Gap Analysis is a strategic planning tool to help you understand where you are, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there.
Here’s a simple Gap analysis chart:
Here’s the Gap Analysis process:
Step 1: Decide the topic you’re going to do the Gap Analysis on? This is the challenge you’re trying to tackle.
Gap Analysis sample topics include:
Step 2: Identify where you are right now based on metrics or attributes.
Step 3: Identify where you’d like to be over a specific time frame?
Step 4: Identify the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Step 5: Determine how the Gap should be filled.
Some other related Gap Analysis definitions:
Fore more on the Gap Analysis model, check out Gap Analysis Wiki.
Note: There’s a separate “GAP” used in business related to how to run meetings. Read The 3 Simple Steps To An Effective Meeting: The GAP Approach for more.
I’ve been teaching someone on our team recently about how a sales pipeline works — and so I thought I’d summarize my sales approach here for you (I’ve used this for straight up sales as well as for partner sales).
Note: I’m going to refer to the party I’m selling to as a “customer” but it could easily be a partner in the case of partnership sales.
There are any number of sales pipeline stages you can use: I’m going to use Leads, 10% Opportunities, 50% Opportunities, 90% Opportunities and Closed Won/Lost. I first adopted this methodology when I began using Salesforce.com which mapped well to how my mind works. …
I often get asked the following questions from business owners and leaders:
Well, I’ve got my own thoughts but there’s a guy you’d much rather hear from — he’s been doing mergers and acquisition (M&A) deals for 20 years.
His name is Doug Hubert (pictured) and he leads the M&A work as a Managing Director at CBIZ Inc.
He and I graduated high school together and even though I haven’t done a good job staying in touch, he was kind enough to share seven tips for you to use to maximize value in your business. Here they are!
1. Build a deep management team
One of the most difficult challenges for an entrepreneur, and one of the critical differences between a good company and a great company, is the depth and quality of the senior managerial team.
Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to run and grow their businesses with only one or two people capable of making critical decisions.
As a result, most businesses will plateau in their growth. If your company can’t function efficiently without your direct daily involvement, then you need to immediately begin to hire and develop talent or the future of your business is in jeopardy.
Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, considered talent development and succession planning one of his greatest accomplishments in his tenure. Treat this issue with the same importance.
2. Diversify your customer base
Your largest customer should ideally be no more than 15%-20% of your revenues and/or profitability. While it’s often efficient and easy to allow a major customer to develop into a substantial portion of your sales, nothing could be more dangerous to the future health and value of a business.
Once a customer becomes a critical portion of your revenues and/or profits, then they own you. They can begin to dictate the
financial terms of the relationship and any change in their business, be it financial, personnel or otherwise, has a direct effect on the health and value of your business.
While it might require extra effort and possibly some short-term sacrifices to your bottom line as you build other accounts, the long-term benefit of a diversified customer base is a significant reduction in your financial risk profile.
3. Maintain quality financial information
A consistent area of weakness with most small and middle-sized companies is the lack of strong financial documentation. Most business
owners don’t want to spend the extra money to obtain an audit, believing a review or a compilation is just as good-it’s not.
Audited financials provide credibility with bankers, commercial financing sources, insurance companies, and most importantly, potential buyers.
The extra money spent will be recovered in a higher premium when the business is eventually sold.
4. Develop a proprietary product or service
To truly thrive as a company, you must distinguish yourself in the marketplace by offering a unique product or service that can’t easily be replicated by competitors. While this seems obvious, very few companies are dedicated to creating this distinction.
Ask yourself if your customers, employees and competitors can all quickly describe what differentiates your company. A superior product or service will create the opportunity for a pricing advantage in good times and customer loyalty in difficult periods.
5. Focus on profitability
Too many business owners measure the success of their business on top-line revenues rather than pre-tax profitability. Value is created through maximizing profit, not maximizing revenue growth-a $25 million company earning $5 million pre-tax is worth more than a $40 million company earning $2 million pre-tax.
