How To Destroy Your Business

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My phone rings all the time with people looking for help in building their business.  They want to sell more, be more profitable, and find more satisfaction in their life.  Usually I share experiences from over 30 years of business building.  They seem amazed when the ideas I use with them turn into bottom line profits.  I’ve come to expect exceptional results, as techniques proven over time are the best way to build a solid foundation for forward growth.

For a change I thought it might be fun to talk about how to destroy a business rather than build one.  Here are five things you can do to destroy your business.  (If you’re really good you could be out of business in just a few months).

1.       Treat your staff poorly.  The people who work with and for you have helped make you a success.  They are the ones who leverage your expertise, systems and resources.  They make it possible to rapidly grow your business.

Start taking them for granted.  Don’t ever say, “Thank You.”  And, for Pete’s sake don’t let them feel like they are a part of your success.  If you ever let them enjoy internal satisfaction for your achievements they might work harder and stay with you.  None of that if you’re going to destroy your business.

Ignore their expressed needs and definitely don’t seek out information about them that would allow you to better serve them.  Keep these people at arms length and always make sure they know you have a want ad running in the paper.

If you can rapidly reduce moral and personal satisfaction you will be amazed at how quickly you can successfully destroy your business.

2.       If you think stepping all over the people working with you will help destroy your business just think how disregarding your clients can accelerate this process.  Thank you notes are definitely out of the question as are occasional phone calls.

Make it your business to not know their business.  Who care about their personal issues?  Not you!  Think of all the free time you’ll create by not having to think about your clients or even engage them.

Make sure clients and prospects do not know about product and service offerings and be sure and send mixed messages about your businesses focus and expertise.

3.       Product quality really doesn’t matter.  You’re trying to ruin your business.  Don’t waste time making sure that your products are of quality design and manufacture.  If you are in a service business, I wouldn’t bother worrying about the accuracy of your paperwork. 

Some times, good products are hard to bring down.  If that’s your situation just sit on orders and make sure that delivery times go through the roof.  Make sure important documentation is always missing, and never ship orders complete.  Backorders are great!

4.       You deserve more.  It’s time to spend some money.  Why save for tomorrow when you could get run over today!  Buy a new car, upgrade your computer and take a two-week vacation.  Spending money is great, and nothing says failure better then an open and liberal check book.

My thinking is if you’re going to go out, then you might as well go out in stile.  Go ahead; flaunt your success.  And, if you haven’t yet achieved the success you seek, go on and make it look like you have anyway.  Don’t worry if you can’t afford these things.  You’ll cover it out of cash flow or through your line of credit.

5.       Apathy works wonders.  Don’t just delegate; abdicate.  There’s no reason to follow through on what those around you are doing.  Give them the task and then forget about it.  Hey, you’re not going to be here in three months anyway, right?

Too many successful business people just care too much.  Don’t fall into that trap.  If you don’t care, then it just won’t matter when things go south.  Don’t pay attention to detail, and for sure let others with less at stake make those important decisions for you.  Show up when you want.  Leave early.  Hey, life is short.  Why worry?  You’re on the road to destruction!

Well, there you go, five easy steps to quickly destroy your business.  Read them.  Follow them.  Live them.  You can file for bankruptcy in no time at all.

Or, do as we do around here and ignore them — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Accountable Business Growth Through a Strategic Plan

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It’s 9:00 in the morning. Do you know where your strategic plan is?

Most busy business professionals have a legal pad with a list of things to do that is a mile long. The majority of those activities are reactive items that came about because of the action, or inaction, of someone else. They are constantly trying to put out one fire after another. Three years go by, and they wonder why they haven’t seen significant growth in their business and more free time to enjoy life.

The reason so many business people fall into this trap is because they fail to create the time to strategically plan their success. It’s easy to focus on the daily tasks that seem to take precedence. The truth is that only through strategic thinking and planning can you create a vision of your future and determine the best way to move towards that future.

There is a vast difference between strategic thinking and tactical thinking. Tactical thinking is based on immediate needs and issues. The tactics you employ are what take you through your day-to-day business. You create tactics to implement the strategic plans you have created.

As you can imagine, most companies and business professionals are so focused on the daily and weekly tactics they are implementing that they forget to look at the more important strategic picture for long-term guidance.

If you decide to cold call twenty potential clients a day in an effort to build your business, you are making a tactical decision. It should be based on an overall strategic plan. The strategic plan may call for you to build your client list by 15% per year for a five-year period.

