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Michael Porter’s five forces and the Entrepreneur Part 1. The competitive element

As an entrepreneur you instinctively understand that you are going to face competition from the day you start business. As part of your planning, you have identified your competitors, you understand their product offerings, you know their price points. You have compared your product to theirs and have assessed the comparative merits of each. Back in 1979 Michael Porter articulated forces other than your competitors that influence not only an individual company’s success but also the profitability of an entire industry. To help understand what this forces are, let’s take a look at the airline industry. Most people know that airlines operate on low profit margins when times are good and lose money when times are bad. Sadly, for airlines the bad times outlast the good times. Every economic shock, every oil price hike, even each new virus outbreak destroys their profitability. Why should this be? Why have few, if any airlines, managed to maintain a long-term reasonable return on their invested capital. (ROIC). The reason can be explained by Porter’s five forces. The most …

Can you start a business with no money? Of course! The noble art of bootstrapping. Part 2

In the episode 13 we looked at why entrepreneurs chose to start their business without external investments. Some of these reasons such as not wanting to share the profits with others, and willing to spend time chasing investors are solid reasons of going the bootstrap approach. Others such as not wanting to prepare a business plan, and fear of not having the necessary marketing skills to my mind are less valid. Any start up should have a business plan and you are going to have to market your product at some point. We also looked at the disadvantages that come with a low investment approach. Primarily the risk of running out of cash, In the episode I will share the advantages of bootstrapping, an approach that I highly recommend. But there are times when bootstrapping is not the right approach and that is when you need to scale fast because of the business you are launching. We will take a look at businesses that are not should not be launched by your bootstraps. The advantages …

Can you start a business with no money? Of course! The noble art of bootstrapping. Part 1

The noble art of bootstrapping. Taking an idea, using your talent and knowledge and building a worthwhile business without the backing from investors and having little or no start up capital. Unless your fortuitously find yourself in the right place at the right time bootstrapping takes dedication, a strong work ethic and an unswerving eye on the costs. There is a great sense of pride to be gained in starting from nothing and building a viable business. There are financial rewards too, you do not need to share the profits, or the value of the business if you decide to sell, with anyone else. But there are risks among others, without access to funds you risk running out of cash and growth is likely to be slower. Some of the largest companies in the world started out as bootstrapped businesses. Dell Computers, Meta (formerly Facebook) Apple, Microsoft to name just a few. So, bootstrapping does not limit how big you can grow. Although all these companies are now publicly owned and their founders no longer …

Bridging the execution gap. Learn from teams who have achieved success.

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. Japanese Proverb. No one individual can execute a strategic plan, it must be a team effort if success is to be achieved. Nathan Wiita, and Orla Leonard decided to look at how the most successful teams bridge the execution gap. The gap between what the strategic plan says what needs to be done, compared with what actually gets done. What differentiates teams that achieve success from teams that fail to execute? How do they spend their time? What critical behaviors do they engage in that enables them to attain their goals. The researchers found 4 behaviors that lead to success. Commit to an identity. The successful organizations were committed to a common identity which was achieved by a shared understanding of its value proposition and the distinctive capabilities. These are also known as core competencies an idea developed by Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad in 1990. To learn more about core competencies listen to my show on this subject. To listen to …

Six reasons why your strategic plan fails to deliver. The Hidden Barriers and how to identify them. Part 2

A high percentage of strategic plans fail to deliver their goals. Some experts say it is over 70%. Many articles have been written on how to execute better and we will look at some ideas in today’s episode 7. According to Michael Beer in his HBR article “6 Reasons Your Strategy Isn’t Working”. Published June 2020 there may be hidden barriers preventing your team executing your business strategy Hidden Barrier #4 Poor Coordination, a lack of willingness. Most companies work well within silos but any project worthy of the name strategy will work across silos. Possibly across geographies. And this is where coordination often breaks down. Coordination is critical for the effective implementation of strategies and it always a challenge. Insecure managers will fight to maintain the status quo and retain their empires. They will not be able to agree on how to reorganize, how to reshape the culture to work together to be able to overcome the unavoidable obstacles to coordination and collaboration. If this barrier exists it shows a lack of, or an …

Are there hidden barriers in executing strategy within your company?

