The Power of Employee Training

The Power of Employee Training

6 reasons for investing in employees’ learning and development

In today’s dynamic business landscape, where change is constant and innovation is imperative, investing in employee training has emerged as a strategic necessity for organizations aiming to thrive and stay ahead of the curve.

Beyond being a mere compliance requirement, employee training serves as a catalyst for organizational growth and success, offering a host of benefits that extend far beyond the individual level. From enhancing skills and knowledge to fostering diverse perspectives and driving innovation, there are many advantages of comprehensive training programs:

1. Increased Skills and Knowledge:

Employee training programs provide a structured platform for employees to acquire new skills and deepen their existing knowledge base. Whether it’s mastering advanced techniques in their field or staying abreast of the latest industry trends, ongoing training empowers employees to continuously evolve and upskill. This not only enhances individual performance but also equips the workforce with the capabilities needed to address evolving challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

2. Diverse Thinking and Perspectives:

Diversity of thought is a cornerstone of innovation and problem-solving. Employee training initiatives, especially those that promote cross-functional collaboration and diversity, create an environment where individuals from diverse backgrounds can come together, share insights and challenge conventional thinking. By fostering a culture of inclusivity and embracing diverse perspectives, organizations can unlock creative solutions to complex problems and drive innovation forward.

3. Enhanced Leadership Potential:

Effective leadership is vital for steering organizations toward their goals and fostering a culture of excellence. Employee training plays a pivotal role in identifying and nurturing future leaders within the organization. By providing leadership development programs and opportunities for mentorship and coaching, companies can groom high-potential employees, empowering them to assume leadership roles and drive positive change across the organization.

4. Improved Products and Processes:

Training programs that focus on real-world applications enable employees to translate theoretical knowledge into practical solutions. Whether it’s refining product designs, streamlining processes, or enhancing customer experiences, employees who undergo targeted training are better equipped to apply their learning to solve business challenges effectively. This not only leads to improved products and services but also drives operational efficiency and business performance. It’s also an impetus for improving customer service and satisfaction.

5. Greater Retention and Motivation:

Investing in employee development demonstrates a commitment to the growth and well-being of the workforce, fostering a sense of loyalty and belonging among employees. Organizations that prioritize training and development are more likely to retain top talent, as employees feel valued and invested in their professional growth. Moreover, access to learning opportunities serves as a powerful motivator, inspiring employees to perform at their best and contribute meaningfully to the organization’s success. A win-win for employee and employer.

6. Happier, Healthier Employees:

Employee well-being is intrinsically linked to job satisfaction and productivity. Training programs that prioritize holistic development, including physical and mental wellness initiatives, contribute to creating a healthier (read: happier!) workforce. By promoting work-life balance, stress management and mindfulness practices, organizations can foster a positive work environment where employees feel supported, energized and empowered to thrive both personally and professionally.

By investing in comprehensive training programs, organizations can unlock the full potential of their workforce, driving sustainable success in an ever-evolving business landscape. As motivational trainer and author says Zig Ziglar, “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.”

Get started on your employee training program HERE. Learn how government funding can pay for employee training programs.

Why Employee Training?
Nearly 2x

Companies that excel at internal mobility (promotion from within) retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it (the average retention span is 2.9 years)


Employees who feel that their skills are not being put to good use in their current job are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job


of learning and development pros believe it is less expensive to re-skill a current employee than to higher a new one. 

SOURCE: Linkedin 2022 Workplace Learning Report

Leadership & Cultivating Responsibility and Engagement

Leadership & Cultivating Responsibility and Engagement

Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping the culture of any organization. Effective leaders aspire to instill a sense of 100% responsibility among their team members, where individuals take full ownership of their careers, engagement, customer satisfaction, innovation and cost management. However, for this culture to thrive, leaders must also prioritize employee engagement, recognizing its direct impact on productivity, innovation and the overall success of the business.

At the heart of employee engagement lies the creation of a workplace where employees feel connected not only to their work but also to their colleagues and the organization as a whole.