Let’s look at this hypothetically to illustrate that point. This five-year goal would be based on strategic exercises and contemplation, and would show how you may have last grown your business in a significant way. This would be for example, when you had gone through an extended period of rapid client expansion.

Each year you should set aside time to create and rework your master strategic plan. Then, monthly and even weekly you should be thinking about your strategic plan and how what you are doing is following that plan.

I find that many professionals are too close to what they do to adequately create a strong strategic plan. However, as the expert in your field, you are the best one to determine the tactics necessary to implement a strategic plan. Many times, business professionals find it helpful to bring in outside assistance to lead them through a strategic thinking process. Strategic planning retreats can also be a powerful way of getting away from the daily grind of your business and forcing yourself to take the time to think and plan strategically.

If you feel that you are falling into this trap, schedule a half-day on your calendar. Leave your office, home, or wherever you work. Go someplace you cannot be interrupted. Ask yourself thought provoking questions and start the strategic process. Below are a few that I use with clients just to help get you started.

If you were to go to sleep and wake up ten years from now, how would you answer these questions?

What would your business look like?
What would your personal life be like?
What would have to happen over the next ten years to be able to achieve this?
What would you need to accomplish in the first year to help keep you on track for the following nine years?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. My retreats are intensive two-day total immersion programs. But, that’s what it takes to strategically plan your success.

Plan strategically each year, and you will be more accountable for the success of your business!

Five Common Mistakes Business People Make

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“No one is perfect.”  We’ve all heard this before.  Yes, we do all make mistakes at some point, but successful business people know how to minimize the mistakes they make.  Successful business professionals do not let their mistakes keep them from their goals and successes.

Here are five common mistakes that keep people from building the business they dream of:

1.             Underestimate Capital Requirements

It takes money to start and build a business.  Since no one knows exactly how long it will take to make their business profitable, it is common for failing businesses to run out of money before they reach that point.  All of the sales and financial projections don’t mean a thing if you run out of money 1 day before you would reach your breakeven point.

Plan for the worst possible case scenario.  Then, pad it!  Talk to as many people as you can in your field.  Learn from their mistakes.  Where did they need more funding then they thought?  Where in their experience would extra capital come in handy?  What were their funding sources?

If you have more money than you need, great.  You definitely don’t want to run out.

2.         Underestimate Commitment Needed

Just how committed to your success are you?  Everyone always answers, “Oh, I’ll do anything to be successful.”  The truth is that most people end up quitting when times get tough.  What is your staying power?  We talked about staying power in term of funding, now we’re talking about mental and emotional staying power.

Can you emotionally keep going when people tell you, “I told you so?”  Will you be able to work hard even when your return seems small?  Can you work the hours and make the personal sacrifices that may need to be made?

Find out from your mentor or other trusted advisor what their experiences were.  Don’t think for a minute that it will be any easier for you.  It may even be tougher! 

3.         Lack of Expertise

Many people fail in business because they simply don’t have the expertise required.  Oh sure they may know their products inside out, but what about sales, service issues, accounting skills, management skills and the list goes on.

A lot of people go into business because they have a passion for a particular product or service.  They have product experience but lack business experience.  It is critical that you be educated in all the facets of running a business if you are going to be successful in that business.

Being educated on your products and services is critical.  You must also invest the time and money to be educated on what it takes to be successful in business.  Look to your community college, mentors, and trade associations for additional education.  Life-long education is the ultimate key to continued growth and success in business.

4.         Not Fully Aware of the Product Value

What is the true value of your products and services?  It can be common to underestimate their true value.  In some cases business professionals totally misunderstand the real value of the products and services they deliver.

The greater the value of your product, the greater the chance for building a fantastic business.  The value of your product can best be gauged against the needs of your potential clients.  The more your product can solve your clients needs and the greater the intensity of those needs the higher the chances are that you’re on the right track.

Also, do you understand the true value of your products to your clients?  You don’t just sell insurance.  You are selling peace of mind to a family.  You don’t just sell tires.  You are making an automobile more safe for family and loved ones.  You are not just selling candles.  You are giving someone the tools necessary to create the environment they wish to enjoy in the privacy of their own home.  Get the picture?

5.         Don’t Know When to Get Outside Help

It is easy to try and do everything ourselves.  As entrepreneurs we feel like we have to wear all of the hats.  Instead of outsourcing time consuming tasks, we bog ourselves down and reduce our productivity.

