LearnShareProsper logo Boosting Business Performance Adele Sommers
by Adele Sommers, Ph.D.
 www.LearnShareProsper.com Adele@LearnShareProsper.com 
In This Issue

November 2, 2006
Volume 2, Issue 22

"How-to" tips and advice on increasing business prosperity, published every other Thursday.

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- Feature Article: 7 Facets of Strategic Startup Planning Success

- Note from the Author: Business is Booming!

- Special Message: Blast-off, Tune-up, or Makeover?

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Note from the Author

Business is Booming!

Booming business trendsI've been continually impressed with the quality and focus of the entrepreneurs I've been meeting or advising who span a range of ages. One of the most intriguing of the demographic groups, however, is the baby boomers. What are the trends telling us about boomers who are starting businesses?

According to USA Today, "Entrepreneurship, waning in recent years, is getting a big boost from an unlikely source: older Americans starting companies. . . . New research shows 5.6 million workers age 50 and older are self-employed, a 23% jump from 1990. . . . The trend challenges conventional wisdom that entrepreneurs are mostly young."

The article goes on to say that despite the risks, more older workers are seeking entrepreneurship because of corporate layoffs, a desire for more flexible schedules, a rising life expectancy, innovative technology that helps them do more with less, the ability to apply previous business know-how, and having access to their retirement reserves.

What does this mean for you? Regardless of your age bracket or nationality, if you've been thinking of starting, buying, or expanding a business, you're in good company. If you create products and services for entrepreneurs, you may see a shift in the types of people who turn to your offerings. They may be much savvier, better funded, and more disciplined and systematic than entrepreneurs of the past.

Therefore, I hope you enjoy today's edition, including the feature article "7 Facets of Strategic Startup Planning Success." I always enjoy receiving your comments!

Here's to your business prosperity,

Adele Sommers, author of the "Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance" success program

P.S. If you missed any previous issue, visit the newsletter index!

Special Message

Blast-off, Tune-up, or Makeover?

Strategic Business Planner by Adele SommersWhen it comes to launching your business, tinkering with the nuts and bolts, or giving it a complete overhaul, using a potent strategic planning process can make all of the difference in the world.

That's why my Strategic Business Planner has been growing like mad to include the wide range of tools and techniques my clients need to achieve stellar success.

Although I customize every approach to fit each client's needs, the basic process in its entirety entails seven powerful phases.

Some of these phases can occur in tandem with other phases, and can repeat and refine themselves over time:

1) Life Purpose Discovery 5) Product & Service Value
2) Business Startup Tasks 6) Projects, Productivity, and Effectiveness
3) Strategic Planning
4) Marketing Planning 7) Business Expansion

Whether you need to blast off (start up your business), perform a tactical tune-up (make highly focused adjustments), or conduct a strategic makeover (rethink your business purpose and, if needed, align it with your life passions), there's always a meaningful place to begin.

If you'd like more information on how you can get started, contact me today for a no-cost consultation!

Feature Article

7 Facets of
Strategic Startup Planning Success

by Adele Sommers

Whether you are just thinking about launching your business or are already well into the game -- how do you tell if you've considered all of the factors that will lead to continued success? Strategic startup planning [a subset of Phase 3 of my Strategic Business Planner, above] is a process by which your business can develop a roadmap to sustainable growth. In doing so, you can avoid the more superficial, opportunity-seeking detours that often lead to dead ends.

Cut gem with facetsThis article gives an overview of seven core facets that contribute to successful strategic startup planning. If you are just starting out, you may want to perform them in the order shown below. If you're in a re-planning phase, you may wish to revisit them periodically to see whether any changes have occurred. The seven facets are:

1) Identifying and researching your niche
2) Researching similar operations
3) Performing competitive analyses
4) Performing a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis
5) Exploring blue ocean strategies
6) Identifying your vision, mission, values, and beliefs
7) Developing a unique selling position (USP)

Facet #1: Identifying and Researching Your Niche

Do you know which audiences are best suited to, or already seeking, what you plan to offer? Identifying your niche involves brainstorming a set of potential target markets, and then combining and narrowing down the lists by comparing them against various criteria.

After selecting a niche that clearly portrays your perfect client or customer, you'll want to research it further to gain a comprehensive understanding of it. The more you learn about the needs, wants, pain, frustrations, and challenges of your audience, the more precise your marketing and product development efforts can be.

You can do your own investigation by surveying prospects or your existing customer base, or by enlisting the help of professional researchers, such as Google Answers.

