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.


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.

Maximize Your Referrals

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My wife and I met with our financial advisor Karl earlier this week.  We spent an hour reviewing the performance of our portfolio, re-clarifying our personal investment goals, and discussing our estate-planning situation.

Karl is thorough.  We have the utmost confidence in his work and the firm he is associated with.  In addition to the “business” part of the meeting, Renee, Karl, and I talked about our children and their interests.  The time went by quickly.

As we were finishing up, Karl thanked us again for a past referral we had sent his way and also asked us if there was anyone else who we might feel comfortable referring to him.  Karl told us that when his clients referred other clients it saved him prospecting time.  He went on to say that this enabled him to spend more time working for us.  It all made sense.

It is always easier to sell a referred client.  There is already implied trust.  The client is more open and willing to look at the value you offer and evaluate if there is a good fit.  One referred client is worth ten cold leads.  Getting more referrals is all about asking questions.  The best in the business know who to ask and what to ask for.

You should always ask your current clients for referrals.  There is a natural flow of conversation that will enable you to receive more referrals from your current clients.  Toward the end of a meeting with a regular client or after the sale with a new client ask a “confidence” question.  You may ask, “Have you been satisfied with the work I’ve done for you?”  Or, “Does this look like we’re moving in the right direction?” Or, “That was a little easier then you thought, wasn’t it?”

Basically, you are trying to get your client to agree that they are glad they are doing business with you.  Then, you simply say to them, “My business is built around positive relationships.  I truly value our relationship, and I greatly enjoy serving you.  Do you know of anyone else who may have similar needs as you?”  The word “may” in the last sentence is critical because your client might feel that they do not know for sure if someone would need your product or service.  You want to make your client feel as comfortable as possible recommending you.

Give them a reason to help you.  One reason could be because they like you.  They are helping a friend.  We all want to help our friends.  Another reason could be because you offer a gift for referrals.  Some businesses offer a gift certificate for dinner at a nice restaurant as an incentive.  Another company I know has a formal referral program that pays $50.00 for every referred prospect that makes a purchase.  Karl’s statement about our referring clients left him more time to serve us was a great comment and provided us a tangible reason to refer someone to him.

All businesses are different.  What might be appropriate in one business would not be in another.  A home improvement company could pay $50 or $100 to a customer for each referral.  They could send out referral cards twice a year asking for those referrals.  This could be a significant marketing program for them.  They are many variations of this that my clients successfully use.

However, someone in the financial services industry would approach the situation entirely different.  Everyone should ask for referrals.  How you handle the procedure will vary by industry.

You can also ask for referrals from people who do not buy from you.  Let’s say you work with a prospect, but maybe the timing isn’t right for them.  At this point in time they choose not to move forward.  But, you have developed a good relationship.  They feel positive about you.  Ask them for a referral.  You might say, “I understand that the timing isn’t the best for you right now, and we’ll stay in touch as we move forward.  By the way, do you know of someone who may have a similar need that would be a good fit for me?”

When you ask for a referral you may want to be specific with regards to a “target” for your client to think about.  Don’t just ask if they know someone.  Give your client a target.  Your question may be, “Do you have any relatives that could use a similar service?”  Or, “Do you have a relationship with someone in a similar position as you with a different company that may need this same product?”

By giving your client a target when you ask the question it helps them think of people.  You can move from one target to the next in the course of your conversation.

Say “thank you” for your referrals.  Always call and thank your client when they refer someone.  It does not mater if the referral buys from you or not.  You want to reward your client with positive praise for what they have done for you.  Your client will be more willing to refer someone in the future if you positively reinforce this great habit.

It may also be appropriate for you to send a thank you card and, or, a gift to your client.  Good taste always prevails here.  The last time I sent Karl a client I received a thank you note, a phone call, and a gift certificate to the finest restaurant in town.  I wasn’t expecting anything in return for my referral.  I believed that I was helping the person I was referring as much as I was helping Karl, but I did appreciate the thanks Karl sent my way.

Asking for referrals should be an ongoing part of your daily business.  Ask people who buy from you and people who don’t.  People like to help others.  If someone believes in you and your abilities, they will be willing to lend a helping hand.  Grow your business through referrals and you will save marketing time, explode your bottom line, and be on the road to Building a Better Biz! 

The Art Of Great Listening

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If I listen, I have the advantage; if I speak, others have it.
– From the Arabic

The average person spends over 70% of his/her life in an awakened state. During this time, you are constantly communicating either with yourself or with others. Good communication skills are critical to success. People judge you by your ability to effectively convey your thoughts.

