Roy's Blog: Leadership

May 6, 2019

The best business plan for the entrepreneur

Every entrepreneur is faced with the challenge of creating a business plan to communicate the opportunity they see for their new idea and to attract investors.

Where do they turn for guidance? Business planning templates are plentiful and can easily be found on the internet.
They are all pretty similar in content and format and generally follow “accepted principles” of academics and consulting pundits.

But I think most traditional approaches to build an effective business plan for entrepreneurs miss the mark because they don’t recognize their very unique needs.

Entrepreneurs usually have these things in common:
— they usually have limited financial resources;
— they think they have an amazing idea;
— time is not their friend; if they are unable to secure funding for their idea, their business will join the many other good ideas that fail;
— they are inexperienced when it comes to what will turn an investor on to a new investment opportunity.

A business planning process for entrepreneurs must recognize their reality; a plan for them should meet these 5 critical requirements.

Keep it simple

Long winded strategy documents may satisfy the academics’ thirst for exhaustive analysis and theoretical completeness, but it won’t enable the entrepreneur to get their idea to market very quickly.
I have seen new CEO’s spend way too much time grinding out a plan just to feed the prescribed content and format rather than produce a simple strategy that tells their story with only the relevant chapters in it.

So, toss out the parochial planning boilerplate and adopt my proven strategic game plan method that produces the right plan by answering the three critical questions necessary to launch a new business idea:
— HOW BIG do you want to be?
— WHO do you want to serve?
— HOW do you intend to COMPETE and WIN?

Minimize costs

Your strategic game plan can be created in just 3 days or less because of its simplicity. Time is not wasted on feeding the template with information you don’t require to produce a document investors will like — btw, I’ve seen potential investors roll their eyes when a budding entrepreneur tables a 50-page planning document and begins to recite SWOTS.

The strategic game plan is created in a workshop mode with the leadership team responsible for launching the new idea.
It may be the CEO alone or it may include other partners. In under 3 days your game plan is produced — with minimum paper damage to the environment — at a cost that will surprise you!

Keep the plan action oriented

You won’t produce any results if your plan is theoretically pristine and follows all the prescribed planning rules. If your game plan doesn’t drive action in the market, nothing happens; no value is created, investors won’t notice you and you will fail. It’s as simple as that.

The reason I call my product a strategic game plan is that it is totally focussed on what has to be done to “move the ball 10 yards” (pardon the analogy but it’s accurate).
It’s the appropriate balance of strategy and tactics which results in the right stuff getting done to progress your new idea.

Keep it focused

This is where the discipline of the mandatory replaces the art of the possible. You don’t achieve real progress by chasing rainbows.

The strategic game plan uses the rule of 3: focus energy and priority on the critical few (3) things that are likely to determine 80% of the outcome you intend to achieve.

Trying to achieve “the possible many” will waste your time and energy and will likely kill the success if your breakthrough idea.
Objective setting in the game plan has the rule of 3 as the filter; the process disallows scattered thinking.

It is in this area that most entrepreneurs fail in the development of their plan. They have too many things they say they have to accomplish in order to succeed. The opposite is actually true: the more you attempt, the greater the likelihood you will fail at the startup stage.

Define your uniqueness

If your idea isn’t different from all others competing with it, why should it attract interest? If it can’t be distinguished from competitive offers why would investors be convinced that it has any chance of succeeding?

THIS is the area of your business plan that needs the most attention; it’s the critical piece in answering the “HOW do you intend to COMPETE and WIN?” question.

The core concept behind this work is what I call The ONLY Statement; declaring the distinctiveness of your product or service with the audacious claim “This is the ONLY product that…”.

It is a claim that is binary: it is either true or it isn’t and it is backed up with proof points that legitimize it.
It’s founded on the notion that rather than be the best of the best, you need to be the ONLY one who does what you do.

Most entrepreneurs use words like “better”, “best”, “leader” or “number 1” in their product differentiation claim; they don’t work — no one believes these words and they can’t be proven in any event.
BE DiFFERENT; go with The ONLY.

The entrepreneur game is all about cash flow which in turn is based on how fast a new idea can reach the market and start generating revenue.

My business plan process was designed with speed, simplicity, cost effectiveness and competitive advantage in mind.

Who wouldn’t be interested in a new idea with a pitch like this?

