(Time to read this Blog is about 5 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking or smiling:

  1. My Biz Quote of the week:  
    “When it comes to dealing with change, we have three options available:

    1.  We can be the architect of change,
    2.  We can embrace the change created by others…or,
    3.  We can be the victim of change.
    The best way to thrive in an uncertain future…is to create the future!”   
    …Donald Cooper.

  2. Quick Biz Tip:
    Never let any one customer become such a big percentage of your total sales that they control your future and your very survival.
    I’ve just read about furniture manufacturer here in Toronto that has filed for bankruptcy shortly after losing their biggest account.   They did 75% of their business with one large retailer who kept demanding lower and lower prices over the years, until the company was no longer profitable.
    Then, when the furniture maker just couldn’t lower their prices any more, that large customer suddenly stopped doing business with them and in 3 months the company was bankrupt.
    I’ve seen this happen so many times over the years, in various industries.  Years ago, a friend of ours lost his advertising agency and his life savings when his biggest client, 80% of his business, had a long strike and slashed ad spending to conserve cash.  One day they were a thriving ad agency…a month later, they were out of business.
    So, create a broad customer base in your business.  Don’t let any one customer control your future.
  3. Canadian restaurants are struggling. If you’ve eaten out recently, you probably had ‘sticker shock’.  In spite of charging noticeably higher prices, 51% of Canadian restaurants are losing money, or barely breaking even according to ‘Restaurants Canada’, an industry trade association,
    First, 2 years of Covid crippled the industry and now inflation has changed consumer’s dining habits.  
  4. Last chance to get my extraordinary Biz Tools at the current price. Many of my Biz Coaching clients and Blog followers have told me that I’m simply not charging enough for my complete set of ‘Business Assessment & Management Implementation Tools’ ($40) and our transformational Vision Critical Guide’ ($24), given the huge insight and value they deliver.
    So, as of October 1st, they’re going up to $60 for the ‘Biz Tools’ and $40 for the ‘Vision Critical Guide.’  This is your last opportunity to purchase them at the current price.  They come to you electronically as a downloadable PDF.  To purchase either or both, click here.   
    Note:   As a business owner or manager, your first job is ‘clarity’.  For a free Sample of one of the Biz Tools, #A-4, ‘Your 1st Job Is Clarity…how to calculate a Clarity Score for your business’,  click here.  
  5. Shameless Promotion: 

    If you or your Industry Association have a Conference coming up in the next 12 months, perhaps we should talk. As a thought-leader on management, marketing, staff engagement, value delivery and profitability, I deliver bottom-line business insights in a way that informs, energizes, engages and inspires. 

    To quote one recent attendee, “Best, most real, insightful and entertaining management session I’ve attended in 30 years.  Bring this Cooper guy back!”

    Our most requested topics are:

    1. “Accelerate Your Business…the ‘straight goods’ on how to sell more, manage smarter, grow your bottom line…and have a life.”
    2. “Winning the Talent Wars…8 essential steps to attracting, leading & engaging a top-performing team.”
    3. “Implement Or Die…how to improve clarity, commitment, urgency, accountability and profitability in your business.”
    4. “Vision Critical…how to manage, innovate and thrive in a very different tomorrow!”
    5. “Succession Planning & Exit Strategies…preparing your business and yourself for the most important financial transaction of your life!”

    I’m happy to chat about possibilities at 416-252-3703 in Toronto…or by email at donald@donaldcooper.com


Now, to this week’s important topic:

Now is the time to start planning for an extraordinary 2024:

It’s almost October and now’s the time to start the planning, making the decisions and taking the action that will make 2024 your best year ever. Success is something we plan for…not something we hope for.

So, now’s the time to work ‘ON’ the business…not just ‘IN’ it.   There’s lots of talk about a recession…but you could choose not to participate.  Here are some insights and ‘tools’ to help.

  1.  First thought:  Your focus should be in two separate areas:
    1. Fixing what needs fixing.
    2. Creating new opportunities for growth and profitability.
  2. Second thought: Your three most important jobs:
    1. Creating and communicating clear and compelling value and experiences that ‘grab’ your target customers, clearly differentiate you from your competitors, makes you ‘famous’…and grows your bottom line.
    2. Creating world-class operating efficiency in every part of the business.
    3. Creating a Team and culture that make a) and b) happen.
  3. Third thought: Focus on ‘commitments’!  When you and your Team are planning for next year, don’t talk about ‘goals, targets, aims and objectives’.  These are weak and wishy-washy words that leave way too much ‘wiggle room’ to not Talk about ‘commitment’s.  ‘Commitments’ to your customers, your team, your bottom line, your community and the planet.  When we change our language, we change our culture…and our results.
    The more clear and specific you get about your commitments, the better your results will be. Here are 3 examples of what clear and specific commitments look like: 
    1. We commit to increase sales by $800,000 in the next 12 months, while not increasing sales and marketing expenses by more than 4%.
    2. We commit to reduce operating expenses by $50,000, in the next 6 months, without diminishing our customer service or employment experience.
    3. We commit to improve delivery on ‘rush orders’ by 4 hours, within 3 months, without increasing our shipping expense by more than $12,000 a year.