There are four main modes of communication: reading, speaking, writing, and listening. Reading, speaking and writing are part of the school curriculum from grade school through high school. For the most part, few people have had any formal education in listening. However, effective listening skills are crucial to your success.

One time a customer came into my office to discuss our quality control. He expressed that his company was important to him and that he had to do whatever necessary to make it grow. What he really said was: “Get it right or I’m going to take my business elsewhere.” I made the mistake of not hearing him and almost lost the account. Only some quick work saved a one-hundred-thousand-dollar customer, a customer that always paid his bills on time!

It is important to listen not only to what people say but to what they mean. Interpret the feelings they are expressing. People want to be appreciated. Fulfill their want by listening to them: it shows that you care.

People have difficulty listening because of bad habits they have developed over time. One bad habit is talking. It is impossible to listen if you are talking. However, unfortunately, most people feel that as long as they are speaking they are in control. Actually, the opposite may be true. Only through listening can we learn.

We have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio and you will become an excellent listener.

Listen not only to the words but to how they are delivered. Meaning is in people and not just in their words. Listen for the intent, not just the content. Pay attention to changes in pace. Listen for voice inflections. Look “between the lines” for the real meaning. This is all called listening empathetically. You care, not just about what someone says, but why they say it. It is this greater understanding that will enable you to form the correct response to a particular situation and ultimately get the results from the relationship you desire.

If during a conversation you are showing that you are actively listening and are interested in what is being said, the speaker will give you more information. This is how your knowledge and resulting power grows.

There are several ways to enhance your listening skills and to show that you are interested in the person speaking to you. I have created a technique called FRAG, which is short for “fragment.” A fragment is a piece or part of a whole; something is missing. Likewise, if you don’t use good listening skills, you will only receive part of the message. Your response to an individual will be limited. In addition, having only partial information may leave you in a less competitive position.

FRAG stands for:

– Finish
– Rephrase and repeat
– Ask questions
– Gestures

First, always let the speaker finish his/her comments. Don’t interrupt and don’t change the subject. This assures you of receiving the complete message. Also, it is polite!

Second, repeat a portion of what the speaker said. This shows that you listened and understood the speaker. Rephrase the statement in your own words. By rephrasing and repeating what the speaker said, you will be sure that you understand the message and you will also show that you are both interested and sincere.

Third, ask questions. This, too, shows that you are interested. And it encourages the speaker to continue and expand on his/her message providing more valuable information. By asking questions, you can ask the person for clarification of the message for exact meaning, thus insuring understanding of the communication.

Fourth, use simple gestures such as a frown, eye contact, a smile, or a nod to signal that you are involved in the conversation. This sends positive feedback to the speaker and helps you maintain your concentration and interest.

By using the FRAG technique, you will receive the entire message and not just fragments. At the same time, you will develop a good rapport with the speaker.

It has been said that information is power. With good listening skills, you can obtain more information and have greater power. As your listening skills improve, you will get more out of each conversation, while at the same time, earning the respect of the person speaking to you.

A positive relationship is based on effective, two-way communication. Listening is an essential part of good communication. Become a great listener and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz! 

Seven Steps To Being Accountable for Your Wealth and Happiness

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I just received a magazine in the mail that is dedicated to exclusive homes that are for sale around the United States.  The houses range in investment from $750,000 to over $36 million.  Of course the $36 million dollar home has a beautiful view of Lake Tahoe and is complete with a three-hole golf course!

Personally, I am in the middle of an extensive remodeling project on my home.  I know how fast you can spend money on a house.  Today it takes a lot of money to buy a nice house.  It takes an enormous amount of money to obtain your dream home.

Most people are content to settle for “okay.”  If it’s a little better than your parents or your siblings, then you are satisfied.  If when you go back to your high school or college reunion and you can show that you’ve kept up with the Jones’, then you are happy.  Why not have it all?  Who says you can’t have a million dollar home, or the boat, or the second home, or anything else your heart desires?

Are you able to provide your children with an outstanding education?  To send your child to a top private college in the United States it will cost upwards of $50,000 a year or more!  And, those are after tax dollars.

We must to be accountable for our financial security.  If you are not making top money today, don’t worry.  You don’t have to be stuck in your situation.  There are ways to break out and create the wealth and happiness you deserve.

Here are seven steps to create wealth and a fantastic future.


