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.

Clients
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.

 

Procrastination

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! 

Back Up Your Success

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So often business professionals are eager to learn about prospecting, marketing, closing sales, strategic planning and other important business issues.  Recently I came across a problem of a different nature.

Last week we had a bad storm.  It thundered.  There was lightning.  And, the winds were unbelievably strong.  Trees went down everywhere including several in my yard.  As you can imagine the electricity went out with the storm.

We maintain battery backup units for all seven of our computers.  If the light blinks or goes off, we never lose any information because the battery back up kicks in.  If you don’t have a battery back up you should think seriously about investing in one.  They are readily available for anywhere from $59 to $199 depending on the length of time you want the battery to last.  This is backup number one!

Usually when the electricity goes off and the backup kicks in we shut down all the computers so that everything is closed properly and no data is lost.  Unfortunately no one was in the office and eventually the battery backups ran out of power.  Our server, which houses the main company database, shut down and in doing so the files were damaged.

This is where backup number two comes in.  Each day we back up our database and our accounting files.  Not only do we back them up we store them off site on another computer.  We simply upload them to a site that stores them, and in the event of disaster we can simply download them back onto our computer or any computer anywhere in the world, and we’re back in business.

What would it be worth to you to have all your files back after you thought you lost everything?  We’ll you’re not going to believe this, but we only pay $9.95 a year for this service.

Once our electricity came back up, we saw that we had corrupted files, and downloaded the backup files. We were back in business!

You work hard for your success.  Be sure and maintain your accountability for the entire picture.  It’s great to focus on the skills and strategic planning that will enable you to grow your business.  Take the time to also look at what needs to be done behind the scenes to protect your success and make sure you have proper backup  – you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!

Growth Opportunities in a Down Business Market

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It is very common to think that nothing good can come from a down business market.  However, I believe that there are many opportunities that present themselves in a down market that a savvy business professional can take advantage of.  We must always remember that we are accountable to find out what works, even in the worst of times.  Here are just a few of the opportunities that are available to you.

Are all of your products or services contributing to your bottom line?  Many times companies continue to manufacture or stock products that contribute marginally to the overall profit picture.  This is a great time to loose that excess burden.  Your customers will understand trimming a product because, “this is a down business market.”  Now you are positioned to increase profitability and add new, exciting and hopefully more profitable products.

Now is the time to get aggressive and pick up a new account.  Maybe your competition is cutting back so much that their service is subpar.  Maybe you have a better offer to put on the table.  Whatever the reason is, go after that account you’ve always wanted and bring them in.  Remember they are looking to make moves that will help their bottom line as well.

This is a great opportunity to look at your team.  Is everyone producing at an efficient rate?  Are you getting the results you want?  In a down market everyone in your organization must perform at a high level.  Take this opportunity to evaluate and make changes where necessary.

Are you and your team being as creative as possible?  This is a great time to look at your creativity and improve where you can.  What additional services can you provide your clients?  Can you extend the buying experience so they actually want to do business with you not feel like they have to do business with you?  I have added additional value for my clients by offering custom recorded audio messages for their team after I speak at one of their events.  We focus on helping with the implementation of ideas over time.  This differentiates us and helps us secure and retain clients.

When was the last time you looked at your internal systems?  What is your customer support system like, or your sales system, or maybe your inventory control and ordering system?  Your business is made up of many systems that you and your team members use every day.  Take the time to evaluate the effectiveness.  Do they add to the experience your clients have with your company or obscure the way?  Are they efficient and streamlined or old and outdated?  You will find ways to save a lot of money and create a more up to date organization by taking the time to evaluate and update all of your systems.

In a down market it is critical that your value equation be top notch.  Your value equation is based on the product and services your offer, how you offer them and what the client must give in return.  What they give is measured both financially and in the effort it takes to do business with you.  Even in a down market people don’t look to buy just for a low price.  They look at the total value they receive.  When I get an oil change for my car the dealer always washes my car.  I could pay less for the oil change but then I’d also have to pay for the car wash.  How can you add value?  This can be a huge opportunity for your organization.

