Business Finances

Profit and cash flow are not the same.  Profit is just a theory.   A business can go brokeMan with Money while making a healthy profit by not setting aside enough financial reserves to meet its commitments. Here are five ways from ActionCOACH’s founder Brad Sugars’ book Instant Cash Flow to supercharge your cash flow to turn theory into reality:

  1. Sell More Big Margin Goods/Services …
    Why not move to products that offer more margins? This may mean buying a slightly more expensive product that you can make a higher profit on. Or it may mean buying smarter, as sometimes a lower priced item will offer a greater margin. You should know exactly how much each item makes you, and then emphasize those which make you the most money. If you work in the service industry, you should consider which services offer the most money for the least amount of effort
  2. NO Discounting
    If you constantly discount, why have a regular price? This applies to businesses who are always discounting instead of coming up with effective marketing, or an actual reason to buy. Discounting not only costs you money, but it gives the impression that your normal prices are a rip-off. Customers may also hold off buying, thinking that the item that’s $100 today may only be $80 tomorrow. It’s better to not discount and simply offer more add-on value.
  3. Stop Running Ads that Don’t Work …
    If your ads aren’t making you money, then stop running them! It is important to test and measure each ad to make sure that you’re getting the maximum return possible. When you find one that works, keep using it. This only comes after a period of testing and measuring – it may be six months before you find the right ad. You need to view this outlay as an investment in your business – it’s an investment in finding out what works and creating that ‘magic ad’
  4. Re-finance
    If you have a number of loans, then you may need to consolidate them into one. This gives you the advantage of paying only one interest rate and one repayment. Shop around to find the best terms. This doesn’t always mean the lowest nominal rate, so make sure the one you choose suits your particular needs. With banks becoming more and more competitive, there’s a bank out there willing to give you a loan for less. If your bank isn’t willing to match their rate, then try another.
  5. Where’s the “Silver Bullet” in your business?
    Every business has something that they are doing (or not doing) that – when attacked – will generate instant cash flow. Talk to your mentor or business coach. Let them help you find the hidden dollars in your business that will allow you to move to the next level.

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Marketing

By now most of us have figured out that social media is not a fad but a fun mental shift inThought clouds of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn the way we communicate. Buying mailing lists to target potential prospects will soon be a thing of the past.

Your social media contacts and their connections have now become your interactive database. Interactive because now you can engage in 2 way communication with the people you are connected to.

But remember, people don’t use social media because they want to be sold something. Hector Cisneros discusses in his blog Six Cardinal Rules for Success in Social Media Marketing that there are 4 reasons why people use social media. They want useful information, interesting facts, to be entertained, and to connect with other.

In building any relationship you need to understand the other person’s needs and wants. Continuing to ask friends for favors and giving nothing in return is a quick way to lose friends.  With social media the BNI motto of givers gain really holds true.

If you are trying to build your business through social media there are 4 basic rules to follow in order to successfully communicate with your new interactive database.

  1. Be Human – As Jeffery Gitomer says, people buy from people they like. Don’t join a LinkedIn group discussion and start spamming the discussion about your next seminar. It would me like walking up to a group of people in conversation and you start selling them on your business. That’s plain rude.
  2. Add Value – Sales is about building relationships. What can you do to provide value to your social media contacts and their connections? Provide interesting facts or useful information that your connections are looking for.
  3. Interact – Create a dialog to build trusts and a relationship with your contacts. What’s nice is that with social media, your conversation can go viral reaching out to your contacts connections that you are not currently connected to.
  4. Promote – Don’t hard sell. Use soft promotion to communicate how you can help your contacts get what they want. Promote your business in a way that you provide value to your contacts.

Most importantly, remember tip #1 Be Human. You communicating with a live human being and not a computer or a smart phone.

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Personal Growth

Recently I was standing at our kitchen sink washing the breakfast dishes looking out our kitchen window and I noticed this fly.  It was just flying in circles, climbing up and down the window screen desperately looking for a way out.  It could sense that its freedom was just near, feeling the fresh air.  This seemed to motivate it even more to try to get out.

Man stuck  in a boxI then realized that if I didn’t give it any help it was destined to be flying in circles all day

and I knew that the buzzing would begin to get on my nerves.  So I decided to push the screen open to give it an opening so it could finally break through to freedom.

As I continued to wash the dishes, I was amazed that the fly just kept going up and down in the same meticulous manner.  The path to freedom was just inches away but it seemed stuck looking in the same places to find a small hole to break through.  Then my 3 year old son who was watching this whole scenario from the kitchen table asked “why doesn’t it just fly away?”

Then it dawned on me, how many of us are unknowingly doing the same thing?  How many of us can’t break through to that next level of success because we are stuck in our own comfort zone?  How many of us continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

But just like the fly on my window we are stuck in our comfort zones, imprisoned by our routines, stuck in doing the same thing over and over because it is just familiar to us.  A wise man once said, “An imprisoned individual cannot set himself free”.

