Would you like to know the key foundational components that your business needs to succeed? In this podcast episode, Crista Grasso is joined by Viola Welang, a small business strategist whose passion is to help her clients run and grow successful businesses without stress. In this episode, you will learn three key foundations that your business needs to be successful and how to overcome common challenges in your business.
In this episode, we discuss:
- 2:56: 3 key foundational components that your business needs to succeed
- 6:06: How to get started with strategic planning in your business
- 14:31: Common challenges businesses face and how to overcome them
- 17:00: Reflect on how you can improve your hiring process
- 19:20: How to successfully grow your business
- 21:20: How to work smarter, not harder and keep things lean in your business
- 22:02: Where you can learn more about Viola Welang
Dive deeper into each of these topics over on the podcast.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Foundations of Any Successful Business with Viola Welang
[00:00:51] I am excited to be sharing Viola Welang with you because we have a shared love for strategic planning. We are going to dive into all things strategic planning. Viola, I’m excited that you’re here. I’m going to tell everyone about you, and then I’d love to have you tell us about your journey. Viola is a small business strategist. She has a passion for helping her clients run and grow successful businesses without stress, which is what we all want. She focuses on building a strong business foundation that will be sustainable in any business environment. Viola, welcome. Tell us a little about yourself.
[00:01:29] Thank you so much for having me. Thank you for the introduction. We have a shared passion for strategic planning because I do believe that is the way to run your business. I have a program called Business Done Right. That’s how strongly I believe in strategic planning. I’m a small business consultant with an emphasis on small business and strategies. I have a background in Accounting and an MBA. I use my educational and professional background to start a small business consulting company after working with small businesses for such a while.
[00:02:11] I know that I had a good understanding of the ecosystem of the environment for small businesses and what it took for success in that environment. That is basically what my business does. I help small business clients to build a sustainable foundation so that they can grow, be successful and reach any heights that they want. Oftentimes, it takes them to overcome all the different hindrances or roadblocks that other businesses often face. With that strong foundation, they’re able to break through those barriers, grow and achieve success. That’s what I do for my clients.
[00:02:48] It’s critical because we all want sustainable businesses. We all need a solid foundation to build off of. Why don’t we start there? Let’s dive in. What do you think are those foundational components that businesses need to succeed?
[00:03:02] I say this without any bias. I do feel like there are many things that a business needs to run, but there are some things that are foundational. You absolutely cannot make it with sudden things being intact. I say this out of experience from working with businesses and understanding why some were making it and some not. I have three keys. The first one is financial stability. When I say financial stability, I’m not talking about having money in the bank. I’m talking about having a good financial accounting system where you can rely on the data, and you can use it to assess how you’re doing. You can use it to determine your price structure. You can use it to see what is doing well, but having a good financial or accounting system in place to be able to use that data and make informed decisions. That’s the language that your business communicates with you is through your numbers. Having a system that captures everything appropriately in the right category so that it can communicate to you how your business is doing.
[00:04:23] The second thing is having the right processes and systems in place. This is also very foundational because that’s the only way we can grow as businesses. It’s like having a process that can automate or do the same thing over and over with the same quality so you can produce the same results. It’s foundational because you can’t grow without it. That’s the way big companies are able to multiply, have franchisees, have different locations around the world, and produce stuff in big numbers because the processes are the same everywhere. You put in the inputs and produce the same results.
[00:05:05] The last thing is strategic planning. That’s important because it provides clarity for the business owner and direction, especially when we start growing. When you start your business, sometimes you can contain all the ideas in your head and figure things out, but as you start to grow, you need a plan that factors in basically where you’re going and all your resources so that you can have a roadmap that leads you to that destination. Those are the three things that I find that are foundational to business success.
[00:05:45] I think they are critical. The irony is I feel like those are the three things that a lot of businesses are weakened when they first start, but even as they’re growing, a lot of times, people will avoid processing systems because they think it’s going to be confining and it’s not. It gives them more freedom and credibility, the same with planning. Let’s dive into planning because I had the pleasure of being on your podcast. We realized that we had a shared love for strategic planning. I would like to know more on how you approach this. How do you help that business owner who maybe hasn’t historically done planning to get started with it?
