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A free monthly newsletter about improving your
people, processes, sales and marketing, financial
performance…and other interesting stuff

January 2013

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The Irrelevance of Business Plans

Unless you are seeking to raise funds from banks or investors, require a forward looking document to distribute to shareholders, or have a business planning/implementation champion within your organisation, the traditional 40 – 100 page business plan that the majority says you should write is largely a waste of time. Here is my reasoning…
  • Countless businesses have a beautifully bound ‘five year plan’ sitting on their bookshelf with five years worth of dust on it
  • Many business owners can’t even find the plan they created even within the last 12 months
  • The fact that a business has a business plan gives bankers, government business gurus and the myriad of business coaches and consultants a sense of "yes, I have contributed something of value to this company." 
  • A false sense of security to the business owner for having endured the tedious process.
I could go on.

Here are my suggestions.
  • By all means have five year and ten goals – an idea of what the future ‘might’ look like.
  • Review a business plan template to see what areas are actually relevant to you and complete just these. Click here for a template
  • Focus on the next 12 months initially
  • Ask the following questions:
    • What are the critical areas that if unattended will serve to erode our business?
    • What represents the greatest threats and risk to our business?
    • Where are the greatest opportunities this coming year?
    • What are our major goals?
    • What additional markets do we want to penetrate?
    • What are the products and services that no longer serve us?
    • What do we need to stop doing?
As a result of the above:
  • What can we do to mitigate our weaknesses and threats?
  • What additional people and resources are required to fulfil our goals and opportunities while mitigating these risks?
  • Who do we assign to follow through on these?
  • What steps do we put in place to maximise opportunities?
  • What are the steps required to achieve these goals? (see the section below for this process).
  • How will they (or me) be kept accountable? (If you as the business owner or manager are taking these on, ensure you are kept accountable by a third party).
You can use the above for any future time frame. For example, if you know that being QA certified isn't damaging your business at present but will be required for the opportunities you've identified in the 2-5 year range then best to focus and schedule as start point.

Here is a simple 2 page planning sheet I have created for this purpose. Click here.

Keep your eye on the longer range summit, but ensure you assault the hill in front of you. You never know what is over the peak.
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Efficient Process
A simple process for goal achievement

Michael Jordan never wrote down his goals. They were always in 'mind' as he strove to achieve the next one. On the other side of the equation, there are those that identify their goals, write copious strategic plans and action steps for their fulfilment. 

In a fast paced business world, it is important to step out from time to time, lift your eyes to the horizon and identify the direction in which you’d like to sail. Pin pointing the markers along the way to identify your progress, is essential. That’s the nature of goals. They are not end points but markers in life. 

Here is a simple process for the achievement of these goals. 
  • Make a list of your goals. I like to do this in 90 day, 12 months, 5 and 10 year periods. 
  • Allocate them into Personal and Business categories
  • Get your diary out (and if you don’t use one – buy one today and use it tomorrow)
  • With your goals in front of you, begin to schedule time in your diary for their accomplishment. Here is an example of the process:
GOAL – employ five new staff by March 30

ACTIONS - to schedule
  • Call recruitment  companies and select one
  • Add employment page to website
  • Advise your staff that you are hiring, to look at the new web page and that you will pay them $1000 for any successful recruit 
You get the picture. Each of these activities would be scheduled into your diary and all you have to do is follow the schedule. I know this is incredibly basic but my observation is that most are able to write the goals but get waylaid on the follow through. Also, I generally just focus on what I want to achieve in a 12 month period and then every 90 days; refocus, breaking the 12 months down into the next quarter. 

And remember, if the goal doesn’t have a deadline it remains in the category of wishful thinking. 

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 Rapid Growth often means Rapid Attrition

Those involved in companies that are in rapid growth mode experience quite a wild ride. Many of the businesses I consult to that service the mining industry for example, undergo dramatic changes in short periods of time. Staff and revenues often tripling or more annually. Optimism often runs rampant with the prospect of a growth horizon that seemingly has no end. 

One of the prevailing challenges for these companies is that of both recruiting and keeping good staff. Due to the incessant front end demands of keeping up with the incoming work, employees often get the raw end of the deal and will often leave, not for more money but for the greener pastures of a personalised workplace, often sacrificing income for a higher care company. 

Follow through with some of these ideas and you'll find your front end recruitment costs (in both time and money) will dramatically decrease.
  • If you don't have a dedicated HR position, look at establishing one and employing an excellent 'people person'
  • If affordability is an issue or the size of  your company doesn't quite necessitate this role, appoint a current team member to oversee the role (or oversee it yourself)
  • As owner or manager, show a personal interest in your people. Allocate some 'free time' to walk around your business, checking in on people. Ask them how their weekend was, about their families and interests etc
  • Find out what their major challenges are in life and work, addressing them as you are able
  • Set up regular social events for your team (one company I work with go bowling every Thursday night)
  • Pay well and incentivise high performance
  • Establish fast tracks for the employees who show initiative and dedication to their work
While growth is happening on the front end, ensure you work equally on establishing a growth focus on the back end - your team. When people feel they are valuable, are part of an exciting future and of a team that you value, they are more likely to stay around for the long term. 

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The Cellar Notes

One of my favourite Brisbane restaurants is Tartufo - meaning 'truffle'. Italian classic dining at its best. The food is consistently exceptional with a wine list to match. Once you add their hospitality into the mix, it makes for one of the stand outs in my eating regime.

As Tony Percuoco (restaurateur) says:

“at tartufo we serve food and wine that i love. my inspiration comes from naples and the surrounding areas of umbria, abruzzo and tuscany. we cook with love and local, seasonal produce to provide the optimum taste that can be delivered. in every dish you will experience quality produce cooked the classic italian way."

A worthwhile experience whenever you're  in Brisbane. 
On The Lighter Side

Is this a male thing?

My wife asked "when is your grandmothers birthday"? I replied "July the 9th." "That's my birthday" she countered.

In This Issue:
 My new offerings for 2013

Mentoring/coaching program
for the Mining, Industrial and Trade Services sectors. Click here

My new booklet - ‘Smash the Bottleneck’ 
due out March 30 – free to this newsletters readers. Request one here to be posted to you

Monthly Efficiencies Video
3 - 5 minute video where I address how to get more efficient in key areas - due out mid February

Process and People workshop
for trade and related associations/organisations. Click here for more information

DiSC and Time Management Workshops. Email me for more information

Public Speaking
If you need a keynote speaker or facilitator for a company or industry event please email me 

If you need articles for any in house or commercial publishing requirements please let me know

Ray Hodge is the Director of Ignite Business Consulting. He speaks and consults to businesses & organisations, a notable event being the Department of the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet.

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"when Ray initially began working with us we had significant challenges and bottlenecks in the areas of paperwork and cashflow. I felt like I was behind all the time. Over a period of a few months, systems were created and implemented, our tradesmen adopted the new way of doing things, invoicing was happening quicker and the chaos started to ease. What is significant that we couldn't see at the time is that the results in cashflow turnaround enabled us to fund a million dollar job that we could never have done previously out of business funds."
Kelly Mullins - J Mullins Plumbing

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