Engaged employees demonstrate passion for their work, exhibit commitment to the organization’s goals, and willingly go beyond their job requirements to contribute to its success. They find purpose and meaning in their work, feeling that their contributions are valued and appreciated.

The Importance of Employee Engagement for Businesses:

Businesses that foster employee engagement reap significant rewards. Engaged employees are more productive, innovative and dedicated to the organization’s objectives. They are also more likely to provide exceptional customer service, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Moreover, a culture of engagement becomes a magnet for top talent, enhancing workforce quality and driving innovation and growth. Additionally, engaged employees tend to stay with the company, reducing turnover costs and ensuring workforce stability.

The Role of Leadership in Fostering Culture:

Leadership plays a critical role in promoting both responsibility and engagement. Leaders who seek 100% responsibility must provide their team members with the necessary authority and trust to make day-to-day decisions independently. Transparent communication, including sharing vital information with employees, fosters a sense of ownership and accountability.

At the same time, cultivating employee engagement requires leaders to understand the unique needs and motivations of their workforce. They create an environment that promotes trust, collaboration and creativity. Effective leaders set a clear vision and communicate it effectively to ensure alignment throughout the organization. Providing regular feedback and recognition instills a sense of ownership, and opportunities for personal and professional growth empower employees to succeed.

Improve Responsibility and Engagement:

Leaders can implement various strategies to enhance both responsibility and engagement.

Open communication cultures, where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns and feedback are highly effective. Regular team meetings, one-on-one conversations and feedback surveys facilitate this process.

Leaders can also provide opportunities for professional and personal development, such as training programs, mentoring, and coaching to demonstrate that employees are valued and invested in the organization’s success.

Benefits of a Culture of Responsibility:

A culture that embraces both responsibility and engagement yields numerous benefits for businesses. Engaged and responsible employees are more productive, innovative and committed to the organization’s goals. They provide exceptional customer service, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Furthermore, such a culture helps attract top talent, improves workforce quality, drives innovation and growth and reduces turnover costs while ensuring workforce stability.

Common Mistakes Leaders Make:

Leaders must avoid common mistakes when fostering responsibility and engagement. Over-reliance on incentives and rewards rather than intrinsic engagement can hinder progress. Short-term focus may overshadow the importance of long-term employee development.

Inadequate feedback and recognition or a lack of open communication can obstruct efforts to foster responsibility and engagement.

Measuring and Tracking Responsibility and Engagement:

Measuring and tracking both responsibility and engagement are crucial for understanding the effectiveness of initiatives and identifying areas for improvement. Surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations with employees are valuable methods to gauge engagement levels. Tracking over time facilitates data-driven decision-making and helps leaders identify trends and areas for improvement.

In conclusion, leadership plays a dual role in cultivating both responsibility and engagement within an organization. When leaders promote a culture where individuals take ownership of their actions and decisions and simultaneously foster a sense of purpose and connection among employees, the result is a thriving workplace that drives success and sustainable growth.

Utilize our 31-years of experience

Tap into 31 years of experience with a FREE 1-Hour Assessment

We offer a FREE 1-HOUR ASSESSMENT to determine how we can help you achieve your business goals. Take advantage of our 31-years of experience! Let’s talk about how Integram can help you scale and build a better future.

31 Years in Biz

Integram: Celebrating 31 Years of Building Bold Sustainable Possibilities

In April 1992, Integram was founded with a vision to provide unique marketing solutions that would set us apart from other marketing companies. The name Integram (which stood for integrated marketing at the time) was chosen by the company’s founder, Michael Smith, who was inspired by his father’s advice to make his business unique. Little did he know that the title Integram” would be more relevant than ever in the world of social media with the arrival of Instagram.

Over the years, Integram has helped businesses grow and thrive, even in the toughest times. We have been a leader in brand marketing and strategic planning, digital marketing solutions, athlete representation and sports/event sponsorship. We’ve worked with an impressive list of clients — from big brands such as Pepsi and TD Bank to more than 60 small and medium businesses across Ontario. 