1. It’s All In Your Head

Do you have a mindset of what you are “supposed” to earn and have that is based on other people’s poor performance?  If your dad was a coal miner, does that mean you have to be a coal miner also?

I’ve seen this over and over in my career.  People perform to the standard and expectation that is set for them.  We let our family and friends set that expectation, and if they have low standards, our standard is set low.

It is time for you to take the responsibility of setting your own expectations.  You must decide for yourself what standards in life you are willing to accept and work towards.  People aren’t lucky.  They create opportunities.  If one person can earn $250,000, or $350,000, or $500,000 a year, then a lot of people can.  And, so can you!

In all aspects of life it is very rare to get more then we desire.  If you go to the grocery store to buy a pound of potatoes, then that is what you will come home with.  You are not going to get ten pounds of potatoes.

If you want to earn $20,000 then that is what you will earn.  If you desire and work towards a significantly higher figure, then you will create ways to achieve that goal.

The first step to creating wealth and happiness is believing that you deserve it, knowing that you have a right to earn it, and understanding that you are responsible for setting your expectations high enough to achieve them.


2. Study Financial Success In Others

All to often people try to reinvent the wheel.  They think that they must come up with all the answers, find the systems, and discover what makes something work.  It is faster and cheaper to learn from other people who have achieved what it is you desire.

Something I have done all of my business life is to take successful people to lunch.  I invite someone to lunch that I feel has achieved significance in an area that I am interested in.  Up front I tell them that I admire their accomplishments and would like to have a brief conversation over lunch.

I have developed a list of questions that I ask my guests, and throughout lunch I casually direct the discussion with my questions.  I don’t want my guest to feel like I am drilling them, so I keep everything conversational.

Some questions I might ask are:

How did you start your career?
What was a major turning point for you?
If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
What advice would you give to someone such as myself who is trying to achieve similar results?
What main attribute do you have that has led you to your success?
What new opportunities do you feel are available today?

Ask open-ended questions so that your guest can elaborate.  Always respect the time of your guest.  Don’t let the lunch go over an hour.  Finally, always pay for the lunch.  The investment you make will be returned to you many times over.

After the lunch send your guest a thank you note and possibly a gift.  Maybe a book that based on the conversation would be of interest to them.  Write a note in the book and sign it.  Your guest will appreciate the personal touch and will cherish the gift.


3. Look Outside For a Competitive Advantage

Xerox Corporation made benchmarking an art form.  Xerox discovered that if they could collaborate with another company and study best practices that they could learn and grow at a faster rate than just working internally at improvements.

Benchmarking can work for any size company.  Just like learning one-on-one with someone over lunch, studying what successful companies do and then applying those ideas to your business can be a real boost to the bottom line.

There is a hidden element here that many people overlook.  If you only study the best in your industry, then you can only be almost as good at the best.  Studying inside your industry is just the starting point.  Real gains can be achieved by studying companies that are not in your industry.

Here is how to significantly magnify your business growth and blow your earnings through the ceiling.  Your important business systems may be your lead generation system, your sales system, and your relationship maintenance system.

Most companies in the same industry all use the same systems, tools, and ideas.  Look to other industries and see what works for them.  Maybe a particular industry has created a better warranty system.  If you use that warranty policy for your products, you could explode sales.  It is possible that in another industry they highly leverage different marketing tools and ideas.  If you use those marketing tools, you will look different and could possibly create a tremendous competitive advantage.

Basically, what I’m talking about is to take proven ideas from other industries and put them to work for you in your industry.  This way of thinking helps create uniqueness.  It also gives your customers a new and exciting way of getting involved with or enjoying your specific products and services.

Wealth and happiness are yours for the taking.  In our next issue we will discuss the other four valuable techniques.  Start using these three, and you will be on your way to Building a Better Biz!

In the first part of this article we discussed the first three steps to wealth and happiness.  Below are the final four.  If you missed the first part of this article, you can read it here.


4. Create Synergistic Growth Patterns™

Synergistic Growth Patterns (SGP) is a powerful business growth strategic concept.  I’ve used this fantastic concept many times throughout my business career.  The funny thing is that I didn’t realize at first that I was doing it!

Let’s say your sales are $500,000.  Now, let’s say like most all businesses out there you set a goal to increase sales.  For illustration purposes we will say 12%.  That would amount to a $60,000 increase in sales or a total of $560,000.

Let’s break the sales process effort into it’s components.

