How to Make Better Business Decisions

How to Make Better Business Decisions

How to make better decisions

A repeatable way to make better business decisions.

Do you have a systematic “process” for making better business decisions?

I built a tool to help organizations, first for the company I was at, then more broadly for clients, to gain deeper clarity into diverse perspectives, better understand and articulate your own point of view, and when combined with a healthy dialogue, surface better solutions to whatever challenge your company faces.

Use it, change it, and share it if you like, but please give me feedback so we can continue to make it better.

I currently use a combination of a website form, Google Sheets, and some Zapier magic to organize the responses, but you could use other tools to get it done – even a pen and paper! 

If you’d like a PDF version of the questions, let us know where to send it. 

A Post About How to Make Better Business Decisions

My form is organized into five sections with questions clustered around topics to stimulate responses that might otherwise go unexplored and help you make better business decisions.

Section 1

Decide what you are hoping to make a better business decision about.

Question:

What is the decision you are considering?

Section 2

What are you trying to accomplish or avoid with this decision?

Questions:

  1. What are we trying to accomplish?
  2. What is the primary reason for doing this?
  3. What outcome are we trying to get by doing this?
  4. Is there a phase or time where this decision will be more or less needed? Does it need to happen now? 

Section 3

How does this decision align with our mission, objectives, and KPIs?

Questions:

  1. How does this align with our mission long term?
  2. How does this align with our objectives over the next quarter?
  3. How does this align with our objectives over the next year?
  4. Why should we do this?
  5. What opportunities do we create by doing this?
  6. How is this good for our company?
  7. What results would this decision achieve to cause us to look back a year from now with hell yes! appreciation?  

If you’d like a PDF version of the questions, let us know where to send it. 

Section 4

What risks are we exposing ourselves too? The idea here is to play devil’s advocate even if you are in favor of the decision. What could go wrong if it doesn’t go right?

Questions:

  1. How could this decision harm us?
  2. What are the risks you’ve identified with this decision?
  3. What are the risks you’ve identified with this decision?
  4. What are other areas of our business could this impact?
  5. What would happen if we didn’t do this?

Section 5

Anything Else? An open question for anything not covered in the other sections.

Questions:

  1. Anything else you’d like to say or ask about the decision?
  2. Who else should answer these questions on this decision?

 

Conclusion

This is what I’ve used to help my companies and coaching clients make better decisions. What do you think? Is this a format you would use? If not, how can we make it better?

 

If you have a WordPress website (or want one) check out our WordPress Website Management service. We can do thing like turn these questions into a form on your website that automatically gets emailed to all the people you want to have it!

Not only is it a great way to stay focused on your business, our team will keep your website updated and running fast and secure.

If you’d like a PDF version of the questions, let us know where to send it. 

NAVIGATING COVID-19 & OTHER BUSINESS CHALLENGES

NAVIGATING COVID-19 & OTHER BUSINESS CHALLENGES

Where Are You Going?

Navigating COVID-19 & Other Business Challenges

 

Part 1

 

Introduction

As I’ve counseled, coached, and consulted with local businesses, there’s a common challenge that many of them face, mostly without realizing it: They haven’t clarified why they are in business and what they are trying to accomplish.

I’m not an advocate of “corporate” mission statements and other lip service declarations, but I do believe in developing a clear sense of Why, Who, What, and How for your company.

“When Values Are Clear, Decisions Are Easy”

Once you’ve identified your reasons for being in existence, decide on a goal to point your company at each year (or quarter, or some other reasonable cadence). After creating a defined and aligned objective, the last step is to determine how you’ll measure success.

I’ll share a condensed version of what I’ve learned and read about into simple principles you can start with, as well as a recommended reading list at the end of the post.

“Action to be effective must be directed to clearly conceived ends.”

Why?

A useful “mission” statement is simply a declaration of why you are in business and what you hope to accomplish, stated consistently with your company culture & communications. The simpler, the better. Your “Why” is the basis for everything your business will do. If you don’t have a mission yet – stated or otherwise, get started. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it can change, but if you don’t know why you are doing what you are doing – how will you know if your actions are effective?

Here’s a few “why” prompts to get you started:

  • Why are you in business?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What change are you trying to make?
  • What problems are you trying to solve?

Who?

Once you’ve got an idea of Why you are in business, who is your company intended to serve? Who are your customers? If your instinct is to say “anyone who will pay” you are not alone, and sometimes we have to do what we have to do to survive. However, it’s not a sustainable strategy for your business. Part of deciding who you serve – is to determine who you will not serve. Creating a “customer experience” is only possible if you know who that person is and how they’d prefer to interact with your company.

Here’s a few “who’s your customer” prompts to get started:

  • Who are your favorite customers to work with
  • Who are your most profitable customers
  • What customers refer you to other customers
  • Who are your repeat customers

 

To Be Continued…

Part 2 will continue our journey into better defining what we do and how we do it – followed by a deeper dive into aligning and defining organizational focus to make progress on your mission.