Another common mistake is desire to limit profitability to limit taxes. While fast growing businesses often need the extra cash to fund growth, this approach loses money for business owners, as the focus becomes tax avoidance rather than operational efficiency and profit maximization.
There are legal ways to minimize your taxes through the use of an S-Corporation or LLC rather than a C-Corporation.
6. Prepare and execute a business plan
Establish operational and financial plans and goals for your business in one, three and five year increments and share them with your employees. The plans should take into account various economic, industry and company specific scenarios and how management would react to each.
In addition to creating a road map for your future growth, this will focus your business and your employees around quantifiable goals and will allow you to make better business decisions as you grow your business.
7. Seek the help of outside professional advisors
Seek the assistance of outside professionals, especially a full service accounting firm, who can provide valuable advice as you grow your business.
Not only can they provide objective counsel as you grow your business, they can help you avoid disastrous legal, financial and operational mistakes that may have significant financial consequences down the road.
Similarly, if you plan on selling your business or are approached by a buyer, an investment banker can ensure that you obtain the best possible transaction by re-stating your financials, preparing a memorandum that highlights the intrinsic value of your business (including off-balance sheet items) and quietly approaching other buyers to ensure a competitive process.
CBIZ Mergers & Acquisitions Group, Inc. (“CM&A”) is the investment-banking arm of CBIZ, Inc. (NYSE:CBZ). CM&A predominantly represents owners of businesses with revenues between $15-300 Million in mergers & acquisitions transactions. CM&A offers a comprehensive and customized approach and welcomes all inquiries, which are treated in confidence.
To learn more about valuing a company and other mergers and acquisitions information, and to learn more about Doug, visit the CBIZ Website.
©2009, CBIZ, Inc.
I had the good pleasure of sitting down with Anup Samanta recently.
Anup worked for Mojam (the company I co-founded) early on in his career. He’s gone on to an interesting business journey that included Discover Financial, Lycos, MyPoints and Navistar.
Anup specializes in analytics and he and I decided to do a question and answer session on the topic of Marketing Analytics
Hi Anup. First off, what is the definition of Marketing Analytics?
Marketing analytics is primarily a data-driven function that extracts, validates, understands and reports on the quantitative data points generated from market-facing tactics to not only measure the performance of those market-facing tactics, but to also forecast sales demand across multiple channels being used by the brand to acquire and retain customers.
What are the top paid Marketing Analytics tools out there?
Every company has internal systems that aggregate different categories of data. It is important for market analysis managers to understand the data infrastructures of these internal systems.
Microsoft Excel, SPSS and SAS are generally adaptable and flexible marketing analytics tools that can handle huge volumes of data, regardless of the derivation of the data point.
There are also industry-specific data sources that can help supplement the integrity of reports created by the market analysis manager.
What are the top free Web analytics tools available?
There are several free Web analytics tools available. I use Google Analytics, Feedburner and ShareThis to track site performance metrics of my Stratelysis blog.
And I am happy with the ease of use these Web analytics tools.
I notice a lot of Web searches on Google Analytics, Thomson Analytics and Siebel Analytics — what’s the difference between those three?
These tools are very different as they serve different industry players and have various levels of complexity, but are similar as they deliver a data-driven solution to assess business or functional actions.
Google Analytics enables website managers to track site performance metrics to make decisions on how to better engage visitors.
Thomson One Analytics enables clients to track the performance of financial markets to make better decisions on how to allocate their money for maximum returns.
Siebel Analytics (Oracle Marketing Analytics) allows an organization understand marketing return-on-investment (ROI) by reporting on customer preferences, purchase behavior and segment profitability to drive profitable revenue and build brand.
Do you need separate tools for Web Site Analytics versus Search Analytics versus Email Analytics versus Mobile Analytics versus Video Analytics, etc.?
