Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I am off to Base Camp at Mt. Everest

First, I want to thank you for reading my blog posts. I hope you find them useful. If ever you have suggestions on what I can do to make this blog more useful to you, please do share your thoughts with me. I really want to know and I welcome your suggestions. This is my first time at having a blog, which I started as many of you had encouraged me to start one and therefore I want this to be of use to you.

Secondly, I wanted to mention that most likely you will not see any posts from me this coming month of October. I am off to Nepal, trekking to Base Camp and there I will have very limited access to the net. I'll be back end of October and will resume at that time.

Till then, take care everyone and thanks again for subscribing and for being part of my community.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How to Make More Money, with Less Time and Effort

  • Are you feeling stretched, and stressed?
  • Are you feeling stuck, want to earn more but not sure what to do?
  • Are you sick and tired of working long hours, saying to yourself, this is not why you went into business for yourself?
Through my own experience, as well as what I have learned through the process of helping others develop their business plans (a MUST, if you don't have one for yourself), the problem I find is not that they are not doing enough, but rather they are trying to do too much for too many people. In essence, they lack focus. They are generic, a small fish in a big pond.

So if you answered yes to the above questions, then I have a suggestion for you. Over the next 4 weeks, do the following.

1. Determine the profile of your ideal client. This is the person with whom you enjoy doing business and it allows you to generate your desired revenue with relative minimal effort (in doing the work and marketing wise, as couple of factors to take into account). This includes profiling both the organization as well as the individual client. Once you know who this is, then you can actively spend time in a more focused way.

For example, let's say you're an executive coach offering leadership development. While this is nice, imagine being an executive coach to introverted engineers within the aerospace industry. By focusing and niching, you just went from being a small fish in a big pond to a big fish in a small pond. From being a general "generic" surgeon to a heart surgeon specializing in repairing damaged aortic valves. Now more of the clients will seek you out, paying you more $$$ per unit of time for now you're a specialist.

2. Review what products and services are giving you the greatest revenue and profits. Indirectly you'll get a sense of what's in demand, and what are the biggest challenges your clients are facing, and therefore buying what they are buying from you.

If you like to see how we applied this to the business I was a co-owner in, that we grew 28 folds, while at the same time increasing profitability, client retention, and having better quality of life, read my post entitled Sweet Spot: Maximizing Business Growth and Profitability.

Taking the time to determine your Ideal Client Profile (ICP) and narrowing your offerings down to say 2-3 key offerings will help you get focused. From that will emerge list of action items and where to spend your valuable time. You'll not only make more money, you'll also find you have more time for things you love to do.

Work Smart, Not Hard!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Don't Let this Tear Your Business Apart

In business, after some initial success, partners and family members who are in business together at times start to go in different directions. It's not intentional. Just that each has their own vision of the future. If this is not brought to surface and resolved, it can turn into a tug-of-war, wasting precious resources. It can even tear apart the business. Everyone looses.

Let's dig deeper and look at what happens.

In business, according to Bradford, Duncan and Tarcy, authors of Simplified Strategic Planning (an excellent read) there are six different strategic focus areas by which one can lead the business. These include:

1. Product/Service
2. Market/Customers
3. Technology
4. Raw Materials
5. Distribution Channel
6. Capabilities

For the business to be successful, while it may contain elements of more then one of these, only one can be the primary driver. If the primary driver/focus is not chosen and agreed upon, significant resources end up being wasted in the tug-of-war that follows. For the purposes of this post, I want to focus on two of the six:

1. Market/Customer Focus
2. Product/Service Focus

In market/customer focus, the focus is more on serving the target market. If say one partner feels really connected with a specific space, s/he will want to go deeper into this space. For example, let's assume a partner serves the dental market, supplying tooth brushes. Given the excellent relationships she experiences with those she serves, she may choose to also sell other products to this market, such as floss, tooth paste, x-ray film, office equipment, and so on. She simply loves her clients and want to do more for them. It's more about the market then what is sold.

In product/service focus, say for the other partner, it's not about the dental market but that he just loves brushes. His view is if dental offices buy brushes, then he can expand his product line to include other kinds of brushes and expand into for other markets. For example, this could include selling brushes to auto repair shops, to manufacturing facilities, and so on. He simply loves brushes regardless of type of brushes and who they are sold to. It's more about what is sold then the market.