Detective doing researchGoogle employs scores of researchers to track down information on just about any requested topic. You can also peruse its archives of completed research at no cost.

Facet #2: Researching Similar Operations

Are you opening some kind of storefront or bricks-and-mortar service business? If your operation involves a physical facility, it's ideal to research other businesses that have comparable sites and services, or at least similar operating constraints, parameters, and conditions -- even in other locations.

To learn what's involved, you can gather data from site visits, interviews, and Web sites, for example. For example, seek information on the offerings, physical layouts, staffing, and ongoing operational challenges of these businesses. Be sure to verify your assumptions with your own cadre of professional advisors, however.

Facet #3: Performing Competitive Analyses

Do you know who your competitors are? They consist of other companies currently offering the same or similar products or services, companies that could offer the same or similar products or services in the future, and companies that could remove the need for your products or services.

To ensure that you can compete successfully with the very best providers of products and services in your market, you first want to identify the key features of your own offerings. You'll also identify the value elements (the special, intangible qualities, such as top-notch expertise, satisfaction guarantees, or stellar customer service) that your business offers or will offer. You then perform a competitive analysis to see how well your features and value elements stack up against those of your competitors.

Facet #4: Performing a SWOT Analysis

How well positioned are you to take advantage of the positive internal and external forces in your business? How well can you minimize or manage the risks associated with the negative forces? Using a SWOT analysis, you determine the internal factors under your control (your business strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats). You then devise strategies to harness your strengths and opportunities while reducing or working around threats and weaknesses.

Facet #5: Exploring Blue Ocean Strategies

Blue ocean wavesAre you planning to do business in a domain already filled with competitors, where there's only a small chance of thriving? Blue ocean strategizing helps you rethink the entire landscape.

Derived from Harvard Business School's bestseller, "Blue Ocean Strategy," this process will help you reposition your business if it's in a highly competitive niche. Following a careful analysis, you can rework your offerings to include new features and eliminate, increase, or decrease others. You can also target new audiences. In so doing -- much like the wildly successful CNN, Cirque du Soleil, Curves fitness for women, Southwest Airlines, and many other businesses -- you can chart all new waters and ultimately sail away from your competition.

Facet #6: Identifying Your Vision, Mission, Values, and Beliefs

Have you identified a purpose, a set of unchanging values, and visionary goals to guide your future business directions? Although this activity can occur at any time, it's ideal to revisit it periodically. According to Thomas J. Watson, Jr., former IBM chairman, "If an organization is to meet the challenges of a changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself except its basic beliefs as it moves through corporate life. . . . The only sacred cow in an organization should be its basic philosophy of doing business."

Importantly, your business values, once defined, can become screening tools to first attract, and then later evaluate, your personnel, partners, clients, and customers.

Facet #7: Developing Your USP

Do you know how to convey the benefits of your products and services? Based on the results of all preceding activities, this process entails creating and polishing a concise description of your offerings that differentiates them from those of your competition and positions you as the market leader.

Capturing your vision into a presentationKnown as either a unique selling position or proposition, it's the unforgettable business promise that you share with the world. Example: FedEx's classic "When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight."

When you've completed this process, you'll have a powerful business manifesto. By creating a PowerPoint or similar presentation around it, you'll gain a set of guiding principles to inspire your staff, prospective employees, partners, or clients.

Copyright 2006 Adele Sommers


Tools You Can Use

For a Strategic Startup Planning Checklist related to the article above, see https://learnshareprosper.com/tools/strategic_startup_planning.pdf.

The Author Recommends

Blue Ocean Strategy:
How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne"In a book that challenges everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne argue that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking_profit pool.

"Based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than a hundred years and thirty industries, the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors, but from creating 'blue oceans': untapped new market spaces ripe for growth. Such strategic moves -- which the authors call 'value innovation' -- create powerful leaps in value that often render rivals obsolete for more than a decade."

-- Harvard Business School Publishing

About the Author

"Straight Talk" Special Report
"Straight Talk" Workbook

Adele Sommers, Ph.D. is the author of "Straight Talk on Boosting Business Performance" -- an award-winning Special Report and Workbook program.

If you liked today's issue, you'll love this down-to-earth overview of how 12 potent business-boosting strategies can reenergize the morale and productivity of your enterprise, tame unruly projects, and attract loyal, satisfied customers. It's accompanied by a step-by-step workbook designed to help you easily create your own success action plan. Browse the table of contents and reader reviews on the description page.

Adele also offers no-cost articles and resources to help small businesses and large organizations accelerate productivity and increase profitability. Learn more at LearnShareProsper.com.

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