Eventually the fly did break through to freedom, but only when my son came over and repeatedly pushed it toward the opening so it could finally break through to the freedom it so desired.

Who do you have that can give you more perspective that will continually push you toward the opening so you can break through to your next level of success?

As a business coach, I help my clients see the forest through the tree, give them the knowledge they need when they need it, & hold them accountable week end in and week out to reach their goals.  At ActionCOACH we coach business owners to success with proven, tested and systematized ways to reach your goals and grow your business no matter what business you are in.

Remember every champion has a coach and that coaching is not just sports any more.

Check out my latest workshops and seminars under the Events Tab above.

 

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Sales, Uncategorized

Sales are tough to generate in a good economy or bad.  Nevertheless, why does it seem thatMan covering mouth some sales people seem to do well in all types of environment?  When the economy is good, it is relatively easy for even bad sales people to make a living.  The reason for this is that in good economic times there is so much “low hanging fruit” out there that just about anyone can make a sale.

Now that the economic picture is slowing down, there is not much “low hanging fruit” to be picked.  In today’s economy, it’s only the truly professional salesperson who will survive.  If you think about your industry, there are enough people out there still wanting to buy your product or service to keep you busy all year long.  Your challenge is, how do you get your “unfair share” of that market?

A lot of sales training focuses on “closing techniques”.  A secret to sales success is to stop “closing sales” and start “opening relationships”

There is a difference between the successful professional salesperson and everyone else.  When business is good, the majority of salespeople are just trying to get as much business as possible.  They are usually more “me” focused than “client” focused.

Professional salespeople are always “client” focused.   They understand that their client is also thinking WIIFM or “what’s in it for ME”.   When you focus on “opening relationships”, you’ll always be client focused.

The second thing that professional salespeople understand is that people do not like to be sold but they love to buy.  This leads us to ActionCOACH’s definition of a salesperson, “Professionally Helping People to Buy”.

How can you tell if you are selling someone or helping him or her buy?

The answer is quite simple.  When you are meeting with potential clients, are you “telling” or “asking”?  The professional salesperson’s secret weapon is questions.   When you are asking questions you are building relationships

So how do the professional salespeople break through the clutter of all the other sales calls that their prospects are bombarded with every day?   One strategy is through their current relationships.  By using their current relationships, professional salespeople are able to get their prospects attention but most importantly, they gain some instant credibility in the mind of the prospect.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have a relationship it is very hard to penetrate your prospect’s trust to get them to open up to you.  Just think about it.  How many sales calls do you get daily from sales people trying to sell you something.  I can just imagine your response when the phone rings, “Oh boy, another sales person trying to sell me something. Let me stop everything I doing to see if they have something I want to buy right now!”  If you are like me, you are trying to think of every excuse to get off the phone.

The biggest mistake salespeople make is trying to jump ahead in the sales process before we build any credibility.   We start asking questions before we have earned the right.  We need to earn the right to start a relationship before they’ll want to engage in a relationship with us.  We can’t expect that just because we’ve called, the prospect will want to develop a relationships with us let alone want to do business with us.

How do we break the barrier to get through to these prospects and get them to want to engage with us over everyone else trying to get a piece of their limited and precious time?  We need to first create curiosity?  Just face it, if we can’t get them to want to engage with us, the chances are slim that we are going to make a sale.

 

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Leadership, Systems, Team Building

What does it mean to earn a black belt in any of the various styles of martial arts?  Whatfirst comes to mind is that of a trained killer.  But martial arts training is a lot more than that.  In addition to being a form of self-defense and exercise, it’s a philosophy or a way of life.

I got involved in the martial arts at a very early age but didn’t receive my Black Belt in Tang Soo Do Karate until I was almost 30.  I found that it was not only a great form of exercise and self defense but it also taught me lessons in how to survive in the battles of business and life.  But when I look back what I really learned was the importance of goal setting, focus, determination, and the use systems.

do you own a black belt business

Each martial art has a series of belts or levels that each student strives to reach before they can become a black belt.  This systematized approach provides students a process to gain mastery over a particular level of skills before moving on to the next level.  This shows the importance of not only setting end goals but milestones along the way to keep you on track.

My sensei (Karate instructor) taught me that before you can become a black belt, that each level you reach you are just learning Karate but once you become a black belt you are now doing Karate.  Once you reach this level you now have the knowledge and wisdom to apply what you have learned.  The journey doesn’t stop there.  There are new goals and milestones as you reach for the higher levels of being a black belt.

As a business coach I have found that this same systematized approached can also be applied to business.  When do you get your black belt in business?  When are you “doing” business instead of learning business?  At ActionCOACH we have a definition for this, “A commercial profitable enterprise that can work without you the business owner”.  Let’s take a look at the 6 belts you must master before you can be a black belt in business.

