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Elite Business: Optimising business decisions: The power of focused strategy

Elite Business: Optimising business decisions: The power of focused strategy

In this article, originally featured in Elite Business: Maximise your time and attention with a framework that simplifies the complexity and noise of day-to day- business


Recently, I had the privilege of addressing a substantial audience of around 680 individuals, comprising government officials, corporate executives, private business owners, and numerous employees. The topic I presented, which resonated with many, revolved around an idea first introduced in 1956 by George Miller: the magical number seven. Miller proposed that our short-term memory can handle seven items, give or take two. Some can manage five, while others can juggle nine.

This concept made me ponder the complexities faced by business owners today. With the growing uncertainties in technology, employment, supply chains, and politics, decision-making has become increasingly challenging. The key to navigating these complexities lies in avoiding cognitive overload—an impediment caused by an excess of information that hinders clear decision-making.

The M.O.S.T. Framework for Effective Business Strategy

The essence of my talk focused on maximizing time and attention through the M.O.S.T.E framework, which stands for Mindset, Objective, Strategy, Tactics and of course, Execution. Here’s a breakdown:

Mindset 

A winning mindset is crucial. This goes beyond merely having a growth mindset; it’s about maintaining a vision that transcends the current moment. Such a mindset equips you to tackle present challenges with an eye on future success.

Objective

The power of one objective cannot be overstated. Studies indicate that having more than one primary objective can reduce your intellectual capacity by 38%. In business, this objective should focus on increasing your asset value. This singular focus ensures clarity and enhances productivity.

Strategy 

Your strategy should be singular and concentrated on building your business into a valuable asset. A successful strategy encompasses three main attributes:

  • Income Generation: Ensure your business consistently generates revenue.
  • Capital Value Improvement: Continuously work on increasing the value of your business.
  • Tradability: Develop your business to be an asset that can be sold or traded independently of your direct involvement.

Tactics 

Developing effective tactics is the next step. Here are five essential tactics to consider:

  • Positioning: Stand out from competitors by focusing on whom you serve and how you serve them uniquely.
  • System of Delivery: Develop systems that are teachable and trainable, allowing your team to manage operations efficiently.
  • Purposeful Team: Assemble a team capable of running these systems, freeing you to focus on growth.
  • Growth: Constant growth is vital. It attracts the right team members, customers, and maintains supplier enthusiasm.
  • Value: Always concentrate on transforming your business into an asset, ensuring it’s not merely a complex job but a thriving enterprise.

Execution

This is where all great efforts live or die. Too often we find ourselves stuck in the daily, weekly, monthly operational grind needed to sustain our businesses. Adopting an approach to get you our of the engine room and onto the bridge of your ship by way of an analogy, places you in a position to lead execution.

By adhering to these principles, you can simplify decision-making processes, enhance business efficiency, and ultimately build a more robust, valuable enterprise. I hope these insights prove beneficial. Until next week, cut out the noise of competing narratives around our politics, inflation, Brexit, national service, climate change and so on, to focus on what you can control and build.

at work : Don’t get stuck in No Man’s Land

This Week@Work: Don’t get stuck in No Man’s Land

This week@work Pavlo met with a frustrated, established business owner who is looking to sell his business in the next 5 years. As part of his exit strategy he ramped up revenues to appeal to a buyer, but his success has put him squarely in ‘No Man’s Land’: Too big for private buyers to afford and too small for listed entities to be interested in.

It’s another warning to start with the end in mind so you can build your business for the right buyer.

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This Week@Work: Reset, rebuild and reignite your business annually

This Week@Work: Reset, rebuild, and reignite your business annually

This Week@Work, Pavlo was reminded of the necessity to reset, rebuild, and reignite your business annually as a practice to ensure it’s relevant, optimised, and set for growth. Don’t get caught with your pants down because of comfort, complacency, boredom, or exhaustion. You’ve worked hard to create the value you have; be sure to vigilantly nurture it!

