Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 is HERE-- Are You Ready?

   Well, 2012 is here!  Are you ready?  We are!  OK, you say, how are you ready?  Well, we have reviewed our strategic plan, made some adjustments, have completed our market analysis and projections and are ready to get started!
    What about you?  Have you begun?  Now is the time to spend some reflection and analysis time reviewing what has transpired in 2011 and making whatever field adjustments needed and necessary in order to insure a profitable and successful 2012.
     Here are some ideas to consider---
  •     What product lines were most profitable this past year?
  •      Why were those product lines profitable?
  •       What product lines were least profitable?  Why?  What could you have changed, if anything to insure that you achieved greater profitability?
  •      If you had to do it over again, what changes, if any, would you make?
These questions are simple, basic questions-- however, with some exploratory analysis, will reveal some deep beliefs and ideas that you may not have considered.  More importantly, you may find some ideas that you can apply to your business goals in 2012.

Don't wait to begin this analysis!  Now is the right time to start!  The answers that you derive may be very insightful for 2012.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sending Your Ducks to Eagles School

     The title of today's blog came from a discussion I was in with some business owners.  The key point to the discussion was that there is real value in taking individual contributors who may need some additional skill training and sending them to schooling focused on higher level individual contributors.  OK, what does this all mean?
      Remember the duck-- it is slow, waddles and barely flies off the ground.  Contrast that to the Eagle-- Graceful, flies high, can swoop down low, gather a fish or other prey and fly back high again.  Now, can the duck do that?  Well, probably not!  The duck is built much differently than the Eagle-- the duck has different feet than the Eagle, HOWEVER, there is bound to be something that the Duck can learn from the Eagle.
     The same is said about all of your team members-- each team member (individual contributor) has a unique skill and ability-- that is why he/she is on your team.  However, you can enhance and enrich each individual contributor's skill and team contribution by allowing them to be pushed-- try things that are difficult and hard.  Although they may struggle and have difficulty at first, they will probably pick up some skills that they did not think they were able of achieving.  Additionally, each Duck is bound to teach the Eagle's something as well.  Think about it-- pushing everyone on your team, even those that are sure they can not do a task will yield wonderful results!  Try it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

I could have bought it cheaper on the internet!

   The title to this post is one that many business owners hear constantly.  It is always cheaper on the Internet.  Interestingly, we are a real fan of the small business owner.  After all, the small business owner is the one who has created more jobs, provided more community benefits and sponsorships than anyone else.  After all, the small business owner lives in the small town and depends upon the residents of the small town to support his/her business.
    We bought some products the other day from the small business owner.  When I was at the business owner's store, I told him what I wanted.  He told me that he could have it here in a few days and what the price was going to be.  I said OK and we had a deal.  Now, just for grins, I decided to "Go check the Internet" and see if I could find it cheaper.  Well, what do you think?  Yes, I found my products cheaper on the Internet!!!  Now, this required more exploration as well.
     After I burned probably 20 minutes of time, I discovered that after shipping and minimum order size, I would have saved about $10 if I had ordered on the Internet.  Was that worth it?  Well, I did not think so, otherwise I would have used the Internet and not the small business owner.  The real question that has to be answered is "Why was the additional $10 worth spending with the small business owner?"  The real answer is that I had a professional that insured that I got the right product, the right size, fit, shape, color that I needed for the task at hand.  Now, remember, I wasted 20 minutes of my time doing the research.  OK, the time for this exercise was academic because it was related to research for this article, however, I was happy to pay the business owner the additional $10.  If there is a problem with the product, I know that I have someone to go back to help me "make it right!"  That normally does not happen on the Internet.
     Again, there is rarely anything that one cannot find cheaper, someplace!  The real question is what is the cost in time and energy to do it?  The real answer is that it costs more and is less effective than going to the small business owner in town and have he/she either sell or order what you need.  Yes, it may appear to cost more, but does it really?  In the end, I say that the answer is NO, it is cheaper to use the small business owner than spend more time trying to find the cheapest price.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Its Lemons and Apples-- There is no comparison!

    I met with a business owner the other day.  We were talking about a wide variety of matters-- however, I mentioned to him that a mutual acquaintance of ours had told me that he had bought a product at the mall instead of from the small business owner.  As we were talking, the business owner told me that actually, there was no comparison--what we were talking about was Lemons and Apples!
    UMMM-- I had to explore that.  OK, here is what I discovered.  The small business owner had the same type of products that the mutual acquaintance bought at the mall.  The real difference is in the quality of the product.  Both products LOOK the same, however, that is where the similarities stop-- they LOOK the same.  Further exploration reveals that the key components of the product are different, one is made much more robustly (the one sold by the small business owner) as compared to the one sold by the mall store.  Additionally, the components of the product LOOK the same, but, are indeed, much different upon close inspection.
     Now, the real question is, "Does LOOK really tell you the value of the product?"  Well, of course not, anyone knows that the answer is NO to that question!  When you are comparing a product, one has to be sure that all of the components are the same-- in size, weight, shape, quality, finish, etc.  If you cannot say with 100% certainty that both are the same, then indeed, you are comparing apples and lemons.
     The small business owner is usually better suited to provide the better quality product.  Why?  Well, he/she has been in business for a long time, normally knows the product that they carry and can identify the strengths and weaknesses of each product.  Price is one facet of a product that needs to be discussed.  If the price at the mall is cheaper, the obvious question that one has to ask is "Is it the same product?"  Normally, the answer is NO, however, you need to do some exploratory work to be able to answer that question with complete certainty.
     If you are interested in buying something, the small business owner probably has the best product.  Yes, it may be cheaper at the mall or other big box store, however, the real question that you have to ask is "Is it the same product?"  In most cases, the products LOOK alike, however, that is where the similarity ends!  Make sure that you are buying the identical product at the mall before you dismiss the small business owner.  Our experience is that the small business owner normally has the best product and best service, even if it costs more!