Validate Your Idea Before Full Development

Soon after Entrepreneurs have ideas, they tend to forge ahead on product or service development at full speed. Is this always a wise course of action? Bias for action is a commendable attitude, but it needs to tempered with reality.

It is essential to obtain validation from potential customers or users before proceeding too far down the path of product or service development.

Regardless of how brilliant the idea, it is ultimately the customer that will decide if it going to be accepted. If the customer does not buy the product or service, there is no long-term value in the idea. Asking potential users about the idea and its potential features is a great way to validate its further development. Customers might even have thoughts and features that the Entrepreneur might not have considered.

There is always the argument that for a revolutionary idea the potential customer might not even be aware of the need, and it is the task of the developer to educate the users. There is merit in this argument; however, it doesn’t hurt to obtain some initial validation of the feasibility of the idea from potential customers.

A solid product or service development process should require some form of meaningful validation from potential users prior to going too far down the path of detailed design. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

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Do You Know Your Weaknesses?

Knowing your weaknesses and doing something about eliminating or mitigating them is actually a strength.

As a part of the strategic planning process, it is essential for Entrepreneurs  to do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on their business and develop strategies for each area.

How do you find out your weaknesses?

Entrepreneurs can do an honest assessment and perform an in-depth, critical review. They could involve the management team in this process and have them openly, without fear of recrimination, list each area of weakness in the business. Have each manager of a functional area review not only his/her own area, but also other functions in the company.

Entrepreneurs could also solicit frank feedback from the Board of Directors and mentors regarding the areas that need improvement. Such feedback is more likely to be objective depending upon the relationship with the Entrepreneur.

The truest assessment of your weaknesses will come from competitors if you can obtain such information. Competitors analyze the business of their rivals very carefully to develop strategies to compete not only against their strengths but also to exploit their weaknesses. If you can find a way to gain analysis of your weaknesses performed by your competitors, it would be very useful in your strategic planning process.

Something to ponder ….

Ravi Patel

Published in: on March 12, 2019 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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When to Let Go

“Don’t let go too soon and don’t hang on too long.” – Mitch Albom. Quite useful advice for Entrepreneurs.

It is always a delicate balance as to when an Entrepreneur needs to let go and delegate responsibility of his/her business to someone else. If one leaves too early, the Mission and Vision might remain unaccomplished. On the other hand, hanging on too long might jeopardize long-term success.

Leaving the business to pursue other ventures is all dependent on to whom the Entrepreneur is relinquishing control. If the Entrepreneur has built up a strong leadership team and a solid foundation to accomplish the Mission, delegating responsibility to run the business to a competent CEO is prudent. However, if the leadership team and the new CEO are not seasoned and well-developed, the Entrepreneur risks a lot by leaving too soon.

Hanging on too long can be an issue also. If the business has grown beyond the capability of the Entrepreneur to successfully run it, it might be damaging to hang on to power. A new CEO is then necessary. Alternatively, if the Entrepreneur has recruited a solid leadership team and a likely CEO and trained them, hanging on will be demotivating to the capable successor CEO and the  team as they cannot show off their potential.

If Entrepreneurs run the business on their  own without a secondary leadership team and want to continue doing so, they do not face the question of leaving too early or hanging on. But is that continued retention of control achieving the Mission and Vision of the business?

Ravi Patel

Published in: on February 5, 2019 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Are You Prepared?

Boy Scouts used to have a motto – “Be Prepared.” The idea was to teach the scouts to always be prepared for almost any situation.

Should Entrepreneurs adopt that motto in their businesses?

Develop a philosophy to always be prepared for foreseen and, hopefully, some unknown situations. Does your company wait until absolutely necessary to prepare for financial year-end, tax returns, regulatory or customer audits, quarterly returns, and so on?

If so, you are not prepared. Being prepared for these situations allows you to analyze problems beforehand and fix them ahead of the deadlines. There is less stress on your personnel and of course the Entrepreneur.

Implement a system of preparing for known events ahead of time so you are prepared. Having that type of discipline may allow you to also be ready for unforeseen situations.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on January 15, 2019 at 4:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Starting the New Year

As you start the New Year, it is time to perform a “Balance Sheet Review” of your business; not in the accounting sense, but philosophically similar.

Entrepreneurs should evaluate their “assets” in the business – products/services, people, customers, vendors, processes, and so on. These should establish the strengths of your business to either build upon or further improve in 2019.