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robot and human finger connecting

ChatGPT: friend or foe, and what does it mean for a business owner?

“ChatGPT: The AI Language Model Taking the Business World by Storm”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a topic of interest for decades, but with the advent of cutting-edge technology, AI is now more accessible and applicable to the business world than ever before. One such AI tool that has put the business world on red alert is ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI, a private AI organization founded by Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, and Wojciech Zaremba. With Microsoft among its investors and a $1bn investment, OpenAI is a driving force in the development of AI technology.

So, what is ChatGPT, and why is it so significant? Essentially, ChatGPT is a tool that helps businesses and individuals to communicate and engage with their customers and audiences in a more effective and efficient manner. However, it is important to note that ChatGPT is not a solution in itself but rather like an exoskeleton, providing support and enhancement to human capabilities.

The rise of ChatGPT has caused concern among some, who fear that its widespread use could lead to a homogenization of language and a loss of creativity. While there is some truth to these fears, ChatGPT has the potential to free up time and energy for individuals, allowing them to focus on more important and creative tasks. Moreover, the technology is still in its early stages and will likely continue to evolve and improve, offering even greater benefits in the future.

Pavlo expressed interest in his perspective on ChatGpt in a recent Money Show podcast.

So, why are we talking about ChatGPT now? As the first of many AI tools set to enter the public domain in a usable format, ChatGPT represents a huge opportunity for businesses to get ahead and use it to increase their performance.

Looking to the future, ChatGPT has the potential to create a range of new careers, including language model experts who will be responsible for fine-tuning, teaching, and optimizing the technology. Content creators who can step up and go beyond the vanilla will also have a key role to play, as will project managers, who will be required for all projects utilizing ChatGPT.

In terms of competition, it’s inevitable that it will come. However, the opportunity to use ChatGPT across all business functions is simply too good to ignore. From marketing research and communications to sales, operations, accounting, procurement, and recruitment, ChatGPT has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses operate.

Marketing departments, for example, can use ChatGPT for research, with the ability to ask and get an answer, without having to spend hours searching across websites looking to upsell. ChatGPT can also be used to improve the quality of communications and product descriptions, as well as translate website content into different languages.

In sales, ChatGPT can help to understand customers and markets, and improve engagement with relevant messaging, even in second languages.

In operations, ChatGPT can automate repetitive tasks and provide consistent product descriptions across all media. In accounting, ChatGPT can help with benchmarking and interpretation, while in procurement, it can aid in research and negotiation. And in recruitment, ChatGPT can be used to create job descriptions and KPIs.

ChatGPT is a game-changer for the business world and represents a huge opportunity for businesses to improve their performance and stay ahead of the competition. The future is here, and the time to act is now.

When a brilliant product doesn’t drive brilliant growth

This week I met a business owner who arguably has one of the best food ordering, payment, and delivery platforms I’m yet to come across. It is a marvelous piece of engineering and centers its value on empowering the restauranter to interpret customer behavior into innovations on service, menus, value, and therefore business growth. Brilliant…. but nobody knows about it.

With a bunch of clients onboard, it makes good money for the founders. This compounds the problem.

If you have a product or service that is well-designed, reliable and offers great value to your customers, how much market share should you own 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years into the game?

Surely, if your offering is that good, you should be dominating segments in your industry. Industries are not small. There are macro-economic reports on the value of industries across all countries freely available on the internet. Find one relevant to you and calculate your market share. If, after 20 years in the game, you believe that you have the best product out there, surely you should have…10% or even 20% of the industry market value?

If you do, well done. If you don’t, what then is the missing ingredient?

Listen to this week’s podcast from The Money Show where Pavlo Phitidis compares a business to a winning F1 team to explain the missing link!

To win the F1 championship, you need three elements.

  1. A winning driver – a racing driver is quintessentially competitive and invested deeply into improving their skills, capabilities, and performance
  2. An efficiently designed car – at high speed, every element of drag and resistance created by the airflow over the body of the car needs to be designed to work for you or eliminated
  3. A reliable, high-performance engine and chassis – to run at a high pace for 70 or more laps, the engine must be responsive and controllable

It’s a great analogy for high-performing businesses.

