Business Boot Camp—Are You Ready?

Are you ready for 2010? Has the last year gone as you planned? Measure twice; cut once is an expression that applies just as aptly to your business as it does to construction. You may not have achieved all you thought you would in 2009 but don’t let a lack of preparation be the cause of a repeat in 2010. You can decide to do everything possible to change in 2010 or choose to just see what happens. Start off right.

December and January Only

In December and January The Fremont Group offers their “Business Boot Camp” You will be assigned a consultant who, in one week, will tear your business apart and lay out a plan for SUCCESS IN 2010. They are not “yes men” so be prepared. The Fremont Business Boot Camp is not a seminar—it is an intensive implementation package designed to implement change; not talk about it. If you are not committed to change you should not enlist.

Who is eligible:

Your company must have more than 5 employees and have been in business more than two years. (Call for separate camps for start-up and small firms.)

You must be a “working owner” who is open to change.

You may not have more than 100 employees.

What you will get:

  • Your entire company will become focused and “on the same page.”
  • Obstacles to achieving your results will be aired, addressed and the entire organization will be utilized to eliminate those obstacles.
  • Employee productivity will increase through “buy in” and proper use of accountability and incentives.
  • You will have a clear game plan that is designed to “win the game.” You will no longer be the football coach with a game plan that says, “if everything goes right we will only lose by a touchdown.”
  • What the bank wants to know and how to present it.
  • You will have a foundation for long-term success.
  • Your organization will have a new appreciation of your role as owner of the company.

How you will get it:[1]

Monday

Morning: Introduction to staff and tour facility. Meet with owners and key employees and distribute Minding My Own Business questionnaires. Gather financial information.

Afternoon: Identify your goals for 2010 and become familiar with your operations. Gather questionnaires and any additional information needed to complete a SWOT analysis of the company.

Evening: Consultant completes financial analysis and analysis of the company and analysis of company morale and organizational issues.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Consultant and Head of Accounting

Morning: Meet with owners to review their analysis of current financial position. Present Accounting 101 to owners and financial staff (if required). Establish company budget and KPI’s. Assign Head of Sales to prepare a summary of the company’s “Sales System” for presentation on Wednesday.

Afternoon: Review the findings from the Employee questionnaires and interviews with owners. Contrast those findings with the owner’s perceptions. Identify current methods of employee accountability and incentives and develop the framework for desired methods of employee accountability and incentives.

Evening: Owners take Consultant and key personnel to dinner—informal discussion.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Consultant and Head of Sales

Morning: Review with owners the presentation of the current “Sales System”

Review company goals and re-write them as required. Present SWOT analysis for discussion (Strengths; Weaknesses; Opportunities and Threats). Determine how these should be presented to the staff.

Afternoon: Company meeting. Present SWOT analysis. Review findings of the first two days. Solicit input from the organization. Conclude with the establishment of a management committee (companies with more than 10 employees) and their first meeting.

Evening: Consultant completes first draft of Action Plan.

Thursday

Breakfast; Consultant and Head of Operations.

Morning: Meet with Management Committee (or owner in companies with fewer than 10 employees) to identify the five greatest issues facing the company and potential solutions. Review with owner and head of sales critique of the “Sales System.”

Afternoon: Meet with owners to develop a plan to address those issues. Develop a complete Action Plan for 2010. Establish benchmarks for progress.

Evening: Consultant prepares formal Action Plan for presentation.

Friday

Breakfast and Morning: Meeting with owners to review presentation of Action Plan to the company. Presentation of the Action Plan in full company meeting. Wrap up.

How to enlist:

Call The Fremont Group at (303) 338 9300 and tell them you are ready for Boot Camp. Registration Fee is $5995 plus $500 for non-local travel; $100 for local travel. The travel and $4,000 non-refundable deposit is required to hold a date; balance due at the first meeting. Preferred method of payment is PayPal (thefremontgroup@yahoo.com). Companies with 5-19 employees receive a 15% discount.


[1] The agenda assumes that you business has a person who is the head of accounting; head of sales; and head of operations. In smaller companies the owner may double as this person. Other “tweeks” in the agenda normally have to be made to accommodate the unique situations in each company.