When this difference surfaces, if partners are not aware of what's happening here, they may conclude something like that the other is just stubborn, just doesn't get it, and so on. Before you know it, wedge has been driven, going deeper and deeper overtime, and eventually leading to the partnership being split. Alternatively, they continue to have this tug-of-war, wasting precious resources and experiencing stress as well.

If you are experiencing this situation or know of business partners who are, it's important to discuss this objectively and settle on one strategic focus, for the sake of the business and the partnership.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

10 Tips for Making The Family Business Work

(I had written this prior to leaving for vacation, but in rush of things forgot to post. Anyways, posting it now).

Many when they hear of a family business, they imagine family members happily working side by side singing songs, floating through the days, happily ever after. While are there certainly numerous benefits of being in a family business, families in business together also experience tremendous stress, something those on the "outside" don't see nor experience.

It's hard enough to exist peacefully in a family. Add to that a successful yet very demanding business, things get really complicated. Business meetings at work turn into family meeting and home gathering become business discussions, often leaving those who are not involved feeling left out. And home tensions go into the workplace and tough decision made at work leads to feeling isolated at home with one getting "the stares, glares, the looks". It never stops. At time it can feel as if walking on a mine field.

If you're experiencing stress being in the family business (or partnership), here are 10 tips, to keep you and the business healthy:

1. Get involved in some group that nourishes your soul, something that has nothing to do with business and something in which you can participate without other family members involved. Some separation and break is healthy.

2. Exercise regularly and eat healthy. It'll relieve the stress and keep you healthy. You must stay in shape for family business is not for the weak.

3. Have a sounding board, a thought partner. In such a business setting, it's easy for one to feel isolated. I know I used to feel that very often, isolated and frustrated, wondering who to talk to freely, without causing waves. Have someone in your corner with whom you can have on-going conversations, to help you think through your challenges, help you see things from a different perspective, help you stay focused and sane, listen to you without judging and trying to fix you. This person must be someone who understands family business dynamics and is an "outsider", is objective, neutral, and has nothing to gain or loose.

4. Have regular meetings. You can never have too much communication. If you think regular meetings aren't needed, and you assume everyone is on the same page, you're wrong. Many business problems in family businesses find their roots in lack of communication.

5. Hold at least once every year an off-site retreat, preferably facilitated by an outside moderator, who can keep the conversation moving forward while keeping everyone together.

6. Be always watchful of unexpressed expectations, mood changes, issues brewing under the surface. When you detect them, resolve them before they turn into volcanoes for if situations reach that stage, it becomes very difficult to resolve even the seemingly simplest issues.

7. Run personality profiles on each family involved in the business and have the results discussed among the members, with the discussion being led by someone who is an expert in this. This leads to structured conversations and then the better everyone understands each other, the more effectively everyone can appreciate and leverage each others differences rather then have those differences tear the group apart.

8. Take the necessary time to establish clear roles, responsibilities and accountability for each family member who is involved in the business. While these may not be set in stone, it will lead to greater clarity for everyone.

9. Separate as much as possible, family roles from business roles. While this is far easier said then done, it's an important element to lasting success and peace. For example, if you're a couple in business, be the couple at home but when you're at work, be the professionals you are supposed be, doing what your roles require of you.

10. Last but not least. As business changes and grows, so do the family members. While they may have started with a similar vision and goals, overtime their own visions and desires change. To keep everyone on the same page, once each year, set aside time away from the office for business planning. Such planning is not only important for business success, it provides a forum for having structured conversations, which are vital to keeping everyone together, focused and aligned.

2 Ways to Minimize Costly Hiring Mistakes

No matter how solid the business plan, it's simply hard to execute it without good people. Yet one of the biggest challenges we faced in our family business was in the area of hiring, in particular hiring sales and customer service reps. Literally we lost hundreds of thousands over the years due to bad hires, let alone the mental stress we experienced due to it.

Many of the candidates looked good, sounded good, seemed to have the right skills and experience, yet didn't work out. Not only was it costly in-terms of money lost, it was also tiring because of all the hours lost that went into training and getting them up to speed. Over the years, I gained important insights which I'll share with you here, to help you make better hiring decisions.

While we can't bat 100%, though we like to, I like to share two suggestions that will help you increase your batting average.

