Procrastination

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Even if you’re on the right track-you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

– Arthur Godfrey -Radio and television personality.

 Procrastination is a bad habit.  It is the destroyer of goals and dreams and achievement.  If you procrastinate you should look to replace the habit of procrastination with the habit of action.  A good slogan to remember is “You can’t be great if you procrastinate.”

 The best day to start a project is today.  In school, students often put off until the last minute writing a report or doing an assignment.  Finally, when the fear of failure outweighs the discomfort of having to do the report, they are motivated to start and find that the project really isn’t that bad.  Sometimes they realize that if they only had started earlier, they would have had more time and might have done a better job.  Then, they swear that next time they will start the day the assignment is given and get it done earlier.  But, next time they fall into the same procrastination trap.

 People procrastinate because they pay closer attention to the comfort of the moment than to long term pleasure and long lasting satisfaction.  For example, it would have been much more comfortable on those cold, windy mornings to stay in bed rather than to get out and run.  However, it would have been impossible to achieve my long term goals of running the Boston Marathon if I hadn’t exercised diligently each morning.  The long term satisfaction of accomplishing my goal outweighed any short term pain or discomfort of early morning training.  When I did, in fact, qualify for and subsequently run the Boston Marathon, all the work and sacrifice was more than worth it!

 Remember, your mind can only focus on one concept at a time.  To move from a life of procrastination to one of immediate action you must shift your focus from the pain of the immediate action to the pleasure of the eventual outcome.  By placing our attention and emphasis on the pleasure to be derived, you will be motivated to move forward with your project.  The anticipated pleasure will generate the passion, energy and commitment necessary to complete your project and achieve your primary desires.

 As soon as you identify a project, take some action, no matter how small, to begin the project.  A project is much easier to complete, once it has been started, even if the first step is small.  If the task is large or complex, break it down into several smaller projects that will be easier to tackle.

 Establish deadlines for each part of the project.  Make it a game.  If you finish a project before a deadline, reward yourself.  As you begin, you may start slowly and with small steps.  But as you move forward, you will pick up momentum.

If “any job worth doing is worth doing well,” then any goal worth having is worth pursuing now!  Procrastinating only creates “negative momentum” (see Momentum) and actually pushes you further away from the achievement of your primary desires.  You can either move forward or slip backwards.  Which direction are you moving?  What are your primary desires?  Make a small start today!

Blackout Blues

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In 2003 there was a huge electrical blackout.  Over 50 million people in the United States and Canada were without electricity.  Industry experts said that the systems in place are over taxed, outdated, and not sufficient to handle the current demand.

For years, experts have called for updating the current systems.  They knew that problems existed, but no one ever took the time or made the investment to correct the situation.

Old systems will work for only so long before problems occur.  It is the same for your business.  Outdated methods will catch up to you and leave your business in the dark and less competitive.  Old information will lead to bad choices and costly mistakes.

Evaluate the following four areas.  Make sure that you are current in what you do.

 

1. Computer Hardware and Software

Is your hardware up to date?  Are you taking advantage of faster processors and modern technology?  Have you moved from a dial-up to a high-speed connection?

Your most precious commodity is time.  Information systems are a part of your life whether or not you like it.  As long as you are going to need computers and the internet, make sure you have fast equipment, and that you are taking advantage of new technological peripherals.

Look at your software.  Do you have an effective accounting package?  Do you use the management features it contains?  Are you taking advantage of your accounting system to monitor critical numbers and best manage your company?

Whether you use Quicken, QuickBooks, MYOB, or another package, there are many features from online bill paying, to budgeting capabilities that many business professionals overlook or choose not to take the time to learn.  These features offer the real power of accounting software packages.  You have made the monetary investment in this software, now make the time investment to get it set up and working effectively for you and your business.

Do you use a contact management system?  Are you still working off of little pieces of paper scattered all over your desk and post-it notes stuck on the walls?

A contact management system will allow you to greatly increase productivity.  This modern marvel allows you to keep all of your contact information in a single easy-to-get-at place.  With the push of a few buttons you can look up any client or prospect and see when your last conversation with them was and what was discussed.  When you come to work in the morning you will have scheduled calls and you will always be able to follow up on time and as promised.

I have been using a contact management system for over fifteen years, and I could not run my business without it!

 

2. Your Product Information

I have bought a lot of cars over the years, and every time I go into an automotive showroom I discover that I know more about the car I am looking for then the salesperson that works with me.

