A few months ago I wrote a post on Wal-Mart's strategy in Latin America. One of the principal points was that Wal-Mart brings every decision back to how it will effect their customer. A much under appreciated way to run a business.
Today Customer Experience Matters has a good post on Eduardo Castro-Wright, Vice Chairman of Wal-Mart. The post is based on an interview in the NYT, and quotes Castro-Wright as follows:
I think the best source of strategy is your customer and the people who work for you… I walk around the store and approach customers and ask them if they have any recommendations for us… and talk to associates and ask them questions about their jobs. I ask them about their leadership in the store… Almost always, you get enormous insight from those who spend their days taking care of customers.
When was the last time you asked a customer for recommendations? When did you last ask an employee who is an hourly worker? Good strategy and product development plans start with a profound understanding of the customer and the hourly workers on the store floor or in customer service are the people closest to the customer.
Easy way to evaluate a new company--see how long the discussion goes on before they mention the customer. In badly managed companies the customer is rarely mentioned. At the next weekly management meeting see how long before somebody mentions the customer.
William Shakespeare said, "he who sheds his blood for me, he is my brother forever". Remember these fine words on this long weekend and take a moment to reflect on all the men and women who have fallen for this country and for what it stands.
I am a strong advocate of focusing on sales (and not m__k__g) in my workshops, entrepreneurship classes and with clients. I constantly harp on customer acquisition cost and how are you going to get the customer, close them and collect the cash as part of fully developing a business model.
Every once in awhile I see a post that I should have written. Steve Barsh, an Adjunct Professor at Wharton, has a great post entitled Chasing the Money: Stop Trying to Raise-Start Trying to Sell. A must read for any aspiring startup execs.
I will be doing two workshops this summer at FIU's Pino Entrepreneurship Center. On July 16 I will be presenting an all day session on how to develop a business plan. On August 6 I will be presenting an all day session on developing the financial model. These sessions are open to the public and the nominal fee goes to the Pino Entrepreneurship Center.
The two sessions share some content but the business plan workshop focuses on producing a document for investors and the financial model workshop develops an Excel model for investors. Both workshops start with an in depth discussion of the business model and particular attention is paid to early stage companies.
Contact Karyne at Pino for additional details email@example.com
One of the most popular posts ever here was a guest post by Rickard Warnelid entitled Project finance Modeling in Excel. At the time Rickard was a principal in Navigator Project Finance, an Australia-based group of serious Excel modelers for complex projects. Navigator has since launched a sister company called Corality and Rickard is in charge. Corality provides auditing of Excel models and Excel training worldwide. To commemorate the launch of Corality I asked Rickard to do a new post on Excel, which follows. The post includes some excellent links to new resources to improve Excel skills.
By this day and age most people agree that to be successful in the finance industry you need to be proficient in Excel. The level of Excel knowledge needed in different roles and organizations vary greatly but there are some common skills that are required for all users. When discussing ‘How to learn Excel’ it is important to look at these three categories of skills and review the available options for each category.
Technical Knowledge of Excel
Obviously sound technical knowledge of Excel is critical to any user of Excel, however I often find that there is too much focus on Excel Functions, shortcuts, Toolbars, Add-ins, etc. Sure, these are all great, but too much technical knowledge can sometimes make you a liability in an organization as you are likely to construct Excel spreadsheet that only you can use and maintain.
Improving your technical knowledge is quite straight forward even though it can take time – there are thousands of great websites dedicated to this topic along. My recommendation would be to pick 2-3 three of these and spend ½ hour a day reviewing tricks and functions until you feel comfortable instead of trying to cram it all in over 1-2 weeks.
Pointy Haired Dilbert: http://chandoo.org/wp/
Chip Pearson: http://www.cpearson.com/Excel/MainPage.aspx
Navigator Project Finance: http://www.navigatorpf.com/training/tutorials
Today I am speaking at FIU in a workshop for non-profit organizations. My theme is how to sustain growth in these challenging economic times. I have spent my entire career in the for profit sector, in part because many of the non-profits I have encountered lack clear goals and objectives and the discipline to achieve them.
Every time that I speak on non-profit issues I become more strongly convinced that sound business practices are the best way to run a non-profit and that innovation in "business model" is a key to the success of a non-profit. Innovate in business model to sustain growth is today's speech. A great example of innovation in non-profit business model is Vittana. Visit the site to see what some very smart people (ex-Amazon--the booksellers, not the jungle) are doing to provide loans for education to children in the third world.
For further thoughts on non-profit business model innovation, read this post. Send me an email and I will send you today's Powerpoint deck.