The value of planning

by Neil Friedman
The business plan is your statement of purpose for your business. You can’t forget the reason to be in business.

Every football coach tries to devise a winning game plan. Even the best athletes will fail if they don’t have a game plan that is designed to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Concurrently, that game plan must take full advantage of an opponent’s weaknesses and make every effort to negate their strengths. In the business world, the best game plan (business plan) coupled with superior execution will deliver a winning effort—a profitable and growing enterprise.

A business plan is your roadmap to a viable and profitable business. Too many view it merely as a document to acquire an investor or financial institution to fund their dream, but if it is properly used, it can be the difference between success and failure. There is a reason why so many preach that it is an important part of your success, so don’t neglect it. Used as a tool in your company, a business plan should be a frequently utilized document that helps keep you on track and headed towards the goals you have set.

The business plan is your statement of purpose for your business. Simply stated, the purpose of any business is to make money. A goal of any business is to not only grow sales, but more importantly, to grow net profit. A successful business is a well-managed company that has a preplanned profit. No business can exist over the long term without consistent and growing net profit. Therefore, you shouldn’t increase sales without growing profit. It is far easier to manage a million-dollar business making $100,000 net profit than it is to manage a multi- million-dollar business making that same $100,000.

Business is based upon providing a quality service and product to customers. Most business owners are typically not taking advantage of all the available customers in their service area who are seeking a quality company that keeps their promises and charges a fair price for reliable work.

The lifeline of any business is the energy and commitment that its employees display on a daily basis. A business cannot prosper without the energy and commitment necessary from all its employees. If you cannot tell someone specifically what you expect from them, then you cannot expect specific performance from them. Planning, projection (allocation) and measurement are invaluable tools and are required in any business.

Accurate information and measurements are also mandatory for any business, as they are vital to success. The operations of a business must be measured, evaluated and controlled. Knowing the value of the products and services offered is vital to the health of any company. How can a profit be made if each item in the product mix doesn’t have a known breakeven point and preplanned profit?

Members of a business have a responsibility to themselves and to the company. In addition, the business has the right to be run as an efficient and profitable company so that the employees can be taken care of now and in the future.

If the previously mentioned statement of purpose is addressed in your business plan and the plan is followed, you will be successful. Therefore, it is important to create a business plan and use it.

Included in a business plan should be a specific marketing strategy. You know what you want to do to make money, but you must find those who will pay you to do it. This is where your marketing plan comes in. The marketing plan is a process and, just like any process, you have to start somewhere, but where? How about at the end? To get where you want to be, you have to know where you are going. So where are you going? What is your goal? Where do you want to be in five, 10, 15 or 20 years?

After establishing a goal, the next step in the marketing plan is to understand where you are at this point. What is the current state of your business? Is it a leaking rowboat or a luxury cruise ship? If you must transform that leaky rowboat into an efficient ship, then the process will take more time and be more laborious. Getting started is easier once you have an understanding of the current state of the business. Simply start with a goal. The route to the goal is what the sales and marketing plan will decide. If you have any doubt about the goal, straighten that out first.

It is extremely important to note that if you currently have no goal, you need to set one. This is the end toward which all your effort is directed. The route to the goal must be dictated by the product or service provided. Determine who needs or wants the product or service that is to be provided. Finally, determine how to “build a better mousetrap” by becoming the best in your service area.

It is important not to shortchange any step of this process. If you do, it may take longer to complete the project as you find that incomplete research simply will not suffice. You must have the tenacity to perform a documented and regimented routine to have a marketing plan that works — and that plan takes a considerable amount of work. The following steps must be taken in the development of a plan. This is not a roadmap for developing a sales and marketing plan, but a brief outline of the process.

Review and Assess

  • First, analyze the company (an objective look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the company). Review how well you actually do what you are in business to do. Analyze what you have been doing to market your products or services.
  • Review the major functions within the company and those companies that provide services to you.
  • Review the sales process, sales trends, delivery of your products or services and pricing. Look at the results for your company and how you stack up against your competition.
  • Assess the company’s market reputation.
  • Within the business and target market, make sure that the positive and negative opportunities are reviewed and assessed.