1. Use Personality Profiles

The one I use is called TriMetrix and it looks at individuals through 3 different lenses. The assessment identifies, objectively and neutrally, behavioral strengths and blind spots, what the individual focuses on, as well as what moves 'em into action. If you find there is a significant gap between what you need and what this individual has to offer, inspite of their experience and skills, I would think seriously before making the hire. This small investment upfront can save you literally thousands of dollars, as well as your valuable time and energy. Not using this in my judgment is penny wise, pound foolish.

2. Ask These 4 Essential Questions

In the interview, questions often revolve around skills and experience. While these are important, they alone are not enough. For example, just because someone was successful in sales at another organization doesn't mean they'll succeed in yours. There are many factors that lead to success. Therefore, in addition to the usual questions, I would also ask the following types of questions:

A. What are some of your values, guiding principals? You want to look for a reasonably close match to ensure their values match to your organizations.

B. What's your vision for your own life? In other words, probe to learn what matters to them, what do they want to create, how do they enjoy spending their time, what motivates them, what their dreams are.

C. How do you see this job, this role, helping you live the life you want, helping you make your dreams come true?

D. Share with them your vision, your values, who you serve, why your clients do business with you. Also share openly some of the challenges people in your company currently face. Then ask the interviewee this question: Given what I have shared with you, how do you see yourself fitting into this organization?

It's important to hire people who get excited by your vision and connect with your values. The greater the match, the greater the chances of success. And it's not just for your own benefit but also the benefit of candidates. When bad hiring happens, both suffer. By investing time upfront to ensure good fit, everyone wins.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Getting Along with Your Business Partners

In my experience, majority of business problems, especially in partnership based businesses find their roots in communication breakdowns. When business partners don't get along or are not working effectively, and this is even more true for businesses involving family members, you'll find gaps in communication. What then takes place is "I said, you said...I thought, you thought...". Moles turn into mountains, no one wins.

The solution is very clear - communicate, communicate, communicate! Communicate expectations, roles & responsibilities, vision, values, purpose, base strategy and strategic focus, critical success factors, and so on.

Sounds pretty easy, right? Yeah. Sounds easy but tough to do.

In today's fast pace, we get so caught up in day-to-day tasks that we don't make time for such important conversations. This is even more true for family businesses where they don't incorporate regular meetings. It also happens because sometime we don't know how to start and have such conversations. And the more delicate the issue, the tougher and therefore even more critical to have communication.

Otherwise, while everyone may think everything is progressing smoothly and that everyone is on the same page, likely there are unresolved issues stewing underneath that hamper future business and relations. Furthermore, when such dialogue is missing, "grapevine" runs rampant, organization lacks focus and alignment, valuable resources are split into multiple directions, to name just a few.

If you want your business to last, on-going communications are vital. If you are at a point where emotions run hot during your meetings, make the investment in an outside moderator, a facilitator, someone who understands the unique challenges associated with partnership and family based businesses. They, being neutral and objective, can help you manage conflicts and keep conversations on track.

On-going communication is one of the best investments any partnership and family business can make to ensure lasting success. Whatever you do, please make time to regularly communicate. It's vital to your success.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to Rebuild Business Relationships

Do you know couples, siblings, friends, families who are in business together? And in spite of having achieved business success, now they can't seem to get along and they are constantly going at each other?

I grew up in a family business environment as well as have been in one. In addition to having experienced the joys of partnership and family business, I also have experienced the struggles and the pain. I have seen up close way too many relationships fall apart, among those who are otherwise good kind loving individuals, each doing their very best. It's painful to watch and to experience it.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Business relationships can fall apart for many reasons: miscommunication, lack of communication, lack of understanding, behavioral differences, apathy, separate schedules, busy schedules, or disagreements. Sometimes blow ups happen and other times the relationship just slowly falls apart.

The challenge becomes even greater in family businesses where members are unable to communicate about sensitive or heated subjects without ending up in some kind of an argument. One person may yell while another may shut down, and yet a third may storm out of the room. Each reacts differently, and no one understands why the others don't see the situation his or her way.

While it's true that every family and every business group has disagreements, when you mix family members with business issues, the conflicts are more intense and more frequent. Specially since family members know how to push each other's buttons, and they do can do so, and do, freely.

I know when I was in business, I yearned for a way of addressing heated topics with family members in a manner that does not impede on the company's success, and vice versa. Not knowing how at the time, I used to often feel very isolated and frustrated.