About ten years ago, brands allocated a larger piece of their marketing budget for offline than online tactics. Within the past five years, that allocation has shifted, especially as mobile, Web 2.0, video and photography technology have not only greatly approved, but rapidly proliferated.
The pace of technological growth has fundamentally outpaced our ability to understand the data coming from the technologies. Large agencies that execute multi-channel campaigns are aligning with specialized boutiques that focus exclusively on one, two or all of the online technologies listed above (Here’s an interesting Internet Companies & Ad Agencies article on this).
Based on media mix shifts and existing agency structures, clients must depend on separate tools for online analytics.
And I know you’re into social media — what are your thoughts on Twitter Analytics or Facebook Analytics?
I know that a lot of good work is being done on Twitter and Facebook analytics. It’s important to take a step back to understand the metric of success for a brand marketing itself on these sites.
For Twitter, is it about acquiring twenty followers a day? For Facebook, is it about targeting someone with 500 friends, fifty percent who provide status updates about beer?
In addition, qualitative customer research must be done to optimize the site layout so users are not only engaged with the activities of their followers and friends, but experience an advertisement and buy a product.
A suboptimal online marketing strategy is one where the brand engages the target customer via Twitter or Facebook, but has fewer incremental online sales versus a baseline online strategy where Twitter and Facebook aren’t deployed.
Brands and agencies that can figure out how to monetize social media will be the marketing gurus of our future.
Where in the org chart do you recommend Marketing Analytics reside (in the Marketing department or a separate Analtyics department)?
Marketing Analytics should report into a Marketing Business Intelligence or Customer Intelligence team that reports up to the Chief Marketing Officer or Vice President of Marketing.
Where’s the best place for employers to go to post marketing analytics jobs?
Employers should visit my alma mater to post marketing analytics jobs: The Medill Integrated Marketing Communications program at Northwestern University teaches a very customer-centric, data-driven, integrated marketing approach to its students, anticipating a new way on how stakeholders interact with brands.
About 80 students graduate from this program each year.
If someone wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to do?
Please visit my my Stratelysis blog and contact me through there.
Thank you, Anup!
I’m sitting here talking with Jane Newcomb, a firm believer in Agile Project Management, including the Scrum approach, to getting things done.
Jane works on product development for BabyCenter.com, the dominant Internet baby company.
I thought I’d share her perspective with you through a question and answer session.
Why do you use Agile Project Management with Scrum?
BabyCenter applies the Agile Scrum Methodology to our new product and software development because we found through trial and error (including trying the Waterfall methodology) that Scrum was the most efficient project/product management tool.
Talk about Agile Methology versus Waterfall Methodology?
At the core, Waterfall Methodology assumes all aspects of a project, all features, all the funtionality — it’s all completely mapped out upfront…and then four months later the finished product is rolled out to the business owners. The business owners don’t see any code or software until the entire feature/product is delivered.
And then it’s often not the deliverable that the business owners were expected.
Whereas Agile Methodoliges are more flexible and allows business owners to see working code rolled out every two to four weeks…that allows for change in direction, alterations based on business need changes, marketplace changes.
What’s An Agile Scrum?
The Agile Scrum represents executionof the Agile Methodology: it’s the daily huddle where team members come prepared to talk about what they worked on, what their obstacles are and what they’re working on for the next 24 hours.
It’s the daily check-in to allow business owners to understand what’s going on…and make adjustments as needed.
Do You Use Agile software development with Scrum?
Yes, we use an out of the box software tool called VersionOne.
What Is An Agile Scrum Master?
The role of the Scrum Master is to keep the team focused on the tasks and the stories that are part of whatever Sprint we are working on. It is their job to remove any obstacles and to help keep the team on track
What is an Agile Sprint?
A Sprint is the amount of time from start to finish that business owners agree to let the team work on the pre-defined set of requirements that were agreed upon prior to going into that Sprint.
How often do you use Agile Sprints?
The average Sprint lasts two to four weeks.
Did BabyCenter provide you Agile Scrum training?
