Good Business Traction – Get it and Keep it
Get good Business traction, it’s the most valuable commodity a company can have.
This article delivers a straightforward framework for gaining and maintaining the traction you want in your company. It takes consistent traction to transform your business into a great company. It’s that simple, yet at the same time it’s that elusive.
Let’s start by looking at the prevailing conventional wisdom. “When you go into business you have to put in long hours and work hard.” There is absolutely no denying that there’s truth to that statement. On the other hand the cold hard statistics tell us that the majority of people – even the ones who take the advice to heart – don’t actually wind up achieving the level of success they want.
There is more to it than hard work. Let’s look into some more conventional wisdom. “Work smarter not harder” and “work on your business not in your business.” Both those statements appear to hold some potential, but in the real-world they don’t deliver practical solutions for hard working business-people. They sound good, but now what?
Nobody wants to keep spinning their wheels and dig themselves into a hole, but sometimes being in business can feel like this. The harder you work, the more effort you put in, the less free time you have and the tighter your cashflow can get.
Effort doesn’t always equal results in business. Your situation may not be as troublesome as the one described above, but if you’re having difficulty moving your company forward you need to figure out how to get some good traction.
TRaction = Towards Results action
This definition above provides a logical starting point which is – what are the results you actually want? Then TRaction can then be evaluated by how well it moves you towards the results you really want.
Be careful what you wish for. “I want more sales” is by far the most common answer, but let’s look at it from a different perspective. How long do you plan on being in business: five, ten, fifteen, twenty years or more? Is twenty-five or a hundred thousand dollars worth of fresh new business landing on your desk tomorrow going to make a substantial difference?
Granted it will make a impact, but how long will the effect last? If you’re like most business-people – when you stand back and think about it – you realize the result you really want is a consistently profitable company that runs smoothly.
You achieve this by solving problems and not by dancing with symptoms. Problems cause symptoms, it’s a cause and effect relationship. When you address symptoms the result you get is the opportunity to do it over again somewhere down the road. Symptoms recur, they happen over and over again until the problem is solved. Typical business symptoms are poor growth, inconsistent quality, low sales, cashflow pressures, unmotivated employees, production challenges, and variety of other things.
There is another perspective on this. Consider that you don’t own a business. Look at it this way: if your customers can give you their business and even take their business elsewhere then realistically, how can you own it? When you think about yourself as the owner of a company that does business with a market then the genuine problems you need to solve start to appear on your radar.
Traction Comes From a New Relationship With Problems
Problems aren’t bad, they just are what they are. You need build some good Business Traction and work on them. It’s part of the package when you own a company. Contact us if you’d like some help getting started.
The problems that you need to solve, and solve well are typically these five:
- All companies should be designed to profitably deliver value. There needs to be enough customers ready to pay high enough prices for the value you offer so your company can operate profitably. If you can’t solve this one the rest of the problems don’t matter. Adjusting your company’s value to dial in on profitable business opportunities is a learned skill. Even in difficult industries/markets there are companies earning good profits.
- Developing a marketing plan that earns a strong ROI and effectively competes to get your share of the market. Activity is the key; marketing is a contact sport.
Tuning the business model to consistently generate profits. This complex solution involves Pricing, Profit Centers, Gross Margins, Overhead Cost Centers and Net Profit. (Profit is calculated after you’re compensated fairly for the work you’re doing.) Strong Financial Information Systems are vital for finding this solution and ensuring that it continues to perform as expected. There’s no doubt about it, business is a numbers game and when you’re playing to win you need good information.
- Getting all aspects of the company to operate smoothly and efficiently. The level of difficulty increases as the company grows. A process for creating accountability and developing responsibility in your employees is part of the solution. Without a doubt developing and documenting systems makes this easier.
- Developing problem solving mindset complete with a process that frames and tackles genuine problems. More about this below.
Working the Five Problems
A Little Business Traction Goes a Long Way!
A consistent approach will get the results you want. Try this four step process that cycles – typically on a weekly basis. The idea is to keep working it until the solutions are effectively implemented. The ‘magic’ in the process comes from the way it breaks challenges down into manageable steps. Good business traction applied over a period of time solves even the most difficult problems.
- Assess and Frame
- Realize the Results you Want
- Realize the Options you Have
Use the process to focus on ONE of the five problems at a time. In your first pass through: assess your current situation and effectively frame the problem. Next, be clear about the results you want when the problem has been solved. The third step is interesting. It’s like brainstorming. Create an ‘inventory’ of ways to approach and solve the problem. Anything goes and every idea is recorded, but you don’t have to commit to any of them until the next step. In the fourth step the ‘inventory’ is reviewed and some items are selected for action. The key here is that the TRaction items need to be steps that can realistically completed within a week – bite sized pieces of traction.
Success comes from maintaining a consistent schedule. Weekly is normally a good frequency. It’s difficult to run the process as a solitary individual. If there are people in your company who will be involved in the solution then have them attend the regularly scheduled meetings. If you’re a solopreneur then try a peer group, advisor, mentor or coach and meet with a regular schedule. They key to success is to commit to achieving the results over the long term – even if path is not clear yet.
Everyone should leave each meeting with items on their TRaction Plan for the week.
The second week and every week after that has some minor adjustments to the process. The meeting still starts with assess, but now it’s everyone’s TRaction Plans from the previous week that are reported on and assessed. Next re-confirm the desired results, then review your inventory of options – discuss and add to it as appropriate. Then select the best next steps and create new TRaction Plans for the following week.
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.
Once you get good at running the process it becomes possible to predict how many meetings – with the appropriate people – it will take to get the results you want. Perhaps increasing the sales and margins of a product line will take 12 meetings spaced one week apart.
You don’t have to have everything mapped out at the beginning. Trust the process. When the problems are challenging getting good business traction can take a bit of time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Here’s a couple of million dollar questions that help as you work towards the results.
If I don’t know the solution, then who do I know that does? Then go talk to them. You can drill into this even further by asking: if I don’t know anyone who does know, then who do I know who does know somebody who does know. You get the idea: there is a solution and at times your TRaction Plans should revolve around finding better options.
If I knew the solution, what would I know? This is an interesting question that gets you and your team thinking about what the makeup of the solution is like. This question can spark new lines of thinking.
Where Will the Time Come From?
This is the classic question. The answer is this: to get good business traction sometimes you need to do a bit extra. It may be time to put on the chains.
When you’re doing business flat out it can be difficult to find the time. When you work through it you’ll find that it’s easier to hold regular meetings and find advisors when you’ve already built a strong profitable company.
The work is what the work is. The problems rarely solve themselves on their own. Why not be proactive and build your company your way?
Imagine having solved the five problems. What will your company and life be like in 2020?
Start today and get good business traction!
Written by John Cameron – Rock Solid Business Coach
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