As they say, if I knew then what I know now.

When my own business relationship fell apart, after being together for nearly 20 years, I silently wowed to figure out how this happens and how it can be fixed, or prevented in the first place. After spending nearly 3 years delving into this, I believe through real life application, that nearly every business relationship can be repaired, or reinstated. While there are many ways of doing that, I will discuss one of those ways here.

When a relationship has gone south, one of the biggest challenges is how to open up the dialogue. One of ways to open up and restart the conversation, first step to repair, is via the use of personality profiles. The one I myself use with business partners and business teams is called The Trimetrix, and it's one of the most powerful instruments I have come to use.

What's valuable is not just what the reports provide, and do so in an objective neutral way, it's that they provide a means through which conversation can begin. As the results from these profiles are discussed, first individually and then as a group, I have experienced over and over that conversation once again begins to flow, people start to open up, misunderstandings start to turn into understandings, conflicts begin to turn into synergy, participants start to release long held thoughts, their perspectives start to shift, to name just a few of the many benefits.

Key to make this work is to have an outside expert administer the assessments and conduct the debriefs individually as well as facilitate the group conversation when conducting the group debrief. In addition to the expertise, they are neutral and objective and keep the group together and moving forward. Also, as an added benefit, these profiles also provide a common language for communication and that's often very helpful.

If you are experiencing tensions, communication breakdowns, cold war, or open heated arguments, I urge you to seriously consider the use of personality profiles and follow what I am suggesting. It's one of the best investments you'll make. In addition to getting your relationships back on track, you'll begin to also notice the very positive impact this will have on your business as well as other aspects of your life.

If you have any questions, please just ask. I wish you the very best.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

11 Keys to Building Strong Partnerships

Have you ever gone on a vacation with someone who is very different from you? One wants to experience everything under the sun while the other wants to just chill out. One wants to plan the day down to the minute while the other likes to figure out what to do as the day goes by. One wants to go left, the other right. One wants window down and put the peddle to the metal while the other likes the windows up and keeps tapping the break peddle. Now just imagine, being in partnership with this person who has very different preferences. What would that be like?

I am sure you get the picture.

Therefore, in choosing your business partner(s) it's crucial to, for both long-term success and to having an enjoyable experience, here are 11 key factors of consider:

1. Shared Vision. Metaphorically speaking, what will happen if one wants to go to California while the other Florida? One envisions a chain of big box stores while the other a small boutique? It's important to share common definition of success, your desired destination, what you want to sell, and to whom. Otherwise, it'll be a constant push-n-pull, tug-of-war.

2. Shared Values. Do you share values that will guide you in your decision making, in your day to day activities? For example, how will you function say if one views employees as those who can be easily hired and fired at will while you view them as family? One has no problem taking on debt while you are terrified by it?

3. Shared Work Ethic. Will you both put in your best efforts or is one a slacker while the other carries the load?

4. Shared Base Strategy. Of the 4 types, do you both share where you want to be ultimately?
  • Small Fish, Small Pond
  • Small Fish, Big Pond
  • Big Fish, Small Pond
  • Big Fish, Big Pond
Similar to example given in #1 above, what will happen if one wants to build a business say selling commodities in high volume low margins and the other wants to pursue a strategy of a specialty selling low volume high margins?

5. Aligned in what you lead with. What happens say if one wants to be the low cost supplier while the one wants to be known for outstanding quality, customer service and charge high prices?
  • Innovation, Cutting Edge
  • Customer Service
  • Quality, Tried and True
  • Low Price Seller
For example, what will happen if one wants to be known for high quality, outstanding service while the other wants to sell on price and quality isn't as important?

6. Leveraging Strengths. Here, differences are actually healthy. If say one is outgoing, aggressive and quick to act, it's important to have someone who is reflective, more thoughtful and reserved. Or one is more task focused, it's important to have the other be most people focused. It's the Ying and Yang, left brain and right brain. Both are needed.

7. Complimentary Skills. Overall, to run a successful business, skills in administration (e.g, HR, IT, Accounting), Sales/Marketing, and Operations are needed. Do the partners bring a mix of skill sets? Here again, you need to ensure everyone brings something to the mix so all bases are covered. You want someone who will fill in for your weaknesses and you do the same for the other. No one is good at everything. It takes all types to make business work.

