B2B, Exit Strategy, Marketing, Sell your business, Sellability Score

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A lot of businesses today started out as service companies or as Consultants.

If you want to own a web design firm, you don’t need a lot of money, just a technical knack. Enterprising professionals who know how to get the media’s attention can start their own public relations firms without much more than a mobile phone. No capital required.

But if you want to build a valuable company – one you can sell – you’ll want to stop presenting yourself as a service firm or as a Consultant.

Consultant type businesses are not usually valuable businesses, because acquirers generally view them as a collection of people who peddle their time on a hamster wheel. The typical way to sell a consultancy is for the consultants themselves to trade their equity for a job, in the form of an earn-out that may or may not have an upside.

If you want to build a valuable company consider re-positioning your business out of the ‘consultancy’ box.

Depending on your business, you may need to change your business model and ‘productize’ your service. One of the first things to do is to stop using consulting company terminology and replace it with the terminology of a valuable business:

Consultancy
Defining your company as a ‘consultancy’ will announce to the market you are a collection of people who have banded together around an area of expertise. Consultancies rarely get acquired, and when they do, it is usually with an earn-out. Replace ‘consultancy’ with ‘business’ or ‘company’.

Engagement
An engagement is something that happens before two people get married; therefore, using the word in a business context reinforces the people-dependent nature of your company. Replace the word ‘engagement’ with ‘contract’, and you’ll sound a lot more like a business with some lasting value.

Consultant
Instead of describing yourself using the vague term ‘consultant’, describe what you consult on. If you are a search engine optimization consultant, who has developed a methodology for improving a website’s natural search performance, say you ‘run an SEO company’ or ‘help companies improve their ranking on search engines, such as Google’.

Deliverables
Consultants promise ‘deliverables’. The rest of the world guarantees the features and benefits of their product or service.

Associate, engagement manager, partner
If you refer to your employees with the telltale labels of a consultancy, consider replacing ‘associate’, ‘engagement manager’ and ‘partner’ with titles like ‘manager’,” ‘director’ and ‘vice-president’, and  you’ll reduce the chance of your customers expecting a bill calculated at 10-minute increments.

Clients
The word ‘client’ implies a sense of hierarchy in which service providers serve at the pleasure of their client. Companies with ‘clients’ are usually prepared to do just about anything to serve their clients’ needs, which sounds great to clients, but also telegraphs to outsiders that you customize your work to a point where you have no leverage or scalability in your business model. Would your ‘clients’ really care if you started referring to them as ‘customers’?

It’s easy to get stuck in a low-growth consulting company. ‘Clients’ expect to deal with a ‘partner’ on their ‘engagements’, so the business stalls when the partners run out of time to sell. If a company ever decides it wants to buy your consultancy, acquirers will know they have to tie up the partners on an earn-out, to transfer any of the value.

When it comes to the value of your business, optics matter and the first step in avoiding the consulting company valuation discount is to stop using the lingo.

 

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B2B, Personal Growth, Sellability Score, Systems, Team Building, Time Management

Now that the summer is over and kids are going back to school, are you disappointed that you couldn’t break away from work to take a vacation with your family?

Well, consider this… A recent survey by The Sellability Score found companies that would perform well without their owner for a period of three months are 50 percent more likely to get an offer to be acquired when compared to more owner-dependent businesses.

There is no better justification for taking a blissful, uninterrupted vacation than to see how your company performs in your absence. The better your company runs on autopilot, the more valuable it will be when you’re ready to sell.

To gauge your company’s ability to handle your absence, start by taking a vacation. Leave your computer at home and switch off your mobile. Upon your return, you’ll probably discover that your employees got resourceful and found answers to a lot of the questions they would have asked you if you had been just down the hall. That’s a good thing and a sign you should start planning an even longer vacation.

You’ll also likely come back to an inbox full of issues that need your personal attention. Instead of busily finding answers to each problem in a frenzied attempt to clean up your inbox, slow down and look at each issue through the lens of a possible problem with your people, systems or authorizations.

People
Start with your people and answer the following questions:• Why did this problem end up on my desk?• Who else is qualified to answer this question and why was that person not consulted?• If nobody else is qualified, who can be trained to answer this question in the future?

Systems
Next, look at your systems and procedures. Could the issue have been dealt with if you had a system or a set of rules in place? The best systems are hardwired and do not require human interpretation; but if you’re not able to lock down a technical fix, then at least give employees a set of rules to follow in the future.

Authorizations
You may be a bottleneck in your own company if you’re trying to control spending too much. Employees may know what to do but do not have any means of paying for the fix they know you would want.

For example, you could put a customer service rule in place that gives your front line staff the authority to make a customer happy in any way they see fit provided it could be done for under $100.

You might allow an employee to spend a specific amount with a specific supplier each month without coming to you first.  Or you might give an employee an annual budget, an amount they can spend without seeking your approval.

Given the fires that may need to be extinguished after the fact, taking a holiday may seem more of a hassle than it’s worth. But if you transform the aftermath of a vacation into systems and training that allow employees to act on their own, you’ll find the vacation is worth what you paid for it many times over: your company will increase in value as it becomes less dependent on you personally.

Do you own a business you could sell?
Find out by taking the 13-minute
Sellability Score questionnaire:
www.actioncoachsellabilityscore.com 

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Marketing, Sales

Just about everyone I’m talking to is searching for more new business.  Just a few years ago there was so much “low hanging fruit” it didn’t take much effort to make a sale.

In today’s business climate just showing up doesn’t cut it any more.  Businesses that are marketing and selling as they did in the past are finding more and more pressure to sell on price.

Successfully entrepreneurs know that though price is a main factor but value is more important.  One way to add value to your product or service is by differentiating yourself.  Not just your product or service but yourself.

When you come right down to it, the biggest difference between you and your competition is yourself.

To differentiate yourself you need to ask yourself 5 basic questions…

  1. What makes you special?
  2. Can you explain it to your customers?
  3. Why should I buy from you?
  4. What do you do better than your competition?
  5. How is your competition better?

It’s surprising how many of us can’t answer these questions at a drop of a dime?  Until we do, we will continue to  battle on price instead of showing our prospects how we can provide them with the value they want.

 

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Personal Growth

A man walks into a psychiatrist’s office.  “Doc, every time I see nickels, dimes, and quarters, I have a panic attack!  What can the problem be?

“Oh that’s easy” the doctor answers. “You’re just afraid of change”.

How many of us go through life virtually paralyzed because we are afraid of change, to try something new or different.

This fear keeps us from expanding our growth, knowledge, and success and limits our lot in life.

To break out of this cycle of fear we need to understand what fear really is.

Here’s two explanations of what fear really stands for;

False

Expectations

Appearing

Real

So how do we change or how can we be a change agent for others?

If someone is satisfied with their lives, will they change?  No, because they are satisfied.

If someone is unfit, overweight, or unhealthy, but they are satisfied with that, they are still unlikely to change.

Many of us have the ability to change the instant we become unhappy with our lives.

Others of us have to wait for a stroke or another disaster before we realize the need to change.

We see that there are two ends of the scale.  Some wait until the end and some change right at the beginning and some change just for the sake of change. Somewhere in there, there is a happy medium for you.

There is a simple formula that will allow us to understand the process of change and what we can do to affect positive changes in ourselves and in others.

(D x V) +FS > R

The “R” stands for resistance.  To overcome the resistance to change, what needs to be greater?  What can tip the scale to overcome our fear of change?  Let’s take a closer look.

The “D” in the formula stands for Dissatisfaction. Before you can change you have to have a level of dissatisfaction…

What builds dissatisfaction more than anything else?  “V” for Vision.

Let’s say that you are a kid living in an impoverished neighborhood. You don’t know any better life than that.  Are you dissatisfied with your life?  Not necessarily, you may be satisfied because you don’t know any better.

Why is it that when you are in business you need to consistently improve your business education?

Why do people hire a business coach or have a mentor, to help push them thru their comfort zone and to help them grow their vision.  They need help to look at what their next level is supposed to be.

Dissatisfaction takes a belief that there is something else out there.

One of the things I do as a business coach is to help my clients feel a level of dissatisfaction or discomfort, if they don’t do the work required to change.  Without a coach or a mentor you stay in your comfort zone because people don’t like feeling dissatisfied.  Dissatisfaction comes first but then we have to have vision and a belief that the vision is possible.

Those kids living in the impoverished neighborhoods can watch television and they can see other places in the world, but most have no belief that a different life is possible for them.  However, some do get a belief that it is possible.  Some of you reading this article are where you are today, because of the vision and the belief you had of a better life.  You believed it was possible.  That is why you have worked to make a better life for yourself.

My question is, how do we raise the dissatisfaction level for where you are now and how do we raise the vision of where you want to go?  Most of us are not experiencing change.

One of the fastest ways that I have found to raise people’s dissatisfaction is by having them write a check into their own investment accounts at the first of the month.  This check is from your business into your own investment or profit account.  An investment or profit account is an account that you can’t get direct access to.  If you take out $10,000, $5,000, $1,000 or even $100 a month, you then have little or no money left to pay the bills.

Is there going to be a level of dissatisfaction going on?  Absolutely!  How much harder are you going to work to pay off your creditor that calls you every day?  You have to create a vacuum that needs to be filled.  You have to start stretching yourself and expanding out of your comfort zones.

The next step of the equation is “FS” which stands for First Steps.

We have dissatisfaction, we’ve created a vision of what we want, but we don’t know how to start.

This is where a mentor or a coach can help.

Don’t look at eating the whole elephant all at once, just take it on one bite at a time.  Lee Iaacoca, states that the discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen.  Take the time to write out your plan and break it into bite size chunks and get into Action.

By doing so, you will begin to break through the barriers in your life and stretch your comfort zone to reach a level of success you’ve only dreamed of.  Use this formula not only to help facilitate change in your life but to be an agent of change in the life of others.  Help them to understand and qualify their dissatisfaction, help them to build their vision what they want to achieve, and finally give them the first steps to move toward that goal.

By following this simple formula you can truly become an agent of change in your life as well as the life of others.

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Personal Growth

Everywhere you go today all you hear is how the bad the economy is doing.  It’s true that there are many people out of work and business growth is moving at a snail’s pace if not at all.  But!, there are many opportunities to be had, we just have to open our eyes.  As the saying goes, it’s always the darkest before the dawn.

My business mentor Brad Sugars and founder of ActionCOACH says that attitude is the #1 thing that helps get business owners into trouble.

You might be asking yourself, how can my attitude change the economy?  In every situation you can find good and bad.  The fact is some of the biggest fortunes have been made in a down economy.  This happens not because people were sitting around with their friends complaining how bad things “really” are but because they kept their eyes opened and focused on the things that were in their control.  So even in this economy, there are big opportunities to be found for a properly run company if approached correctly.

The way we keep our eyes open is by having the proper attitude.  At ActionCOACH we say that you choose your attitude by choosing to act Above the line or Below the line.  Attitude is a choice.

When we act Below the Line we are Blaming others, coming up with Excuses, or we might be in Denial that we might be part of the problem.

When we act Above the Line, we are taking Ownership of the problems or opportunities that come our way, we are Accountable for results and most importantly we are Responsible for our actions.

Almost at every given moment, at every encounter, we make the decision to act Above the Line or Below the Line.  So, how do we choose to act above or below the line?  We choose our attitude and how we act by the questions we ask ourselves.

When a situation or opportunity arises or there is a problem, do you find yourself asking these types of questions…

Whose fault is it?  How can I prove that I’m right?  Why bother?  Is this person clueless?

Or are you asking yourself these types of questions…

What’s working?  What are the facts?  What are my choices?  What’s possible?  What can I learn?

The first set of questions will take you down the past of acting below the line and the second set of questions will take you up the path of acting above the line.

Unfortunately being human will lead us down the path to acting below the line from time to time.  The challenge is to recognize that we are acting below the line and switch our direction and start heading in a positive direction by acting above the line.

The switching tool that we use to go from acting below the line to acting above the line is our questions.

We begin the switching process by recognizing the types of questions we are asking ourselves.  Are we acting below the line?   Then, we need to step back to look at our situation objectively and start asking ourselves…What assumptions am I making?  Do I have all the facts?  What choices do I have?

These are simple but powerful and productive questions that can quickly change your attitude and your success in life.

By following these simple steps you will soon see that you’ll be looking at each situation differently and with a new attitude.  After that the possibilities are endless.

Until we meet up again, make it a profitable day…

 

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Personal Growth

Most of us are aware that the Jewish holiday of Passover occurs this time of year because the TV networks seem to always replay one of the most successful epic motion picture, of all time, The 10 Commandants starring Charlton Heston.  It’s the biblical story of how G-d took the Jewish people out of Egypt and took them to Mt. Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments and Torah.  This week Jews all over the world come together to remember and relive this historical event but if understood properly there can be many lessons in which we call all take away.

As I am sitting here exhausted from all the preparation getting ready for the Jewish festival of Passover, I am reminded that success and happiness is not easy.  There are many lessons for all to be learned from this holiday.   It’s not a holiday commemorating an ancient event but a lesson to achieve true success & happiness in our lives.

The biggest lesson to take away from the holiday of Passover is that success takes hard work and preparation.  There are no short cuts to true success.  Passover is the holiday of freedom.  Jewish mystics teach us that Passover is not the holiday of freedom because the Jewish people were freed from their slavery in Egypt at that time, but that the holiday occurred then because it was a “time” of freedom.

If that is the case, every year there should be a universal energy that occurs now that we each can tap into.  This is a time for each of us to search deep inside ourselves to find the things or limiting beliefs that keep us in our rut or comfort zone and is keeping us from being as successful as we can.

When we search deep inside ourselves we will find the true source of our power and energy, and when we truly connect to this energy, we will be amazed in the abundant amount of good we can produce.

The Passover holiday is over week long.  The first days are about preparation and beginning on your path of success.   Change is not easy.  Whenever we try to change, it’s very easy to fall back into our comfort zone.  Making change last is what the last days of the holiday is all about.

The 7th day is when the Jews crossed the Sea of Reeds or commonly referred to as the Red Sea. Before they crossed and achieved their true freedom they faced a big obstacle.  They felt trapped; Pharaoh and his army where in hot pursuit and they were trapped at the Red Sea.  At this point some even thought that they should go back to Egypt (back to their comfort zone).  It was not until they refocused on their mission to go serve G-d on the mountain that things changed and it wasn’t until the water reached their nostrils that the sea began to split.

The lesson here is, when you are focused on your goal, what appears to be obstacles will split & provide you with a path to reach your goals.

Our biggest obstacle is our own limiting beliefs. Don’t focus on what you can’t do but what you can do. You’ll see the miracles appear in front of your own eyes.  How many times have we quit just before the moment of a great break though?  It’s almost scary to think about.

Jack Canfield sums it up in a formula from his book “Success Principles”.

E + R = O   Event + Response = Outcome

We all know the outcomes we want to achieve (though some of us have a clearer picture of that outcome than others).  But, there always seems to be some event or barrier that comes along and keeps us from journeying forward to our desired outcome.  Most of the time, we have no control over this event or the personal barrier that is put in front of us by ourselves or others.

The only thing we are in control over is how we respond to this event.  When we focus on the event or obstacle we lose focus and our desire to move toward our goal.  But, when we are focused on our outcome or goal, those obstacles that may appear to be as big as a whole sea that will soon split and allow us to truly break free and move toward our goal.

May this season of freedom allow you to break through to your success that is just waiting for you.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below…

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Personal Growth, Uncategorized

As a business owner do you sometimes feel boxed in?  You want to grow your business but there seems to be an artificial ceiling that is holding you back?

Or maybe you’ve been looking for new ideas and strategies but for some reason you keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results?

Or maybe still, your employees seem to be working for themselves instead of for you and you want to get more from them but something is holding them back?

It’s time to take control of what you’ve worked so hard to achieve…your business.  What are you doing differently now, today, this minute, to get new perspectives and new ideas to grow your employees and your business.

A wise man once said, the difference between where you are now and where you will be in 5 years, will be the books you read, the workshops & classes you attend, and the people you meet.  To break out of your box, you need to take massive action in your learning now.

Successful people continuously work harder on themselves because its stimulates their brain for new ideas.  If you are focused and clear on what you want and the outcomes you desire, you then need to feed your brain to generate the breakthrough ideas you are looking for to get the results you desire!

Here are 8 things you can do now to take massive action in your learning…

  1. Schedule time in your calendar every day for 1 or more of the following items
  2. Read a book a month –  I’ve downloaded the Kindle App onto my phone.  It makes reading easy.  My books are with me where ever I go.
  3. Subscribe to magazines – both industry and non-industry related.
  4. Listen to 2 audio books a month.  I use audible.com.  Each month I down load 2 books with access on my phone, tablet, on or the web.  It can’t get much easier than that.  I’m listening on my way to and from work or appointments.  Turn your downtime into massive learning time.
  5. Set up an RSS Feed to your computer or table or phone to bring you articles and blogs of interest. Both  Google Reader and Google Currents work great for me.
  6. Pick 1 area that you want to improve and search the Internet for  ,a workshop to attend.  Webinars are great but I feel you learn so much more by attending workshops and seminars live.  Look for workshops out of town.  Changing your environment with help in changing your thinking and connections.
  7. Search LinkedIn and Facebook events or the Small Business Development Council or your Chamber of Commerce for additional seminars and workshops
  8. Have a mentor or coach to learn from
  9. BONUS – Check out the events tab on my blog or website for my latest free seminars and workshops

The vision of ActionCOACH is to create world abundance through business re-education. If you are frutrated with where you are in your business, I suggest that you attend our next free seminar in Jacksonville is March 15th.

At this seminar I’ll be sharing some of our best business practices that have helped our clients all over the world to get their business working for them instead of them have to work their business.

To register for our seminar on March 15th CLICK HERE NOW.

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Marketing, Retail, Sales

Retail sales are the backbone of our economy because consumer spending drives much of our economy.  That is why just about 40% of all positions in retail stores are sales.

In reality if you own a retail business everyone should consider themselves part of the sales process, from the person who answers the phones to the person stocking the shelves.  Everyone needs to know what their role is in generating revenue for the company.

Here are ten tips to help you to build your retail sales by helping your customers to buy instead of just trying to sell them something.

  1. Acknowledge all customers
    Aim for 60 seconds or less.  Though most people don’t want to be bombarded with sales people when they walk into a store, they still don’t like to be ignored also.
  2. 2. Re-approach using non business related opening lines.
    Never say “Can I help you?” because most of the time the answer will be no.  Use open ended questions starting with, Who, What, Where, How, Why, etc… e.g.  “Have you been here before?”, or if they are an existing customer ask, “How was they xxx you bought last time?”
  3. Ask Questions on their needs
    What are you using it for?  Have you bought a similar one before? What was your experience with that product? How often will you be using it?  This helps establish report and lets you know what else to suggest.
  4. Demonstrate using triplicate of choice
    This is very important because often one will not be the correct option.  Now you can offer them an alternative and find the one that most closely suits their needs.  Focus how each of the specific features will benefit them, on what they will get from using the product.
  5. FAB – Feature – Advantage – Benefit
    Do it on each of the 3 choices you presented.  Have 3 FAB’s for each of the items that you have selected.  Don’t wing it.  Have a list of FAB’s for each product.
  6. Use a trial close
    Ask “How does that fit with what you had in mind?”
  7. Ask them to buy
    This should be easy after establishing rapport through all your questions and FAB’s.  After they are happy with ensuring the product will suit their needs, close by saying… “So will you take that one then?” or “So will you take this one or that one?”.  This is not difficult but often forgotten.
  8. Offer an add on sale with every sale
    “We have found that most people who bought this often bought “this”, to help your “X”… last longer, look better, be more convenient etc…  This is a change of strategy from selling mode to demonstrating how the “add on” will help and id done after the main purchase decision has been made.
  9. Stop!
    Make sure you have all the details correct for the sale of the product in terms of checking quality and paperwork
  10. Invite every customer to join a mailing list
    Sell the benefits of being on the mailing list, e.g. They will get 4 exclusive offers every year special coupons on their birthday
  11. BONUS – Thank your customer
    Right after the sale and with large retail purchases with a personalized card.

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Marketing, Profits

In today’s business world, if you are a small or medium size business and you are focused on just market share you are in effect just chasing your tail.  When you’re chasing market share, it’s based on the assumption that you are buying a product or service and then turning around and selling the product your customers.

However, if your mindset is now on buying customers, you are now focused on how much, how many, and for how long can you sell to each customer. We are moving from being product focused to being customer focused. The key here is customer loyalty.

Always remember, it’s more profitable to sell to existing customers than to market to new ones.

In my previous post we discussed how to determine the acquisition cost of a customer.  Knowing the acquisition cost number is just the beginning.  To increase our profitability, we must establish a long term view of the cost of your customers and their lifetime value.

It’s more profitable to sell to existing customers than to market to new ones.  By knowing how much your average customer will spend over their lifetime with your business, you will begin to understand that true worth of your customer and the long term ROI (return on investment) of your advertising investment.

The goal now is to continue to test various headlines and offers to lower your acquisition cost and at the same time increase the lifetime value of each customer.  By establishing this long term view of your customer’s value, you can begin to appreciate the importance and impact of good customer service and how costly poor customer service can be to your business.

Focusing on wallet share instead of market share will increase your business’s profitability because it forces you to be client focused.  It forces you to focus on the client’s needs and how you can provide them exceptional service to keep them coming back again and again.

If you would like more ideas, strategies, and examples on how learn to attract passionate, productive, profitable people to your business team for greater synergy and success, please request our free E-Book “11 Ways to Double Your Customer Base in 4 Weeks CLICK HERE to receive your Free E-Book.

 

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Marketing

ActionCOACH Steve Goranson from Jacksonville Fl, has received an award for MarketingCOACH at the company’s annual America’s Conference held in Memphis TN.

The Award was presented at the ActionCOACH Awards Dinner, attended by delegates from all around the North & South American region who attended the prestigious event.

ActionCOACH founder and chairman Brad Sugars presented Steve Goranson with the award.

“Each year, ActionCOACH rewards its top Coaches for their dedication and the extraordinary results achieved with their clients,” he said. “Award winners represent the ‘best of the best’ in our organization, and in business coaching around the world. Congratulations to Steve Goranson on this outstanding achievement.”

The MarketingCOACH Award recognizes Steve Goranson’s achievement in the areas of Marketing businesses to generate more qualified leads.

In today’s tough economic times marketing is a challenge for most businesses.  It’s a great honored to be selected by my fellow coaches for this prestigious ActionCOACH award ” Goranson said.

ActionCOACH is the world’s number one business coaching franchise with more than 1,000 offices in 26 countries. To learn more, go to actioncoach.com or Steve’s Blog at actioncoachstevegoranson.com .

 

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