Aron

About Aron Brajtman

This author has not yet filled in any details.
So far Aron Brajtman has created 37 entries.

Growing Your Business – No Longer Just a One Man Show

What is the difference between a CEO that operates a one man show, vs. a CEO that leads a real team?

Too many of us create a business consisting only of ourselves and two to three workers, and there it stays. In too many cases there is a lack of a business plan and sense of mission for the enterprise, and other more personal challenges such as limiting mind sets. We can refer to this type of business as a “one man show”.

What are the other attributes of a one man show?

First, the CEO owns the whole company. The owner’s view rules. The owner makes the decisions and the workers are only there to carry them out. Because of the small structure, the owner doesn’t do much planning, and may not even be aware of the importance and value of a business plan.

These owners compete on price and have a small number of customers. They care about their product but often don’t consider their staff worthy of further development. They have difficulty raising money and managing cash flow; work long hours, and at best make […]

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is an integration of philosophy and software that caters to customers’ needs. CRM creates a relationship with a customer and ensures that your business is on the top of their mind when the time comes for a purchase. CRM also allows businesses to track their customers. The system calculates their value, their contribution to the bottom line, and ranks them as a desirable, mediocre or undesirable customer.

Some personal examples; my florist has a record of my earlier purchases and the occasion of the purchase. They have my e-mail, and so I receive reminders to send flowers for t holidays and birthdays.  They offer me a choice of selections, and continue to send me reminders up until the last minute, when   I can simply select an item and know that they will take care of delivery. They already have my credit card; so the whole process is seamless. I have never met my florist, but we have a relationship and I don’t even look elsewhere for another florist.

Much of my shopping for home furnishings is done at Bed […]

By |September 17th, 2014|Marketing|0 Comments|

Attaining Competitive Advantage

Attaining Competitive Advantage
A business owner who wants more than just a job for life must design the business to attain some form of competitive advantage.

Competitive advantage is the excess value that a customer will pay for your product/service instead of going elsewhere. Buyers will pay more for value and value may be viewed as lower prices for similar quality, or a unique benefit that offsets a higher price.

Competitive advantage leads to above average performance in one’s industry. Lack of competitive advantage implies at best an average performance, or being the same as the rest of the industry. I often hear from business owners that “business is slow, but it’s the same for all of us”.  As a result, they all tend towards the average profitability for the industry.   Actually, this means that business is slow for all who do not have a competitive advantage. Those with a competitive advantage do better in good times and in bad.

All businesses have their unique strengths and weaknesses, but there are two types of competitive advantage available to every business; low cost and differentiation.

Low cost means the ability […]

Small Companies and Dangers of Growth

Small Companies and Dangers of Growth
In general, the owners of small businesses that I meet with believe that growth of sales is the solution to all problems. On the surface this makes sense. We sell more and our bottom line is improved.

What is not usually understood is that overhead grows along with sales, and that too goes to the bottom line. Growth requires additional sales and administrative staff, capital investments in machinery and buildings, and working capital that requires larger lines of credit. Growth also introduces complexities not considered previously, such as a larger and stronger management team. Our exposure to competitive forces is also increased as we are taking business away from our competitors. They will retaliate by lowering their prices, and so will we if we want to retain our customers.

As much as we desire growth, it needs to be part of an overall strategy that insures the growth will be well managed and ultimately successful.

Industry Profitability

Industry Profitability
 

What determines the profitability in an industry?

 

Michael Porter provides several answers to this important question.  Today we will deal with one of the answers, the threat of entry.

 

Threat of entry

 

When examining the threats of entry into an existing or potentially new market, the following questions need to be raised:

 

How easy is it for newcomers to break in?

Can anybody enter?

Think of the example of another pizza parlour opening up in your neighbourhood. All of a sudden the market has more vendors than before, with everyone fighting for the same size of the pie .

 

Do  newcomers need to fear sharp retaliation from incumbents? Can the incumbents drive the newcomers out?

 

Is a minimum size required for entry? Does this provide the incumbents with a cost advantage that the newcomers cannot match?

 

Do incumbents possess  a strong brand identification? Have they created powerful customer loyalty, or will the newcomers have no difficulty taking customers away?

 

 

Whether you are already in an industry or contemplating entry, consider the above, and evaluate the threats.

