There are several posts on this website about the definition of a company vision and elements that go into developing one. A question on my mind recently is how to develop a vision for a company that is honoring to the Lord. Here’s a couple of thoughts that came to me based on scripture reading and prayer.

How do we build companies so that they are consistent with the designs of God for our lives?

In general, we humans are much more attuned to this world and its norms, customs and culture, so we end up building our businesses based on them, not on God’s designs.

For example, take the food industry. We use seed that have been genetically modified, grown on factory-farms prevalent with pesticides, transported thousands of miles, which is resource intensive, further modified and processed in plants, and packaged in material, much of which does not get recycled but ends up in landfills. This industrialized system has evolved since the 1940’s to give us most of our food that we eat today. It is largely unsustainable given the resources it consumes. Do we think this is in keeping with God’s design for how we get our food? I don’t think so.

Think of your industry. From scriptural study and prayer, what do you think is He telling you about the designs for how business is done in your industry. What is His vision for your company that is in keeping with His designs for how business should be done in your industry?

How do we adjust our business to God’s standard rather than adjusting God’s standard to our business.

I have found that if I do not stay consistent in my reading and study of scripture, I end up compromising God’s standards for how I should live my life and run my businesses and I don’t even realize it.  It is very easy to drift and allow this world to distract us from God’s standards. .

Think of your industry. From scriptural study and prayer, what would be God’s standard for how business should be done in your industry? What is His vision for your company that is in keeping with His standards for how business should be done?

What is God’s view of leadership and greatness versus the world’s view of leadership and greatness?

Think of your industry. From scriptural study and prayer, what do you think is His vision for your company is that is in keeping with His view of leadership and greatness?

I gave a 1 hour workshop at a conference on this subject.  The course outline and notes and the classroom-style video presentation are included below.

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This spreadsheet tool assists with forecasting at a much deeper level than some of the other models I have provided (here and here).  It incorporates many different elements, but the crux is using history to help determine product movement at a particular retailer, while also taking into consideration the inventory and weeks on hand available and the retailer’s historical pattern for managing inventory and weeks on hand.  The goal is to allow the vendor a better methodology for managing production and product orders from the retailer so that as little cash as possible gets tied up in producing unneeded inventory, but demand can be adequately met.

This model only works for those retailers where you can gather accurate inventory data.  It is actually rather simple to look at and sits on one sheet per SKU. It needs to be on one sheet because the user interpolates all the different data points to help arrive at a robust forecast.  However, this model is very difficult to explain.  You can easily see what is going on with the cell calculations, but it really takes time to look at it and understand how the relationships between numbers work.

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No one can help having a certain set of emotions for their business. Its not just an income, but often a significant source of enjoyment. Many businesses are an extension of the founders, owners and employees passions and interests and personal identity. Over time, our experiences with the business and the relationships we develop create baggage, both good and bad, that we then use as part of our filter for decision-making.

Most recently I’ve seen a few instances where emotions end up hurting growth. In one, the founder’s lack of understanding for how the industry works has caused them to react negatively to customers, causing them to lose business. In another, the founders have romanticized about their business being an industry disruptor. As a result, they are choosing to turn business away because the industry is not willing to work the way they want to work. I might see that if they are bigger, profitable and on a sustainable track, but they are nowhere near any of that.

So, how do we keep emotions in check, because we all bring emotions to bear in making decisions? Here’s a great tool I learned from Andy Grove’s “Only The Paranoid Survive”. Actually, I never read the book, but this tool came to me from a talk by Andy Stanley, who did read the book, and the tool really hit home for me.

Ask yourself, what would my successor do?

Here’s the methodology. If you were replaced by someone new who does not have the history in your company as you do, who does not have the relationships with all the people you work with like you do, and has not poured themselves into it like you have, what would they do in relation to the decision or situation you are in? Since they have little to no background or relationships to use to filter their decision-making, they have to go by the facts of the situation. This question tends to bring much more objectivity to the situation and the decision-making process. It has for me and it might do the same for you

Another area that this question really helps me is when it comes to rationalizing decisions. I am good at rationalizing decisions to make myself feel good about them. You might do the same. When I turn the decision around from the perspective of my successor, I end up making better decisions.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to brands, products or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

I wrote a post on this topic and want to add a few additional thoughts.

I am working with three different businesses who are seeing great growth opportunities.  Two have recently been approached by investors, even though neither is raising money at this time.  All three have too many opportunities coming at them and are trying to focus on the best ones.

Problem is, its difficult to compare one opportunity against the next. And, how does one define best? Is it most revenue, most net income, most customers…?  One looks like it will bring in short-term cash and help improve the P&L, but another will add more long-term strategic value.  Or, there are two others that look like good opportunities, but each requires research, development and market testing, but there are only enough resources to pursue one. Which one to select?

I am all for running spreadsheet analysis on opportunities and seeing what the numbers say.  Projecting revenue and expenses and using discount rates to forecast risk…I love all that!  But before it can happen, I like to use more of the fuzzy stuff to analyze opportunities.  By fuzzy stuff, I mean purpose, vision, mission and brand pillars.

  • Purpose:  What are my passions, interest and talents?  How do they intersect for what God has in mind for my earthly life? Do these growth opportunities fit with my purpose?
  • Vision:  Where do I want me and my business to be in 5 years? What are the general product/services offered, the markets/channels served, and the revenue and net that is feasible for me and my business? Do these growth opportunities help accomplish my vision?
  • Mission:  How do I go about accomplishing my vision?  What are my personal values that give me a set of rules for how I run my business.  Do these growth opportunities violate my personal values?
  • Brand Pillars. These are like a unique recipe to a company that is made up of a set of ingredients. While the ingredients might be common, it’s their combination that makes the recipe unique.  Do these growth opportunities violate my brand pillars?
  • Investment.  If I plan to take on investment in the future, then I need to consider opportunities that will help me grow my revenue quickly, as that is one of the criteria investors use in due diligence.  Do these growth opportunities provide me with fast revenue growth?

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to brands, products or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Retailer ROI

August 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

This spreadsheet model demonstrates how to forecast the ROI for selling to a retailer in years 1 and 2, when the tradespend and retailer fees are factored in.  It is based on selling to a drug store, which are generally the worst retailers for tradespend and fees.

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Book review: Buyology

August 12, 2013 — Leave a comment

buyologyThis was a thoroughly enjoyable and eye-opening book. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.  The book has lots of examples and easily explains how our brain functions relative to purchasing products and services. Some of the stuff I already knew, but much of it I did not.  It’s not just for marketers or sellers, but also for buyers and consumers of products and services.

One thing I think that would make the book more user-friendly is to highlight key points/learnings and examples so that they stand out more easily.  This would make it function more like a reference book to use in the future.  Right now, it reads more like a novel and unless one takes notes, highlights and marks up pages, it won’t be user-friendly for future reference.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to brands, products or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.