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In it he says that our thoughts are energy. Every thought we have is sent out into the universe and becomes a reality for us. So if we only think negative thoughts about how difficult or unfair life is or how unhappy we are with our current job or life circumstances, then we continue to create that reality. That opens up the mind for more creative thinking about how we might change our circumstances to create a better reality. T hese are powerful concepts to keep in mind. Here are some additional tips I garnered from the Peaks and Valleys book:. I plan to re-read this book at least once a year from now on, especially when I find myself going through or stuck in a Valley.

One of the ways to do this is to constantly improve your thinking. In his article, Rein lists three keys to improve your strategic thinking. Listen to others and be open to consider another viewpoint. Read the opinions of those who criticize your viewpoint to see if what they say has merit. You may be surprised and find a nugget of truth that might change your opinion.

We know the importance of taking time every day to exercise, as well as take extended vacations away from the office, computers, and your smart phone. Rein suggests taking a trip somewhere where the people are different — a different culture and language. Otherwise, we end up in a rut and we limit our own potential. Takeaways: Business planning requires strategic thinking and analytical thinking skills. Best practices include having clarity about where your business is going, keeping the planning process simple, and involving your staff in the planning.

Nearly all small businesses struggle greatly with most everything having t o do with plan ning for their business.

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The most obvious obstacles are the basic resources of a small business: time and money. I have no doubt that the two most overlooked obstacles to business planning are the l ack o f management commitment to planning and the lack of skills in planning. Planning skills are not a subject generally taught in school at any level but perhaps graduate degrees and beyond which mystifies me. If you, dear reader, agree with me, read on.

If not, you may be among the few who are well-practiced in the disciplines, skills and arts of business planning. Most small business owners, naturally, wear many hats. This has the effect of preventing one from devoting the discipline and concentration to actually doing the planning, and much more importantly, to establishing the processes and structures to support the execution of those plans.

So, what can business owners and managers do to effectively and efficiently introduce profitable planning activities to their organization? First , I suggest you recognize that planning skills are learned mostly through practice. However, in addition to courses at your local colleges, a great resource is a local or online consultant that can also more easily tailor some instruction to your needs.

Second , also recognize there is a learning curve that might delay your progress in planning. This you can overcome by hiring a consultant to facilitate some planning sessions for you. The big advantage here is that you can learn along the way. A good consultant trains and coaches you through the planning process so you and your staff can build the skills your organization needs. Third , become serious about having discipline in your planning programs. Keep it simple at first, but plan on building your programs to an optimal level for your organization.

When you set schedules for planning meetings, stick to them. And insist on attendance at the meetings. Make it part of staff evaluations to participate in planning meetings. Strategic planning is also about laying the general route of the journey the business is on to reach its vision, defining the key success measures you will use to know you are still on track.

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It is about having clarity on where the business is today and what its strength and weaknesses are. It is about defining the core strategies you will follow and the key action items to implement to achieve the vision. By contrast, operational planning is concerned with the tactical issues of running a business. Budgets, meeting schedules, action plans to support the strategies, setting policies, defining roles and tasks, outlining market segments and pricing, hiring, firing, advertising, etc. Recognize then, that you should have two separate plans — a strategic plan and a business or operating plan.

And develop them in separate sessions, with the strategic plan first. Also, more importantly, recognize that each planning process actually involves thinking very differently. This is a distinction that schools should teach. Most of our schooling is in how to think analytically or tactically, therefore, we are under-prepared to think strategically or systemically. This means we need to make sure we build up our strategic thinking skills.

Much has been written about this so you can search the internet for books, articles and courses on this. But, you can also learn while you do the work, which often is the most productive way to do it.

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Consulting firms like ours help you do just that. A carefully laid out plan that accounts for how your business and employees must operate is an important factor in efficient planning. The skills a consultant brings can help enormously. I have yet to find an entrepreneur who did it all himself or herself. Called the EABC model for planning developed by the Haines Centre for Strategic Management, this model has you answer five questions in this specific order:. If you would like a free copy of this model, please visit our website to download a copy.

Best practices in planning also include an understanding of the time required to draft a plan. Too often, once a plan is drafted, nothing happens because this crucial step is overlooked or ignored. This allows you to identify the personnel, financial and time resources required to truly achieve a successful planning program. If you are conducting your first strategic planning process, I recommend two full days in an environment that eliminates distractions.

A retreat is a good idea, but what is important is not being distracted. A good, experienced facilitator can make this happen in one day but what will be missing is some training for the staff on the planning and implementing processes and structures required. Also, be inclusive with your staff. Let them know what is going on and be prepared to involve and engage them in the planning process. Again, an experienced facilitator can be very valuable in coaching you on how to engage staff, keep them informed, and on what to engage them in.

Takeaways: Strategic management encompasses planning, culture change, operational flexibility, stakeholder involvement, and periodic future environmental scans. Planning and change are two key roles of every leader.

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Strategic Management encompasses several areas in managing and leading an organization. Planning certainly is part of the process. And the plan must start with a future vision, mission and values. Are you done until the time rolls around to dust it off and update it three years from now? The plan is a living document. Every year you update the plan and add another year. That way you are continuously working on your strategic plan while you work on the day-to-day activities that need to get done to move the business forward. Your plan you create this year becomes your next year and so on.

Then you have every division and department in the organization create 1-year business plans that support the 3-year strategic plan. What are they buying to make themselves feel and look better? Read on for shopping trends in food, home, fitness, tech, fashion, beauty, and other industries. Discover what the wellness craze means for you as a manufacturer or retailer.