“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

Part 1 Reading

  1. Start With Why – Simon Sinek
  2. Find Your Why – Simon Sinek, David Mead, & Peter Docker
  3. Clockwork – by Mike Michalowicz
  4. The On Purpose Business – Kevin W. McCarthy
Recent Project: Website for Asset Manager WestEnd Advisors

Recent Project: Website for Asset Manager WestEnd Advisors

New Website for RIA WestEnd Advisors

This is the logo for the website for RIA WestEnd AdvisorsWestEnd Advisors is an RIA in North Carolina specializing in top down macroeconomic investing. Due to the scope of work, we partnered with Ulicny Financial Communications and Strategy to revamp their old website and brand messaging.

How we Helped

There are lots of firms that design websites – some even specialize in investment manager, mutual funds, and financial advisors. Ulicny’s has deep experience in financial marketing and we posses unique insight into the investment industry. Because of our collaboration, we were able to distill WestEnd’s particular style and philosophy into meaningful messaging for each of their client verticals.

The first part of the project was to work on their brand messaging. The goal was to position the firm’s unique attributes in a way that would be attractive to the broker / dealers and Wirehouses that are their customers. Especially relevant, was the need to make a strong case to the gatekeepers at the parent firms as well as the advisors that would be allocating client assets. It was an interesting challenge to make the material sophisticated enough to gain acceptance while remaining accessible to the rank and file.

With the messaging in place, the next phase was to refresh the website. First of all, we created custom graphics and layouts that emphasized the data driven focus of the firm. Because of their multi layered strategy it required several iterations to distill into digestible nuggets, but we got it done. As a result, we kept the structure of the site simple and easy to navigate, while still being informative.

In conclusion, the success of any project is a direct result of the caliber of the parties involved. Our team of vendors, along with the clients, collaborated across thousands of miles to achieve the goals.

Websites for RIAs and Asset Managers

If you’d like to get better results from your website, digital marketing, and print communications maybe you should contact us? You’d be hard pressed to find a team better suited to grow your AUM while efficiently serving existing clients. Most of all, we love a challenge!

 

3 Lessons from a 209% Successful Kickstarter Project

3 Lessons from a 209% Successful Kickstarter Project

Kickstarter is Awesome, But Not Miraculous

If you have a product you want to sell, Kickstarter is a great place to start. Maybe you need funds for the initial production run, or maybe you just want to test your concept – either way it’s a great platform. There are lots of posts and books about how to run a successful Kickstarter project, but after doubling our targeted goal for SnapLaces we did a few things a bit different than what others have recommended. Obviously every project is unique, but some of the principals we used should still be valuable.

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3 Simple Lessons for A Successful Kickstarter Project

  1. First and foremost, we worked our asses off. Running a campaign is more than a full time job, and even with people splitting the work there was still a lot to get done.
  2. We didn’t discount our product. Kickstarter is the one time in a products lifecycle where people might be willing to pay more just to help you out. Don’t make the mistake of discounting just to get backers. Most people underestimate what it will take to get a product to market, and even if you don’t, unexpected things can crop up.
  3. We contacted everyone that backed us. Literally everyone. Their responses to our questions ultimately led to valuable insights and shaped both the tone of our campaign and the direction of our company.

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A Successful Kickstarter Project is A LOT of Work

The amount of work a successful Kickstarter project requires is probably the biggest reason for failure. Having successfully managed a campaign and backed several others that were not successful, I can confidently state that there is a high correlation between the effort and result. The ones that didn’t interact with backers or actively engage, didn’t meet their funding goals.

We Didn’t Discount Our Product

Many Kickstarter projects offer discounts on the product being funded. We felt like that was a bad idea, especially at the under $50 price point we were in. We knew that we’d need over 1000 backers to be successful and lowering an already small price point would add to that number. More importantly the purpose of the campaign was to raise funds to pay for a new plastic injection mold, so we reasoned that backers would be preordering our product and helping us bootstrap the effort.

One thing we did do was offer a significant discount to a limit number of early backers to gain momentum. Your first week on Kickstarter is crucial because new projects are featured and people are much more likely to discover them. The “early adopter” reward allowed us to get the required momentum to become one on the top  projects on Kickstarter which led to additional backers, but the limit made sure that we weren’t sacrificing our overall funding objectives.

Communication is Key

Prior to launching we studied other successful projects and one data point stuck out. Successful projects updated an average of 1.8 times PER DAY! This is where the bulk of the work came in. In addition to sending messages to every backer and responding to their questions, we tried to post 2-3 times every day on Kickstarter, as well as maintaining an active social media presence (active as in cultivating relationships, not just carpet bombing posts) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Communication is the key to success on Kickstarter.

Engage and communicate relevant information to people who have helped you (or would likely help you if only they knew you existed) is the most reliable way to have a successful Kickstarter project.

What Now?

The next project will definitely be better run and more organized, but if we can save you some time and misery by sharing than it will have been worth the time invested in reading.

As always, if you have a question or comment – just ask!

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