[00:06:32] They’re usually at the point where they just crossed that. You’re growing, overwhelmed, and being pulled from many different directions. You maybe have frustrations with your team. You feel like in your mind, you know what they need to be doing but it’s not translating. It’s a mess. You are maybe profitable but you’re worn out. You know that can’t be the way forward forever. There has to be a better way. That’s where I’ll come in. The way I approach it, we go through all the onboarding stuff, but I start by understanding what the business does. I have what is called our business model canvas, fill it out, and understand all the different components of their business.
"Have a roadmap that leads to your destination." - Viola Wang Click To Tweet
[00:07:14] That’s part of my intro. I have it in three phases. I have my assessment phase, the building phase, and implementing. During the assessment, I’m getting to know the business with the canvas, understanding what their key issues are that they’re dealing with whether it’s from the customer side, it is internal or its finances. Whatever issues you’re going through, I need to know everything. Once I do that, the next thing is doing a thorough environmental scan. What that means is understanding your internal environment and your external environment. By external environment, it’s doing a SWOT analysis. What are your Strengths? What are your Weaknesses? What are the Opportunities in the business environment, and what are the Threats?
[00:08:05] It’s important to be able to know that because, during the assessment phase, we’re trying to understand where you as a business are in your market. Where are you positioned? When we begin to define your plan, it’s based on your unique blueprint as a business and not just some generic strategy. It’s based off of what your strengths are, your weaknesses and keeping all of those things in mind. It’s also based upon your current issues that you’re dealing with. That’s why we take notes on your key issues because we want to address all these things. The goal for strategic planning is to move forward, but it’s also to move forward by overcoming the issues that are holding you back. That’s the assessment phase.
[00:08:53] In the next phase, which is the building, we start the building phase by getting clarity on what your vision and mission are. It’s important because you can’t go far with your eyes closed even if you feel like you know where you’re going. If you close your eyes and walk towards that direction and you open your eyes, you’re going to go left or right. It’s not going to be straight and narrow. Understanding where your vision is important to keep you focused on that big picture so that everything that we’re doing is aligned towards that. Believe it or not, not having that front and center can derail you because there are many different priorities once you start the business that is pulling you and pulling on you. There’s a demand on your time coming from left and right. Some of the things may not necessarily be leading you towards your vision.
[00:09:50] Keeping that front and center is important so that as we create the plan, everything is aligning towards that direction. We’re getting rid of all the things that we can consider distractions or things that are taking us away from that. Once we have that clear, we now understand our assessment phase, where we are in the market, we understand where we’re going. That’s our vision. Now we start to develop our goals. Our goals will be like a long-term plan or a long-term objective of how we want to get to that vision. It can be something around operation. Maybe you want to create operational excellence within your company. It can be financial goals, customer-related or a host of different things, but all those things that will get you closer to your vision.
[00:10:39] We also would create the objectives, which would be the short-term measurable things that would help you achieve your goal. An example of an objective can be something that is measurable and specific time-bound like increasing your customer base by 20% in 2021. It’s something specific that you can track as a KPI later on in your plan. Now we know what our whats are. Our whats are the goals and objectives, what we want to achieve. Our how would be how do we achieve these goals and objectives? Our how will be the strategy. What are we doing to achieve our goals? The tactics would be, within your strategy, what are the specific components that you’re doing to achieve the strategy?
[00:11:27] Let me give you an example. A strategy can be to increase your social media presence. Strategy is broad. A tactic is very specific. It’s more like posting every day, five times a week, or what are those specific things you are doing. It breaks down your vision into all these micro components of things that you need to be doing so that your whole team is on track online, working on a shared objective or shared priority. That’s like the building phase of your plan. The next phase would be the implementation phase. For the implementation, we’re saying, “What is the action plan?” We first come up with the different KPIs and metrics that we’re going to use to measure all these goals and strategies.
