders who want to get paid for their efforts. Package this up as the answer to the PR-maven’s problem and go to town.

m

First entry

I've been gearing up for this blog for a couple of weeks now. And finding lots of displacement behaviors that keep me from actually posting this first entry.

Enough awready… Here it is. The first post into Safe Haven, my little hangout on the 'net.

Being a “stand on the shoulders of those who came before” type guy, I've read a buncha blogs to see how other people start things off…

There seem to be 2 schools of thought about the “first entry.” There are the people who start like this, with a little “hello out there” posting. And those who start with a post as though the blog has been going for a long time and you've joined the conversation in the middle. I find the start-in-the-middle thingy less satisfying. Somehow, it seems better to acknowledge the starting up rather than bursting into song right off the bat. Kinda like the bands and orchestras my kids are in — they do a little tuning up and throat-clearing before the downbeat.

Besides, I like beginnings-of-things that are celebrated, so this is the celebration. I've done a lot of work to get to this point in the blogging world, learned/built a lotta tech plumbing type stuff, steeled my will to actually write and post this ice-breaker and dag nabbit i'm gonna pat myself on the darn back i am.

It's not unlike the first time I did a radio show, somewhere back in the late Jurassic age. Speaking to unknown listeners, out there in the void. Maybe conversing with nobody. Maybe saying nothing of interest. Quite exhilarating, what?

Ok. Here goes… Hope the water's ok…

m