With the help of your sales staff, determine where you are targeting your sales effort. What are the markets and objectives and who are the decision makers?

Plan the strategies that position your brand to effectively dominate the market. Every company has a brand or brand name whether they know it or not. Can you accurately and precisely define your brand?

Set the target for an effective communication policy.

Establish or review and validate or change the following:

  • The product or service name;
  • The product packaging;
  • The product or service pricing;
  • The method of distribution;
  • The method of selling;
  • Promotion and event policy and planning;
  • Advertising themes and possible media to be used including Internet;
  • Merchandising methods and policies; and
  • The handling of public relations for positive and negative events.

Establish an advertising/marketing/sales budget, methods to analyze its effectiveness and the timetable for it.

Put the plan into effect.

Evaluate the plan and provide systems to monitor and, if necessary, to alter the plan.

Business is a continuous series of processes. It doesn’t matter if the process is marketing your brand or making factory production flow as efficient as possible or controlling accounts receivable. All must be managed and be part of a planned business. Having a plan and properly executing it can be the difference between success and failure.

Developing a business plan takes time, considerable thought and decisive action. Once again, it can spell the difference between success and failure. This is not a one-day exercise—it is your company.

I JUST DON’T HAVE THE TIME…

Everyone has one-hundred sixty-eight hours in a week—how come some people find the time for family, some people find the time to attend workshops, and some people find the time to run more than one business yet others work excessive hours, don’t get out and seem to just live with results that never change?

In “Minding My Own Business,” author Dirk Dieters examines with the attendee the six responsibilities of a small business owner and applies those principles to the attendee’s business. Like other authors and experts, Dieters does not list as one of those responsibilities the requirement that the owner invest all of their efforts and time in the performance of the technical tasks in the business. Your responsibility as an owner is not to do other people’s jobs but rather to lead the company. The business climate is difficult and there is only one guarantee—that the rate of change will accelerate. You have a responsibility to keep your company ahead of that curve. Are you investing the time required in this responsibility? The Fremont Group focuses you by teaching you that there is only one reason for your business to exist—to make your life better. When was the last time you made the effort to look at your business? How is your business making your life better? How is your business making your life worse? As a business owner decisions are actually very simple—we build upon the things that are making your life better and rid ourselves of the things that are making your life worse. To make you a better business owner, The Fremont Group presents the acclaimed “Minding My Own Business”™ workshops. These are customized sessions for business owners only. Attendees universally agree that they leave with not only a better understanding of their business but also with specific actions that will make an immediate difference in their company. Yet the Fremont Group salespersons often hear the objection, “I don’t have the time.”

Irrational decisions are most often the product of either fear or denial. Fear causes poor decisions; poor decisions lead to poor results. We can be afraid of many things—we can be afraid of being wrong. What if the workshop does not provide me with anything that builds upon the positives or rids us of a negative? We can be afraid of repeating a previous mistake. What will people (employees, family, etc.) think if it turns out to be another expensive venture that doesn’t really help? We can be afraid of being weak and at risk of being “talked into things.” People are already questioning my decision-making—what if this is a mistake? And we can be afraid of showing weakness. I am not going to admit that I might benefit from outside help. Companies go where the owner leads it. If it is led by fear it probably will never go where you want it to.

Some may classify denial as a form of fear, however I think that it deserves a classification of its’ own. It is a natural human trait to postpone difficult actions as long as possible. We hope that if we ignore a problem that it will go away. This is the equivalent of being hooked on drugs—we call it “hopium.” Unfortunately it sometimes works—and this just hooks us more. Hopium can paralyze. Just “hoping” that things will change can create a death spiral in a business. Rarely is the confrontation as painful as the problem itself. Things happen when we make them happen. Change takes place when issues are addressed, confronted and solved in a systematic method. If we wait and “hope” for change, we are allowing hopium to control our fate. Denial doesn’t solve problems and your employees know it. They expect to receive training and respect the fact that you seek continuous training in your job of leadership.