It is very frustrating for the buyer to know more about the product then the seller.  If you are to be a true professional, you need to be very well versed on the product or service that you offer.  Your expertise needs to be very detailed, although you will not need to use all details with each client.

A professional has a technical understanding of their offering and tailors the information provided based on the needs and desires of the client.  Someone purchasing a home may want to know about the specific energy savings characteristics of the water heater.  Another person may just want to know that the water heater is 75 gallons and will easily handle a family of five.  Someone buying a car may be happy just knowing they are getting leather seats.  Another buyer may want to know the tanning process used to make the premium leather used in her car.

 

3. Industry and Competition Information

Not only must you know more about your product than your client, you should also know more about your competition’s product as well.  It is not uncommon to see someone who is knowledgeable about their products and services, yet not be up to date on what is going on in their industry.

Remember, your client, in their mind, is positioning you against your competitors.  They are comparing the benefits they receive, the price they will have to pay, and the service that they perceive they will get.

If you are to put yourself in a strong position, you will need to be very knowledgeable about your competition.  You never want to talk bad about your competition, but if you know their strengths and weaknesses you can promote the strengths that your product possesses that will exploit the competitors weaknesses.

Ideally, you should be so knowledgeable about your competition that you could go to work for them!

 

4. Current Events and General Knowledge

Are you up to date on national and international events?  If someone strikes up a conversation about the situation in Darfur, can you hold up your end?  What about the current election, or the buyout attempt that InBev made on Anheuser Busch?

Business is built on relationships.  Relationships are based on communication.  If you want to communicate effectively, you need to know what your customers like to talk about, and you need to be knowledgeable about those subjects.

One of my favorite sales professionals is constantly reading magazines.  He may read about SCUBA diving one day and gardening the next.  Yes, he has a thirst for information and knowledge, but he really enjoys being able to speak with any of his clients about a variety of subjects.

If you work in a narrow niche, find out what your clients are reading, and at the very least read those publications or books.  To be a real resource for your customers, dig deeper and read or learn about issues that would be of importance or assistance to them.

I keep my valued resources close.  If you are a true resource for your clients, they will want to keep you close as well.

 

Don’t let your lights go out.  Keep up to date.  Make sure your systems and information are current, and you will stay on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Communicate for Rapport

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How you communicate with others will often determine the success you have in business. But communication is more than simply your ability to relate ideas. A key aspect of communication that many business people neglect is their listening capability. The fact is that without highly-tuned listening skills, your business and client rapport will often suffer.

Why is listening so important? Clients these days want more than polished sales presentations. They don’t want to be trapped in a conversation where the other person dominates the talk. They want to work with people who seem to truly care about them and their needs and who listen to their concerns and work with them to deliver the best solution. That’s why your ability to effectively listen to others can make or break your business. 

It’s important to realize that listening involves much more than simply not talking. It’s a matter of understanding the other person, giving him or her your full attention, not interrupting, and making the other person feel important. 

Below are three simple listening techniques you can implement today to improve your client rapport tomorrow. 

 

1. Listen for the other person’s communication style

Everyone learns information with one of three dominant senses: sight, sound, or touch. As a result, people communicate in a style that matches their learning modality. In order to effectively communicate with others, you must identify which style your client is using and then respond to him or her accordingly. 

For example, people who are visual learners will use visual language patterns and will say things like, “I see what you mean,” “This looks good,” and “I want my (boss/wife/husband) to see this before I decide.” Their focus is on how your proposal “looks” to them. When you identify a visual learner, focus your conversation around visual aids, such as brochures, flip charts, graphs, and diagrams. These people will need to “see” the facts before they commit. 

Auditory learners will use phrases such as “This sounds interesting” and “I want my (boss/co-workers) to hear this.” These people will be less impressed by your visual tools and will need more verbal explanation from you. 

Kinetic learners are those who rely on touch or motion to comprehend the information. They’ll typically use phrases like, “Let’s touch base on this tomorrow” and “Run that by me again.” These people will need more hands-on interaction. They learn by doing and may need to do calculations for themselves or write their own changes in the contract. 

Always listen to the speech patterns of those you talk to. You’ll be able to judge their communication style and then respond to them in a similar fashion in order to make communication easier and more effective. 

While it’s important to know your own communication style, your primary focus should always be on delivering information in the style most preferred by the person you are speaking with. When you can talk to clients in their own language patterns, you’ll gain their attention and their trust.