[00:12:18] We allocate these different goals and strategies to different people within the organization. Let’s say we have a goal around improving the customer base. That’s going to be more of a sales team priority. The sales manager is in charge of that goal, and within his own team, he can deviate up and say, “These different tactics, I’m going to break it down to you or everyone in the team.” Taking that micro goal and breaking it down within each team, team member, and giving responsibility to the team members is also helpful to empower your team so they feel like they’re part of the big picture. They’re not just doing things out of isolation. They understand that this is where we’re going and this is the part that they have to play to get you there.
"Get clear on your vision and your mission." - Viola Wang Click To Tweet
[00:13:07] Once you have that divvied up and you know what everyone is supposed to be reporting on, that’s the building of your action plan. At the end of each month, we would recommend doing monthly meetings to check up on the status of where we are on those KPIs and metrics. It’s a time to come together either within the groups or depending on how big your team is. You go through a reporting on where everyone is and see if you’re on track or if you’re lagging behind or if you’re ahead of the curve, and understanding why you’re at that position.
[00:13:43] Sometimes, it may be justification or you may have to rework your strategy on how you’d need to get to where you’re trying to go, but that’s what that meeting is for. It’s a check-in meeting so that you don’t just do the plan and abandon it, but you’re constantly checking to make sure it’s doing what it’s supposed to do and making any corrections to the plan to make sure that it works. That’s the long and short of the strategic planning process.
[00:14:14] That’s very in alignment with what I do as well. I feel like it’s how you need to run your business when you want to make real business growth. When you get past the spaghetti on the wall stage, you do need to commit to strategic planning. Let’s talk about some of the challenges that businesses make or face because, as we talked about, these three things are foundational. A lot of businesses don’t have them. What are some of the other common challenges that you see in small businesses, and how can they overcome them?
[00:14:50] The challenge that a lot of business I see is there’s that weird stage where you’re trying to scale and grow. You have an idea, you just don’t know how to do it. I feel like that’s where all this stuff comes into play. It’s the processes or having the plan and the roadmap to get you there. That would be the biggest thing. It’s having an issue or a challenge around scaling your business and not having the right processes to be able to do that. I find that, especially if you are the business owner, if you’re more of the tech person around the business or the operations, that ability to be able to delegate, let go and say, “In order for me to get to point A, I can do everything by myself. I needed a team so that I can have processes, skill, and hand things over to people.”
[00:15:42] That is tricky. Some people feel like, “Maybe I do it better. It’s easier if I do it.” The problem is you only have 24 hours in a day and 8 working hours in a day. You can’t grow beyond a certain level if you’re trying to do everything. Where you lose a little bit of efficiency in delegating, you gain in being able to scale and have uniformity. Sometimes, you’d be surprised that you may not even lose the efficiency. You might have someone that does it better. Getting over that mentality of wanting to do everything and/or not having the processes to be able to delegate, scale and grow. That to me, I find this a touchy area.
[00:16:33] I know many businesses are reluctant to bring on team members because they either had poor experiences in the past. They aren’t good at delegating so they bring somebody in and then feel like they’re paying them but they still do everything themselves. It’s critical. I loved the point that you made is that’s what you need to scale.
[00:16:51] That’s the only way to do it. It’s not possible any other way. You touched on something about they had a bad experience. For me, it’s something to reflect and say, “How can I do this better?” Clearly, other people are able to do it. There must be, “I’m not doing it right.” Also, reflecting on ourselves to see how we can improve our process, how we can make sure that the role is clear, how we can find the right person, and how we can train because somehow the whole world is going to do it. The problem is with us trying to figure out how to do it right.
[00:17:26] Going back to some of the systems and processes, I find that sometimes people struggle with bringing somebody good on board. They don’t know how to effectively hire but more often than not, they have good people. They don’t have good systems and processes to onboard that person, to make it clear, so they know what to do and why they’re doing it. Do you find the same thing?