I personally learned it on the go. But you can become a certified scrummaster through Agile training.
Thanks for sharing, Jane!
I sat in on a talk that eBay’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Manager Dennis Goedegebuure gave at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose earlier this month.
I got to chat with Dennis and he’s both smart and interesting — away from eBay he blogs about poetry, tips on San Francisco (in Dutch) and a favorite topic of mine: Black Coffee.
Note: Just to be clear, even though this was an eBay SEO specialist presenting his tips are not focused on eBay Store SEO or any other SEO for eBay Web pages.
While Dennis was through most of his presentation, I realized that he was going to make the slides available online — They are located here: Dennis Goedegebuure on SEO at eBay DecCon09.
I decided to go ahead and include my notes (below) as there were some comments Dennis and attendees made that are not in the slides — I encourage you to look at both!
Ok, on to my notes:
Dennis’s Definition of SEO
Those sound like things you want?
Here are some SEO tips, tricks and topics:
First and foremost, Dennis recommends that you make sure that your product is worth talking about; if you don’t, no person will link to you or visit your site or install your application.
Read the Search Engine Webmaster Guidelines
Dennis adds that you can learn a lot from what the search engines give you…the top search engines have documentation so you should read it… such as Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Google Universal Search: Threat or Opportunity?
Google and other search engines have moved more towards images, video and news — what we call Universal Search.
This is a threat — if you are just text-based…yet this is also a great opportunity to rank higher since there are fewer businesses that have images right now.
Microformats.org is a great resource for how to code, present, etc. better for search engines to have better display — you won’t rank better but your appearance will be better.
How Do Search Engines Work?
Search engines have crawlers crawling links to discover your content.
If your content is not linked to (hidden in java script or flash) it can not be easily discovered. Crawlers will look at your Link Structure.
Search engines download html content of the page and store it in their database. As they perform this Site Index, only extractable content is stored.
Then, search engines rank it. Here are keys to their ranking (in no particular order):
How Do I Get Google To Index My Site?
To get into the Google Site Index, or other website indexing, you simply have to publish your content onto Web pages and then link to it from somewhere. Google site indexing can be done as fast as just couple of minutes or many weeks depending on the type of Web site you have (note: Google indexes blogs more frequently than other Web sites).
Taking Your “LUMPS”
LUMP stands for Links, URL Structure, Meta Content, Page Content, SiteMap. Here are some
Search engines discover you through links. It also helps with relevancy.
For example, Adobe Reader is ranked for “click here” (because its Anchor Text reads: “If you don’t have Adobe Reader, click here”
Google was the first to do a link-based algorithm based primarily on:
Four other important Link-related tips to keep in mind:
Meta tags are HTML elements used to provide structured metadata about a web page. Make sure all of your pages have a unique page title with the keywords you want to focus on.
Page Content & Elements
Image Search Optimization
For one of MR. Goedegebuure’s sites, 50% of his traffic is coming from image search.
Use Semantic HTML
If you would like to have one thing emphasized, use an h1 and only one h1 per page.
Three main factors
If you do those three best practices, you will rank pretty well.
SiteMaps Continued: HTML SiteMap
Build an HTML sitemap with all links on your site for users and for search engines.
Keep your number of links to 50 or fewer because Google Sitemaps frowns upon anything more than that.
Four free tools
Dennis recommends the following tools:
…to help you to:
You can use this to see what’s searched more: singular or plural keywords.
It provides trending data for keywords, Cost Per Clicks, demographic data and real data from bing.com.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Dennis!
If you found this posting valuable, you may want to check out my Got Google Juice? item.
A very insightful man named John Hagel III spoke to a couple of hundred developers at eBay’s DevCon 09 gathering at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose last week.
I attended (even though I’m not a developer) and luckily Hagel’s talk was not technical!
Some of you may know John Hagel from his book Net Gain, which discusses how online networks have shifted the power in goods and services. He also runs The Center for the Edge in Silicon Valley.