We all have the time—it is an allocation issue. Would attendance at the workshop help you build upon the things that are making your life better? Would it help you rid yourself of things that are making your life worse? If the answer is yes to either then choosing not to attend is not a rational decision. Allocating time to anything other than these two objectives is not going to move either your business or your life forward. So why make an irrational decision? In less than three hours you can do something that can make a difference—what else are you really going to do that could change your business and your life? Oh, I forgot—you don’t have the time.

Dirk Dieters is the owner of The Fremont Group, a small-business management coaching firm in Aurora, Colorado. Mr. Dieters has an undergraduate degree in Business Education from Michigan State University and his law degree from Detroit College of Law. He has worked in management consulting since 1995.clip_image002 The Mission Statement of The Fremont Group clearly states his objectives: “The job of The Fremont Group is to make the lives of our clients better through a knowledgeable, trustworthy, truthful, empathetic, forward-looking and focused relationship.”

Mr. Dieters played baseball at Michigan State; coached baseball at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan; has owned his own small businesses; and at various times has held real estate and series seven licenses. He is married with five children and is the author of the book “Minding My Own Business” published in 2005. He also hosts “Minding My Own Business” Workshops designed for small-business owners nation-wide. He has published articles for the Institute of Management Consultants. Visit their web site at www.the-fremont-group.com.

© The Fremont Group 2007

The Fremont Business Operating System

Attendees at a “Minding My Own Business” Workshop have been exposed to the Fremont Business Operating System.  This system is the baseline for all management consulting performed by affiliates of The Fremont Group.  It starts with a clear identification of your goals—and the goals of your spouse.  What is it that you really want from your business.  Once the reason for your business to exist is identified, a financial model of your business must be created.  What results are required in order for you to obtain your goals?  Many small business owners operate like the football coach with a game plan that reads, “if everything goes right we will only lose by a touchdown!”  That coach won’t keep his job for long and the business owner who doesn’t have a game plan designed to win the game won’t survive long either.  From the development of the financial model it can be identified (1) if the goals are obtainable; and (2) the results that must be accomplished in order to obtain the goals.  This model then becomes the cornerstone of the company.  It is the basis for organizational structure—what results are required from each position, the communication and evaluation of those results, accountability, and incentives.  It creates the profit plan and the sales plan.  It is the basis for pricing—the use of break even pricing and the establishment of pricing models.  The financial model is a road map that you modify as you make wrong turns—after all, man plans and God laughs.

Put together, FBOS is your strategic plan.  Owners who operate without it can be successful—particularly if they are lucky—but those who operate with it and diminishing their reliance upon luck.

Note–Fremont Business Operating System, FBOS and Minding My Own Business are registered trademarks of The Fremont Group

Fremont Offers Extraordinary, One-Time Discount On “Minding My Own Business Workshops”™

The Fremont Group, a non-profit corporation dedicated to bringing quality and affordable management consulting services to small business owners, is using a substantial grant to subsidize workshops for small business owners. The workshops are based upon the book, “Minding My Own Business” written by Dirk Dieters specifically for small business owners. Regularly $875.00 the workshops are being offered from July 15th through Labor Day for a Summer-Recession discounted priced of $150.00! The workshops are one-on-one sessions—just you and the professional for 2-3 hours where each aspect of your business is examined. You learn the six responsibilities of a small business owner and are able to rate yourself in each category. Additional follow-up work is also offered on a sliding scale according to ability to pay.

“Minding My Own Business Workshops”™ have been successfully presented in nearly every state. Success is defined as the owner agreeing that they are leaving with something that they can immediately use to make a difference in their business. If that standard is not met, your fee is refunded. An $875.00 fee has never been refunded.

Take some time to examine:

  1. What is the minimum, mandatory percentage of profit that your business must make? Do you have a plan in place to produce it? What is your planning process? How do you hold yourself accountable?
  2. Do you have cost controls in place that will produce that minimum, mandatory percentage of profit? How do you use your budget? (Do you even have a functional, variable budget?) How do you project your cash flow? (Or do you run your company by mailbox management?) Is there a real AR/AP policy and procedure?
  3. Are your employees responsible for the enforcement of those cost controls? How do you hold people accountable? Do you have rational incentives in place? How do you control turnover? Recruitment? Development? Training? Retention? How do you use your job descriptions?
  4. Is your sales system really working? Are sales produced by people or by a system? How do you sell internally? Do you have a sales plan in place that is designed to really win the game?
  5. Are you keeping all of the money that you make? Do you have a tax plan in place? How do you review risk management?
  6. Are you having fun? Are you the highest paid employee? Can you take time off? Does your business make your life better or worse?