Transaction Value
Transaction Frequency

How many clients do you have?  Your annual sales revenue is based on your number of clients multiplied by the times per year that they buy (frequency) which is then multiplied by the size of the order (value).

If you have 200 clients that buy on average twice a year at an average sales price of $1250 you get your $500,000.

Now instead of seeking a 12% growth in sales, let’s seek a 12% growth in each of the components to sales.

So, you are looking for 224 clients who buy on average 2.24 times a year with an average purchase price of $1400.  If you multiply that out you would have annual sales of $702,464.  That is a total sales increase of $202,464 or 40%!

Your focus is now on getting new clients, increasing the number of times per year you are able to make a sale, and growing the average sale.  It means looking for ways to generate leads.  It means creating additional reasons throughout the year for your clients to invest in your products or services, and it means finding ways to “add on” to your sale.

SGP can be used in other areas as well.  Let’s say that you are in the real estate business.  You need referrals to get buying clients or listing clients.  If you can increase the number of people who are referring you and the number of times per year that they refer you, you can achieve synergistic bottom line results here as well.

SGP will push your sales through the roof!  There is, however, one other component in sales that we haven’t discussed.  That is margin. You can increase margin one of two ways.  You either increase the sales price or you reduce your costs.  If you can also increase your per sale margin, your bottom line will absolutely explode.


5. Grow Earnings and Equity

It is one thing to bring home a big paycheck, but it is another to grow your net worth.  Earnings in a business and personal earnings are essentially cash flow.  Many people build their business and life style around their cash flow.  If they make $3000 a week then they buy a house and cars and other items that equals out to costing $3000 a week.

As long as cash flow remains the same or improves, they are fine.  As soon as the economy takes a slight downturn, and eventually it always does, they are in trouble.

The key to accumulating wealth is to build cash flow, control costs, and then build equity.  Let’s make this real simple.  Spend less then what you earn.  Invest the rest in your business, in stocks, in real estate, or other smart investments and watch your net worth grow.

The stumbling block that most people fall on is they want everything overnight.  It takes time to build your equity.  Time, interest or market appreciation, and additional contributions to your investments will all pay off big if the big picture.  Constantly work on growing your equity.


6. Time Is On Your Side

Put the value of time behind you.  Saving a dollar today is worth far more then saving a dollar tomorrow.  Time and interest magnify your investments and will pay big dividends over the long run.

This concept has made people millions of dollars.  Let’s look at a retirement account.  A young person gets a job at the age of 15.  They earn $2000 and invest it all.  For the next 6 years they repeat the process.  After 7 years of saving $2000 a year they stop saving and let the account grow in value on it’s own.  If this investment has an average annual return of 12% over its life, when the child turned 65 the investment would be worth over 3.3 million dollars.

Now, let’s say the same person put off investing in a retirement account until the age of 21.  Again they save $2000 a year for a total of 7 years and then stop adding to the account.  When they turn 65 under this scenario the retirement account would only be worth 1.67 million dollars.  Waiting 6 years to start the saving process cost the person half of their retirement fund and over 1.5 million dollars!

Start saving today.  It does not matter how small the amount.  Start saving.


7. What Are You Feeding Your Brain?

If you eat poorly you become over weight and unhealthy.  If you don’t feed your brain the right foods, it becomes lazy and unproductive.  What are you feeding your brain?

A recent study showed that more than 95% of all adults have not read a non-fiction book since their last day of formal education.  Another study showed that the half-life of an education is seven years.  The world around you is changing.  Technology is evolving.  New tactics and business opportunities are constantly coming onto the scene.

To remain competitive and advance in this tough business climate it is critical that you expose yourself to new ideas, challenging concepts, and proven tactics.  Reading, listening to tapes, going to seminars, and participating in a powerful Mastermind Group are all ways you can feed your brain the “right stuff” and stay ahead of the pack.

Additionally, you can learn about goal setting, building relationships, and getting the most out of life.  Grow your business and improve your life.  That is what you should focus on.

When people learn, endorphins are released into the blood stream.  You feel a charge of energy, and your desire to make things happen is heightened.  Education will take you to the next level.


Be accountable for your wealth and your happiness.  Follow all seven steps for creating wealth and happiness and watch your business and your life soar.  Now, you are on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Hurry Up and Fail!

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Over the years I have been involved with and owned several businesses.  I’ve achieved much success, and I’ve had my share of failure.  I’ve deposited seven figure checks, and I’ve hocked everything I own to guarantee the bank loans.  There have been ups and there have been downs.  So why am I tell you all this?  Why not just boast about my success, waive my riches under your nose, and shout at you that you can achieve great things also?