Now in our 31st year of business, we’ve remained committed to our SME clients, dedicated to scaling their business and creating a bigger sustainable future. Our unique process and experience have proven to be successful, and we are so proud of our accomplishments and achievements with the support of ongoing partners and clients.

At the foundation of all our success is that we are trainers and coaches who love to spread our knowledge and help businesses grow. So, in celebration of our remarkable achievement, here are 3 important business lessons we’ve learned + 1 guiding philosophy we’ve learned from throughout the years:

3 Business Lessons:

Achieving longevity in business requires a combination of strategic planning, hard work and adaptability. Here are three important business lessons to keep in mind when aiming for long-term success:

1. Focus on building relationships:

Building strong relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and employees is essential for any business that wants to be sustainable and survive in the long run. Provide excellent customer service, treat your employees well, and nurture long-term relationships with key partners. Through these actions, you’ll establish a loyal customer base and a strong network of support that will help sustain your business over time. Reward your clients, and they’re more likely to reward you back.

2. Stay flexible and adaptable:

The business world is constantly changing, and staying flexible and adaptable is essential for long-term success. Be willing to pivot your business strategy as needed in response to changes in the market or shifts in consumer behaviour. Keep an eye on emerging trends and technologies and be prepared to embrace them when they offer new opportunities for growth. In other words, stay vigilant. We live in a rapidly changing world that rewards those who stay on their toes.

3. Invest in your team:

Your employees are one of your most valuable assets, and investing in their training and development is essential for long-term success. By providing opportunities for growth and development, you will help your team stay engaged and motivated. Additionally, by investing in your team’s skills and expertise, you will build a strong foundation for future growth and expansion.

+1 Guiding Philosophy: Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is not just about making incremental changes; it’s about fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation within your organization. It involves a willingness to take risks, learn from mistakes, and embrace new ideas and technologies.

Above all, remember that continuous improvement is a journey, not a destination. It’s an ongoing process that requires commitment and dedication from everyone in your organization. By embracing this philosophy and making it a core part of your company culture, you can build a stronger, more resilient business that is poised for long-term success.

Integram’s success over the past 31 years is a testament to our commitment to excellence and our passion for helping businesses succeed. We’ve only lost money in one year out of 31, so we’re very proud to have been consistently profitable and believe this is a testament to the success we help invoke in our clients. 

As we move forward, we will continue to provide unique training programs, ideas for growth and marketing solutions that set our clients apart from the competition. Here’s to many more years of Bold Sustainable Growth!

Utilize our 31-years of experience

Free 1-Hour Assessment

We offer a FREE 1-HOUR ASSESSMENT to determine how we can help you achieve your business goals. Take advantage of our 31-years of experience! Let’s talk about how Integram can help you scale and build a better future.


Your Guide to Attracting and Retaining Clients Online

Computer Screen that reads 'Do More', which is part of driving a digital sales funnel

In today’s marketplace, simply having a current website along with social media channels are not enough to generate traffic and engage your target audience. This is especially true in the digital marketing world, where it’s essential to create a digital sales funnel in order to attract and retain clients. 

Create the Funnel

A digital sales funnel is a combination of tactics used to bring traffic to your business’s digital platforms and sustain it well enough to convert it into a loyal client base. Essentially, a funnel is the roadmap you use to drive your digital traffic to your website – the hub of all online purchase/service details – and make a sale or close the deal. 

To optimize customer interest and retention, your digital sales funnel needs to accomplish a few key goals: 

  1. Grab the person’s attention;
  2. Tell them a captivating story; 
  3. Present your offer (that they can’t refuse).

Use a Powerful Plan

Digital marketers typically use the AIDA model when implementing a sales funnel. It’s a handy framework when setting up a plan:

A – Awareness: Get the potential customer’s attention

I Interest: Pique their interest 

D Desire: Make them want your product 

A Action: Ask them to buy your product

If you want to capitalize on the AIDA model, it is important that your business has an effective sales page or a landing page.