For each commitment you make, determine what specific activities, actions, changes or initiatives will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, with what result, measured how and rewarded how, to make that happen. Then, determine what resources and empowerment will be needed to  get it done…on time.  

  1. Forth thought: The best way to start this important process is to get real about which areas of your business or department need work.  You can’t get to where you need to be if you’re unclear about where you are now.
    An effective and quick way to determine where you are now is to download and use my 1-page Business Key Challenge Audit Sheet that takes just 4 minutes to complete.  It comes with complete instructions.  To download it, just Click HereThere is no charge.
  2. Getting started: Sit down for a few hours with a group of the best minds and hearts in your business, or department and answer the following 10 questions: 
    1. What extraordinary bottom-line profit do we commit to generate in 2024?  Our profit is something we commit to and plan for…not something we just hope for.
    2. What’s our sales commitment for next year that’s required to deliver our profit commitment.  What are the 3 or 4 (or more) most important things we need to do to achieve that 2024 sales commitment?
    3. What are 3 things that we do that confuse or tick off our customers…and what will we commit to do to fix them so wonderfully that they actually become part of our competitive advantage?
    4. What are the 3 most important new systems, processes or technologies that we need to bring into the business in 2024?
    5. What are 3 or 4 important value, marketing or operational things that any of our competitors do better than us…and how will we improve and be the competitive leader in 2024?
    6. What are the 5 biggest expense items on which we can save some money or improve operational efficiency in 2043…and, specifically, how will we do that?
    7. What are 4 things we can do to become ‘greener’ in 2024…and beyond?
    8. What are 3 or 4 things we can do to improve internal communication and improve clarity about our commitments to customers, to each other and to our bottom line?
    9. What improvements in marketing, promotion and advertising will we commit to in 2024 to tell our story more effectively? There’s no point being the best if we’re also the best kept secret. How will we create more customer intimacy, be more responsive to and interactive with customers and prospects?  How can we use social media more effectively to achieve this? 
    10. We can’t grow the business without growing our people and your team. What new talent, skills or experience must be added to our team to compete successfully in 2024 and beyond?   What training, development or mentoring does each person on our team need to help them grow?   How do I commit to grow as a leader and manager to be more effective in 2024?

NoteAdd a few of your own key questions to the 10 listed above.  Ask each team member to come up with at least one idea to grow or improve the business next year.  Give them a week to come up with their ideas and then schedule an ‘Idea Fest’.   You’ll be amazed at what they come up with.
Bonus Tip:  During the ‘Idea Fest’, no evaluation or criticism of ideas presented is allowed.  That kills participation. 

  1. Create your 2024 Business Plan:
    Our 2024 Business Plan will consist of:
    1. Our profit commitment for 2024 (Click Here to access Donald’s Biz Tool #B-5, The Back-Assward Approach to Profitability). 
    2. Our ‘Value & Experience Differentiation Plan’ (how will we be the extraordinary and clear ‘wise choice’ for our target customers?)   Note: If we’re manufacturers, this will include a ‘Product Development Plan’.  If we’re Distributors or Retailers, it will include a ‘Product or Product Line Acquisition Plan’. 
    3. Our ‘Marketing / Branding / Communication Plan’ (how will we consistently and effectively tell our value & experience story in everything we do?) . 
    4. Our ‘Systems & Process Improvement and Cost Management Plan’ (specifically, what will we do to achieve world-class operating efficiency in every part of our business?),
    5. Our 2024 ‘Org Chart’.
    6. Our ‘Talent Development, Training & Acquisition Plan’ (Click Here to access Donald’s Biz Tool #A-17, Evaluate Your Talent Pipeline).
    7. Our ‘Biz Culture Improvement Plan’ (How will create a Culture that the best people are attracted to and stay with  Click Here  to access Donald’s Biz Tool #A-16, How to Create an Effective Team Culture). 
    8. Our ‘Cash Flow Plan’ for 2024.
    9. Our projected 2024 ‘P&L Statement’.
    10. Our 3 to 5-year Vision. For even more help in proactively planning for 2024 and beyond, Donald’s transformational 40-page Vision Critical Guide provides the insights, tools and templates to create clarity about the future of your business.  This transformational ‘Guide’ is available as a PDF download for just $24 (price goes up October 1st).  Click here. 
  1. In Conclusion:  This may sound like a lot of work…but it’s what management is all about.  It’s why you get the big bucks!   Stop retreating to the familiar, doing the ‘easy day-to-day stuff’ and hoping for better results.  Remember, we get what we work for…not what we hope for.
    If you’d like help with this important process of Planning your extraordinary future and your bottom line, I’m easy to find at donald@donaldcooper.com.

That’s it for this week…

Live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.


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