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
How to reject a fit-in sales culture
Why are great leaders close to the people who execute?
How to prevent people from turning off and bailing out

  • Posted 5.6.19 at 04:23 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

April 26, 2019

Really simple ways leaders can empower their employees — guest post

An empowered employee is an amazing asset to an organization, and it is a manager’s/supervisor’s job to motivate and empower their employees.

75% of employees that leave their jobs say that they don’t quit the job; they quit the boss. This shows the great importance of good management. Employee retention is literally in the manager’s hand, and consequently, so is empowerment, productivity, and success.

Understanding how your employees work best and what they enjoy doing is the most important job of a leader.
Communication is the first step towards it. Instilling a culture of communication will not only help you understand your employees but it will also create a more enjoyable workplace.
Employees are empowered when they feel like their needs and expectations are met. And when people enjoy what they do, they do it better.

Listen to them

Communication is the first step towards understanding your employees and it starts with listening. By listening and understanding what your employees need to best perform their tasks, you’ll also make them feel empowered and important.

Talk to them

Expressing your expectations and your thoughts is also an important part of effective communication between leaders and employees.
As a leader, you are expected to remind everyone of the vision of the organization so they can become a part of it. At the same time, you have to keep in mind that succeeding in what you do is the end goal. 

Help employees see their purpose

When your employees see themselves as part of something bigger and as great contributors to a bigger cause they are more likely to feel motivated and empowered.

You can do that in various training methods by explaining to them their exact tasks and responsibilities.

Address any negativity

Conflict is a sickness that harms collective groups. Managing conflict and negative behavior between employees is a leaders job.

When you begin to see a negative behavior between two employees, or between another employee and yourself, the best thing is to talk about it.
Most of the times you will find that there were misunderstandings at play, and other times you will be able negotiate a solution to the problem.

Think we & us

The reason organizations have low employee retention rates is the spirit that comes from believing that everyone is on the same team.

Treating your employees as a separate entity rather than as members of the same group can create dissatisfaction among them; when you approach them with the “we & us” attitude, on the other hand, they feel more empowered and willing to make a greater contribution to the collective effort.

Own the blame but pass out the praise

Nothing bums people out more than failure. When something goes wrong, your employees might start to feel discouraged and powerless.
As a leader, your authority comes with accountability. Owning the blame can help your employees learn from their unsuccessful attempts rather than feel beat up about them.

Present new challenges and opportunities

Challenging your employees is crucial to their development and empowerment. You can do this by training them.
Your employees can gain new skills with eLearning or face to face learning. This will provide them with new skills and knowledge.

You can also give them a task they don’t usually do but one that fits their skills and/or talents. Sit down with them and ask them what they would like to do next and what they think they’re good at.

Involve employees in decision making

The best way to empower your employees is to give them the power in decision making. That will give them confidence in their job and abilities.
By doing this you tell them that you trust their abilities and ideas. This way, you’ll have a helping hand that you can delegate to and an empowered employee that is ready to do the job.

Provide growth paths

But giving them the space to grow and make decisions might not always work. Make it easier for your employees to develop by providing growth paths. Be a mentor to them and you will not fail to empower them.

Respect their boundaries

Regardless of the power you give to your employees, it will be insufficient if you don’t respect them and their boundaries.

No matter how much you want to push your employees to develop, you have to be careful to not push them to the point where this turns into a negative experience. You also have to understand what direction they want to further develop their skills so they don’t turn off and bail out.

Don’t babysit & don’t micromanage

Most people don’t like to be treated like they don’t know what they are doing; that’s just common sense. If you babysit your employees or micromanage them, you will certainly lower their confidence and make them feel incompetent.

Constant babysitting your employees disempowers them — don’t do it.

Give them flexibility

Being a leader is all about directing your team towards success. But sometimes, the best thing you can do is give your employees the flexibility they need to best perform their tasks.
Flexibility is the greatest driver of creativity; by giving them the flexibility they need, you will succeed more.

UJËBARDHA BEKOLLI is passionate about ongoing, self-motivated and self-paced learning. She writes for Kiwi LMS, which is a learning management platform that aims to help restaurant owners train their staff in easier and more effective ways including online courses for different restaurant services.

  • Posted 4.26.19 at 04:51 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

April 22, 2019

Why are great leaders close to the people who execute?

There is a HUGE misconception that remarkable leaders are separate from the common folk in an organization; that they exist in rarefied air that only the great consume.

Don’t be fooled.