What do you do best?  You should know this.  What is the value of your time?  What is it that only you can do, or you do better than others?  What are you doing that almost anyone could do?  What can you train others to do?

You should only be involved in high yield activities, activities that only you can do or those activities that provide the greatest return on your time.  Delegate and outsource everything else.  This may be the single most important key to rapidly building a successful company.

Think about it.  If you only spend 10 percent of your time on high yield activities how fast will you grow?  What happens if you can delegate and outsource so that now you are spending 70 percent of your time on high yield activities?

Look at your daily task list and make those changes now!

Pay attention to the details of your business and the elimination of these five most common barriers — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Value Packed Sales Process

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Do you make your clients jump through hoops to do business with you?  Are you easy or hard to deal with?  Do organizational policies come before client interests?

The best sales process is client centric.  Selling is about analyzing and solving problems for your client, not adding busy work or making their life more difficult.

Every step of your sales process should add value for your client.  If it doesn’t, eliminate it or redesign your process.  Of course, your product or service should deliver value to your client, but they should be receiving value throughout the process of doing business with you.  Your client should always feel that you are serving them, not the other way around.

An investment advisor I know will sit down with his clients and take them to a web site that estimates both the amount of money a family will need to put their children through college, and the amount of financing they will qualify for based on their particular details.  With this information in hand he in then best able to give advice and assist the family with their planning.

This step in the sales process not only illustrates the needs that the client has which will help close the sale, but it also delivers important and valued information to the client.

Here is how to evaluate your sales process and make sure every step delivers value and moves your client toward a successful purchase.

Make a list of every step in your sales process.  You may include prospecting, initial client contact, all correspondence with your clients or prospects, preparing proposals and presentations, paperwork, product or service delivery, thank you notes, and anything else you do in your sales process.

Here’s where the fun comes in.  Evaluate each step with regards to the value that your client derives.  If a step doesn’t add value for your client, think about eliminating that step.  Your clients do not want busy work, and neither do you.

In your initial contact what information can you provide that your client would find helpful?  Maybe give them an article reprint or a white paper that you have written.  When filling out any forms think about making copies for their records.  If your client is going to go to the trouble of putting together a lot of information for you, leave them with a copy for future use, or compile that information and put it in a binder that will store easily on their shelf.

When sending a thank you card you can include a coupon for a future purchase or insert another appropriate item that they would appreciate.  Keep your clients happy throughout the sales process.  Keep adding value.  Some value will be significant.  Some value may seem minor, but the fact that you continue to show that you are thinking about your client will go a long way in building ironclad relationships.

Seek advice from others in your organization and past clients.  Find out what would add value for them.  Use a brief survey to find out what they feel is important.  Don’t assume you know all of the answers.  Every time I ask clients for their feedback and input I am always amazed with their responses.  Once you fully know what a client wants, you can provide that for them throughout the sales process.

The more value you deliver the more likely you will make the sale, the more value you can ask for in return, and the faster your referral base will grow.  You earn the right to make a sale and add a new client by continuing to deliver value throughout the sales process and over the life of a relationship.  Spend the time to find more places and ways to deliver value, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Be Accountable to Access Insider Information in Your Industry

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I receive emails all the time from subscribers that want detailed information about their specific industry.  It can range from faux painting, Internet marketing, home improvement, manufacturing, real estate, or insurance.

Many of our articles are based on ideas that come from you the reader.  We love your feedback and really appreciate your thoughts, but since our ezine goes out to about 40,000 business professionals it is not realistic to focus on one industry.  But you can!

The information you are seeking is readily available, and I am going to show you how to get it and more!

One of the most powerful business concepts I’ve experienced is the Mastermind Group.  A mastermind group is a group of 5-7 people that share common interests and come together to help each other succeed.  A bond built on respect and trust allows these professionals to work in confidence and solve issues they all face.

Some mastermind groups are made up of business professionals from different industries.  They feel comfortable because they do not directly compete with each other.  Other mastermind groups, like mine, are entirely made up of people from the same industry.  While some individuals have difficulties trusting others they may compete with, I find the resources offered by others in my industry to be indispensable.

It is really about developing an atmosphere of cooperative competition.  The reality is that there is so much business out there that you really don’t compete against each other as much as you compete against everyone who is not in your group.

Sometimes, professionals in an industry will put together a mastermind group with people from different regions in the country.  They may meet two, three, or four times a year, and will communicate informally with each other in-between meetings.  The ability to learn how others in your profession are dealing with issues is invaluable.

