18 Dimensions of Small Business Growth

I recently decided to formally launch a part-time small business coaching service. The activity isn’t new – I’ve been helping small businesses for a long time – but formally identifying myself as a small biz coach is new. As I was revamping my website, I wrote”Welcome. Let’s get started growing your business” prominently on the front page. I liked the sound of it – a confident, concise call to action. Call it good and move on, right? Well not so fast.. I was thinking about the phrase during a long drive home from Minneapolis last night. “Growing what?” is what […]

Risk Management: Inspiration, Motivation, Preparation

Image by Eustaquio Santimano via Flickr If you’ve been keeping score at home, you know that the risk management process has three basic steps – 1) identify risks and opportunities, 2) evaluate the risks and opportunities and 3) plan for risks and opportunities. However, there is some work that needs to happen before you get into the nuts and bolts of managing your risks. . This week let’s talk about what needs to happen before the process begins. There are some basic activities: inspiration, motivation and preparation. Over the last few months I’ve written several posts dealing with the “pre-activities”. […]

Permission to Make Mistakes

It was a lightbulb moment. A few weeks back, a friend and I were talking about  the tendency of some companies to analyze and hold meetings, hold meetings and analyze, discuss, research and discuss again without taking any action. We were interested in the root cause of the perpetual analysis (a.k.a. analysis paralysis). Was it an extreme desire for precision and perfection? Or was it a fear of making mistakes?

The Value of Risk

Image via Wikipedia In my opinion, few business people recognize that risk has a very real (and substantial) value. The lack of recognition is understandable – it’s hard to put a convincing numerical value on a risk that may or may not occur. But every now and then, an event comes along that provides a quantified glimpse of risk’s value. I was a witness to one of those rare events. Here’s the story…

Should You Go Formal or Informal?

If you’ve been keeping score at home, you’ve noticed that I’ve used the word ‘formal’ quite a bit. In fact, in one poorly worded post I suggested that “the (risk management) process doesn’t have to be formal” and got called to the carpet in a comment by Kristen. She was absolutely correct in stating that the process really does have to be formalized – meaning performed consistently and methodically – but doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or burdensome (a point I attempted, and failed, to make). . That exchange was a good example of how the word ‘formal’ can be […]

The Solution to Every Decision

Here’s a Quiz For You What do these decisions have in common? Is it wise for me to invest in new equipment for my business? Should I respond to the irate customer’s email or just let it go? Is the best route turning left, turning right or going straight? Should I have beef or chicken for dinner tonight? Should I wear the blue shirt or the green shirt today? . Give up?

Is Your Company a Sales Organization?

Image via Wikipedia If you will allow me to indulge, I want to take a step away from the uber-tight focus on risk management for a minute. I was on a tele-conference today. During the conversation I shared that my dream is for my company to evolve into a “sales organization” that does engineering services rather than an “engineering organization” that does sales. . On the other end of the call, Paul asked me what I meant. I’ve been thinking about the topic ever since and I’d like to share my thoughts with you. The distinction isn’t limited to only engineering services […]

Sexy Models of the Financial Kind

Image by lochnessjess via Flickr To be honest, I’ve debated about whether I should write about financial modeling. If you’re anything like my girlfriend Amy, the mere thought of financial modeling causes great anxiety and a profound desire to change the topic. And I’m pretty sure that a post on creating spreadsheet representations of your business may not go viral. . But the simple truth is that financial models are incredibly powerful tools and they’re not that hard to create. Models are also required to do certain types of risk evaluation (as I talk about here, here and here..) In […]

Risk’s Impact on What?

Image by Jayson Ignacio via Flickr Let’s drill down a bit into risk evaluation – step 2 in the risk management process. It’s standard practice to evaluate a risk or opportunity’s impact and rank it. You can rank the impact on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest impact. Or you can rank the impact “high”, “medium”, or “low”. Or if you’re utilizing financial models you can calculate the risk’s impact and represent it in terms of your local currency. . Seems very straight forward, right? It is, but let’s take a step back and ask […]