Channel Partners

February 29, 2008

5 Min Read
Channel Coach: Mind Your Own Business

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How many times have you heard someone say “mind your own business?” For channel partners, that just might be sage advice. Many business owners get so wrapped up “in the business” they never seem to spend any time working “on the business,” leading to missed opportunities or disastrous results.

While it is easy to get caught up in the daily ins and outs of the business, especially in smaller enterprises, finding a good balance is key. That is not to say you shouldnt focus your energies toward finding and selling clients, implementing systems, and providing excellent service and support, but such a single-minded approach could be holding your business back and keeping it from becoming all that it can be. We believe successful business people must make time each and every month to work “on the business.”

So what do we mean when we say working “on the business?” Working on the business includes changing your perspective by taking a birds-eye view and really looking objectively at all key areas of your business from sales and marketing to customer support. It always must include a financial review.

A great way to get started working “on the business” is by developing a basic business plan. Your initial business plan does not need to be deeply thought through or, for that matter, encyclopedic in nature. In fact, if youre just starting out, less is more when it comes to developing a business plan. A few pages, with a maximum of five pages, should probably do it. Your business plan needs to include what products you plan to sell, markets you intend to reach, primary target prospects, how you will reach those prospects, methods to install or activate new clients, customer support programs and procedures, and most importantly, your financial plan, including a projected profit and loss (P&L). Creating key performance indicators (KPIs) is another excellent way to establish metrics for your business.

Six Keys to Minding Your Business

1. Schedule time on your calendar every month to work “on your business.”

2. Dont let day-to-day business activities interfere with managing your business overall.

3. Create a concise business plan to help you focus your thinking and measure your success.

4. Identify the most important things to look at every month (key performance indicators) that reveal how your business is doing.

5. Have an annual expense budget and stick to it.

6. Learn to read financial reports so you can use the information to make good business decisions.

The next requirement is to make time available we recommend a minimum of one eight-hour day every month to work on your business. Another good idea is to schedule your calendar to block out this time each and every month for this work. Employees and clients requesting time to meet with you should be told that you have a prior commitment and youll gladly meet with them at another time. If finding a full day to dedicate to your business is difficult, try scheduling two half days or maybe two hours a week, if that works for you. The important thing is to make the time investment each and every month, not whether it is done in a few short time periods or one long one.

Weekly meetings or conference calls also are a good way to work on the business. A good strategy is to schedule these meetings in advance, preferably the same day and time each week. Then develop an agenda to be sure you cover the important metrics in every meeting. Timeliness is important, so be ready at the appointed time and dont allow others to miss your meeting or be late. During these sessions, review your business objectives and measure progress against the targets. Ask questions and challenge the answers you receive.

Discussing the financial elements is critical. Not every business person is financially savvy, but every smart business person needs to learn and understand the basic financials of running a successful business. Ask your financial advisers, trusted business advisors, or CPA to explain the numbers and the information they provide. Learn how to read your P&L data and be able to tell what is going on in your business every month. Ask questions about profits, margins and expenses. It also is important to create an annual expense budget for your business at the beginning of the year and stick to it.

Dont let the issues or problems du jour become your single focus. While you must be involved in building and running the business it shouldnt be the only thing you do. Minding your own business is not only a great idea, it is essential and you should thank everyone that reminds you to do so. After all, if you dont mind your own business, who else will?

Bill Taylor is president of Corporate Ladders, a management, sales and business development consulting and coaching firm specializing in technology, telecom, Internet, health care and financial services companies. He can be reached at +1 201 825 8296 or [email protected].


Corporate Ladders

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