Well, what I’ve found is that anyone can do that.  The world is full of people telling you how successful they are, or how great they are, or I’ve done it so invest in my system and you can do it to.  The reality is that very few people have really enjoyed success, and almost all of them have done it the hard way.

It is very easy to look at someone, see their success, and say, “I want to be able to achieve what they have achieved.”  The glamour looks great.  All the successes you know are just successes.  Very rarely do you see the pain they’ve endured, the time they’ve invested, and the failures they’ve worked through.  All you see are the fancy cars, the nice clothes, the beautiful home, or any of the other physical possessions that accumulating money permits someone to acquire.

What I want to share with you now may change your life.  This single thought could be what sets you free.  Free from the chains that held me back, led to many of my failures, and may be holding you back.  Without a doubt, one personal trait I have has led to most of the hardship, frustration, and misery I’ve endured over time while I tried to figure out how to successfully build my companies.

Like you, my drive to succeed has always been strong.  I wanted to do great things.  I wanted to achieve to my definition of success.  I wanted to create a financial backing for my family that would allow us to do everything in life that we wanted to do.  But here’s where I fell into my trap.  I wanted to achieve all of those things very quickly.  I wanted success now.  I wanted the cars now.  I wanted the independence now.  The word patience just wasn’t in my dictionary.  As a matter of fact my dictionary went from the word “pathway” right to the word “patin.”

Have you ever come across someone who appeared to be an overnight success?  They seem to pop up all the time, and I figured if they did it, then I could do it.  Well, the truth is that they really weren’t overnight successes after all.  They had spent years developing their craft, perfecting their skills in business, sales, communications, and created a powerful network of allies.  Only when these elements were in place did they realize their most prized goals and achieve the successes that we attribute them to.

“Patience is a virtue.”  My father repeated this statement to me time after time as a child growing up.  Some of the best advise I was ever given, and it went right over my head.  A mentor of mine always counseled me to be patient as I went along on my journey.  I heard him, but didn’t take his advise as much to heart as I should have.

So many times I was so focused on what I wanted that I didn’t always do what I needed to do to get there.  You can’t cross all of your “t’s” and dot your “i’s” unless you take the time to do so.  And, the reality of it all is that taking the time to do it right means being patient.  Not worrying about immediate results, but rather worrying about doing everything right so that you get positive results over time.  Because what you really want are those positive results.

Yes, it would be nice to achieve what you desire now, but wouldn’t it be more important to achieve your goals at some point in time rather than never, because you didn’t do the right things or take the right steps?

The key is to set up powerful goals.  Have a target to air for and to hit.  Understand what success looks like for you.  Then figure out what needs to be done to get there.  And as you take that journey, take the time to do what is necessary to allow you to achieve your goals and to enjoy the ride you’re on.  You will enjoy the process, acquire what it is you desire, and you will learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

Be patient and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Get Lucky

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Chance favors the prepared mind.
– Louis Pasteur -Nineteenth century French chemist.

Some people look at other successful people and make excuses for their achievements. A popular excuse is, “He’s just lucky.” There is no such thing as naked luck. Luck is when you are prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that naturally present themselves. Don’t confuse luck with hard work and preparation.

Throughout life, there will be many chances to get ahead. It’s your responsibility to be in a position to take advantage of those opportunities. As you increase your knowledge, education, and skills, you increase your preparedness. As you increase your preparedness, you will be able to take advantage of an increasing number of opportunities. When that happens you can begin to pick and choose the best opportunities. You can seek out the best results with the highest probability of success!

Robert Shaw, CEO of International Jensen, Inc., a $153 million manufacturer of home and automobile speakers, went to Japan to solicit business from the Mazda Motor Corporation. After lengthy meetings on Friday, Shaw was told that if he wanted to submit a bid on upcoming work, it would have to be submitted by Monday, and it had to be in Japanese.

Shaw had three days. Shaw’s team worked through the weekend and, on Sunday, submitted their bid before leaving Japan. It turned out to be the winning bid and the beginning of a long relationship with Mazda. The chance to bid had nothing to do with luck: it was the outcome of Shaw’s careful preparation of nearly six months. International Jensen learned from their relationship with Mazda and expanded their exports. This was all possible because Shaw was prepared for the opportunity when it presented itself.

