Seven business goals for 2011

Everybody has a choice. They can minimise risk and take a leaf out of the book of successful entrepreneurs or worry themselves back into start-up mode.

It's a bit like circumnavigating the globe, you can decide to sail the seven Cs: cash, concentration, control, cooperation, collaboration, culture and coaching, or give up, miss a few out and never accomplish your aspirations.

Cash

Cash is all about risk and the value or cost of potential outcomes. Successful entrepreneurs know they are never short of ideas, which exposes them to making 20 decisions in the hope one of them will yield a good result. This is not spreading risk. Lowering risk is about lowering the probability of something going wrong. You will notice that Lord Sugar for example, surrounds himself with conservative advisors, who appear to have an innate talent for 'grilling' ideas.
 
Write down your top 20 ideas, shortlist and refine them until you have three strong ones. Why make 20 bad decisions when you can make three good ones?
 
Concentration

Concentration is the second C. Good entrepreneurs will have definite one, two and three year goals. Those who started setting clear goals a few years ago are far more likely to have reached their target size, revenue and/or customer base than those who have not set such objectives.
 
These entrepreneurs will manage their natural tendency to juggle too much and discipline themselves to concentrate on delivering or completing one thing well at a time. The most accomplished business people only take on companies or new offerings that are strategically linked, i.e. where one enterprise feeds another. If this involves risk taking, they will focus on the activities required to fill their sales funnel rather than focusing on the sales themselves.
 
Control

The third C is control. It plays a vital role in successfully navigating a company through economically uncertain times and often means controlling a natural appetite for adventure. In practice this means balancing risk and reward, so the approach to new opportunities and the ability to scale to accommodate increasing sales are of fundamental importance.
 
Those who have mastered the art of such a balance will be extremely sales margin conscious. Out-of-the-box thinking and flexibility will pave the way to more secure margins and customer longevity. Quieter business periods will be used to systemise business processes designed to make commercial headway. Watch out for self-acclaimed entrepreneurs who have not stopped to address systems weaknesses which can result in instabilities that are evident to customers and onlookers.
 
Cooperation

Cooperation is the fourth C. The proverb 'birds of a feather flock together' dates back to ancient Greek philosophy and has stood the test of time. Successful entrepreneurs will not be serial networkers; they will select the communities in which they build relationships very carefully to avoid those who could potentially let their business down. They will look for others who do not display panicked behaviour and innovate to help ensure high-quality service and product delivery. When an appropriate network has been established the fifth C comes into play - collaboration.
 
Collaboration

Although creating collaborations can be low cost, the consequences of getting them wrong can be astronomical. If all business owners were surrounded by commercially strong, honest and highly effective peers this would not be a problem. Unfortunately this is not the case, particularly towards the end of recession or if going into the proverbial second dip. This is why the fourth C (cooperation) is crucial to the fifth C (collaboration).
 
The combination of the following two facts have generated disproportionally high risks to entrepreneurs looking to collaborate. Fact one: wave after wave of redundancies have fuelled the set-up of many consultancies. Fact two: entrepreneurial directors generally outsource the things that they are disinterested in or take too long.
 
Although there is enormous strength in understanding your own weaknesses and mitigating them through collaborating with consultants and other companies, getting answers to difficult questions before anything progresses has become pivotal to success. More importantly, getting it wrong reduces revenue while damaging your reputation and brand.
 
Those who used to work within larger organisations are not necessarily the best small business advisors. Ask about their achievements within your type of SME environment and where are the results. A recent change of career or accreditations without long-standing experience should ring alarm bells if you are about to collaborate with another business or entrust a consultant with your company's direction.
 
Culture

The sixth C is all about culture. The most successful directors of 2011 will be those who have recruited well and optimised all employees. They will have involved staff in quarterly milestones, explained how various achievements link together and each employee will have bought into the company direction. When things go well, this approach delivers a sense of achievement across the workforce. The days of restricting the objectives within your business plans to a few board members are over.
 
Coaching

The final C is the importance of coaching. Think back to those who supported the progress you have made in your own career and business. Who has taught and guided you well? Regardless of if they are a passive mentor or professional business coach, think about how they have or can help you attract and retain the right people, customers and suppliers. If they enthuse about the direction you set, people power will propel your company forward. 
 
About the author:
Jon Baker is director of venture-Now and a business coach.

This article originally appeared on AccountingWEB.co.uk.

This blog

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too. Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

44957

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

77597

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

49949

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

91253
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
21808

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

57220

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

82429

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

25988

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

65781

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

35493
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
104687
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
27164

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

54148
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
29088
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
33458

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

102671

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

34771

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

113753

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

62736

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

40798
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
67861

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

93995

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

55063