 

You may need to re-examine your business model.

 

Considering New Markets?

Considering New Markets?
 

 

When considering new markets answer the following questions:

 

Does the market have high potential?

Is the market dominated by strong competitors or is it fractured among many small businesses?

Is the market easy to enter or are there strong barriers to entry? Will fresh competition find it easy to attack you ?

What is the profitability in the market? Is  it dependent on raw material costs that you have no control over and that cannot be passed on to the customer ?

 

Right  answers to the above will greatly enhance a successful entry into a new market.

 

Choice of Market and Choice of Competition

Choice of Market and Choice of Competition
 

A competitive strategy shows how a business intends to compete and succeed in the markets it chooses to serve (George S. Day, Market Driven Strategy).

There are two elements in this statement that every business must consider:

Choice of competitive strategy.  A business does not simply start on a whim. It must assess its competitive environment and it must determine why it will succeed.
Choice of markets. No business can be the solution for all customers, and therefore it needs to clearly select whom it wants to serve. The choice should be based on its strengths and its competitive advantage.

To select its competitive arena and its customers every business must answer the following questions:

What markets do we want to serve?
Which segments of these markets are we best suited to serve?
What is our competitive advantage that allows us to serve them better than anyone else?
How are we going to reach this market?
What activities will we perform that add more value to the consumer?

Making these choices forces a business to limit its customer base. It forces […]

Competing Today: Part 2

Competing Today: Part 2
In last month’s blog  I wrote that competing today means having the ability to provide the goods or services faster, helping buyers achieve their needs by providing new benefits, and building a mutually profitable long term relationship. This month I’m providing current examples of strategies used by various providers.

 

Strategy
Details of strategy
Applied by

Be cheaper than the competition
Be more efficient than the competition
Food Basics,IKEA,DollaramaCostco

Provide a higher quality product or service than the competition
 Provide a no hassle refund policy
Bed Bath and Beyond

Appeal to the social conscience of the target market
Fair trade products
Starbucks,Body Shop

Provide a unique experience for the customer
Enjoy the visit, know what you get, always find something new
Costco

Create a new business model
Appeal to customers’ unstated needs
Amazon,Apple,Charles Schwab

Discover and appeal to a niche
Eliminate the middleman
Property Guys

What can you do in your industry? Which strategy may work for you?

Have You Been Blindsided and Now the Business is Stuck?

Does this sound familiar?

In the past the business had been doing OK. The results were not spectacular but it provided a living  and there was hope for better things.

Suddenly things have changed. For some years now there has been no growth, maybe even a decline.

At best the future looks no better than the present. At worst the business is on its way to closing.

You may have been blindsided

Being blindsided may mean a total destruction of your business. Suddenly a new technology, a new service, and/or a new product make your business model redundant. And you are gone. For example, we all know how digital music has impacted the music business, and how digital news has affected newspapers. More recently how on line shopping has decimated retail stores.

Jim Harris, in his book “Blindsided”, talks about blind spots that organizations have that makes them susceptible to being blindsided. He claims that we as managers are too concerned with problem solving, and not enough with problem seeing. It’s problem seeing and opportunity perceiving that will separate the market leaders from the losers.
Why do companies get blindsided? Some […]

By |February 17th, 2014|Stuck, Survival|0 Comments|

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

 

Business owners focus on the ongoing issues. They deal with problems, investment opportunities, and the creation of plans.

Even their focus on growth is conducted in a similar manner. They ask questions and formulate answers to questions such as:

What is our market share?
What are our profits?
Are the sales up?
What is our employee turnover?
What’s our competition doing?

All of the above are legitimate questions and a necessary part of evaluating operational excellence.

However to avoid being blindsided and to avoid a death blow to  their business, that type of focus is necessary, but not sufficient.  They also need to look around corners.

They have to ask:

Who are we not serving and what services are they currently using?
Who is providing those services?
What do we not know about the consumers who are not buying from us?
What is being invented/developed in other industries that may be a threat to us?
What’s missing from the happy customer picture?

Those questions can reveal blind spots in your vision, and to eliminate these blind spots you need tools .

Some of the tools include :

Survey unhappy customers. Ask why they are unhappy.
Find mavericks within your company and industry. […]

By |December 19th, 2013|Strategy|0 Comments|