My window company spent several years developing a comprehensive marketing program for our dealers. Our color brochures were the finest in the industry. We offered training manuals for dealers to use with their sales force. We provided direct mail literature. We put together a whole assortment of window samples and display cases of window parts. In other words, we offered the dealer a chance to really impress the homeowner customer.

Because of this complete marketing program, we won several large accounts. Obviously, it hadn’t been luck that brought us these large accounts. It was because we were well-prepared and added value to our customers which created opportunities.

Another popular excuse for dismissing the success of others is, “Oh, she’s a born winner.” I don’t believe in the notion of a “born winner.” Success is based on skills not genes. I seriously doubt that in the delivery room, right after the birth of a baby, the attending surgeon said, “Now there’s a born winner.”

Winning is the result of good input, such as good research or good advice, and hard work. If you buy into the notion that there are no born winners, then you must also buy into the notion that there are no “born losers.”

Take this a little further. If there are no born losers, then everyone can be a winner, if they have the right input and apply themselves in a positive manner. The beautiful part of all this is that there is no time limit on when the quality input must occur. You can benefit from quality input just as well if it comes in your 50’s as if it had come in your teens. As a matter of fact, later in life you may be in a better position to take immediate action on the road to success.

You can make your own luck through diligent and thorough preparation. If you take advantage of the opportunities that naturally present themselves other people might think that you are the born winner. Now, you’re on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Worms Are Dumb

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It rained most of the day yesterday.  That means that today there will be dead worms all over my driveway. 

When it rains for a long period of time, the ground becomes saturated.  Worms must come to the surface to avoid drowning.  They then crawl out onto the driveway.  The sun comes out, it heats up, and the worms die on the hot driveway.

I would think that worms would eventually catch onto this phenomenon when relatives and community members don’t come back after a hard rain.  It would make better sense to come out of the ground and just slide onto the edge of the driveway and away from the water.  They wouldn’t get lost on the large span of asphalt, and they could keep the lush green grass in sight.  Then, when it starts heating up they can easily slip back into the shelter of the grass.

Instead, they crawl way out onto the driveway and die.  Worms are dumb.

Worms don’t have the capacity to keep from making the same mistakes over and over, but people do.  Even though we know we have bad habits, we somehow manage to keep them.  What bad habits are holding you back?  What is it that you know you should be doing and haven’t yet begun?

Below are several habits that I find many business professionals have trouble dropping.  How many of these do you have?


Does Not Return Calls On A Timely Basis

This is simple but many times overlooked.  Maybe you fear rejection.  Maybe you don’t want to deal with the issues that your clients are calling about.  Whatever the reason, not calling on a timely basis sends a bad signal.  It’s says, “I don’t care enough about you or your business to call right away.”

Now I’m not saying that all calls should be returned within fifteen minutes.  However, your clients will respond more favorably when you call them back within a couple of hours rather then a couple of days.


Your Desk is a Mess

Ouch!  Well, we’ve all been there at one time or another.  The truth is that you can’t be as productive as possible if you can’t find what you’re looking for.  Many times I see people who totally miss out on opportunities because of lack of organization.

How is your desk?  What type of filing system do you have?  Have you taken the time to create or obtain a system that will allow you to be totally productive?

Clean your office first.  Then, implement a system that will allow you to maintain a cleared working area, and help you to work effectively, and on a timely basis.

If you’re not using a contact management system, get one!  Whether you use a Mac or Windows operating system there are some great choices out there.



Don’t put off dealing with this one.  It’s very simple; time is money.  We’ve heard it before, and it’s true.

I work with business professionals who want to learn to make better choices.  One fact that many people fail to realize is that a good choice today may not be as good in a week or a month.

By putting these issues off, your most valuable resource is slipping away; that is, time.  Money is replaceable.  Time is not.  As a matter of fact, if I took all of your money from you and sent you off for two hours with the instructions to come back with some money, you would.  You would find a way to come up with some money, but the two hours would be lost forever.

Making decisions today, or dealing with important issues today moves you closer to your goals at a faster pace.  Your competition isn’t sitting still, and you shouldn’t be either.


Bad Money Management

Many business owners and sales professionals don’t spend enough time looking at their numbers.  Where are you profits coming from?  What are you greatest expenses?  What factors affect these two items on your profit and loss statement?

Are you P & L savvy?  Do you know how to read and interpret your statements?  If you aren’t, take an accounting course at your community college, or talk with your accountant.  Many times they have a course for their clients.