Develop an atmosphere of sharing.  Look first to give then receive.  The more you give the more you will get over time.

Your group should be made up of people that you like, trust, and respect.  Although you can be successful with as little as four people and as many as ten people, I find that groups of five to seven are easy to manage and provide the mental synergy to create solutions to problems and answers to questions.

Action Steps:

1.  Read my ebook “Mondays At Nine” to learn more about mastermind groups.
2.  Make a list of seven possible candidates for your group.
3.  Begin contacting them, and perhaps plan a lunch to explain the concept to them.
4.  Schedule and plot out your first meeting.

Put together your own mastermind group, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Build A Better Business By The Numbers – 4 Ways To Increase Sales

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1. Sell more clients 
2. Sell your clients more often
3. Increase the size of your orders
4. Raise your prices

2 Questions For You

1. How many of these four ways can you achieve?
2. How would a 10% increase in all four areas effect your sales?

1 Thing To Do Today

Pick the one area you can impact the quickest. Create and implement a plan to increase that area.

Build A Better Biz By The Numbers

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Success business people know how to run their business by the numbers.  Here are some numbers that can make a difference for you.

 

3 Questions You Must Answer In Your Clients Mind Before They Will Buy

1. Why should I buy?
2. Why should I buy from you?
3. Why should I buy now?

Clients simply will not make a purchasing decision until they formulate an answer for these three questions in their mind.

 

2 Questions For You

1. Think about the last sales situation that you didn’t make the sale.  Can you figure out which question(s) were not answered in your clients mind?

2. Do you help your customers answer these questions, or do you hope they will come up with the answers on their own?

 

1 Thing To Do Today

Right now, list all the possible reasons why someone should do business with you.  Make sure this list is incorporated in your next sales presentation.

 

Be accountable for your success.  Make sure you understand the key numbers for you and attend to them — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Build Your Business By Fulfilling Needs

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There were 150 people in the room, and all eyes were on me.  I was the keynote speaker at a major annual meeting for the American Diabetes Association.  My program was entitled, “The Power of Choice.”  The staff and volunteers that were present had made a series of choices that brought them to this place.  These people are dedicated to a cause.  They needed the well deserved “pat on the back,” and a motivating message to carry as they moved forward in their quest.

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.  In the past eight years the number of people with diabetes has grown 50%!  The good news is that the ADA has seen this trend developing.  Eight years ago only 50% of the people with diabetes even knew they had it.  Today less then one third of the people with diabetes don’t know it.

The ADA has worked hard over the years to fulfill the needs of the people in their market.  They have stepped up fundraising, staffing, the number of volunteers, and the depth of the services they offer.

Their success in educating people with diabetes is based on their ability to anticipate needs and then fulfill them.

You can build your business by fulfilling needs as well.  Being effective at fulfilling your clients needs is based on three things.

1. Understand your client’s current needs.

What needs do your clients currently have?  Do you know all of them, or just some?  Are you a resource for the entire range of needs that your clients have?

Many business professionals take the course of least resistance.  They do one or two things well and then focus on those two things.  If your clients have more needs, then you should develop the skills necessary to be a resource for those needs as well.  If your clients needs extend beyond the scope of what you do, a network of resources for them may be a powerful solution.

The best way to discover all of your clients needs is to ask them.  Find out what they like about the services and products you offer.  Also, ask them what other services or products would be of benefit to them.

Take your clients to lunch.  Interview them.  Learn about their professional and personal needs.  Now find ways of servicing those needs.

2. Understand the future needs of your client.

Many times, a client’s needs will change over time.  They may anticipate the changes that they will face, but they may not.  It is your responsibility to have the vision necessary to understand what is coming.

Needs change for several reasons.  Your client’s needs are affected by the economy, changes in technology, changes in government, social changes, and changes brought on by age.

New products and services expose new opportunities for you to add value to your clients.  On the other hand, changes in their business or personal life may create needs that you could fill.

Ask your clients open-ended questions like, “In the next three to five years, what additional investment needs do you anticipate having?”  Give a wide range of possibilities for your clients to fill in the blanks.  Ask questions that will allow their thinking to be as broad as possible.

Each time you fill a clients needs you bring value to their life, you further a relationship, and you create an opportunity to generate referrals for your business.