The bottom line here is that you get to choose what you focus on.  You can focus on the down business market or focus on the opportunities that it presents.  Accountability counts.  Focus on the opportunities and be accountable to grow your business.

Be Accountable for Your Business Success in a Down Economy

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It is chaos out there.  The stock market is like a yoyo, banks are struggling and small businesses are feeling the affects.  Companies are closing left and right.  Unless you are the largest insurance company in the United States and Congress decides to give you eighty-one billion dollars as a bailout you are going to have to be accountable for your own business success.

Economic trends are just that, trends.  Good economies move down and down economic trends move up.  The big question is always, when?  A down economy is like a magnifying lens.  It takes any small imperfection in your business and turns it into a major issue.  The companies that are run right in good times are usually best positioned to succeed in bad times. 

As you lead your business in a down economy, consider these five critical accountability tactics.

Be accountable to cut costs

One of the keys to business success in a down economy is to “get your ship right.”  In other words it is critical to get your costs under control.  You must know the difference between fixed and variable costs.  Lower your fixed costs as low as you can and still offer the service and support you need to offer your clients.  By lowering your fixed costs it will be easier each month to “cover your nut” and keep your doors open.

It is also good to lower your variable expenses.  This will enable you to create additional profits or be more competitive on new business.  Go to your suppliers and see what types of concessions you can get from them.  Ask for lower prices or better terms.  Maybe you can get an additional discount for cash.  Maybe you can get price concessions by combining your purchases with one supplier.  Ask for the moon.  You just never know what someone will say agree to.

Be accountable to get new business

Your competitors may not be as savvy as you are.  Use your lower overhead and lower variable costs to offer better pricing to those customers you’ve always wanted to acquire.  Go after your competitors best customers and be aggressive.  These potential clients are hurting too and may be responsive to your aggressive offers.  This is a great time to pick up clients who may not be getting the best service from their current supplier.  Be sure and do your due diligence if you are expected to issue credit to these accounts.  Some times companies just change suppliers because they have used up their line of credit at their current source.

Be accountable to conserve cash

Cash is king in a down economy.  Don’t spend money for anything you don’t have to.  Put off all expansion risks.  The goal here is to survive and position your company to flourish when the economy does turn around.  If you are in a very good financial position and a great opportunity presents itself then consider it, but always keep your risk at a minimum in a down economy.

Be accountable to secure financing

Many times business owners look for additional financing when they need the money.  The problem is that when you need the money many times it is too late to acquire the financing.  Set up a line of credit and keep it active.  I use a line of credit in my business to help with cash flow.  I may go months without tapping into it but I always keep the account active.  When you need money you want to have access to it.

Be accountable to maintain key relationships

Maintaining a great relationship with your banker in good times will help when the tough times are here.  Having great relationships with your clients will help keep them loyal when you really need them.  Paying your bills promptly and nurturing  your relationships with your suppliers may put you in a more competitive position either with pricing or service.  When I owned a window company there was a glass shortage.  It is hard to make a window without glass.  We always discounted our bills and had close personal relationships  with our suppliers and when glass was hard to get we always had just enough to meet our needs.

 

Economic issues will affect your business.  You cannot control what happens in our economy but you can be accountable for your choices and how you prepare and handle economic downturns.  Proactive accountability always is more effective then reactive accountability.  Keep your business viable and position it for success in a down economy.  Accountability counts!

Be Accountable for your Goals

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Last weekend I took my wife and two of my children to see the show South Pacific.  It was a wonderful experience for my younger daughters.  They enjoyed the beautiful costumes and stage setting.

One of the songs had a stanza that caught my attention.  It went like this:

You have to have a goal,
Because if you don’t have a goal,
How is your goal going to come true?

Wow, very profound.  When I coach clients one of the things we talk about is their personal and professional goals.  I find that most people’s goals are vague and ambiguous.  Individuals may think they have goals, but what they really have are wishes and wants.  There is a big difference between well thought out goals and a thrown together wish list.

You should have specific goals in both your personal and professional life.  These goals should drive your thoughts and your actions.  What you think about you become.  What you do today leads you to your results tomorrow.  Goals don’t just happen.  We must take accountability and be responsible for both setting and managing our goals.