To the general consumer, this web page looks like a

 homepage or an additional page to your website –

Create a digital sales plan

 with specific details on the product or service you’re selling. The landing page is an addendum to the website but isn’t typically accessed through the website. The potential customer may have never visited your site, but they’ve been directed to the landing page from either a digital ad on social media or other tactical methods, such as an eblast or newsletter link. Analytics incorporated into the digital ad directs it to your target audience and potential customer. Voilà, you’re getting in front of a captive audience.  

Build It and Drive It

When you’re building the landing page, it should include the following features:

  1. A headline that conveys how your product will make the potential customer’s life better.
  2. A subhead that provides more information as to what you are offering.
  3. A list of features the product offers.
  4. Social proof (or legitimacy) of a product’s benefits; for example, testimonials from clients, third-party statistics on business improvements, etc. 
  5. A promise that backs up your product/service. When possible, we suggest an offer with a money-back guarantee.

Get the Leads

Once you’ve created an effective sales page that gives potential customers access, it is equally important that you create a valuable lead magnet. A lead magnet is a marketing term for a free item or service that is given away for the purpose of gathering contact details like emails and phone numbers. Remember, your objective is to build trust – so you’re offering to give up value-added information on goodwill for direct access to a potential client.

The best lead magnets also offer a solution to a problem. An ebooklet/report, webinar or an online mini-course are all valuable lead magnets that not only educate the consumer but also demonstrate your company’s expertise about potential problems – even before a purchase is made. 

Let’s take the example of a webinar. This lead magnet allows you to communicate with hundreds of people from around the world, while simultaneously keeping your audience engaged by asking and answering questions. Ultimately, this level of engagement shows your audience that you are invested in your customers’ well-being and, therefore, may convert them into possible customers. 

Drive Happiness

Once you’ve converted traffic to a new customer, there’s still one last step in your digital sales funnel process. Create a follow-up email sequence to confirm a customer’s commitment to your business.

It’s a great way to tell the new customer you acknowledge them, but most importantly, to also let them know that they’re valued. In this email, feel free to detail many of the services your business provides in addition to a product/service the customer has purchased to further engage them and coming back for more. A happy customer will continue to use a business that delivers and they trust.


7 Key Tips for Shaping a Powerful Elevator Pitch

elevator pitch

In today’s business world, we all know that communication can be a power conduit to help sell your brand and its image. To ensure your brand engages your target audience, a vital communication strategy is to develop an effective elevator pitch.  

Here are our top tips for shaping a pitch that is sure to position your business above competitive brands.


Like anything in life, we prefer to take the simple path, rather than follow a complicated one. Your elevator pitch should be no different. A powerful elevator pitch grabs the target audience’s attention with a hook, then expands to detail your brand’s objectives as clearly and concisely as possible. Your pitch is an opportunity to emphasize what your audience will gain from investing in your business – for example, the problems it can solve – and the role they play. 


A powerful elevator pitch entices your audience to actively want to learn more about your brand. To ensure your audience is interested and engaged, you’ll want to encourage the listener to ask the right questions. Some questions may include:

What do you do exactly?

Present a brief rundown of the company’s history, including an integrated explanation of what led you to your current endeavour. Take your cues from them – if they’re looking for me, it might be a good time to detail some previous experiences and success stories. 

How are you unique from your competition?

Highlight exactly what specific features advantageously set you apart from other competing companies. For example, you might tell them how your brand is modelled toward helping other small businesses.

How do you help your clients? 


Specify particular features and strategies of your services/products and how they manage and ensure client success.  


An effective elevator pitch is free of professional jargon and concepts that are only prevalent to fellow colleagues. Your audience is more likely to invest in your brand if they understand your objectives and goals. Keep in mind: you’re connecting with an individual, so talk to them using conversational – not clinical or technical – language. 


At Integram, we use our Brand Essence framework to shape an effective pitch. If it helps, write it out, whatever your frame of reference. Some key points include:

– Company history and business plan

– Problems you tackle/resolve

– Client successes

Ultimately, an effective pitch is second nature to any discussion. It shouldn’t sound like you’re reading from a script. In order to deliver a compelling pitch, practice it…as often as you need to before it feels natural. Say it in the mirror, or to yourself while you’re driving, cooking or when lying in bed.