Pundits push the view that distinctive leadership is extremely complicated to achieve given the knowledge silos a leader must be proficient in.

Gifted leadership is much more than being expert in the tools of the trade such as strategic business planning, risk management, organizational theory or interpersonal relations.

Yes, you have to understand the basics, but they alone will not place you in the “the chosen few” of leaders.

They are merely table stakes to be in the leadership game.

My experience is that standout leaders are special due to their common folk attributes, in particular connecting with others in a casual way with honesty and integrity.

Leaders who can “see” others; understand their needs and wants and are motivated by a strong desire to help them in any way they can.

Throughout my career I was pressed to conform to the standard leadership practices promulgated by experts who believed that if I followed traditional thinking more closely, I would be a better leader.

I refused. It didn’t make sense to me given the “in the trenches” execution challenges facing the organization to be successful.

Organizations perform well when they execute flawlessly; people performing their assigned roles brilliantly to deliver expected results.
Achieving amazing results doesn’t exist within a strategic plan or conflict management theory.

Rather than go deeper and learn more about traditional practices, I chose to go broader and add a behavioural dimension that I believed would make the difference for the organization.

My approach was simple: to listen to the people doing the work and try to find a way to help them; to make their organizational life easier.

My game plan was to build a team that was unmatched in their ability to execute.

My style was very informal and I was approachable.

I focused more of my efforts than my peers in the workplace to understand and solve the problems preventing people from doing their jobs effectively; to break down barriers and grunge that impeded effective execution.

The upside — my teams consistently punched above its weight; the downside - my personal currency took a hit because my “common folk” approach was deemed inappropriate by some old school executives.

And if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
How to prevent people from turning off and bailing out
Why gulf in class dominates the best in class
How to avoid losing it after you’ve got it

  • Posted 4.22.19 at 04:34 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

April 15, 2019

How to prevent people from turning off and bailing out

One way to think about employee engagement is to identify the new practices an organization should adopt to motivate and retain its employees; this is the normal approach promulgated by the experts in the field.

To get employees more engaged by this method typically requires an organization to select a best practice and then convince everyone to start applying it. This usually requires a lengthy implementation cycle with engagement benefits realized in the medium to long term.

Eliminate the piss-off-factors

Another approach, however, is to define the things that organizations typically do today that turn employees off (“piss-off factors” — POF’s) and drive them to look elsewhere for career opportunities.

Improving employee engagement using this approach requires leadership to demand what specific current behaviours are to STOP and to identify the benefits of cessation.

Benefits of this approach are usually realized fairly quickly (assuming the practices in question are indeed stopped) and some breathing time is earned to develop and start implementing a longer term engagement strategy that adds new programs.

The approach an organization should take depends, of course, on the levels of employee satisfaction and engagement they are currently facing.
In most cases, however, there is a sense of urgency to see short term improvement in the face of market forces challenging financial performance.

This reality suggests that the most effective approach is to launch an all-out offensive on what needs to be stopped BEFORE evaluating the new programs that should be added for longer term cultural change.

As the new president of our data and internet company, I was facing some tough POF’s that completely overwhelmed the option of exploring new practices and programs to get employees more involved and committed to our strategy.

I chose to eradicate the immediate roadblocks to engagement through what I called a “Cut the CRAP” initiative which was intended to eliminate the highest priority dis-satisfiers as quickly as possible.

Based on feedback from employees, these were the things my leadership team chose to STOP! and prevent people from turning off and bailing out.

STOP! delegating

Stop delegating communicating and selling the organization’s strategy to employees.
Don’t ask junior or middle level managers to do it. Employees need to be convinced that the strategy is right and that they have a meaningful role to play in its achievement.

As president, I made it my job to be the point person to try and convince people that our chosen path was the right one, and that there were exciting opportunities for everyone. Was it easy? Hell no! Was it painful? Hell yes!
But in the final analysis it paid off as people saw their leader answer the tough questions and take the hits necessary to convince them that the proposed path for the organization was worth going down.

STOP! expecting people to get it

Stop expecting employees to somehow understand by serendipity their role in the execution of organization’s strategic game plan.
Don’t assume they will get it.
Leadership must translate in detail what people in various functions — sales, marketing, customer service, finance — need to continue doing and what they must do differently. Without understanding, engagement is impossible.

My leadership team held workshops with every function in the organization to define the precise role each had to play to execute our strategy and to develop performance plans for every individual to make it happen.