Think about these five things when you put your goals together:

 

1.  Define Your Values

Before you can look at your goals, it is critical to understand your values.  Your values are like the foundation of your home.  If you build a house on a solid foundation it can stand for decades, if not centuries.  If you understand your values and your goals are true to those values, then you have a greater chance of achieving them.

If your goals do not align themselves with your values, then the lack of truth that they initiate will keep you from achieving them.  That would be a terrible waste of time.

If you value strong customer relationships, then a goal to increase sales will naturally sit solidly on top of that foundation.  If your base is in sand then your house will sink.

 

2.  State Your Goals

So what are your goals?  State them out loud.  Think about all of the different aspects of your business, and then go back and do the same thing for your personal life.

Many times people achieve their goals only to find out that they really don’t have what they desire.  They err in choosing the wrong item to measure or maximize.  It is not only important to set goals but to set goals that are measurable and relate to what you really want to achieve.

I often work with people who say they want to double sales.  Doubling sales is fine, but what about the bottom-line?  If you only look at sales, you may be overlooking other elements of your business that lead to losses.  I can drive the sales of any company through the roof, but if you are not able to maintain profits, then what good is it?

In business we all look at sales, but I want you to also look at net profit.  Look at setting goals around client retention, new clients, closing ratio, customer satisfaction index, employee satisfaction index, inventory turnover, new product development, and other critical core business functions that impact your business.

Be very specific with your goals.  It’s not enough to say, “I want to retire early.”  What is early?  What age?  How much passive income will you need?  Where will you live?  What will you do with your time?  What will it look and feel like?

When you are very specific with your goals you create a clear target.  Clearly defined targets are much easier to hit!

Dig deep and find the core elements of your business that really drive both sales and the bottom line.  Then, set goals around these elements.

 

3.  Write Your Goals Down

A goal that isn’t written on paper is a wish.  It’s tough to make it come true.  If you really want to achieve your goals, it is important that you put all of them in writing.

All of my children have journals.  Each year on their birthday we go out to breakfast.  Together we look at the goals that they had set the prior year and evaluate the progress that they’ve made.  Then I challenge them to create goals for the upcoming year.

One day I noticed that my oldest daughter, Sara, was looking all over the house for something.  I asked what it was she was missing.  Sara told me that she was missing a key to her diary.

Later that day I saw Sara curled up in her favorite chair writing in her diary.  I asked Sara how she found the key so quickly.  Sara told me, “I wrote in my journal that I wanted to find my key.  If I write something in my journal it always comes true!”

I was amazed!  Sara learned very early on that goals should be written.  When you write your goals down, you are committing yourself to them.  They become real, and you feel responsible for their completion.

 

4.  Give Yourself Time Guidelines

When you set your goals look at the calendar.  Give yourself some time guidelines.  I call them guidelines because it is difficult to know exactly how long it will take to achieve some of your goals.

Looking at dates will help you clear your thinking.  You will gain a sense of urgency, and you will begin looking for ways to achieve your goals.  Having a deadline or a time goal can help motivate you to take action and move you forward.

But, a timeline isn’t the bottom line determination of your success.  I don’t want time to determine if you succeed or fail.  I don’t believe you have failed unless you quit.  Success sometimes just takes a little more time.

 

5.  Access Your Progress

As you pursue your goals, be sure and take time to access your progress.  Are you moving forward?  Is something holding you back?  Is there additional education that you need in order to achieve your goals?

By assessing your progress you can see if you are moving forward appropriately, or decide if you need to make course adjustments.

Some days it will seem that you are moving full speed ahead.  Other days you will feel like every step you take forward, you take two steps back.

 

I once had lunch with a successful business man.  I asked him what was the key to his success.  He said, “I do the right things consistently.”  He had analyzed his business and figured out what he needed to do on a regular basis in order to be the best he could.

If you are doing the “right things” consistently, monitoring your progress, and making course corrections when necessary, then you will move towards the completion of your goals.

Goal setting is critical for building your business and your life.  Spend the time to fully understand and define your values.  Then, set out to write down a well-defined set of goals.  You are now being accountable for your goals and you’re on the way to Building a Better Biz!