The expression in your delivery is as impactful as the words you use to phrase your pitch. Remember, you’re speaking to a person, not a robot (at least I hope not!) – and people are more likely to react to something they feel in your delivery.


More often than not, a successful business is able and willing to make structural changes and experiment with other alternatives, if necessary. Your pitch can be equally experimental, especially if you’re trying to stand out. 

A few suggestions on being more creative with your pitch include tailoring it to the company or audience to whom you’re presenting. If you’re pitching to a golf store, try using golf visuals or terminology whenever possible. For example, “Partnering with my brand is a bogey-free collaboration.” Incorporating relatable and relevant stats is another helpful approach in creativity when presenting your pitch. 


When it’s all said and done, a powerful elevator pitch entices your audience to buy your product or service, or at least invite an opportunity to learn more. To ensure your business is on the right path to success, make sure you have a plan or process in place that proactively addresses the next step. Have you set a date to meet again?  Do you have a booking system that arranges and secures the next meeting? The end action should be to seal the deal. 


Everyone is in Sales.

We all want to be more persuasive and influential with those people in our lives. In sales, no matter the industry, getting customers to say yes is the secret to increased revenue and profit. In fact, there has been more than 80 years of psychological research into why people say yes. But is there a technique that works best for your business? 

Here, we’ll focus on 5 surefire strategies to help you close the sale.


One of the first rules to asking for the business is to know what you want. Many of us think we know what we want, when instead we are uncertain. With a specific goal in mind, we will know whether an appointment has been a success. As you prepare for a client meeting, take a few minutes to plan it out and think about the results you want.

You might want to ask yourself some of these questions are you prepare:

  • Why is the client coming to meet me? What is their primary need?
  • What needs do I foresee that they might not?
  • What questions do I have for my client? 
  • When the client thanks me, what will I say?


When there are two options to sell something to a client, which option do you present first? Assume both options meet the customer’s needs but they’re not the same.

Many people in sales offer the lower-priced option first because they’re afraid the customer will say no. This fear of rejection is a normal response because they take this rejection personally. Therefore, to avoid this rejection, they offer the lower priced item first in the hopes the customer will say YES. 

In the banking business, each bank has a range of service charge packages that run from $3 a month to $29 a month. These service charge packages can be offered at the branch by a sales professional or customers can choose the package online. Who do you think sells more of the most expensive service packages?

Research shows the web outsells the branch staff by a ratio of 5 to 1. Why? The answer is simple: when you go on the bank website, the most expensive package is listed first and now the customer knows what is available and can make the right decision for themselves. When the customer goes into the branch, the staff don’t believe anyone would pay $29 for a package so they offer the lowest one first and therefore sell more of the lower cost packages.


 Startup managers presenting and analyzing sales growth chart. Group of workers with heap of cash, rocket, bar diagrams with arrow and heap of money. For business success, marketing, profit concepts[/caption]

The way you display products matters. What could be the financial impact of making a simple change in the way we offer our products and display them?

Take note of this example. A number of years ago, I was advising a sales team who sold pool tables. They were rarely selling any of the higher end pool tables and wanted to increase sales of their higher end tables. The first thing I noted was that the showroom had a random layout for the tables. There were higher priced units mixed in with lower priced tables. The first thing we did was change the layout. We set the highest price tables at the front and worked our way to the back by price so the lowest priced tables were at the other end of the showroom. 

The change was almost immediate. The store started to sell more of the higher priced tables than they ever had before. Shoppers looked at the high-end tables first and loved all the features so it allowed them to see what was available before they moved on to the other tables. 

Here’s another example of businesses who use this principle effectively:

Most restaurants have a wine list and often list the wine with the lowest priced wine first. Simply changing the order of the wine will increase revenue significantly. 


A few years ago, I met a Boy Scout who was 10 or 11 years old in his scout uniform as I entered a mall. He had a little table set up beside him. He said, “Excuse me sir, I am selling tickets to the Boy Scout music jamboree this weekend. Would you like to buy two tickets? They’re only $20 apiece.”

