Wenatchee Office located at 238 Olds Station Road, Wenatchee. By appointment call 509-888-7252 or email jim.fletcher@wsbdc.org

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers

by Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Inc. Magazine

You're the boss, but you still spend too much time on the day-to-day. Here's how to become the strategic leader your company needs.

In the beginning, there was just you and your partners. You did every job. You coded, you met with investors, you emptied the trash and phoned in the midnight pizza. Now you have others to do all that and it's time for you to "be strategic."

Whatever that means.

If you find yourself resisting "being strategic," because it sounds like a fast track to irrelevance, or vaguely like an excuse to slack off, you're not alone. Every leader's temptation is to deal with what's directly in front, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if you do that, you put your company at risk. While you concentrate on steering around potholes, you'll miss windfall opportunities, not to mention any signals that the road you're on is leading off a cliff.

This is a tough job, make no mistake. "We need strategic leaders!” is a pretty constant refrain at every company, large and small. One reason the job is so tough: no one really understands what it entails. It's hard to be a strategic leader if you don't know what strategic leaders are supposed to do.

After two decades of advising organizations large and small, my colleagues and I have formed a clear idea of what's required of you in this role. Adaptive strategic leaders — the kind who thrive in today’s uncertain environment – do six things well:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Every Journey Begins With a Plan

By Janet Hart, SBDC Vancouver,

One of the biggest obstacles to starting or expanding a business is fear of the unknown. If we knew that all of our business decisions guaranteed success, we would be very wealthy. In reality, we know that every decision involves risk. Successful entrepreneurs manage risk to a more acceptable level through planning.

A business plan is very much like a road map that guides your decision-making. The process of preparing a plan helps you anticipate the potential and risk of a business opportunity. What risks would cause you to lose an opportunity? Some examples are: insufficient money to capitalize and operate the business; poor timing and inability to produce a marketable product or service; too few customers (or, conversely, too many competitors); inadequately trained labor pool; inaccurate and poorly managed records; and a lack of business savvy and management skills.

A written business plan is an opportunity to create structure for your ideas. The plan enables you to objectively set goals, focus your energies, develop tactics, and monitor progress. Throughout the process of writing a plan, you will gain an understanding of what is required of you and how you can design the business to fit with your values, lifestyle, abilities, and resources.

Most business plans consist of six components: Purpose and mission, market analysis, product or service and operations, market strategy, management and organizational structure, and finance. A written plan will require a cover page, table of contents, executive summary, and exhibits.