 

2. Ask appropriate questions

A key to listening is the ability to gather information. To do this, ask your clients key questions that will invite them to share information with you. This will also better enable you to assess their needs, wants, likes, and dislikes. You can then develop a solution tailored especially for them. 

To begin, ask some basic fact-searching questions—those that begin with “when,” “where,” “what,” and “how many.” These are usually easy for people to answer and the ones they are most comfortable with. Some common fact-searching questions are “What style of house are you looking for?” “When would you like to retire?” “How much would you like to invest in a stock plan?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Carefully listen to the answers so you can continue with some deeper questions.

Once you establish the facts, begin to ask “why” questions. These will reveal more personal information and will begin the rapport building process. Some examples are “Why would you like a larger house?” “Why do you want to retire at that age?” “Why is this investment important to you?” and “Why did you set those goals for yourself?” 

The more you listen to their answers, the more you’ll uncover the motivation behind their needs. More important, by asking questions, your clients will sense that you are genuinely interested in them and will be more apt to do business with you.

 

3. Confirm your comprehension

To show the speaker that you are indeed listening, rephrase and repeat key points from the discussion. This will help validate opinions and will show that you understand. Also, be sure to interject with “come on” phrases, such as “I agree,” “Please continue,” “I understand,” and “Oh, really.” Phrases like these encourage people to continue, and the more the other party talks, the more they’ll sell themselves on your solution. 

Your relationship will also better develop if you use gestures while listening. This can include maintaining eye contact, smiling when the other person is talking, and nodding in agreement to points. By doing this, the speaker will see you as an active participant in the conversation, and the developing relationship will have more meaning.

Finally, hold any in-depth comments you may have until the speaker is finished speaking. Nothing turns a person off more than someone who interrupts the conversation. Furthermore, to ensure that you fully comprehend all that your clients say, refrain from formulating your responses while they are still talking. If you’re continually planning what you’re going to say, you will inevitably miss some important details the other person reveals. Constant rebuttal formulation will also put you in a defensive mindset. In order for your client to view you as a partner and not an opponent, you need to keep an open mind and gather all the information possible. Your clients will appreciate this common courtesy and will place a higher importance on the relationship you develop.

 

There’s no doubt that listening is an art form that must be mastered in order to attain long-term business success. You’ll discover that when you build relationships rather than continually hard-sell your products and services, your clients will reward you with future business and continual referrals. By practicing these three steps, you can make all your client interactions much more enjoyable and much more profitable for you and your company. 

Now you’re on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Business Back To The Basics

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My garage is full of junk.  That’s right.  If you opened my garage today you would see junk piled high.  It goes half way to the ceiling!  Wood, insulation, drywall, light fixtures, dirt, and cabinets that had been torn out.

The master bathroom in my house is being remodeled.  It’s a gut job.  We’re taking it down to the raw studs, and then creating a brand new bathroom.

Initially, we were going to re-decorate, but that really didn’t seem to solve our issues.  Sometimes you have to go back to the original studs and build what you want, just the way you want it.

In business, it can be the same way.  Over the years you gradually build your business.  You implement systems, and you adjust your systems.  Marketing generates leads, and you close them.  Some ideas work.  Others don’t.

Many times, the ideas and techniques that had worked in the past get modified.  After several changes you don’t even recognize your original thought or process.  And then some time down the line you wonder, “Why don’t we do that anymore?”

It is easy to get off track or just try so many new things that the old proven techniques get covered up or forgotten.  Maybe now is the time to get your business back to basics.

Look at these three areas and evaluate what you have done in the past, what you are currently doing, and what you want or should be doing as you move forward.

 

1. Marketing

All too often I work with companies that have had several successful marketing campaigns over the years, but then they move on to something new.  I truly believe in trying out new marketing ideas.  I also believe that you should keep a log of what works, what doesn’t, and when you have used various marketing techniques.

There is a difference between “resting” a marketing tool and failing to remember that it has worked for you before and probably would again.

Make a list of all the different marketing ideas you have used over the years.  Then, next to each one mark whether it was cost efficient, a loser, or just break-even.  Also, mark down when you have used those techniques.  Going forward, add to the list as you try new marketing ideas.