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Get a high-level view of how brands and retailers are growing the bottom line, and other compelling insights explored at IDEA. From to Direct-to-Consumer to private label, new platforms and retail outlets are disrupting the way consumers shop for apparel. What predictions do industry advisors Marshal Cohen and Matt Powell have for the industry moving forward? The event highlighted struggles in the retail sector, and also acknowledged brands that are having great success during these transformative times.

Themes like rekindling growth, using technology to turn up the heat, and innovating to ignite business resonated with participants from a wide range of industries, including food and beverage. Licensed products make up one quarter of U. From backpacks to coloring books, to t-shirts and games, kids love the company of Harry Potter and Doctor Seuss characters alike.

What industries, categories, and products are doing well across licensing, and how can licensed products fuel your business? Convenience is a key driver of ecommerce growth in food and beverage, which means marketers must reimagine their products as solutions.

Food and beverage marketers need to shift to being part of food delivery solutions, as opposed to offering products alone, if they are to remain relevant in this shifting retail environment. More grocery, apparel, prestige beauty, and toy sales are shifting to e-commerce, with new offerings and delivery options. Find out how online sales are growing, and why now.

We know already that this generation is consuming fresh foods at higher rates than previous generations di. Over the past few years, public interest has shifted from Millennials to the younger kids on the block: Generation Z. Our industry analysts across fashion, office supplies, consumer electronics, B2B technology, home, and toys have been following the and season trends closely.

See how the retail holiday has evolved and what brands and retailers need to know to weather the storm. Things come back into style eventually. Across the fields of music, fashion, television, and design, our society nods to decades past with the resurgence of old trends. It will be a long time before the dust settles from the announcement this morning that Amazon will buy Whole Foods. In general, old folks act like old folks; while young people act like young people.

The news that Coach Inc. Investors in Bed, Bath and Beyond have been tossing and turning in bed of late, as the retailer issued a number of less-than-stellar earnings statements. Rue21 has filed for bankruptcy. And just last month, the apparel chain said it would close of its stores.

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Throughout history, people have turned to different forms of escapism to recharge and refuel from their increasingly high-stress lifestyles. How big is Wal-Mart?

Dollar Tree? In the world of retail, particularly in that subset of E-commerce stores that are expanding into brick and mortar, no company is getting as much attention as MM. The death of retail as we now know it is greatly exaggerated. The current retail evolution is being driven by a confluence of change. Changing consumer attitudes, behaviors, and demographics; ongoing channel and digital disruptions; and increasing competition for consumer mindshare and dollars are forcing a shift in long-held paradigms — continuing the status quo is no longer an option.

As we approach the end of the first quarter, our industry analysts are studying our retail sales data, identifying industry trends, and looking ahead toward what key technologies, categories, and products might change the direction of retail this year. What was hot during Holiday ? Hold your horses. Early forecasts surrounding holiday spending this year may have come too soon, our partner CivicScience has found.


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People who expect to spend more money this holiday season has increased. In October, only 16 percent of adults said they would spend more this holiday season over last. As of this month, that number has climbed to 21 percent. There are a few possible reasons for this. With less than one week to go before Christmas, Americans are on the home stretch with their holiday shopping. Take a look at their Holiday Shopping Recap Infographic to help jump-start your planning.

Buying gifts for friends and family can be daunting, no matter how well you know them.

Luckily, our partner CivicScience is here to give you some data-driven information that might help put you at ease, so you can focus on the important things food and family, of course. In this short post uncover what your friends and family prefer to give as gifts, what your friends and family prefer to receive as gifts, and which gifts are most often returned or exchanged.

The holiday season fills some of us with stress, while others actually enjoy the season. What gets the holiday shopper excited about the gift-buying season, and how can stores improve the experience? An essential part of the holidays is gathering with your people to celebrate family, friends, and the milestones of the calendar year. For many Americans, this means decking the halls fantastic, making a mountain of food, and buying anything and everything to make the entertaining process easier—and more fun.

We combed our POS and consumer databases to discover what people buy to entertain throughout the holiday season. Holiday fans and retailers alike have begun putting up Christmas displays right after Halloween. Wall Street has not been kind to Williams-Sonoma. These days you can buy just about anything, for just about anyone, via online subscription services. Are you a cat lady? Cat Lady Box has just what you love.

Geeks and gamers—just sign up with Loot Crate.

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Need to entertain kids? Sign them up for Tinker Crate lab experiment kits or get them to create with Kiwi Crate. Want to make products people love? Tuesday was National Taco Day. We trust you celebrated in appropriate fashion. One place you may have visited in honor of the day is Chipotle. Or perhaps not. Today marks the start of the track and field events at the Olympics in Rio. And that has the Checkout team particularly excited. In the retail and apparel worlds, there is one ultimate goal, one simple yet extraordinary metric that speaks of success like no other: having loyal customers who shop more frequently, and spend more money, than do other consumers.

Much of my adult life is recorded in the paper pages of that calendar system, which is designed to push users to organize their time by focusing on their personal values. Holiday shopping is full of highs and lows. One moment, you feel a surge of victory as you come across the perfect gift for your dad, seemingly undiscovered and marked down 20 percent, just as the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy sounds throughout a snowflake-adorned hall. This is the first in a series that breaks down retail data measures for the math-averse. The particulars of the retail business are always derivative.

Millennials are perhaps the most coveted, and certainly the most misunderstood, demographic in the retail world. Stereotypes abound. Think bearded hipsters eating artisanal pickles in Brooklyn.