Tag Archives: trevis certo

Small Business Leadership Academy

Small Business Leadership Academy: Aligning Strategy With Corporate Resources

The 2012 Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) kicks off with two nights devoted to strategy, and more specifically, competitive advantage and how to achieve it. Emphasis is put on the importance of aligning a company’s activities to create an advantage over competitors.

The cornerstone of the strategy course is analysis. Any business owner can use analysis to determine what their organization offers to their industry as well as to their customers. Determining whether a business’s organizational strategy fits its resources is the first step towards maximizing competitive advantage.

“(Business owners) need to be honest with themselves about their organization, its resources, and whether their current strategy is in need of updating,” stresses Professor Trevis Certo. “A common strategic mistake that many small businesses make is not understanding how common their product or service is, and how easy it would be for another company to imitate.”

Many companies suffer from being a “jack of all trades, master of none” by trying to be all things to all customers. Once a strategy is decided on, not all customers should be pursued and current customers might even need to be “fired.”

Spend some time over the next week thinking about your company’s value proposition. Take the time to really analyze whether all aspects of your business are aligned with that value proposition. Are you pursuing the right clients? Are your compensation models aligned with your goals? Are there operations that you have undertaken that take up more resources than they are worth?

Next, make necessary changes. While this exercise may not currently be at the top of your priority list, it can mean the difference between growing your business and closing your business.

Next week, we’ll explore how to take what you see as your company’s competitive advantage and making sure it is not easily imitated by your competitors.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U.S. Bank.

Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

Small Business Leadership Academy, Brandon Taylor - AZ Business Magazine November-December 2011

Small Business Leadership Academy Helps Boost Knowledge Base For Executives

Small Business Leadership Academy Helps Boost Knowledge Base For Executives

Like most small business owners, Brandon Taylor is always looking for ways to boost business.

“I wanted to learn how to be a better manager and entrepreneur,” says Taylor, president and co-founder of Scottsdale-based Small Business Leadership Academy - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011. “I eventually want to get an MBA and I thought the Small Business Leadership Academy program was a great step in that direction.”

Jointly developed by the W.P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business insight, skills and knowledge of small business executives. The 10-week program is now in its fourth year.

“The curriculum is based primarily on courses taught in our MBA programs,” says Trevis Certo, an associate professor at Arizona State University who taught an SBLA module called Strategy for Competitive Advantage. “At the same time, we focus our discussions on  concepts and topics that are most relevant to small companies.”

Gaining a better understanding of those concepts that can impact a small business owner’s bottom line is what benefits participants the most.

“The SBLA program touches on strategy, marketing, procurement, negotiation,” Taylor says. “I have learned some important principles like Porter’s Five Forces (a framework for industry analysis and business strategy development formed by Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School), services blueprinting, and procurement techniques that have helped me think about ways to improve our business efficiency and day-to-day operations.”

Certo says increasing a business owner’s knowledge base is particularly important in a turbulent economic environment.

“Business owners are always looking for new ideas, and these searches are amplified during economic downturns,“ Certo says. “Several participants have discussed how competitors have ‘disappeared’ during the downturn. These disappearances provide opportunities for those who remain in the marketplace.”

Taylor is one small business owner who sees education as a way to grow his business and make it stronger

“The more I learn, the better businessman, leader and manager I become,” Taylor says. “Everyone gets caught up in day-to-day operations and your business becomes a job.  Taking the SBLA program has forced me to spend time improving the business operations and growing the company.”

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Learn more about the Small Business Leadership Academy

What it is: Small Business Leadership Academy
Who does it: W.P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor.
What it entails: A mandatory orientation followed by five modules – each consisting of two class periods — taught over a 10-week period. Classes consist of lectures, case discussions, group exercises and simulations, all geared to provide participants with key takeaways to strengthen and grow their businesses.
Requirements: To qualify, you must have a minimum business tenure of three years; have annual revenues between $1 million and $10 million; have fewer than 100 employees; be able and willing to attend all scheduled classes and related activities.
Tuition: $4,000, which includes all instruction, books and materials, parking, and graduation. A limited number of scholarships will be made available.
Web: wpcarey.asu.edu

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Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011

 

 

Small Business Leadership Academy series

Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part II)

Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part II)

Students spent time over the last week determining their company’s value proposition. Each student presented their value proposition to the class and fielded questions about it. For a small business owner, taking the time to occasionally review their organization’s strategy — and making necessary changes — can be the difference between staying in business and closing their doors.

As Professor Trevis Certo mentioned last week, “A common strategic mistake that many small businesses make is not understanding how common their product or service is and how easy it would be for another company to imitate.” With that in mind, several students put their value proposition in terms of what was rare about their businesses.

For Robert Lassner, project manager for Photovoltaic Systems Manufacturing, the value proposition isn’t always a product. “One of the rare things we have is experience and knowledge,” he says. “That is our most valuable asset.”

Ria Robles, vice president of B2B Delivery, also detailed the valuable aspects of their same-day courier service, commenting, “None of our competitors have all of these aspects, which is what helps keep us so successful.”

This exercise allowed these company leaders to take a high-level look at their day-to-day activities. What plans are pushed aside to keep the business moving forward? Steve Taverna, president and owner of TAVCO Sales & Service Company, has new accounting software just waiting to be implemented. “As we get bigger, we’re hoping to have more people that will be willing to take the lead on implementation of new technology.”

Going through this exercise created a strong foundation for the students as they move into next week’s topic, competing through services. With a better handle on the value proposition of their organization, these business leaders will no doubt refine their business practices over the next eight weeks.

The Small Business Leadership Academy (SBLA) is an intensive executive education program designed to strengthen the business acumen of small business leaders in Arizona. The program was jointly developed by the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Salt River Project (SRP), the program’s founding sponsor. Other seat sponsors this year include: Arizona Lottery, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Hahnco and U. S. Bank. Each week we will bring you a few salient points from each class as well as comments from the professors themselves and the impact the information has had on the students.

For more information about the Small Business Leadership Academy, please visit SBLA’s website.

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Missed the first part of this series?

Read Small Business Leadership Academy: Strategy for Competitive Advantage (Part I).

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