Now, are there some ideas that have worked in the past that you haven’t used in a while?  Have you been successful with a program in the past but failed to use it in a long time?  Maybe now is the time to pull out that proven technique and put it back into your arsenal.  What a great way to implement a successful idea and not have to reinvent it from scratch!

 

2. Sales

After over thirty years of sales experience, and over one hundred million dollars in product and service sales I’ve learned several undeniable truths.  Two really stick out.

First, it takes a proven sales system to be able to achieve your very best in any selling environment.

Every great sales professional that I’ve ever known had a system.  They had a step-by-step approach that they followed to achieve their success.  Some of them created their system, but most of them were taught a system by another proven sales professional.

Selling is a planned campaign.  You don’t just “wing it” and make it big.

Second, over time sales professionals tend to take shortcuts.  They get away from their proven sales system.  They think that they are good enough to eliminate this step or that.  The truth is that they are good because they have all of those steps in their system.

What I’ve discovered is that in the short-term you may continue to enjoy success as you trim steps or take shortcuts, but long-term, the changes add up.  Before you know it you have significantly deviated from your proven system.

After a while, sales level off or even decline.  The sales professional starts thinking that the market has shifted, that customers are changing their buying habits, that competition is growing, or that their price is too high.  In reality, the only problem is that the sales professional needs to get back to the basics.

Look at your sales system.  I teach a nine-step system.  Some people I know use a seven-step system.  What do you use?  Have you adapted your approach over time?  Are you taking shortcuts?

Make a list of the steps in your sales system.  Is there something missing?  Are there some basic steps that you need to go back to or include?  Get back to the basics and get your sales moving up.

 

3. Strategic Planning

Before most people go into business they spend significant time planning.  They create a well thought-out sales and marketing plan.  If they have a retail store, they plan the layout and flow of that store.  They plan for financing, and they plan for challenges along the way.

There is a lot of time spent thinking not only strategically, but also tactically.

After someone opens his or her business it is not uncommon to see the tactical thinking completely take over.  The strategic thinking is pushed out the door.  The rush of everyday problems is the only thing that the owner has made time to deal with.

Many times, the owner is experienced in a trade or skill and doesn’t have the business training to think or plan strategically.  Delegating and creating time to work strategically may be the most important commitment an owner can make.  It is great if you can think and plan strategically on your own, but if you can’t, then get a coach to guide you.

Strategic thinking is what you build your business foundation on.  What are your company’s values and goals?  What is your company vision?  How does everyone around you fit into your vision of the future?  What will have to happen this year for you to be happy next year?

These are all tough questions, and you must spend time dealing with each of them.  Strategic planning is at the heart of every great organization, from a one-person sales company to a company with thousands of employees.  Make the time to create your successful future!

 

In the rush to get ahead, don’t forget what has worked and what events have brought you to where you are today.  Maybe it’s time to take your business back to basics, recapture successful ideas, and put yourself on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Close More Sales

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For a customer to make a purchase, there are three key questions that must be answered in their mind. If you can answer these questions in a positive manner, you can make the sale. If you shortcut your presentation, don’t hit on all of the important issues, and don’t answer these questions for your customer, then you cannot make the sale.  Take the responsibility of providing the needed answers so your clients can buy your products and services.

 

1. Why should I buy?

A customer will only make a purchasing decision to satisfy a need. The good news is that the need can be real, or it can be perceived.

If someone has a hole in their roof, they have a real need to have it repaired. If a client wants a new roof to dress up the look of their home, then the need is more of a perception. Wanting your house to look nicer is different than solving a problem like a leaky roof.

Someone that goes into a Mercedes dealership is addressing a status need in addition to a real need for transportation. Surely, a Chevrolet or Volkswagen would provide adequate transportation, but those automobiles may not provide the perceived need of having a prestigious car.

Your job during the sales process is to make sure that your client is aware of their needs. You should make them aware of real needs that exist as well as any perceived needs that you can build upon. The more need you can create, the greater the chance that the client will move forward with your proposition.

Do you know what needs your product or service addresses? Create a list of the real needs your product satisfies. Now create a list of the possible perceived needs that you can apply your product to. Be sure and make every client aware of his or her needs!

 

2. Why should I buy from you?

There are many reasons that someone should buy from you. Below is a list of some of them.