8. Do you enjoy being together. In business, you will spend lots of time together and therefore it's very important you enjoy each others company, and have the ability to have open honest conversations, no matter how tough the issues.

9. Commitment: There will be good times, there will be rough times. Are all of you committed to the partnership, to see it through, no matter what you all face. One for all, all for one.

10. Personal Responsibility: When something goes wrong, will you play the blame game or are you strong enough to also look within and see how you contribute to the situation. This was a lesson for me. It took me a long time to accept that in my own partnership coming apart, I too had a huge role. Until we are willing to looking within ourselves also, we'll play the victim game and that doesn't contribute to healthy partnerships.

11. Trust & Respect: Last but not least, do you trust and respect each other. You want someone on whom you can count on, completely trust, someone who has your back covered as you have theirs, someone you respect. All successful lasting relationships are built on foundation of trust and mutual respect.

Having said all this, I want to stress that there is no one right or wrong, better or worse. There is a place for everyone. Important thing in partnerships is that there be alignment. If it's missing, your partnership is destined to difficulties. Therefore, when choosing your business partner(s), be sure to pay critical attention to these factors.

Also, as a final word for now, it's important to note that it's unlikely to ever find a perfect match. We are humans afterall and we each have our uniqueness's. What's important is to be aware of where you align, where you don't, and to work through those differences, and to recognize that there is always some benefits in those differences.

What Leads to Partnerships Breaking Up?

Do you know couples, siblings, friends who went into business together with great hopes and excitement but now they are constantly going at each other? Being in business together can tear apart not only relationships, but also their business.

Same happens in corporations where executives aren't aligned, each member rowing in a different direction, following his/her own agenda, leaving others confused and drained.

Do you ever wonder what's the cause? And more importantly, how can this be prevented, for there is tremendous power in partnerships, when leadership teams are aligned, all rowing together in the same direction?

To use a metaphor, effective partnerships are like the hand. When five digits work together, they are exponentially more powerful then the sum of each individual digit. As my uncle says, when it comes to partnerships, 1 + 1 = 11.

After many years of reflection, observation, and self-study, I believe I finally have the answers to the questions I raise above, which I will share with you here.

First, what leads to the breaking.

Loss of Collective Vision: Everything in life, manifested by humans, originates in thought and those thoughts are ever changing. At some point in time, thoughts of two or more individuals come together and partnership is formed. Overtime, however, thoughts change, they shift, resulting in partners slowly drifting apart. And due to lack of effective on-going communication, either due to being so caught up in day to day operations or more likely that in many cases hey don't know how to have such conversations, the impact of such drifting apart does not surface, 'till it's too late, leaving everyone asking "what happened?". Or their is constant fighting and those observing watch helplessly wanting to help but not sure what to do.

Lack of Human Understanding: Human beings are complex beings with ever changing thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and motivations. In the absence of such understanding, what ultimately happens to the unaware, these small differences end up driving a big wedge into the relationships. Friction takes place, communication breaks down, moles become mountains. Rather then understanding and leveraging differences for greater individual and joint success, they are often misinterpreted (intention vs. impact), only leading to further divisions.

So, what's the solution?

I have come to believe the solution resides in two actions, both of which must take on an on-going basis. They are:

Executive Alignment: Just as tires need realignment from time to time, so do executive teams. In the executive suite, this is done via regularly schedule meetings that must be facilitated by someone from the outside, who is neutral and objective, has nothing to gain or loose. Goal in these meetings is to have both strategic conversations as well as cover other materials to ensure everyone stays on the same page so that everyone continues to row together in the same direction.

Executive Tune Up: Via use of personality assessments, which provide deep insights into each individual's strengths and blind spots, in an objective and neutral way, understanding and therefore communication improves, misunderstanding begin to get flushed out, leading to less friction and greater performance. When these assessment results are presented by an expert who is an outsider, these "debriefings" of results lead to powerful conversations, partners come to better and more effectively understand of each other, as well as understand how to leverage each others differences for greater joint success.

Net result being acceleration of business performance AND strengthening of the partnership. It's one of the best investment any partnership and executive leadership team can make, to ensure long-term success and enjoy the many benefits partnerships offer.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What's Possible When Everyone Shares a Collective Vision?

How in sync is your team? Is everyone moving together smoothly in the same direction? Or does it feel more like a constant tug-of-war, push-n-pull, each tripping over the other? Do you experience conflicting goals, conflicting agendas, constantly changing priorities, flavors of the day, feeling stretched and confused?