Mr. Hagel’s topic last week was “Shaping Markets”
By Shapers, Mr. Hagel is referring to companies that transform a market sector. His Shaping examples included the following:
The Three Elements to Being a Shaper
Hagel says that a Shaper must have three things:
1) A Shaping View
An example of a shaping view is Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates’ message in the early 1980s that is summarized: “Computing power is inexorably moving from mainframes to desktop. If you want to be a leader in the computing industry, you have to be a leader in the desktop.”
At the time, the mainframe (IBM) and minicomputer (DEC) guys were discounting the personal computer.
Gates’ Shaping View galvanized small companies to invest in his vision of a “Computer on every desktop.”
A more recent example of a shaping view is Salesforce.com’s Founder Marc Benioff’s Shaping View that companies could reduce their technology expense if they used software through network services (as opposed to software packages installed within each company).
In short, Gates and Benioff are saying: “The future is over here — this is where you ought to invest…and there are real rewards associated with it.”
2) A Shaping Platform
Mr. Hagel explains that to be a “Shaper” you also need a platform that offer one of two types of leverage:
A) Development Leverage — A technology such as the force.com technology from Salesforce.com or Facebook’s Application Development Tools that reduces the investment required to build and deliver products or services.
B) Interaction Leverage — A set of protocols and practices to facilitate interaction. Google AdSense is a good example of this as it allows a connection between advertisers, content providers and consumers.
3) Shaping Acts & Assets
Mr. Hagel says that a Shaper must demonstrate conviction, capability as well as assurance to other participants in the industry that it will not compete with them.
His best example here was Novell, the computer networking company that sold off its hardware business to concentrate on its local area networking operating system. That was a bold move that signaled to others in the industry that Novell was serious about focusing on a network operating system — their dominance of that industry soon followed.
Another example: Malcolm McLean released his patents for the four-corner fittings and twist-lock mechanisms royalty-free to the International Organization for Standardization
Incentives are Important
There is also the question of how do you motivate people through positive rewards as opposed to negative rewards.
Clay Shirken, for example, believes in negative rewards — your company will go out of business if you don’t act.
Mr. Hagel seems to lean more towards positive incentives — He recommends shifting perceptions of risk and reward.
Crisis is an Opportunity
During crisis, we magnify risk and minimize reward. That’s an opportunity for a shaper is to come in and flip that.
You should magnify perception of reward and discount the perception of risk. If you do that you can motivate people to make investments around your strategy, you can reshape entire markets or industries.
Shapers Can Start off Small (even within other platforms)
You don’t need to be a large company to be a shaper. Visa at one point was a no-name startup. Malcolm McLean was a trucker from Arkansas.
Startups can be very successful shapers if they mobilize the three elements above — Shaping View, Shaping Platform and Shaping Acts and Assets — together.
Facebook is a current shaper. There are also opportunities to be shapers within an ecosystem — a company called Social Media Networks is creating a platform for Facebook to help faciliate aedvertising revnenue. It’s a shaping play within the broader Facebook ecosystem.
Making Money Even If You’re Not a Shaper
Here are some key lessons for you to make money in these shaping strategies even if you’re not the Shaper.
1) Be Acute in measuring a Shaper’s capabilities and potential for success. You ought to be comfortable that that Shaper is going to pull it off.
2) You’ve got to be clear about what niche you’re operating in…and what’s truly distinctive that insulates you from the rest of the participants.
3) Leverage Skills — You have to think about who else is out there in the ecosystem to take full advantage of the ecosystem. Who are those people and how to I build those relationships so that we all gain value from the shaping strategy.
4) Ultimately, the power of these shaping strategies is that you are able to learn faster. How do you learn from the experience of everyone else (not just your own experience)…and how do you adapt for your own sake.
The core message: not everyone is going to be a shaper. But more and more markets will be shaped over time.