STOP! commanding

Stop directing people what to do as a leadership style.
Stop telling and start asking… for opinions, advice, suggestions and help instead of shoving instructions down people’s throats.
Why would anyone be engagement-minded if they have zero freedom to express themselves in their job?

I was satisfied that my leadership team was on the “serving page” but felt we had work to do at particularly the frontline supervisor level. We held one-day Servant Leadership workshops with all supervisors to reinforce the expected behaviours.

STOP! using social

Stop sending email and using social media tools as the primary way to communicate with employees.
Stop one-way talks and start active two-way conversations through face-to-face real time engagement. Employees need to ask questions and get immediate feedback if they are to actively support the organization’s goals and objectives.

We declared a policy to management to cease email communications as a vehicle to disseminate information on strategy and to schedule regular face to face meetings with their employees to discuss the direction of the organization and how they felt about it.

STOP! being predictable

Stop doing everything “by the book”; preventing people from stepping out and showing some creativity. Start having fun.
Introduce levity and informality.
Allow people to break the rules to stimulate innovation. Surprise people — introduce “The Greatest Risk Taker Award”.

We introduced the notion of “Dumb Rules” to our values statement and declared that rules, policies and procedures that made no sense to customers and employees would be changed or outright killed.
And we held the management team accountable to do it.
Monthly Dumb Rules contests were held to recognize the person or team (with their manager) who killed the dumbest rule. A workplace party was held for the winner and fun was the word of the day.

STOP! thinking they will fall in line

Stop expecting people to align with the values of the organization.
Today’s workforce is not a homogeneous mix of ethnic backgrounds and life values; it’s a mosaic of heterogeneous cultures and expectations.
Stop thinking everyone will support your efforts; you have to earn it by recognizing and addressing the reality of diversity.

Our teams varied considerably and we chose to communicate our actions in a way that reflected the divergent value sets of our employees. This required detailed background research work but it paid off in the end.

STOP! playing favorites

Stop favouring any particular group.
Stop treating specific functions as “the chosen ones” in terms of the critical skills they possess or the strategic value they represent.
Marketing may be a vital element of your strategic game plan, for example, but constantly putting them on a pedestal will only alienate others to the detriment of universal engagement.

We treated my entire organization — over 2,000 people — as one team. There were no favourites. Each was expected to contribute equally to our strategic goals.

STOP! thinking small things are small

Stop ignoring the little things.
Stop thinking that a small act that doesn’t align with motivating employee engagement is no big big deal and will slide by unnoticed. It won’t. People always connect the dots and burn you when your words and music don’t match.

We included this issue in the employee surveys we conducted regularly, and discovered initially there were valid criticisms which, thankfully, decreased substantially over time as we made “what we say and what we do” a critical priority.

STOP! playing ping-pong

Stop flavour of the month change. Stop jumping from one tactic to another. It’s disingenuous and will convince employees that you are not committed to the course of action you have chosen.
Stay your course and tweak it only when you are hit by an unexpected negative event, not simply because you had another brainwave.

Our action plan was to knock off each POF with the top 3 leading the way. We didn’t vary the plan. Employees believed we were emotionally invested in a solution set that would improve things for them — and for us with higher levels of engagement.

STOP! the we-they

Stop separating the leaders from the workers. Stop the “us vs them” treatment in the workplace. How can people be willing to engage more if they don’t feel important and valued?
As long as they consider leadership team as the elitist group with special privileges they won’t change and engage more. Their suspicions that upper management isn’t prepared to work along with them will be confirmed; no progress is made.

As president of an organization that was geographically dispersed, I had a number of offices which I did NOT locate on the top floor with other executives (I took some heat from my peers for this). I tried to have each office in a building location that would increase my availability to people and made it known they were welcome to drop in unannounced if they so desired.
It took a while, but eventually people believed me and took advantage of the opportunity to meet and chat — since I spent most of my time in the workplace doing my “LBSA”, my office became a secondary focal point in any event.

Preventing disengagement by addressing POF’s as the first priority WILL result in more engagement.

It plays to what people expect of their leadership — first, listening to what upsets employees, and second, doing something about it.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

Recent articles you might like
Why gulf in class dominates the best in class
How to avoid losing it after you’ve got it
What to do when you’re stuck

  • Posted 4.15.19 at 04:40 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink