Workshop educates business owners
Posted May 19, 2006

Alexandra Lozano
Staff Writer

The Center for Strategic Thinking held a hands-on workshop “Developing an Executable Strategic Plan for the 21st Century” to help business owners prepare for the future May 10 in the President’s Dining Room.

The event provided breakfast for its audience of about 20 people.
Linda Mehit, along with her husband Peter attended the workshop. They are business consultants for WhiteBoard Partners, LLC.

“My husband and I own a business together,” Mehit said. “I thought it was very informative and it was good.”

The Mehits and others were interested in incorporating strategic planning in their firm’s procedures.

“I appreciate where they were going and I think it’ll be useful. We can use
it for our company and clients.”

Professor of Business Administration Janice Dietz welcomed everyone to the event, joking that this is her second career.

“We’re all self-employed and we all have to think about strategic planning,” Dietz said.

The workshop began with a Power Point presentation of questions each firm could use to analyze trends and the industry.

“The whole point of this exercise is to find out what the main things in your firm are so that they are the main thing,” Associate Professor of Management Yvonne Smith said.

Smith referenced modern technologies such as the iPod saying that it was the process that made it such a success and not the technology.
“You’ve got options,” Dietz said. “You can be low cost and you can go after big market.”

The workshop provided a package of notes that included a TOWS matrix similar to the traditional SWOT matrix, as a backwards more efficient way of finding profits. The TOWS matrix examines the firm’s threats, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths.

“Focus on what you do well,” Dietz said. Also, “what your clients want.”
Smith stressed the importance of strategic planning for any business firm, saying “that if you don’t think about strategic planning your competitors will.”

“If you have to go to the doctors, you go,” Smith said. “This is important. Make an appointment with yourself and walk out the door – this is easy to ignore.”

The TOWS matrix allows each company to find the main issues.
“Can you say in one sentence what your firm is about,” Smith said. “If you aim for nothing, you hit it.”

Smith named the four steps in strategic analysis as external, internal,
finding the key issues and creating a plan. She explained that a firm needs to know their clients.

“Are your clients going to be the same in five months, five minutes,” Smith said. “The issue is readability meets customer service.”

Alexandra Lozano can be reached at himelozano@juno.com.

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