Expertise – What do you bring to the table?
Bonding – How good is your relationship with your client?
Price – Some people buy from the low price provider, some from the high price provider, and some from the middle price provider. The key is to be able to substantiate your price.
Security – What type of warranty or guarantee do you offer? Your client is going to give up their hard earned dollars. They want peace of mind as well as the product or service you offer.
Quality – Does your product have greater quality than your competition? Are there features and benefits that you could elaborate on which would answer this for your client?
Solution – Ultimately, making a sale is solving a problem for your client. They have a need. You have a solution. Is your solution the best possible choice for your client?
Service Uniqueness – Do you offer a unique level of service or support for your client?
Value – Value goes deeper then price. Value is the relationship between their investment and everything they receive in return. Your client gives you money. You provide a product, a warranty, service, support, and more.

Your responsibility is to provide your client with as many “why’s” as possible. Remember, it’s not enough for you to know all of this information. Your clients must have the information if they are to be able to determine that they should buy from you.

 

3. Why should I buy now?

We all want to put off purchasing decisions. We don’t want to part with our hard earned money. Maybe the price will drop. Maybe the need will go away. It’s a tough decision, and we dislike making decisions.

It is critical that you give your client a reason to make the purchase now; today! One time I was selling replacement windows. The customer was someone I knew. I closed the sale. They said to send them the contract to sign. “Take your time. Whenever it gets here we’ll sign it and return it to you,” they said. I took my time and by the time I got around to getting them the contract, the husband had been transferred and I lost my sale. If I had gotten them the contract that day or the next day at the latest, then we could have measured the window and they would have been in production.

Needs change. If you client has a need today, then make the sale today. Give them a reason to move the process forward. Maybe there is a special offer or a sale. Maybe you expect the prices to go up. Availability can also be an effective motivator. Discontinued products are only available for a limited time. A house in a very desirable neighborhood will not be on the market for long. Laws and governmental regulations may eliminate opportunities in the near future. Whatever the case, let the client know that it is in their best interest to move forward right now.

If you are successful in answering all three questions in your clients minds you will close more sales, make more money, and be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Don’t Leave Your Business Up To the Lottery

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The lottery was up to $90 million this past week and I bought a ticket.  It was just a dollar.  I immediately started calculating in my head that the total cash payout, after tax, would be about $42 million, still enough for a nice holiday.  Then the balance of the calculations began.  I could give $5 million to each child, $2 million to various charities.  And, I’d still have $20 million left to share with my wife.

But it didn’t stop there.  I tinkered with the numbers and came up with a way to give $1 million to each of our siblings and still have $20 million for us.  Then I started thinking about how I would invest the money and how much I would spend in the foreseeable future.

Wow, all that thinking and fun for only one dollar.  Then it hit me.  I just spent all that time thinking about how to divide, spend, and invest a bunch of money that was probably not going to be mine.  What kind of results would I receive if I spent that amount of time strategically thinking about my business?

When you look at your business think about two things:

1. Where are you now?
2. Where do you want to be in one, three and five years?

This is the strategic thinking that most small business owners fail to take the time to complete.  It’s not that complex, but it sure is important.

If you know in detail where your company is now, what is working and what isn’t, and you have a clear picture of where you want your organization to be in those three time frames then the only thing you have to do to achieve your success is to close that gap.  How you close that gap becomes the tactical elements of your plan. The strategic part is the “what” you want to accomplish.  The tactical part is the “how” you’re going to do it.

Make a list of everything that needs to be done in order to achieve your goals.  There will be daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks, quarterly tasks and annual tasks.  Revisiting your strategic plan should happen annually, while monitoring your progress on your plan could be a weekly task.

Fully detail your strengths and weaknesses.  Define what you are best at as an individual and what you would be best at out sourcing to others.  Then take your list of things that you need to do to close that gap and assign each one to the person on your team who has the best opportunity of completing it.

Think about planning both strategically and tactically.  Ultimately we are accountable to both plan and then execute on those plans.  Accountability counts!

Outsource – Get More Done!

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As an entrepreneur you have to guard your time.  You have wonderful ideas, maybe more ideas than you can handle, but you need to stay focused.  Look at everything you do.  Which items are you great at?  Which tasks provide the greatest return in dollars on your time?  Which tasks could someone else do while you’re busy?

Outsourcing broadens your coverage.  By outsourcing you extend the amount of work you are able to get done and increase the return on your investment of time, your most precious commodity.

When looking for reliable people and organizations to outsource to you should consider the following three things.

