All posts by ANDY

Tips for creating a business improvement pitch

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Presenting a new concept that you or a small team created to help the business improve is incredibly exciting, nerve wracking, as well as potentially risky. Consider these tips to have success when pitching a business improvement concept: have a solid idea, test the idea around the organization, have a pilot program success, and build internal support. Entrepreneurs inside companies are a key component of a company’s success.

Here are six tips for creating a business improvement pitch:

  1. Clearly define the problem from the customer’s perspective. The very first and usually most difficult step to an internal business improvement idea is to determine what the problem is or is not. Rather than looking at problems inside the company, take a perspective of the company’s customers and identify problems that customers see with your products, services, or both. In other words, define the problem from the customer’s perspective. This customer-driven perspective can be supplemented with customer survey material, customer comments, and trade/industry journal assessments presents a powerful and external perspective to define the problem.

  2. Research what competitors are doing. The next step after a clear problem identification emerges is to determine what competitors, both direct and indirect, are doing to help solve and/or mitigate this problem for your customers. Are new products emerging for your customers to help them solve the problems that your products cannot solve? In addition, pay close attention to indirect competitors because they may be able to bring a concept or a solution from another industry that will quickly disrupt your current business and they may steal your customers.

  3. What are the financial effects if this problem is not fixed. Using information from customers and observations from competitors, what are the potential financial, customer, and other impacts to the company? Will the company lose revenue and at what rate over time? Will a new product under design be obsolete when it is released? Will a smaller competitor enter and take your most profitable customers? Calculating financial effects is difficult so presenting executives with a best case, moderate case, and worst-case modeling of the financial effects with the accompanying assumptions is better than presenting a single number.

  4. What are three ways this problem could be mitigated or solved? Determine three ways that a business problem can be solved is a business planning step that demonstrates great insight into how the company operates, what customers will need, and what the competition will or will not do to compete. Again, as with the financial model, each potential solution must show the cost on an ongoing basis, any startup costs, and then demonstrate how it will improve the product, the customer experience, and have positive financial effects for the company. Developing three independent solutions demonstrates that multiple solutions exist for the business problem and it will achieve the effects required for the success of the company.

  5. How can the potential solution(s) be tested to ensure they work? We all love President Ronald Reagan’s quote of, “Trust, But Verify.” The exact same goes for testing a business improvement idea – never assume that a solution will work as intended without testing, refinement, internal feedback, and customer feedback. Testing a potential solution also validates the financial cost of the improvement, confirms how much of the problem was resolved, and gathers customer feedback on the improvement. Most importantly, there must be well defined, recorded, and independent performance measures that can evaluate the performance of each pilot performed. No one should have to guess which pilot was the most successful. A project that has not validated costs, the problem resolution performance, and what customers think of the solution will have a very difficult time going forward without testing.

  6. What is necessary to get started? Finally, what will the full costs be to the company, what is the startup plan, do employees need to be trained or hired to fully implement the business improvement idea. This plan is vital to have completed because the worst case is that your problem definition, solution, and financial resolution is accepted and then you have no implementation plan. Implementation plans must have ongoing performance measures to follow to ensure that the business improvement project is successful on a long and a short term.

Source: Legion News

10 ways to recharge your career while on vacation

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

Recharging yourself and your career on vacation seems like the last thing that you should do. After all, it is a vacation so you should forget about work, commutes, your boss, and that project that is always behind schedule. In fact, the best thing that you can do for your career while on vacation is to do a number of little things to aid in your success.

  1. Plan Your Return. Plan to return from vacation on a Thursday. This way you can unpack, do laundry, run errands, and update your email box on Friday and the weekend. One of the ways vacations do not recharge your career is that you return from vacation and go immediately into the office. Instead, plan your return from vacation as thoroughly as you plan your vacation.

  2. Balance the Schedule. Balance your vacation daily schedule with time for family, spouse, and just for yourself. Even family members need some of their own alone time so a plan that meets everyone’s individual needs will be more than appreciated.

  3. Have a Day or Two With No Plans. Sometimes the best plan when you are in a new area is just to have no plan at all. Walk the streets, find a park, a new coffee shop, and just be open to exploring and finding unexpected views.

  4. Just Sit By Yourself Outside. Just being alone, even for 30 minutes, will help relax and recharge your spirit. Being alone with no people, no phones, or distractions will be its own reward.

  5. Plan Some Exercise. Plan to be active on vacation – at least a little bit. Exercise can be hiking, golf, yoga in the woods, or swimming. Some exercise on vacation will calm your mind, encourage thoughts, and help maintain your health.

  6. Put Adventure On The Menu. Just like reading, eating something completely new will also open you to new experiences and different tastes that will open you to change and new ideas.

  7. Put Down the Phone for a Day. Spend the day focused on activities, your family, and relaxation and leave the phone behind. Start with the morning or afternoon and then work up to an entire day with no phone, email, or text messages.

  8. Read Something Completely Different. To help your mind recharge, don’t read a business book, read something completely different. Read a book on ballet, on astronomy, or on a civil rights leader. Understanding different perspectives and different ways to think will help your creativity when you return to work.

  9. Sleep. Vacation seems like a time that we need to do . . . more. Stay up late, see friends, have a long dinner at a beachside restaurant. All of these items are important, but plan to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

  10. Update Your Resume. After you have had a chance to relax, dedicate 30 minutes to update your resume. Set a timer and do the best updates you can. You will be surprised how much can be done in 30 minutes.

Having a vacation to recharge your career is a vacation that opens you to time with yourself, new perspectives, new food items, sleep, exercise, and appreciated the unexpected. Have a great trip.

Source: Legion News