Often, the first thing I do when working with my tele-mentoring clients is to look at their expenses.  It’s so easy to spend money, and so hard to make it.

Are there areas where you could cut back?  Can you reduce costs?  Every dollar taken out of expenses goes directly to the bottom line and your bank account.

Don’t just lump your credit card statements on your books.  Break out each item and classify them correctly.  Each month you should know where you money came from and where it went.

Now you are in a position to make great decisions.


Lack of Networking

Inevitably, we get caught up in the day-to-day operations of our business and don’t get out to meet new people and make new relationships.

Your success in business is based on two things; the choices you make, and the relationships you build.  Meeting new people will add new life to your business.  Your new contacts will lead you to others.  That’s what networking is all about.

Each week look for one new networking opportunity.  When you meet new people, follow up with a quick thank you card or note expressing that you were glad to meet them.

Look for ways to help your contacts.  By doing this you will create a situation where people will be looking for ways to help you.

Cultivate relationships in the specific areas that you feel will be of most benefit to you and your company.  Taking care of those relationships over time, you can watch your business grow.


No Continuing Educations

Over ninety-five per cent of all Americans do not read a non-fiction book after their last day of formal education.  How sad.

You are compensated in this world based on the value you deliver.  If you want to increase your compensation then you must increase your value.  Learning and developing as a professional is how you increase your value.

Do you have a yearly continuing education plan?  If not, you should develop one.  Isolate where you need more knowledge and skills, then, go get ‘em!

Budget a certain amount of money each year for your personal development.  If your company will pay for your education, that is great.  If not, don’t let that hold you back.  And, even if your company pays for some training, you may want to invest additional dollars in your own education.

It’s real simple.  Are you worth it?  If the answer is no then we have some real issues to deal with!


Worms may be dumb to crawl out onto the pavement and die, but you don’t have to.  Drop your bad habits and replace them with new good ones, and you’ll be on your way to Building a Better Biz! 

Focus for Success

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Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.
– Josh Billings -Published in Farmers Almanac 1869-1880.

A study at Stanford University of genius-level children revealed some interesting information. The children were studied throughout their lifetime. The study showed that high achievement was not a consequence of high intelligence but rather the result of people who were able to focus sharply on what they wanted in life. The people that were better focused achieved more.

To stay focused, you must concentrate on the task at hand. Think about work when you are working, about play when you are playing, and about your family when you are with your family. You will perform at a sub-par level in every endeavor if you are not 100% involved at the moment of “attack.”

Like the archer, you should be keying in on the bullseye. You must focus on your target. You do not want to spray arrows (or efforts and energy) in a multitude of different directions. You want your efforts going towards the bullseye, your goals. You must have the proper focus in order to follow the steps in your plan. This will help you reach your ultimate goal.

If you are busy running haphazardly from one goal to another you lack the focus to accomplish anything. Some people fall into the trap of doing many things with mediocre results without doing anything exceptionally well.

Thomas Edison had 1093 inventions patented. When asked what was the key to his success and unusually high productivity, he said that he worked on only one project at a time and stayed on that project all day. He didn’t move from project to project. He stayed focused.

When you find that you are having trouble staying focused, make a list of all your distractions. Evaluate each item one at a time and decide if it is something that really needs your attention. Then, if it must be acted on, decide if you must act or someone else can deal with it. You will find that many distractions can be eliminated, allowing you to focus on your primary desires.

Have you ever played Pin The Tail On The Donkey? In this game a blindfolded child attempts to place a tail on a picture of a donkey hanging on the wall. When the children have the blindfolds on, the tails can end up all over the room on windows, doors, lamps etc. If the child can see, however, the tail goes right where it belongs, on the end of the donkey.

It stands to reason, if you can focus on your target, you can hit it. Likewise if you can’t see what you desire, or if your attention and focus is on something else, you will not be able to achieve what you originally set out after.

When a major league baseball player is in a batting slump, people say: “He isn’t seeing the ball real well.” Sure, a batter’s stance and technique are important, but if he doesn’t keep his eye on the ball, he’ll never hit it. Hitting a small ball coming toward him at over 90 mph requires the batter to have exceptional focus.

Your desires are just like that baseball moving at 90 mph. Don’t be distracted by someone selling cotton candy on the sidelines. Watch the ball. Focus on your goals and stay with your plan. You can and will achieve everything you desire. Now, you are on the road to Building a Better Biz!