“No, I’m going to be away,” I said. Before I could escape, this boy responded, “Well, if you can’t do that would you be willing to buy two or more of our chocolate bars? They’re only $2 apiece.” 

My immediate response was “yes.” Later, as I was walking down the mall, I stopped cold because I had realized that something important had just happened from a sales perspective. I don’t like chocolate and this clever salesperson had figured out a way for me to give him money for the chocolate I didn’t even like

This is a classic example of asking for the business. Even if the client says no, you can retreat to a smaller request in a way that the client will feel a certain obligation to say yes. 


Eliminate the words “no problem” from your staff’s vocabulary after they have been thanked by a customer. I hear it all the time and this is what “no problem” means: A customer has gone out of their way to thank you and your response is basically, “Heh, it’s no big deal. I do this for everyone…you’re not special…it’s just part of my job, and I’m not really that good so I am surprised you’re happy.”

Acknowledge the thank you by simply stating, “It was my pleasure to help you today.”

As business professionals, I also suggest you consider a magic word in sales and that word is “I recommend.” If someone is looking for a new product or service you could say, “I recommend you look at this [product/service] first. Many of our customers are now using this product and noticing an improvement in their accuracy.”

People all want to deal with people they like. Therefore, greet your customers with an enthusiastic smile and remember their names. We all respond favourably when we hear our name.

Gary Ford, a sales trainer with Integram, is author of Life Is Sales.


7 Steps to Communicating a Powerful Vision

Whether you’re looking to knock your next pitch out of the park or garner good press with a local news agency, effective business communication skills are critical to communicating your vision.

So, read on for some proven tips on crafting a powerful story that you can apply to your business today.

Determine your intention

Why and what do you want to communicate? Is it to highlight a service/product as an extension of your business or to highlight your team’s principles to build brand awareness?

For example, do you want to communicate that you’re an expert in small business marketing or a sensation at design and decor? Knowing your purpose keeps you focused.

Write it down

Get it down, or you can’t share it with the right audience. If writing or recording a video intimidates you, lean on employees who are willing to learn or be trained at a new skill. Of course, there are also professionals who can help with effective communications, whether it’s writing, editing or social media engagement. You’re not expected to put beautiful prose together like J.K Rowling.

Keep it simple

Clear, concise, succinct. Stay away from filler or what author Ann Handley calls “meandering” – she emphasizes that businesses should communicate ideas in a way that “respects the reader; to ensure that any content we produce doesn’t come off as indulgent.” We can get stuck in a loooong trail of writing that takes 10 words instead of 50. A good way to know if you’re getting stuck in that trap is to read your words out loud or to someone else.

Be authentic

Storytelling isn’t permission to tell a tale – especially one that isn’t true or genuinely your story. Too many communicators tell a similar story, one that follows a template or format, void of details or connection. A good story is real – it’s oozing with emotion, delivered with motivation.

Capture your voice

Use your words, your expressions. You don’t need to sound like that captivating speaker you recently watched on a TED Talk (although we all have our mentors who can model some good habits in delivering content). Deliver your message your way – but be sure to practice it, feel comfortable in your delivery and communicate it with confidence. A note about style: Stick to a conversational style versus one that’s scripted or clinical.

Write it for your audience, not your peers

Whatever you write has to be meaningful to readers. Remember, you’re building a relationship with them. It may not resonate with everyone, and that’s OK. A common mistake professionals make when trying to market to their target audience is writing for their peers, not the end user. Often times, they’re not one in the same.

Review & rehearse

This will separate the novice from the professional. We’re so used to hammering something out on the keyboard and pushing that send button without pause. But that’s not how the professionals do it. Even the most seasoned executive business coaches take their time with a manuscript, put it down, and come back to it. You want to come out strong and sharp.


6 Surefire Strategies To Shape Your Vision

In our last newsletter, you learned how our 3 C process – Create, Communicate, Close – has proven to help our business clients grow. We use the framework to help small and medium-sized businesses develop while integrating a plan that ensures they build successfully for the long term. 