3. A mindset of service.

The greatest business professionals I know always put their clients first.  They are not commission or profit focused.  They are client focused.  Sure, they want to run a profitable business, and they know that they need to be aware of the numbers and manage their company appropriately.  But, they also know that without their clients they would not be in business.

If you focus on your clients, their needs, and how your products or services can fulfill their needs, then you will almost automatically generate profits.

Sometimes you may need to recommend someone else’s product as the best alternative for your client’s specific needs.  Ultimately, having a mindset of service means always putting your client’s needs before your own.

Don’t think for one minute that a client doesn’t recognize this attitude.  They will be grateful.  They will be loyal.  They will refer other business your way.

By understanding your clients current needs, future needs, and having a mindset of service you will fulfill more of their needs, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Listen Your Way To Business Growth

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Mary had the soccer ball lined up on her right foot.  Then, in an instant she sent a pass to Shawn.  It was right on target.  Shawn received the ball and passed it to Tom.  Tom passed it to Suzy who passed it to Beth.  Beth passed the ball to Bill, and he shot the soccer ball into the goal.

Sounds like a regular soccer game, right?  Well, it wasn’t.  All the kids I mentioned are blind.  I was amazed as I watched them at the Special Olympics soccer tournament I was at.  The kids could not see the ball.  They could not see their teammates.  They could not see the goal.  They could not see, but they could play.

Here’s how it worked.  The ball had a device inside that beeped.  The children could hear the beeping sound and discern where the ball was.  Their teammates would clap.  The child with the ball would hear a teammate clapping and kick the ball towards the audible target.

It was an inspiring sight.  I will remember it for some time to come.

In business you need to listen more so you can achieve success.  We tend to use our eyes and our mouth, but we don’t listen as much as we should.  You can greatly accelerate your growth by asking the right questions and become a better listener.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself and your clients.  Take stock in the answers.  Are there differences between the way you answer the questions and the way your customers answer them?  There is an old saying that says you are three people: the person you think you are, the person others see you as, and the person you actually are.  Businesses are the same way.  Successful business professionals are those people that bring all three images together in a laser like focus.

1. What is your company’s greatest strength?

We tend to focus on our weaknesses.  We try to eliminate them.  We want to improve.  We strive for perfection.  The truth is that perfection is not possible.  Excellence is.  Look for your strength and leverage it to your advantage.  Do what you do well better then anyone else.

Now, look for ways to do it even better.  Maybe there is a new twist or a new approach.  Take stock in your dominance.  Nurture it.  Develop it.  Exploit it.

2. In one sentence, can you tell what you or your company does?  Do it.

This is probably the biggest downfall of most business people.  They simply can’t state in a few short words what they do.  I don’t mean, “I sell insurance.”  That will not attract anyone.

To be effective in networking and to attract clients you need to be able to effectively communicate a Memorable Marketing Message™.  In ten seconds or less you need to be able to have a prospective client think, “I need that,” or “Tell me how you do that.”

There is an art to being able to deliver a Memorable Marketing Message.  Once you are able, your clients will be able to tell others about what you do, and you will be able to network your business to the next level.  Do you know the true value you deliver, to whom you deliver that value, and how to effectively say it?

3. What can you do to offer even greater value to your clients?

Your clients have real needs.  You probably address many of them.  Frequently, business people fail to fully understand the scope and diversity of the needs of their clients.

McDonalds recognized the need of a quick breakfast and introduced a breakfast menu.  They also recognized the need of their clients to get their food fast and get going.  This led to the concept of the drive thru window.

Your job is to apply your products or services to satisfy someone’s needs.  The better you accomplish this, the more you will build your business.

Discover more of your client’s needs and more ways to fulfill them.  Your clients will be loyal, and you will accelerate the growth of your business.

Listen not only to what you feel in your heart, but ask your clients questions and listen to what they say.  They have insights that you can use to explode your growth and get on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Better Business By The Numbers – Personal Growth

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6 Steps To Personal and Professional Success

1. Know your strengths and weaknesses
2. Never stop learning
3. Ask yourself, “Is there a better way to do this?”
4. Surround yourself with successful people
5. Share what works for you with others
6. Take action today

2 Questions

1. What is the last nonfiction book you have read?
2. What system in your life or business have you improved in the past 60 days?

1 Action Step

Connect with two people you admire for what they have achieved. Take them to lunch (you pay). Ask them the following two questions:

What is the best lesson you have learned?
If you were to start your business over today, what would you do differently?