The key question: do you want to be a shaper…or do you want to be shaped? You can make a lot of money either way. But you have to understand the rules of the game in order to succeed.
In late 2007 I was introduced to “Coach Terry,” a phone-based life coach.
I was dubious about the phone-only part but I gave it a shot for a few months and learned a ton.
The most important thing I learned from Terry was the importance of having a statement of purpose for anything substantial in my life (you can find a sample statement of purpose below).
I began writing a statement of purpose for my life, my business, my role in business, a holiday trip, my romantic relationship or even just my plan for a day.
I’ve found it useful to constantly be asking myself what the purpose of something I’m doing is, or when people ask me to do something or say they are doing something, I ask them: “What is the purpose of that?”
Be purposeful about all things in your life…and you’ll find that the outcome is more favorable.
So, here’s how to write a statement of purpose along with some purpose statement tips:
1) List Your Expectations
Write down all the expectations you have about your purpose related to a certain topic (e.g. your life, job, relationship with someone, etc.) on the left-hand side of the page.
Examples of expectations are wants, needs and even fears — for example, if you’re writing a purpose statement about a job you should be answering the following questions:
What do I really want my job to be?
What do I really need in my job?
What fears do I have about my job?
Spend at least 5 to 10 minutes on this part…and really open up!
You should now have at least 7 to 10 expectations — and they will probably be centered around a few topics or themes (e.g. for a job, it might be to make money, have fun, have a flexible schedule, etc.)
2) Purpose Statement
Now, fresh from writing out those expectations, immediately write down one long sentence that starts with “The purpose of my __________ is to …” and the rest of the statement should flow pretty naturally (hint: if you have any challenge here, take your Expectations and group them into a few topics or themes and use those as your purpose statement).
Writing a purpose statement is that easy!
You now have the beginnings of the purpose statement — you can refine this now or later (if you’re like me, you’ll find that you remember new wants, needs and fears later on — so just add them in and iterate).
3) Bonus Round: Write “I Will” Statements
If you want to take this thing one step further, return to the expectations and to the right of each of them write down an “I will” statement.
The “I will” statement should be something actionable that you could do to be more purposeful.
Try to make each “I will” statement specific, measureable, actionable and timely.
Don’t worry about ever doing such things — this isn’t a to-do list — just write it down!
The act of merely writing them down will make you more mindful of your purpose.
I promise you that if you do this exercise, you will be more purposeful on whatever the topic.
So, now you have a purpose statement (remember, you can refine it all you want) and even some actions that you can take (I sometimes DO treat it like a to-do list by printing it out and doing some of the actions immediately)
Samples of Purpose Statements
Here are some sample purpose statements I’ve written:
Life Purpose Statement — My life purpose is to smile most of the time, develop myself constantly to find my greatness, be productive the vast majority of the time, give plenty to others and to have a positive vibration on the planet.
Purpose Statement For Layoffs I Had To Make — The purpose of our layoffs is to be able to execute the plan on a timely basis, to be respected in the execution and to protect the jobs of productive people
Business Purpose Statement — The purpose of our business is to have fun, help people and make a little money.
Purpose Statement For My Job — The purpose of my job is to make money, meet only with people I love and respect, work on things I enjoy and provide a flexible schedule to take care of the primary choices in my life. Check out 3 Easy Steps To Write A Purpose Statement For Your Next Job.
Purpose Statement For A New Management Meeting I Had To Start (see my Daily Huddle Article) — The purpose of the daily huddle meeting is to align the management team and to increase the speed of our growth.
Purpose Statement for My Wife — The purpose of the relationship with my life-mate is to have a passionate, healthy and positive relationship — while still enjoying some vices! — that leads to a larger family with children I adore.
I also highly recommend you check out this How To Write A Purpose Statement article by Steve Pavlina.
That lead to the following life purpose statement by Mr. Pavlina: To live consciously and courageously, to resonate with love and compassion, to awaken the great spirits within others, and to leave this world in peace.
Enjoy being purposeful!