Here, we dive into our first C – CREATE – where we take you through simple and effective strategies to set you up for bold sustainable growth. 

Let’s get to it!

Know your why

Purpose is a powerful propellant. It guides our mission, fuels our efforts and helps us stay focused. Every successful business leads with their why

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Simon Sinek, leadership guru, author and inspirational speaker. Let’s take the example of Tesla. The company’s mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” is all about why they are in business. What they do and how they get there – that is, to build compelling electric cars to market as soon as possible – follows their purpose. 

Taking the time to understand your why ensures you and the people who work for you know, at the core, why you do what you do and are then able to communicate it to customers. 

Questions that all businesses should ask themselves:

  • Why are we here?
  • What is our mission and passion?
  • Why do we go to work?

The answer to these questions is NOT “because I want to make money” (although that may be a positive residual effect of growing a business) but rather it might be “because I love and use the X product I’m selling” or “because I want to bring happiness to customers” or “because X business is in a growing industry and I want to be part of it.” Identifying your why influences all other decisions around the business.

Create a vision

Four years ago, one of our clients wanted to change the way his business was impacting the environment. As an architect (and partner to the home construction sector), he knew the housing industry was a big contributor to landfill waste, air pollution and energy consumption. So, he began to put a plan in action to become a sustainable architect, focusing his designs on buildings that have durability, longevity and resilience. Today, he has drastically reduced his carbon footprint with renewable resources, his business is growing and he’s never been happier about his contributions to his community and the environment at large.

The lesson here is to create a vision for the future you want. Even when that vision seems difficult (Apple was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy in 1997) focus is important. As Tesla’s Elon Musk often professes, don’t be afraid to think big.

Write it down

A vision can’t move forward without a written plan. When you write things down, you’re more committed and driven to reach goals. Planning for a sustainable future also requires a plan with longevity. Likewise, aligning your employees with a clear vision from the beginning gives them purpose and place in the continual growth of the business. It also strengthens the culture of the organization, which in turn drives productivity. When you write a plan and the team is behind you, you can create your future.

Plan with a SAP

Our Strategic Action Plan (SAP) helps clients determine three-year, one-year and 90-Day Sprint goals for their business. This type of planning requires a commitment to setting goals, actions to meet targets and flexibility to continually update plans and keep pivoting when necessary. Why start with three-year targets? While this is a shift from the typical one-year business plan, by focusing on three years before you chart your yearly and 90-day goals you begin with the end in mind.

One of the biggest reasons why strategic plans fail is that they are too complicated. Integram’s SAP, for example, charts goals in a simple, one-page format to provide a bird’s-eye view of targets. A simple plan encourages you to be clear, concise and concrete.

Ready, set, revisit

When to plan is equally important. Most businesses don’t make planning a priority and tend to revisit plans only when things go wrong and, subsequently, need to dig themselves out of a situation.

According to a recent study by Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy. Another 50 percent spend no time working on strategic plans. When it comes to communicating strategy, 95 percent of employees don’t understand the company’s efforts in this area. Researchers attribute the lack of attention to planning as one of the key reasons why businesses fail to meet their strategic targets.

It’s a common pitfall when business is doing well.

Planning needs to be a continual process so you’re ready for an uneventful situation (read: Covid-19). It allows you to forecast foreseeable issues and be ready to shift focus when necessary. Crisis planning, for example, may include selling merchandise through an online store in the event of a shutdown or to keep things afloat while the course is under repair.
The constant process of planning is vital because as soon as you implement a plan, it can be old, something can go wrong, or your competition has figured out a better solution. Don’t make planning “an event” but a “process,” explains Simon Sinek. “The process of planning” and not the plan itself is important. In other words, haphazard planning doesn’t make the cut.

Set the course to grow!

The final phase in our Create pillar is creating a unique and memorable brand identity that outlines key features such as the company’s principles and tagline, among others. This type of brand groundwork will set the foundation for the next phase, where you’re ready to build your story, shape it and share it to reach your target market.

…This takes us to our second C – communicate. Stay tuned for our next newsletter for more.