Based on HBR article by Michael Beer “6 Reasons Your Strategy Isn’t Working”. Published June 2020 According to Michael Beer in his HBR article “6 Reasons Your Strategy Isn’t Working”. Published June 2020 there may be hidden barriers preventing your team executing your business strategy Some or all these hidden barriers may exist in your organization. They may go unrecognized; they are often not discussed for fear of the consequences because they address failings in the organization. Often failings in senior management and leadership. Even good strategies will fail if these barriers are present in your organization; because your team cannot execute until these barriers are removed. Hidden Barrier #1 Unclear Values and Conflicting Priorities. This occurs when a strategy is developed without sufficient consultation with the employees at the coal face. The leader of the company along with a few chosen executives formulate a strategy and then communicate the strategy to the organization. This creates several issues. While the strategy may be sound, there will likely be a lack of understanding on how it …

How to craft effective Mission and Vision Statements

A well crafted Mission and Vision Statement will provide guidance and motivation to your employees. It will help to ensure your employee are working towards a common purpose. As an entrepreneur or business owner the common purpose is why you started the business in the first place. What is a Mission Statement? A mission statement is a short summary of an organization’s reason for being in business.  Ideally it should be one sentence that is easily remembered by employees, customers. and other stakeholders. What is a Vision Statement? A vision statement is a short description of an organization’s aspirations and its place in the world, while your mission statement should be easy to remember your vision should resonate with as many people as possible. It should help them align with your company’s values. I am going to look at three well known and successful companies. How much of their success is due to their mission and vision statements I would not like to say but I am sure it does not hurt. These are three …

Is overseas expansion right for my company? Is it right for me

Jeremy Gray Season 5 Show 2 IBGR.Network – PROFIT Radio. Everything a business owner needs to start, grow or exit a business. GROW WITH US. Is overseas expansion right for my company? Is it right for me? Country Profile – Bangladesh: Recently I joined a webinar hosted by Henley and Partners discussing opportunities for businesses in Bangladesh.  The news is a bit of a mixed bag, Certainly Bangladesh has an impressive track record GCP grew last year, one of the few economies that managed growth during the covid pandemic, In 2019 GDP grew by 8.2%. GDP per person is just under $2000 about the same as India, and Bangladesh’s person GDP is likely to overtake India in a couple of years. An interesting fact provided during the webinar was that the middle income class is growing by 10.5% per year. Unfortunately it seems it is not easy to do business in Bangladesh, despite attempts to encourage FDI, 100% foreign ownership is permitted and repatriation of profits is easy, Bangladesh ranks 168 out of 190 countries …

Lifting your head from the sand.

Business conversations work better when business leaders actively acknowledge unpleasant information rather than run from it. Today an article from McKinsey & Company which describes a technique for ensuring all parties in a negotiation are on the same page when a meeting ends. I am sure we have all experienced the situation described in article, where the formal response from the other party did not match our expectations following the meeting. Ms Rinaudo’s article provides one technique to avoid such a problem. I would like to add some more ideas based on my experience. Most people prefer to avoid difficult conversations so they gloss over contentious issues during face to face meetings intending to clarify their real position in the follow up documentation. This wastes a lot of time in subsequent meetings, calls, exchanges of contracts etc before agreement is reached. In my experience raising and clarifying contentious issues is usually much easier than expected. And let’s face it contentious issues have to resolved at some point, so do it during the meeting. Starting the …

Managing Change Part 3

Walking the Talk on Change In this third post on the topic of driving change I am reviewing another article from David Michels available on Bain & Company’s website. We know that leadership can be difficult and lonely but that is no excuse to step back. It is well known that many change initiatives fail. Research by Bain found that 88% fall short of their original goal. How can you beat the odds and achieve your objectives? David Michels has identified three causes of failure and I will suggest some ways to avoid them. Change is vague and intangible: Mr Michels states managing change does not lend itself to clean analytical problem solving. And it is complicated by human behavior. People do not like change and there will be some employees who try to undermine your change initiatives either actively or via inertia. It is worth taking the time to identify groups of employees who may feel threatened by the change initiative being implemented. Take the time to talk with them, either to allay their …