[00:17:52] I have had situations where the business owners are frustrated because they feel like the team members are not doing what he thinks they should be doing. The team members are frustrated because they feel like they don’t have enough direction. To a certain degree, everybody wants to be able to do some fulfilling work and do something that they can be proud of. I don’t think most people don’t want to sit and not be productive. You have to give them the tools, whether it is clear on what the expectations are. The good thing with strategic planning is it also touches on delegating and having accountability because, within the plan, you get to the point where you’re able to say, “This team is responsible for this.” Within that team, they can say, “You can be responsible for social media. You can be responsible for newsletters.” You can delegate and everyone has a role that we know that this is what my expectation or you are expecting from me. I see that a lot, but we have to reflect and see how we can make that process better for the team member because it can be done. We just have to figure out how to do it.
[00:19:09] I like that approach in general. It can almost always be done. You have to figure out how to do it no matter what you’re talking about. I feel like you shared many great tips here, but I’d love to know, are there any other things from a small business owner position perspective that they can do to position themselves to be able to grow and have success?
[00:19:34] It begins with clarity. I share the analogy about walking somewhere with your eyes closed or going somewhere with no directions. You need clarity to align your resources. If you don’t have clarity, it’s such a waste to your company because you spend your time, your money, developing things that maybe work or not work. That’s basically what not having clarity is. It’s like developing all these different ideas. When you’re clear on where you’re trying to go, you have a thought-out plan as far as what you want to tackle within the realm of strategic planning. It is providing that clarity. You’re trying to go to point B. You assess and analyze your environment and say, “The best cause for me to go to point B is to do X, Y, Z.”
[00:20:30] You’re clear on what you’re doing in your business for the whole 1 or 2 years. You’re not trying to figure out or dabble into different things. You just have a tunnel vision on that plan. It takes away so much waste. At the least, it helps you know if it’s going to work or if it’s not going to work because then you’d have spent your time to develop it. If it doesn’t work, then you know that this strategy doesn’t work for you. Trying to do everything is too much. That’s a big thing for me. Being clear and having a plan is a great way to be able to grow and scale.
[00:21:09] I love it. That’s basically what a Lean business is all about. One of the questions I always ask everybody, and I’m dying to know your answer and perspective on this, is in your business, how do you work smarter, not harder, and keep things lean?
[00:21:26] It’s clarity. I do this planning for myself every year. We do it in my business and we figure out what was the direction. That way, if a new fancy thing comes out, I’m not like, “Let me try this.” No, I have a plan. I’m clear on where I’m going. That’s what I do. It yields results. It works.
[00:22:03] Tell people more about you. I’d love to know what you have going on, what’s coming up next for you, and where can people find more about you?
[00:22:12] You can find out more about me. My company is called The Business Essentials. My website is TheBEssentials.com. You can link up with me on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, @TheBEssentials. I also have a podcast where I either share on topics such as this, talk to other people or experts in the industry around small businesses. It’s also called The Business Essentials Podcast. As far as projects, I have a course launching at the end of April 2021. It’s called the Business Done Right. It’s your five-step strategic planning framework. We go into a lot of details on if you want to do this yourself, how to walk through that process, and achieve the same level of success without having to hire a professional. I would also link that information where you can find more details on that. That’s what I have going on.
[00:23:18] Thank you so much for being on. You shared so much wisdom. My readers will resonate with all of it because it aligns so much with what I talk about. Thank you. Everybody, please do go check her out online as well as check out her course.
[00:23:37] Thank you so much for having me. Thank you, everyone, for reading.
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- Instagram - @TheBEssentials
- LinkedIn - @TheBEssentials
- @TheBEssentials - Facebook
- Viola Welang - LinkedIn
- Business Done Right
- Episode – Crista Grasso’s episode in Viola’s podcast
- The Business Essentials Podcast
About Viola Welang
Viola is a small business strategist with a passion for helping her clients run and grow successful businesses without stress. She focuses on building a strong business foundation that will be sustainable in any business environment.
by Crista Grasso
Known as the "Business Optimizer", Crista has the ability to quickly cut through the noise and focus on optimizing the core things that will make the biggest impact RIGHT NOW to grow and scale your business. As a lean business consultant, she specializes in helping businesses gain clarity and focus through strategy, planning, and lean practices. She is the creator of the Lean Out Method and the 90-Day Lean Out Planner, and is also the founder of the global accessories brand Criscara Jewelry.