A determination of your “liabilities” will give you an idea of the weaknesses that need to be focused on in 2019. These “liabilities” need to be mitigated or converted to “assets” so that you can utilize them for success during the year.

By performing a “Balance Sheet Review,” Entrepreneurs can set their priorities and goals for 2019 – a new beginning!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on January 2, 2019 at 4:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Improve from Status Quo

The normal convention is that if things are not broken, do not fix them. Well, challenge the norm! Entrepreneurs are good at doing that for new ideas.

If things are not broken, they are also status quo. Things that are stagnant are not necessarily desirable. Seek ways to improve the status quo. Find different ways of doing things to make them better.

In an environment when things are slow, review things that are not broken with an eye to make them better. It may serve you well when the economy picks up and you might not have time to review your operations.

Ravi Patel

Create a Playbook for your Business

The football season is here. It is hard to miss the coaches on the sidelines with color-coded sheets of possible plays to be called for that game. The head coach with all the assistant coaches spend hours prior to the game analyzing their competitor’s game, strengths and weaknesses, strategies and so on and blend it with their own team’s core competencies to create a game-plan for winning. Disciplined coaches with a good playbook are generally winners.

Entrepreneurs, do you have similar “playbook” for major strategic actions to be used against, in or with competitors, marketplace, economy, opportunities, employees and so on? Have you worked with your key leadership team to develop such a playbook?

Winning on the field, similar to the marketplace, requires a lot of planning, analysis, strategizing to come up with the ideal game-plan for success. A playbook for winning a football game is similar to one required for succeeding in business.

Create a playbook for your business and ensure that you call the right play for the situation. Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

Published in: on September 18, 2018 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Viewing “Labor Costs” in Business

Post Labor Day, a question for Entrepreneurs – how do you view your labor costs (employees)?

Are they a cost of doing business for you as they decrease your bottom line? When cutting expenses, is that the first thing you think of reducing?

For large labor intensive operations, this might be the case. However, Entrepreneurs might want to view this differently.

If you train your people properly and motivate them adequately, your employees could actually improve your bottom line by increasing revenues, improving productivity or even reducing costs.. View your employees as assets – invest in them to get better results.

It takes a different mindset to get the best out of your people. If you think of them as labor and an expense, then chances are that you don’t always get the most out of them.

Do the Right Things! Invest in your people and help them add to your bottom line.

Ravi Patel

Published in: on September 5, 2018 at 4:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Create a Strong Foundation

Watching a tree sway with the gusty winds brings forth a business analogy.

To survive strong winds, a tall, growing tree needs to have a strong foundation (deep roots) combined with the flexibility to sway with the gusts instead of being rigid.

Similarly Entrepreneurs need to build a solid foundation to combat competition, market and regulatory forces and changing economic environment. Absent a solid foundation a business might not be able to grow significantly. It would be akin to building a castle on sand.

What are some of the key ingredients to build a strong foundation? It starts with a system to deliver quality products and services repeatedly and consistently. In order to do that one needs a competent and dedicated team of employees and management utilizing robust business processes and procedures. A superior customer service mentality coupled with continuous innovation and improvement adds to the mix.

Just as a tree cannot remain rigid to survive gusty winds, a company must be nimble and flexible to adapt to the changing environment and customer needs to grow the business.

With such a foundation and flexibility not only survival but also significant growth is possible. Have you created a solid foundation for growth?

Ravi Patel

Invest in the Right Things

Businesses require investments. Entrepreneurs are aware of the capital necessary to start a business – whether it is for working capital, machinery, equipment, or so on.

As the business grows more investment might be needed. Are Entrepreneurs investing in the right things? If Entrepreneurs only think of investment in material things, it might be short-sighted.

Long term success requires investment also in softer areas of the business. For example, in order to have consistent results it is necessary to invest in developing robust business processes (not necessarily computer systems). This takes time and resources, but it is a wise investment.

Entrepreneurs need to make similar investment in their people. Identify the key potential people in your organization and invest in them. Urge them to improve their skills, train them in functional areas, and take a risk by giving them projects and assignments that challenge them. Investing in your people, just like other assets, will pay off in the long term.

Entrepreneurs need to identify all areas of their business to determine if they have invested wisely in such areas to generate superior returns.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on August 7, 2018 at 4:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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