 

1. Find experts

When you outsource you always want a great job but this is also the opportunity of getting a job done that would be better then you could do.  Don’t settle for job done.  Get the job done right.  You may be good at many things but you will be able to find people who are excellent at a few focused tasks.  Those are the people you are looking for.  You may find those people locally or through a service like eLance.com you may find them half way around the world.

 

2. Hire attention to detail

Always look for people who give great attention to detail.  Many entrepreneurs are great idea people but lack the discipline of managing the details.  Outsourcing gives you the opportunity to bring on board people who are strong detail people as well as strong skill people.  By doing this the effectiveness of your organization is greatly increased.

 

3. Check references

When you outsource your success is in someone else’s hands.  Do your due diligence and make sure that your potential outsourcing partner has a track record of doing what they say they do.  Ask for three references.  Then ask for three more.  Call the second set of three.

 

You can get more done, achieve at a higher level and ultimately create a greater income stream by outsourcing.  As a matter of fact this article was written for me by someone I outsourced the job to based on my ideas, thoughts and concepts.  Look to broaden your reach by outsourcing and leverage other people talents and skills — you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz.

Are Your Eyes On The Prize?

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A few years back, I was watching the women’s finals tennis match at Wimbledon.  The announcer commented about eventual winner Serena Williams’ concentration and focus.  He said, “Serena knows how to keep her eyes on the prize.”  What a great way of saying what all professionals must do!

Most business people don’t achieve their highest possible success because they get distracted.  They let unimportant but seemingly urgent tasks and events draw their focus away from the real target.

Great business leaders are accountable for their actions and keep their eyes on the prize.  Here is how they do it.

 

Core Values

It is hard to build a business unless you have a strong base.  Just like a tall building, you need a solid foundation.  In business and in life, your foundation is comprised of your core values.

Your core values express what you believe in and direct your actions.  Each time you need to make a choice, your core values serve as the basis to test against.  They help you make the tough decisions, and they guide you through the rigorous job of building your business.

Answer the following questions, and you’ll be on the road to determining your core values.

What do you stand for?

What is it that you are not willing to change no matter what else happens to you?

What is the essence of your belief structure?

Are you authentic?

 

Long Range and Short Range Goals

Goal setting is a common habit of all high level achievers that I know.  You can dream and wish, but only when you set a goal does it begin to become real.

Goals signify where you want to end up over a period of time.  They do not say how you are going to do it.  The clearer the goal and the better defined it is, the easier it will be to determine how to achieve that goal.

Some business people create sales goals and let it go at that.  I would like to encourage you to analyze your business.  What are all of the critical elements of your job?  What tasks will lead to your ultimate success?

If you are in the real estate business you, might be concerned with issues like the number of pieces of property you list, the number of clients you work with, how many presentations you make, your closing ratio, the average price of the homes you sell, and more.

Now, take each of these categories and set a goal.  If you are able to achieve your goals on the core elements of what you do, then you’ll probably be able to achieve your goals on the bottom line as well.

It is critical that you develop both long-range goals and short-term goals.  These will guide you on a daily and weekly basis as well as on a year-to-year basis.

 

Strategic Planning

Take time to look at the big picture.  Plan how you are going to build your business.  When you have a plan it is easier to know where to focus on a daily basis.

When I work with clients to help them grow their business, I always want to know how much time they spend on strategic planning.  Usually they don’t spend much time at all.

Strategic planning should be a scheduled part of your monthly activities.  Most small business people feel so busy that they misuse their time on tactical issues and either forget or don’t provide time for strategic issues.

What activities can you delegate?  Which of your regular tasks could be accomplished by other people in your organization, or are there new people that you could hire?  It’s not unusual to see business professionals who feel that they alone must do the job. 

If you are an independent business professional, maybe it’s time for an assistant.  Think of the time you could generate for more productive activities.

In addition to strategic planning, you would have more time for those activities that will produce the greatest return for your business.

 

Understand Both Sides of The Value Proposition

This is so important.  Your value proposition is made up of two pieces of information.  They are, what value do you provide, and whom do you deliver that value to?

Most companies fail to grow at substantial rates because the owner doesn’t take the time to accurately figure out their value proposition.  Your value proposition is at the very vortex of your business success.

Once you have this information, you are in a position to create a Memorable Marketing Message™.  You are also in a position to take a ho-hum marketing program and turn it into a goldmine!

This powerful concept may very well be the single greatest issue that stands between where you are today and the tremendous success that you could start achieving tomorrow.