In my experience, businesses, specially business partners and families who are in business together, they start off with a fairly a clear focus, direction and desired outcome. As times goes on however, individuals begin to drift apart. Each focusing on their own thing, they are busy and less and less communication. In the absence of on-going communications about vision, desired outcomes, planning, etc. misunderstandings, friction, breakdowns, inefficiencies begin to take place, all negatively impacting overall performance.

If you like to find out what the situation is in your organization, here's a simple test. Results will show you how well aligned is your team, to what degree they share a collective vision, and if they are all working towards the same desired outcome.

Have one person, preferably someone from the outside who is neutral and objective, and someone who has nothing to gain or loose by the findings, start interviewing, individually, key members of your team. Have this person, who should be good in asking questions, listening and probing, ask each interviewee the following 7 questions:

1. What business is your company in and why does it exist (purpose)?
2. What does your company sell?
3. Who are your target customers?
4. Who are your top 10 clients?
5. Why do they do business with your company?
6. What do your clients most appreciate about doing business with your company?
7. How is success defined and measured at your company?

Of course, before diving into these questions listed above, the interviewer will have to first set the stage as well as warm up the conversation by asking couple of other questions, to get the conversation flowing and putting the interviewee at ease.

When asking these 7 questions, go in depth. For example, for the question "who are your target customers?" don't just accept for example, our customers are associations. Probe and dig deeper. Never settle for the first response. Ask each interviewee to share for example, what does the "optimum" customer "look" like, e.g. approximate age, gender, title, size and type of organization, location, and so on.

As a suggestion, start these interviews first with your leadership team. Often misalignment starts right there. If you find they aren't aligned, then what do you think are the chances rest of your team members being aligned and moving in the same direction? And if they aren't, what impact is that having on the organization? Then imagine, if they were all aligned and shared a collective vision, working together towards the same destination, what would be possible?

Go ahead, give this simple yet powerful exercise a try and see what you find out. I can guarantee you'll be glad to have done this.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Path to Success

One of the leading causes of business failure, or any kind of undertaking for that matter, is lack of proper planning. Yet too often I run into people who spend more time planning their weekend outing then their business, all the while wondering why they aren't achieving the success they desire.

In my own life, I have experienced both success and failure. Looking back, whenever I have been successful, in each instance, I have had a clear and focused plan. When I didn't take the time to plan, it was disastrous. Therefore I am more convinced then ever in the value of planning, and in business, strategic business planning.

Having said this, I think most people make planning way too complicated then it has to be. For great many businesses, especially for the smaller ones, setting aside say 10 or so hours, answering some key questions alone will provide a meaningful road map for success. Some of these key questions include:

DESTINATION: What does your desired destination (success) look like? How will you, and those on your team, know when that destination has been reached?

PURPOSE: Why do you want to get there? What will it give you? And what will happen if you don't get there? As in any journey, if your purpose is unclear, and/or desire weak, you are likely to turn back when you hit roadblocks. Therefore, before starting your journey, be clear why you're wanting to go there and ensure it's something you really want.

HOW: What "road" will you take to reach your desired destination? What do you need to get done, day by day, week by week, month by month? For businesses, break down what needs to get done in the three key areas: administration, operations, and sales & marketing. Who will do what by when and how?

SIGNPOSTS: How will you know you're on track, individually and collectively? What measures will serve as "mile markers" and "sign posts"?

OBSTACLES: As in any journey, it's not always smooth sailing. Sometimes you hit road blocks, you get a flat tire. When that happens, will you know what to do?

OPPORTUNITIES: Sometimes along the way, you may run into pleasant surprises that will help you get to your destination quicker, such as you discover a short cut. How will you recognize these opportunities when you see them?

If you don't have a plan in place, I urge you to take some time, and prepare one. It's not rocket science. Answering some key basic questions as presented above alone will get you well on your way.

But don't be fooled by the simplicity of the questions. While the questions are easy, to arrive at meaningful answers requires deep reflection and thought. As you do that, you'll be amazed by the benefits you'll experience with the associated and focus that emerges in the process. And if you have multiple partners in the business, this then is even more important. Without it, it'll be like driving a car without proper tire alignment, with each tire moving in a different direction.

It really is so that "Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance".