Marketing, Sales, Systems

Because of today’s economy you find entrepreneurs trying to find new and innovative ways to grow and build their businesses.  A lot of people have found that going back to the basics is working.  One of the basic marketing strategies a lot of people are using today is networking.

If you look hard enough in any city (and probably not that hard), you can find an opportunity to network with other business professionals on a daily basis.  What I hate most about going to networking events is that most of the people are there trying to find their next sale, instead of attempting to build relationships.

This past August, at our ActionCOACH international conference, I was fortunate to meet and hear from 2 of the world’s best networkers; Dr. Ivan Misner founder of BNI and Michael Port founder of the Think Big Revolution and the author of Book Yourself Solid.  They each had a unique perspective on networking.

In a nutshell Dr. Misner’s formula for networking is this:  Visibility + Credibility = Profitability.

  1. Visibility:  People must know you and what you do
  2. Credibility: People know who you are and what you do
  3. Profitability:  People are willing to refer to you

A lot of time people get out there and are visible but they forget to build creditability.  If you are always in “take” mode, then people will begin to avoid you instead of giving to you.  But once you go into “give” mode you will find that people will soon in turn want to do likewise and give back to you.

Dr. Misner also added that there are 4 basic streams of networking…

  1. Casual Networks – ie., Chamber of Commerce
  2. Knowledge Networks – ie, Professional Associations
  3. Strong Networks – ie, BNI, Meetup Groups,
  4. On-line Networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+

To be successful at networking you must participate in 3 of the 4 streams in a consistent manner.

Now Michael Port’s system is similar but with a different twist.  His approach to networking is to build a deeper relationship with your current network.  His system is about targeting people you want to get into your network and then create a plan to build a deeper relationship.   He creates a “Red Velvet Policy”.  It’s a filtration system that attracts prospects & clients that energize and inspire you and most importantly allow you to do your best work.  It’s based on values not on circumstance.

Once you determine the customer values that are most important to you, (success minded, education, strive for excellence, collaborator, commitment, & family are some of mine) you begin to identify prospects that share your values to bring them into your network and begin to build a relationship.

There are 2 basic groups you want to connect with.  The 1st is already in your network and you want to build a deeper relationship with and the 2nd group people you don’t know and want to get to know better.

Building a deeper relationship with those in your network is what Michael Port considers networking.  There are 3 daily actions you need to do to build that relationship.

  1. Share your network – introduce 2 people in your network
  2. Share your knowledge – share 2 articles each day that are of interest to the people you are sending them to
  3. Share your passion – send a card (not an email) to someone every day.

The first step to connect to the 2nd group of people you don’t know, but want to get to know is to create a list of 20.  Each day take the person on the top of the list and send them something that is relevant to that person.  Then move them to the bottom of the list and the next day send something relevant to the next person on the list.  Once you connect to one of these people move them to your networking list to start building the relationship.  Then add a new name of someone you want to get to know.

It will take some time to get this approach started but once you get the hang of it, it should take you no more than a ½ hour a day.  Once you commit to it, you will begin to see that you will be attracting clients that energize and inspire you and most importantly allow you to do your best work.

 

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Business Finances, Profits, Sales

Discounting if used properly can be an effective strategy to increase profitability and cash flow, but if not used properly it can cause serious consequences to the growth and profitability of your business.

Most of the time discounting is a gut reaction to a slowdown in business.  Businesses find it easier to discount the value of their product than to sell on value.  One of the biggest negative consequences of discounting is that we are training our clients to buy only on sale.  This can have a big affect on our bottom line.  I’m not really sure a business understands how much more they have to sell just to stay at that same profit level.

For Example if you have a…

  • 30% margin
  • You discount your product or service 10%
  • You will have to sell 50% more to make the same amount of money.

Contrast that with…

  • If your margins are 30%
  • You increase your prices by 10%
  • You can sell 25% less and still make the same amount of money.

Now isn’t that interesting…

Discounting is an appropriate strategy if your inventory is high and you need cash to pay bills or if it’s a perishable item that you will have to throw away.  However instead of just discounting your product, use it as an incentive for your customers to purchase more.

Let’s assume you have a product that costs you $5.00 and you sell it for $10.00.  If you were to have a sale of 25% off, you would now be selling it for $7.50 and only making $2.50 instead of $5.00.

Instead of discounting the full price you can have a buy one get the 2nd item at ½ price.  Now you’ll at least be making the same $-profit if you sold 1 at full price.  Another option is a buy 3 get the 4th free.  You are in essence still providing a 25% discount but you are now making $10.00 profit per sale instead of just $5.00 if you sold just 1 item.

The advantage here is that you are moving more inventory and turning it back into cash.

When it comes to marketing, “perception is reality”.  If you have a 25% off sale you become labeled as a discounter.  If you have a buy 3 get the 4th for free sale, or buy 1 and get the 2nd item at ½ price, you now are perceived as a place where you get more for your money.  You are now distinguishing your business from your competition by providing adding value to your customers instead of being viewed as just another discounter.

 

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Systems, Team Building

To get your business working for you, you need to build better business systems.  It’s all about taking the experience and expertise that you have locked up in your head and making it accessible to your team so they can internalize it, to do it exactly the way you do.

Think of your systems as your team’s playbook.  Each team player needs to understand their role and how they can contribute to the team.  An important point to remember is that you can’t hold them accountable until they feel they own that task or responsibility.

Team stands for “Together Everyone Achieves More“.  Not everyone can be the quarterback or the running back.  Without an offensive line that understands their roles and responsibilities the team’s offense (your sales) will go nowhere.  But if the whole team is aligned to the goal of scoring a touchdown, (making the sale) each team member can take ownership of their role in achieving that goal.  It now makes it easier to hold them accountable to the results that are expected

One of the biggest bottlenecks to business growth is the business owner.   If the business owner doesn’t learn to let go of the everyday tasks of “doing” the business, he or she will be limited to their own time and expertise.  It’s true that in certain cases and in certain people that could go a long way, but it could be very slow.

Most business owners are afraid to let go because they feel they can do the task better than an employee.  Here’s a flash… You can.

Think of when you started, were you as efficient as you are today in doing those tasks, of course not.  Did someone teach you or did you learn it through trial and error, learning from each mistake you made?  Having a mentor teach you a proper way of doing a task saves time, reduces mistakes, and increases profitability.  It is always more efficient, effective, and profitable to learn the proper way of doing a task than by learning through trial and error.

To stop doing the work of the business and start running your business you need to take ownership of delegating a task to employee.  Don’t set them up to fail.  As I mentioned previously, it’s all about taking the experience and expertise that you have locked up in your head and making it accessible to your team so they can internalize it, so they can do it exactly the way you do.  If you don’t write it down and systematize it you are destined to do it forever.

To grow your business, you must stop doing the work of the business and start letting the business do the work for you.   As the business owner you must now learn to run and lead the business not do the work of the business.  By doing this you will begin to create a commercial, profitable business, that can work without you.

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 “How to Intentionally Attract & Build Dream Teams”  CLICK HERE is receive your Free E-Book .

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Leadership

Every day in 39 countries around the world, ActionCOACH Business Coaches work with small and medium sized business owners. The impact these coaches make is massive and can often be the difference between a company surviving and thriving and a company closing its doors for good.

While independent studies and testimonials make it clear the impact that ActionCOACH has, winning an award that thousands of people voted on is another reminder of the good work ActionCOACH Business Coaches do every day, with both small and medium sized businesses and their communities.

The latest honor for ActionCOACH, the leader in the Business Coaching industry, is this year’s People’s Choice Stevie Award for Favorite Company in the Business Services category.

While every award is important, this award is particularly significant because it is earned by public voting.

More than 35,000 votes were cast from July 28 through September 9 and ActionCOACH was the clear winner in the Business Services category, with the award to be given on October 11 in Abu Dhabi.

“This is a huge win for our company. I want to give a big thanks to all our clients who voted for us. After winning the American Stevie for Company of the Year earlier in the year, it’s very exciting that we earned both the judge’s award and the People’s Choice,” ActionCOACH Founder and Chairman Brad Sugars said.

With more than 1000 Business Coaches working with more than 15,000 businesses around the world every week, it’s easy to see why the company was able to garner so many votes.

Without the outstanding results that ActionCOACH provides for its clients, the company couldn’t have earned this award, so congratulations to everyone in the ActionCOACH system and thanks to everyone who voted for ActionCOACH.

 

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Leadership, Personal Growth

I just got back from the ActionCOACH Global Conference where I got to learn and network with over 350 of the best business coaches in the world.  In addition to hearing from ActionCOACH founder Brad Sugars, we heard from Stedman Graham, Dr. Ivan Mizner, and Michael Port as well.

The focus of this year’s global conference was how to generate breakthroughs in our business and that of our clients.  We also explored how to begin thinking outside the box, not limiting ourselves or our company by how other’s define us.

Those are powerful words.  As Stedman Graham stated “Don’t let the world define you, YOU define You…. because if you let others define you, they will always define you smaller than them.

If you look around, the organization that is in most need of a breakthrough is the United States Government.  If there is any organization that is truly stuck in a box and can’t find it’s way out, it’s our government.  Every election cycle we hear the same problems and the same old solutions.

As a whole, we Americans are confused about the right answer because our leaders are confused.  In my humble opinion, we don’t have a revenue problem we have a spending problem.

As a government, are we investing the tax payers money in the best way?  We need to invest tax payer money in a way that will help the small business owner employ more people.  We will increase the tax roles by creating successful businesses that hire and train more people not by placing a bigger burden on them.  This is one answer to the problem.

Just recently Warren Buffet had another solution, he said that the super rich should pay more taxes.

I want to congratulate Warren Buffet for being patriotic and wanting to do more and give more for this country.  But, would that really solve the problem or cause more problems?  Isn’t this just more of the same old answer we have gotten in the past with a little bit different spin?

As Americans we all want to help the unemployed, the sick, the disabled, and those down on our their luck.  This is our nature.  We see it when there are natural disasters around the world and here at home.  The people step up and make things happen.  But can the government afford to help everyone.  No, not really but at the same time we can’t let the underprivileged go without.  So what’s the answer?

Well, I began to look at this problem another way and got this, well, “out of the box” idea. Before you say, “oh this is just another crazy idea” hear me out and then let me know what you think…

Instead of asking me to pay more taxes to help support entitlement programs, why don’t we look at each government entitlement as a charitable organization.

Instead of raising my taxes give me an opportunity to give more money to  the government programs that I support the most.

This would not only raise more money but would probably make this organizations more efficient in the process as they compete for these charity dollars.

With the generosity of the American people we might actually raise more money this way.

This might seem simplistic but the best ideas usually are.  Just a thought, let me know what you think….

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Marketing, Sales


Referrals are an inexpensive way to obtain new customers.  Many business owners say that they get a lot of clients through “word of mouth” or from referrals. But if I ask what their referral strategy is, I usually just get a blank stare.

At ActionCOACH we define a referral strategy as a way of generating new customers for your business for a low acquisition cost.

For a referral strategy to be effective you must make sure that…

  1. Your service must be extraordinary.  Being good just won’t cut it here.  For people to refer their friends and business associates to you, your service must be 1st class.  Anything less could be a detriment to your business.
  2. You must have an offer that means something. If you don’t give people a good reason, a “what’s in it for me?”  your strategy will fail.

One of the biggest mistakes in developing a referral strategy is having a clear idea of what type of clients you want referred to you.  If you don’t set your rules up front and let your referral partners know who your business customer is, you’ll be wasting your time developing business from “D” type clients who will just suck your time and energy away.

Look at your current client list and see who your “A” type clients are.  If you think of the 80/20 Pareto principle, these will be the top 20% of your customers that are generating 80% of your revenues or profits.  It makes no sense to target more customers that want to haggle on price or are always late paying their bills, or are always looking for free advice.

Next key to a successful referral strategy is to make it pro-active.  To have a pro-active referral strategy you must teach your customers how referral business to you will help them.  Every time you educate a client on the types of referrals you are looking for you will have an advocate for life.  But there is just one catch; you need to continue to offer them and their referral the level of service that you have promised.

If you would like more ideas, strategies, and examples on how to implement a referral strategy in your business, please request our free E-Book  Instant Referral Strategies.  CLICK HERE is receive your Free E-Book .

 

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Business Finances, Profits

The goal of every business is to make money or a profit.  For some reason profits seem to elude some businesses more than others.  They are working hard day in and day out, but they seem to just be spinning their wheels and not getting anywhere.  They are trapped in the American dream treadmill, moving faster and faster but going nowhere.

The reason they are working so hard and not seeing any fruits from their labor is that their actions are in the areas that do not lead to the profitability of the business.  We are busy, but we are spending our time with non-productive activities.

So what is a productive activity?  The definition is very simple.  An action that moves us toward making money is productive and an action that leads away from making money is non-productive.

In business we have to realize that “people working” and “making money” are now the same thing.  Once we understand this, we can now look at our business from a different perspective.  We now need to look at our profitability per activity.  So now we can start looking at a different set of metrics to measure how profitable a particular job or activity is in our business.

The financial measurements we now have to look at to see if we are making money are:

[1] Net Profit    [2] ROI – Return on Investment    [3] Cash Flow.

We need to determine our Profit KPI’s (key performance indicators) by determining profit per….

  • Direct labor hour
  • Team member
  • Transaction or Job
  • Customer
  • Product or Service

The first area you should look at is gross profit per labor hour.  This will help you to determine what types of jobs you should focus on to increase your overall profits.  Let’s take a look at this example…

Job A Job B
Revenue $3,900 $9,000
Material Costs $2,250 $3,000
Labor Costs $450 $2,500
Direct COGS $2,700 $5,500
Gross Profits $1,200 $3,500
Gross Profit Margins 30.8% 38.9%
# of Labor Hours 18 100
Gross Profit per Labor Hr. $67.00 $35.00
Determine Labor Hr per month
10 Techs @40 hrs 

(@90% compactly * 4.3 wks)

36 hrs per tech

 

1560/hrs

 

1560/hrs

Gross Profit per Month $104,520 $54,640

In this example we are comparing 2 different types of jobs.  At first glance, Job B has a higher gross profit margin and seems to be more profitable.   However, when you further analyze the gross profit per labor hour, doing more of Job A type jobs can double the profitability of your business.

By understanding this, we can now direct our marketing to target more “A” type jobs.   Or, we can look at how we can be more efficient with Job B type jobs to reduce our labor hours per job.  Once we implement these 2 basic strategies we can begin to learn how to work smarter and not harder in our business.

 

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Leadership, Personal Growth

As a business coach I always try to stress that your business should not be your end all.  It should be the vehicle to help you get what you really want out of life.  Your life shouldn’t be your business.  Your business should get you more out of life.

Here are what I believe to be are the 7 keys to improving ourselves and achieving the quality life we want and deserve.

  1. Quality of Results – To increase our quality of life we need to get better results.  That’s easier said than done.  How do we increase the quality of our results?
  2. Quality of Actions – By increasing the quality of our action we will improve the quality of results.  So how, you might ask?
  3. Quality of Decisions – To increase the quality of our actions we need to make better decisions.  The next key will help us to increase the quality of our decisions.
  4. Quality of Questions – The better the questions, the better the decisions you will make.  One of the key ways that I help my clients as a business coach is by asking the difficult questions and coaching my clients to start asking themselves those difficult questions.
  5. Quality of Beliefs & Dreams – You can’t ask better questions if you don’t know what it is you don’t know.  When you have strong beliefs and big dreams you begin to start asking better questions because you need to know why.  You’ll start asking yourself what is keeping me from achieving that success.  But how can someone build better and bigger dreams and a stronger belief system?
  6. Quality of Education – By increasing our quality of education, always trying to learn more, our beliefs will get stronger and our dreams will get bigger.
  7. Quality of Mentor/Teacher – We have to first admit that we don’t know everything.  Today we have the ability to access many mentors and teachers not necessarily personally but through their workshops, books, CD’s, DVD’s, etc.

One person I consider to be my mentor but have never actually met is Jim Rohn.  Though he has passed away and he is missed by many. He said two things that have always stuck with me, “You have to work harder on yourself than you do on your job” and “Don’t wish that your life was easier, wish that you were better”.

If we strive to have a mentor who can teach us and mentor us to look at the world and ourselves from a new light, we will increase the quality of our education which will lead to higher quality beliefs and dreams, which will allow us to ask better questions to make better decisions, which will allow us to take better actions which will lead to achieving better results and thus increase your quality of life.

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

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Time Management

A wise man said that once you spent your money you can always make more, but once youHour Glass spent your time it’s gone forever.

When I ask business owners what’s the #1 thing that they believe is holding them back from achieving more, the majority of them will say, being able to manage their time better.  The first thing they need to understand is that you can’t manage time.  Time is like a flow of energy, all you can do is manage yourself better to harness that energy.

Below are my top 10 tips on how to manage yourself better to achieve more….

  1. Set personally motivating goals …
    Most of us know what we need to do to be successful but we procrastinate doing them for one reason or another.  Because we are not focused on a motivating goal, we will put off an important task for the next “shiny” item that looks interesting.  Having written, motivating, goals will help you align your task to your goals.
  2. Don’t finish today until you plan tomorrow …
    If you wait for the morning to figure out what you need to do you are losing valuable time.  If at the end of each day you review your goals and write out your action items making sure they are moving you closer to your goals, you will find that you will increase your productivity by 15-20%.
  3. Eat a Frog for Breakfast EVERY day …
    This comes from Brian Tracey’s book of the same name.  The idea is simple.  Each day pick the biggest, hairiest frog (task) you need to do and schedule to do it first thing.  If not you will push it off and you find that it keeps moving to the next day on your to do list.  Once accomplished your day will be filled with items you enjoy doing and you will feel more fulfilled and motivated at the end of the day.
  4. Don’t Major in Minor things …
    This is tied to item #3.  If you focus on accomplishing the major items on your list you will find you will have room for the smaller items.  But, if you fill your day with the smaller items that will never be room for the big major items.
  5. Create a default Diary / Stick to it …
    Most of us don’t get important tasks done because we don’t schedule a specific time to do them.  Create a calendar where you schedule default times to work on the major activities you need to get done on a weekly basis.
  6. Invest time don’t spend it …
    Our biggest time waster is spending our time on doing busy work instead of important work.  We invest our time, by working on items that will affect our profits.
  7. Have agendas for all meetings …
    You should not only have an agenda but have a goal for what is the desired outcome of the meeting.  Focus agenda items based on the goals of your meeting.  Don’t mix strategic meetings with tactical meetings.  When you do, you don’t accomplish as much.
  8. Have conference calls to save time …
    Team communication is important but sometimes it’s inefficient to call in team members from the field to have a meeting.  Instead, conference in team members for tactical meetings.  This will help you keep your team focused and aligned to the overall goals of the company.
  9. Learn to delegate to your team …
    The busy work we spend time on needs to be delegated to lower paid employees so you can invest your time on more profitable tasks.
  10. Hire an ActionCOACH to keep you on track!
    Every business needs someone to help you see the forest through the trees.  That’s why I also have a coach.  I find that it is way too easy to miss the more important items I need to work on.  My coach helps me to keep focused on my goals.  I personally found that the more focused I am on my goals, the more productive I’ve become.

 

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Goals

Goal SettingWritten plans are an important part of your business success.  You might be saying, “What do I need a plan for?”,  or “I’ve been through the planning process before, why do I need to create another plan” or ”I’ve been to an ActionCOACH GrowthCLUB planning day before, I can create my own plan, why should I go again?”.  First let me share the results of a study conducted by Inc Magazine?

A group of businesses was selected, the 1st group created action plans of what they needed to achieve in their business, the 2nd group just reacted to the events as they occurred in the day to day operations of their business.  A few year later, they went back to look at the success of those businesses.  As you might have guessed the group that planned was vastly more success than the 2nd group.  The group that was “too busy and “winged it” everyday and did not plan, were almost all floundering, bankrupt, or out of business.

What they found was that the successful group didn’t necessarily look at their plan every day but it was just the act of taking the time to plan that made the difference. Brian Tracy in his book Goals!, says the lesson is simple with the 6 P’s… Proper – Prior – Planning – Prevents – Poor – Performance

Here are 7 reasons you should act now and participate in one of ActionCOACH’s GrowthCLUB planning days…..

  1. It will force you to organize your thinking to focus on all issues that you will need to deal with over the next 90 days
  2. It will allow you to think through what you must do to accomplish your goals which will allow you to plan your actions carefully before you begin.  This will save you enormously in terms of time, money, & people.
  3. You will learn what questions to ask that will allow you to discuss and evaluate your plan to identify flaws & errors that could prove fatal to your business.
  4. You will be able to identify weaknesses in your plan and learn provisions to compensate
  5. You will be able to identify strengths and new potential opportunities that you can take advantage of to increase the likelihood of success.
  6. You will be able to focus your time and money to focus your resources on the 1-2 objectives that you must achieve to make your business successful over the next 90 days.
  7. It will save you hours- weeks-months of confusion, mistakes, and losses of your money, time, & energy.

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