 

Eliminate Distractions

Sounds easy, but you know it’s not.  When you come into the office, and you have a list of the things that you want to accomplish, which items do you do first?

Do you do what’s easy?  Do you do what will make someone else happy?  Do you do what will make you look good to those around you, or, do you do the single most important item no matter how difficult or tedious?

It is so easy to get distracted by coworkers, the telephone, the news, your email, the internet, or something out the window.

When you start your day take out a 3 X 5 card.  On it list the six things that must get done that day for you to be happy.  I don’t care if you use a manual day planning device or an electronic one.  Take a card out and list these important items.

Now start at the top of your list and work your way through the items one at a time.  When you complete your list, then you may work on other tasks.

Organize your thoughts, your actions, your time, and your office so that you can eliminate distractions and keep focused.

 

Do you know what it is that you stand for?  Are you setting goals?  Do you have the training you need?  Are you reading the right books and networking with the right people?  Do you make time for strategic planning and eliminate distractions?  Have you defined your value proposition?

Keep your eyes on the prize, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Change Your Paradigms … Be Accountable To Build Your Business

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“Never, never rest contented with any circle of ideas, but always be certain that a wider one is still possible.”
– Richard Jefferies -Nineteenth century English naturalist and novelist.

An individual’s paradigms are the set of rules by which they think the game of life is played.  Your paradigms dictate the way you see the world around you.  You can have major improvements in your life by shifting your reference points.  Since your paradigms are the basis of your reference points, a change in your paradigms will ultimately affect the greatest change in your life.

Paradigms are a result of the environment that you grew up in as well as your current environment and social surrounding.  Your self-image is formed as you develop in life.

Your paradigms are affected by your self-image with respect to your capabilities.  Your environment will shape your paradigms in conjunction with the world around you.  To be able to have a paradigm shift, which is what is necessary to have a remarkable change in achievement and success in your life, you must be open to those changes.  Herein is where the difficulty lies:  unless you have strong self-esteem it will be difficult to open yourself up to these changes in reference and belief.  If you have a poor self-image, you will be more concerned with protecting your current position by sticking with the status quo.  It is hard to open up to change if you are busy protecting what you have.  By working on your self-esteem and self-image, you will essentially put yourself in a position to shed the chains holding you back.  You will be able to open up your mind to new ideas so that you can achieve a paradigm shift and be in a position for significant success in your life.

In 1952, The Lipton Tea Company invented the flo-thru tea bag.  People around the world see tea bags as being rectangular in shape and attached by a string to a paper tag.  Forty years later Tetley Tea made a paradigm shift.  They decided “tea bags can be different.  Tea cups are round.  Saucers are round.  Why not have round tea bags?”  After introducing the new product in England, Tetley’s sales increased over 40%, becoming number-one in the market!  The round tea bag has now been released in Canada and the United States, with similar success.

When I first entered the window business our customer base included medium and small window retailers.  Larger retailers purchased their windows out of town because they had the purchasing volume to justify shipments.  The retailers believed that by marketing an exclusive window, they could get a higher price than for a window that was available elsewhere.

The small and medium retailers did not have access to the same product, so if homeowners wanted the exact window the large company showed them, they had to pay the price the large retailer was asking.  My experience for the first two years in the window business was that a local manufacturer could not successfully sell a large in-town account.  One day, I had a paradigm shift.  I decided that anyone could create an exclusive product.  The fact that my factory was located in the same market as the large dealer did not matter.  Once I realized that I could offer something different, I set out to create our exclusive window.

I had not tried before, because my paradigm had dictated that exclusivity did not exist for me.  After only a short time, I came up with a program of exclusive product features and unique marketing ideas.  Our first large account bought half a million dollars worth of windows on an annual basis.  The second account spent over two million dollars with us annually!  My original paradigm was shaped by the people I worked with.  Look at the success I was able to achieve by changing my reference points.  This paradigm shift was worth over fifty-thousand-dollars in annual commissions and worth far more to the company in profits and increased buying power.

At one point we decided to expand our product line with an additional high quality vinyl window.  Everyone in the industry felt that a top quality replacement window had to be fusion welded at the joints.  Fusion welding is labor intensive and requires expensive welding and cleaning equipment.  I started researching other manufacturing methods and began evaluating different options.  Finally, we found a method of fastening that was 30% stronger than welding.  It didn’t involve expensive manufacturing equipment, so we were able to tool up for half the cost of a traditional welded system.