Every successful business has three primary elements of excellence, interlinked and dependent on each other.

  • The first is the business owner’s mindset. If it’s not a growth mindset, you may well be happy with the status quo. That is not a winning mindset. If your business is doing well and you are making good money in the status quo, you could be doing much better. Doing much better means growing more . Increasing growth by taking more market share pits you against competitors. That fight to grow ignites your potential and competence. A growth mindset is more than just wanting business growth. It means that you will stretch the bounds of your knowledge and capability to fight harder, be smarter, and win. It grows you and your competence as much as success grows your business.
  • The next is the product or service that makes up your offering to the market. It needs to be well-built, offer reliability and quality, and value. It needs to solve problems for the customers who buy it for nobody spends money on anything that does not solve a problem.
  • Finally, is the wrapping. This is made up of the commercial “gears” that interlink to drive and accelerate the offering to market. Made up of marketing, sales, fulfillment, administration, and the other commercial functions that every business needs to exit, live, breathe, and win. The reality for most business owners who create, make and build things (and that’s almost all of us), is that this wrapping is the most frustrating piece to put in place. It really is far more interesting adding a new feature to the product than having to organize your team and design, build and implement the commercial system set.

If you have the best product in the world, and if you aren’t dominating segments of the market in your industry, then it’s the commercial system set or gears that aren’t in play and optimized. If you have them in play and growth generates chaos, then they aren’t optimized and interlinked effectively. No tinkering with the features of your service or product design improvements will fix that and without it, your brilliant product will remain the world’s best-kept secret.

And then time runs out.

A growth mindset and a business design that creates resistance and agility

We recently surveyed a few hundred business owners, asking each what they saw as their biggest growth impediment.

The top 3 are

  1. Scale – how do you build a system of growth
  2. People—how do you find, manage, and lead your people?
  3. Growth mindset—how do you maintain an inventive, positively inspired outlook and action in the environment of business that we face today?

In this podcast of the Money Show, Pavlo unpacks an approach to deal with each of these big challenges to growth:

Scale

This is about business design. Like a ship, building, plane, or train, it is designed and built to serve a particular need. An office tower is designed differently from a shopping centre. They serve different audiences and fulfil different needs. They are designed to optimise their ability to meet these needs most efficiently.

The design of your business, too, must be thought through. What’s different in a business is that the design needs to shift and change as the business grows. Most companies I’ve seen operate with a business model suited to half or even a third of the current revenues of the company. It’s as if the businesses are stuck in a start-up or early stage of business design even though they are achieving revenues 2 to 3 times their maturity. It’s unsustainable and eventually kills you or the value you have created over years of effort.

People

Finding the right people to do the right thing all the time is a global challenge. Talented people are essential to growth. If talented people occupy a growth mindset and work on a business built for scale, you create a nucleus of growth in the industry.

Skilled people look to innovate. That means creating more value. If coupled with a scalable business, that innovation leads to growth. Competitors with talented people respond, and the competitive cycle kicks in, attracting funding, talent, and more innovation. It creates vibrancy and growth across and through the industry.

In an environment where talent is draining away or cannot be afforded because of its scarcity, the design of your business is key to getting your people element right. A simple business is scalable and needs a design that changes as the business grows.

The other impediment to getting the people piece right is delegation. Suppose you do not develop a delegation framework that lets you delegate effectively. In that case, you will always be pulled back into the engine room of the business. You eventually get worn to the bone, lose all inspiration and passion, and slowly erode the value you have created. Getting delegation right is about two things.

You and your attitude to delegation and what and how you delegate.

As a business owner, delegation should be your primary function. If you don’t believe in people, you don’t think anyone can do it as well as you or as fast as you. Suppose you harbour deep in your unconscious mind a fear of success that sees you erode the passion and inspiration of your team, amongst other things. In that case, you need to get some perspective. Fear of success is deeply unconscious, and it remains one of the greatest impediments to growth that I’ve come across.

How you delegate is equally essential. Most business owners delegate instructions, and this opens up misunderstandings that begin to break down trust and confidence. When someone doesn’t do what you told them to do, what attitude do you eventually hold toward them? The key to unlocking delegation is delegating a system of activities that can be measured and produce a definable outcome.

Mindset

Many challenges are being faced across all economies globally. Inflation, cost of capital, access to capital, talent, supply lines, energy concerns, war, currency fluctuations, and political mismanagement are some of the many issues experienced everywhere. So, it’s not personal. And that’s the most important thing to consider. It becomes personal if you allow it to wear you down. You end up wearing lenses that highlight everything wrong and wear yourself down further. And with that, everything wrong begins to dominate your day, seeding depression and anxiety. You can get trapped in that space. Ask yourself then, what does that achieve? An alternative is to create a different reality and to do so by creating a morning mantra – I’ll only focus on what it can control.

When you disconnect from the internet, the anxiety and stress caused by various realities disappears. Next, recognize that what’s wrong in your industry is wrong for all. It’s not personal. Your competitors are suffering from the same challenges. It makes for an equal playing field.

To get ahead, adopt a growth mindset that says we will grow despite everything that is wrong. That pair of lenses lets you see the challenges as an opportunity to get ahead of your competitors, which means growth. As an outcome, it breeds positivity and feeds inspiration. You are in control of it all. If you struggle to get to the other side of a negative mindset, get some help. An outside perspective is valuable and can prevent you from wasting months or years of your precious, valuable time, which you can never get back.

How to stand out in the noise and clutter

An upset brand manager contacted the Money Show following an unflattering review of their ad campaign.

Pavlo joined the show to discuss the most fundamental part of any marketing activity – positioning. When the positioning of the brand is not determined from the get-go, then the brand is simply everything to everyone.

Listen to the discussion or read on for a few key takeouts:

Brand Positioning:

It all comes down to what makes your company unique. Not in your opinion, but rather in the opinion of your customers. Not so much in what they say as in what they actually do. In other words, they express their satisfaction with your service or

Why does brand positioning matter?

A well-built business that consistently gets to both the next level of growth and value is one that has been built on clearly articulated, relevant positioning. It enjoys clarity and certainty as to why it exists and how it will grow.

A brand is really a feeling that people who engage with that company have towards that company. And a brand is going to be created by two things.

  1. Firstly, by the product that you offer.
  2. The experience that they have interacting with your company.

Looking at a typical food chain store, there are three main components that are going to drive the brand: the consumers, the franchisees, and the employees in the company, and all of them together will form opinions through social media, through engagement with friends, family, and others around what their impressions and experiences are.

The product must solve a problem. That’s its job. But the thing that makes up a product is quite complex because it goes beyond the actual food, its preparation, and all the special ingredients.
A competing brand can replicate this at ease. What really distinguishes the brand is the experience you create for a customer group.

product by using it repeatedly. They tell their family and friends about your business. 

Disruptive Brands:

Disruption and transformation without purpose are of no value to consumers. It’s clear that the definition of a “disruptor” – and its  formula for success in a world of uncertainty, change, and transformation – isn’t black and white. So, what is the secret to success in this continuously changing world?

Flaws in positioning

Almost always, brand managers argue that they are positioning themselves through their product, service, and price.

Product: They argue the merits of their product in terms of its features and benefits. In the case of a food chain, the argument will be based on the taste and the special ingredients that are used for the food, and how their taste sets them apart from everyone else.

Service: many, in fact, most, say it’s their service. By keeping our ears to the ground and listening to our customers, we were able to offer a unique personalised service “bending over backwards to accommodate and please their customers”.

Price: The price debate. Arguing price in such a large market that has many competitors creeping out is baseless. If you are not in a competitive market, then price probably doesn’t matter in any event.