All owners can benefit from this workshop. Only those who are ready to change should attend.

Summer Reading List

Some books to make your summer reading list. Sometimes you can get the most from books that are a little “outside the box.” The first two books that are recommended by our Executive Director, Dirk Dieters, won’t be found in the business section yet anyone who is involved in any type of sales (and just who isn’t?) are really studies of the decision-making process. Since they were not written as business books you have to figure out how to apply the principles to your own situation but that very fact is part of what makes them such important reads. First is a best-seller from last year that is now easily available in paperback. Blink, by Malcom Gladwell is an excellent examination of the power of first impressions. I promise you that after reading this book you will be thinking about where your customer’s first impressions come from and how to control that first impression. The second book is Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely. Anyone who doesn’t take away numbers of ideas for adjusting their sales approach is brain dead. Both are relatively easy reads and are packed with ideas.

Back in the business genre, click on the side of this page and pick up your copy of Minding My Own Business, by Dirk Dieters or go back to the classics, The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber and The Goal, by Eliyahu Goldratt. These are very practical books that present well the essence of how to run a business. Enjoy.

WHAT DO OUR CLIENTS AND TIGER WOODS HAVE IN COMMON?

No professional golfer was ever more dominate at such a young age, yet Tiger Woods went to his coach and completely re-structured his swing. That coach was no where near as good a golfer as Tiger Woods, yet the changes they made have sustained his dominance. Effective business owners understand.

The needs of small businesses are very different than the needs of large companies. Fortune 500 companies have long hired consultants to complete studies and reports. These companies are blessed with numbers of competent people capable of implementing the concepts and therefore they can use consultants to bring outside ideas to the table. Small business owners have tried consulting. Those with an immediate need that the intensive development of a “deliverable” can address have found it a worthwhile experience. Unfortunately, most owners found that although the consultants were knowledgeable, it was an expensive exercise that developed a number of procedures that the company was unable to continue to implement. Small businesses do not have the breath of management required to sustain the implementation of change. Within a year most owners would say that they would have been better off just keeping the money. What they needed was not “consulting” but “coaching.”

A coach is someone who works with you to help you achieve your full potential. The coach does not have to be an expert in your industry—you are. The coach is an “outsourced executive” who has a breath of experience in business, brings ideas to the table, provides a “sounding board” for your own ideas, and doesn’t let you fall into a comfort zone. By definition, the most effective coaching relationships are on-going, long-term relationships. The coach gets to know you, your company and your organization. They use this knowledge to systematically allow you and your organization to continually reach the “next level.” You determine where you want to go; the coach facilitates the journey.

After unfavorable consulting experiences many owners shun any sort of help. This audacity rarely benefits the owner. Tiger Woods could easily say that he is the best golfer in the world, “Why do I need help?” And if he had had a bad relationship with one coach he could say, “Coaching doesn’t work.” But any professional attempting to achieve extraordinary results needs a relationship with someone that they can trust. Someone knowledgeable who can keep them focused on their goals. The coach must be empathetic but not afraid to “call a spade a spade.” Traditional consulting experiences involve a consultant developing procedures and then “telling” the organization that they must be implemented. Coaching experiences involve the coach facilitating the organization in the discovery of their needs and in their own implementation of procedures that they develop to accomplish those results, assisting as needed.

One should not commence a long-term coaching relationship until they have met their business coach and are comfortable with them. You must allow for extra time during the commencement of the relationship for the coach to become sufficiently familiar with your operations. The coach should either be local or have a consistent travel schedule so that face-to-face meetings can be a regular part of the process. No one should be considered who has not spent some time upon your site. Lastly, don’t even consider a coach who wants to “tell you what to do” in the first day or so of a relationship. Many coaches know what has to be done by then, but it is their job to make you realize it and change it. Dictated change does not stick. Once chosen, the relationship should be flexible enough to allow you to address your ever changing circumstances.