Manage the Process for Business Success

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The fourteen year-old girl stood tall and proud.  She had been in this situation before and knew just what she needed to do.  The referee handed her the soccer ball.  She picked out the perfect piece of grass.  The height was just right, and she placed the ball there.  Confidently, she rotated the ball a few times until it sat just right.

As she stood up, she started stepping backwards.  She took three steps and paused.  The referee looked at the goalkeeper, then back at the field player, and blew his whistle.  The girl looked down, never making eye contact with the goalkeeper.  Then, she stepped forward and struck the ball.  It sailed forward and into the upper left hand corner of the net.

Over a period of two days the competing teams had played five soccer games.  This was at the end of their third game of the day.  It was the championship game, and it had ended in a tie.  Two overtime periods had not determined a winner, so the two teams sent five girls out to take penalty kicks.  Finally, on this shot a champion was crowned.

An entire weekend of soccer, over five hours of playing time, and the winner was determined with this one shot.  One small event dictated the final outcome for these two teams.

In business it is the same way.  Many times one small event can determine your success.  To build and maintain a successful business we must be accountable not only for the big events but also the smaller ones.  I believe that you should manage all of the small events in your business.  I call this, “Managing the Process.”

Some people live life and just let things happen.  They figure this was meant to be, or that happened because it was supposed to.  There are some unexplainable events in our life, but I believe that you can put yourself in a position to succeed, just like some people put themselves in a position to fail.

You must take responsibility in your business and in your life to manage the process, and make sure that everything possible is working for you.  Let’s look at four areas that you can manage the process, isolate small processes you can improve on, and achieve better results.


1. Manage Your Marketing Efforts

Do you hope people will just call you or come to you?  Many businesses simply open their doors and expect people to show up.  Managing your marketing efforts means analyzing your clients, knowing how they like to be contacted, setting up a consistent program to get your marketing message out, creating a budget, and implementing your marketing program.

Through the process you should be looking for one or two small areas of detail where you can create a competitive advantage.  Maybe you are great at attracting new clients.  Maybe you really know how to increase your client’s value over time.  Maybe you are strong at getting add-on business.  Look for your strength, bring in experts to help where necessary, and manage your marketing efforts to maximize your success.


2. Manage Your Sales Process

I teach a nine step sales process.  Through this process you can guide a client from the first contact, into a lifelong relationship of repeat business.  Are you just selling the best that you can, or do you have a system?  Anyone can get lucky some of the time, but your leads cost money.  If you are not closing an appropriate percentage, then you will be wasting valuable marketing dollars.

Network with others in your field and learn what their closing numbers are.  The most important numbers will vary by industry, but at the minimum you will want to know your closing percentage, the percentage of leads you get to look at your products, and your average sale or average margin per sale.

Implement a system and monitor your numbers.  Manage the process by constantly working to improve your numbers and watch your bottom line grow!


3. Manage Your Customer Service

Customers are not happy doing business with you just because you exist.  They like doing business with you or your company because of the way you treat them.  The experience that they have when they deal with you or someone on your team determines the feeling that they have toward your organization, and the likelihood that they will use your services in the future, and whether or not they will refer you to friends and associates.

You must make a conscious effort to manage your customer service experience.  Think about how you like to be treated.  Do you make it easy or hard on your customers?  Do your policies make sense to them?  Does each step of your sales process add value for the customer?  If there is a problem, is there a simple and friendly way for your customer to get their needs serviced?

Working to have positive answers to these questions will put you on the right path.  Create a customer friendly environment, and your customers will return.  They will also bring their friends along!


4. Manage Your Relationships

Relationships are the basis for all successful businesses.  We all know it, but does everyone work hard enough at it?

There are two groups of people that you should look at when thinking about building relationships.

First, look to those people who you have already established a relationship with.  What are you doing to foster and grow that relationship?  Are you taking it for granted?

A relationship remains strong through a continued effort on your part.  Don’t sit still and think that your competitors aren’t trying to build relationships with your customers to lure them away from you.

Second, who are those people that you would like to build relationships with?  Take the time to isolate twelve to twenty-four people.  Then, start a campaign to get yourself in front of them on a regular basis.  Maybe mail them an interesting article, invite them to lunch, or provide a value added service for them.

Time is a critical factor in building relationships.  Start the clock today and build those new relationships so that you have growth opportunities as you move forward.


Being accountable in your business means managing the process with your marketing, sales, customer service, and professional relationships.  Managing the process will greatly enhance your successes and put you on the road to Building a Better Biz!