Even better, we were able to reduce our labor costs by approximately one-third!  We became more competitive and sales of this new product skyrocketed. These drastic results were all possible because of our paradigm shift:  because we had changed our view on how quality windows had to be manufactured.

Evaluate your paradigms.  By shifting your points of reference, can you open up new areas of potential growth?  Don’t say, “that’s impossible.”  Say, “how can I make that possible?”  Things that were not possible before will become possible.  Your ability to achieve will be enhanced and the time needed to achieve your primary desires will be reduced.  Change your paradigms, and you will be accountable to Building a Better Biz!

Defense Driven Accountable Business Growth

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What drives your company, the offense or the defense?

I went to a football game recently.  My team won 33-22.  You may think that the offense ran away with the game, running up a whopping 33-points and really sticking it to the competition.

The truth is that the offence was non-existent.  The offence only managed to gain 121 total yards.  As a matter of fact that is the fewest yards ever by a team in the National Football League that scored 33 points!

What happened?  Simple.  The defense carried the team.  They forced seven turnovers, scored one touchdown and they set up two others.  The defense came to the rescue of the offence.

In business it can be the same way.  Your offense, sales and marketing, can really drive your company.  They can generate a lot of interest and enthusiasm in your products and services.  They usually get the credit for superior performance.  You hear it all the time.  “They had a great year.  Sales were up 20%!”

But, building a successful business requires teamwork.  It takes offense and defense.  Let’s look at the defensive areas that you can focus on to build a better business.

Customer Service

Building relationships with your clients brings them back, increases the average sale amount, and generates referrals.  Creating an effective customer service department can mean a growth in sales from behind the scenes.

The investment in marketing has been spent.  You or your sales team has worked to acquire the client.  Now, what happens as you move forward?  Your customer service efforts will play a major impact on your return on investment from sales and marketing.

Relationships not only attract clients, but they also retain them.  It’s a proven fact.  Everyone in your organization that comes in contact with your clients must take the responsibility to build relationships.

My clients have retained my services because of relationships with someone answering the phone, someone in production, and someone in field service.  In my manufacturing business, my truck drivers built relationships with our clients, and they came back with a lot of useful information.  The clients enjoyed doing business with everyone they came in contact with.

Production

If you are in manufacturing, then you know that production can make or break you.  Yes, the sales department needs to make the sale at a profitable dollar amount, but production must be efficient, produce quality products, and provide a quick turn around time.

An efficient manufacturing facility can give you a competitive advantage.  It will help you to be more profitable, have higher than normal quality, and have faster then industry standard delivery times that can be parlayed into powerful marketing tools.

Internal Support

It is very difficult for anyone to be successful on their own.  We all need support and assistance in our endeavors.  In any business, there are people whose work and efforts provide support for others in the company.

The person answering the phone interfaces with the client.  By answering the phone in a warm and welcoming manor, the client can be put into a good mood and be more receptive to the sales professional and her ideas.

Someone in accounting can provide a service for someone else in the organization thereby helping the second individual be more productive, more effective, and achieve greater results.

My daughter, Jackie, plays very serious soccer.  After nine years of playing forward and midfield her coach moved her to defense.  This past weekend Jackie told me that she always has to cover two players as the midfielders never seem to come back on defense like they should.  Jackie said, “It took playing someone else’s position to fully understand how what I did impacted them.”

Look for ways to provide better support for others in your organization and reap the benefits.

Cost Containment

You can increase gross revenues by selling more customers, selling them more often, and selling them larger quantities.  You can impact your bottom line without increasing sales by containing your costs.

Cost reductions turn into instant profits.  An increase in sales by one dollar might put ten cents on your bottom line, but reducing your costs by one dollar will increase your profits by a full dollar.

Are there redundant jobs in your organization?  Is there a more cost effect way of purchasing or better purchasing sources?  Can great performance efficiencies be turned into cost savings?

Proactively drive your costs down as a never ending daily endeavor, and over time you will watch your profits soar!

A team is made up of many individuals who perform a variety of tasks.  By getting all of the members of your team on the same page, or your offense and your defense, you will find that it is easier to build your business.  And, on those days where one subgroup of your team is having a tough time, others will pick up the slack and help get the job done.

Work both your offense and defense, and you will be more accountable in Building a Better Biz.

Action step:

Choose one “defensive” area of your business and focus this week on making it stronger.