White Belt: At this level the emphasis is on basic business mastery over time, team, & money.  It’s about getting the chaos out of your business.  It’s about making sure you can make payroll and that your employees understand their roles & responsibility in your organization.  It’s where you learn to delegate tasks to your team, so you can concentrate on developing higher level skills needed to obtain your business black belt.

Yellow Belt: This is where you work on creating predicable cash flow in the business.  You develop your Niche and USP (unique selling proposition) so you can start selling on value and not price.

Green Belt: At this level you are working on creating efficiencies in your business.  You are starting to develop systems that will run your business so you don’t have to.

Blue Belt: Here we are learning how to get the right people “on the bus”, how to get the right team players, and who will run your systems that will run your business.

Red Belt: This is where we start to see all your hard work come together.  You’ll start to see the synergies of your systems and team you develop.  This is where you start grooming your general manager who will replace you in your business.

Black Belt: Now you’ve made it! You’ve created a commercial profitable enterprise that works without you. You are now an entrepreneur a business black belt.  You are now generating passive income from the business.  You can now take the skills and knowledge that you have learned and apply them to other businesses or start investing your profits so that your money is making money.

To learn more about how you can turn your business into a Black Belt business, attend our next free business seminar.  Check out my latest workshops and seminars under the Events Tab above.

 

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Leadership, Sales

Hand holding plant representing business growth When I go out and speak with business owners I hear a lot of mixed comments.  Unfortunately, most are complaining about how bad things are and how their competition is under cutting the market.

At the same time many businesses are not sitting back and waiting to see what’s going to happen, they are being pro-active.

Just think, if you can get just a few % points of all the business that is happening in your industry here in Jacksonville, what would that mean to your business?  When I ask that question to business owners, the response I get is that is probably more business than I can handle right now.  Now isn’t that interesting.

If that’s the case, why do most businesses do nothing to get their “unfair” share of the business that’s out there?  Why do they think by using their same old ideas that they are going to get different results in this new economy?  Why do they let their sales people chase after clients like a sick puppy and do nothing about it?

The main reason is that they are re-acting to the market instead of creating a plan with new goals, strategies, and tactics that will get them different results.

Your business can be thriving today!  One of my clients just reported to me today that their YTD  revenues have increased 15% and at the same time profits have increased 70%.  A lot of their competition has not it made thru this economy.  They did not make it because they did not have a plan and they were re-acting to the market place instead of being pro-active.  My clients succeed because they have a plan and are pro-active.

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

 

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Systems

Speedometer represent the speed of business growthI was listening the other day to Brad Sugar’s Master Mentor Series where he was interviewing Keith Cunningham.  Keith is a business profitability expert who is responsible for writing the course seminar that world-renowned Robert Kiyosaki turned into the best selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.  Of the many gems I received from listening to this interview, I would like to share one with you.

Most of us would agree that our business isn’t growing as fast as we would like.  In fact if we had to describe the speed of our growth we would compare it to the speed of a tricycle.  Most of us are peddling away as fast as we can, but on a tricycle we can only peddle just so fast and to stay at that fast pace takes a lot of energy.

So what can we do to increase our business growth from the pace of the tricycle to that of an automobile or jet airplane?  We need to add systems, dials, & knowledge.

  1. Systems – When we look at a tricycle it has only 3 systems to make it move; a steering system, a 3 wheel system, and a peddling system.  None of these systems need to be monitored or need much knowledge to operate.  In fact these systems are so simple even a “caveman”, sorry, I mean a 2 or 3 year can operate it.  What allows an automobile or jet to move fast? It has systems.  No longer is our acceleration powered solely by our effort, but by using an automobile or jet we are using systems to accelerate our growth but using less energy on our part.
  2. Dials – If our systems are not working properly, we may not be moving at all or it may even lead to an accident or someone’s death.  To prevent system failure, we need dials or a dashboard to monitor our speed and acceleration because if we are moving at the speed of a jet and we make a mistake, it could lead to some serious consequences.
  3. Knowledge – As we mentioned above, just about anyone can ride a tricycle.  It doesn’t take much knowledge or training compared to that of an automobile or jet.  However, just having a pilot’s license isn’t enough to make you qualified to fly jets.  You need continuous and more strenuous training.

In summary to move your business ahead at jet speed, you need to:

  1. Create new or improve the systems that you have. Remember, the reason a jet moves faster than a propelled aircraft is its systems.
  2. Create a dashboard of KPI’s (smart numbers) in your business to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of your system.  If not, you might be in spiral spin downward and won’t know about it until you crash.
  3. Continuously increase the knowledge of you and your team to run your systems better.

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

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Goals, Personal Growth

With the challenges the economy has presented, many small business owners may findFunny character burnt out holding a cup of coffee themselves working longer hours, trying to do more with fewer resources. This can lead to burnout. How do you personally avoid burnout and (hopefully) establish a good balance between work and the rest of your life?

Let’s first look at what is the real cause of burnout?  It’s the feeling that you get when you put in the effort but you don’t feel that you are progressing; you’re just spinning your wheels.

To avoid burnout you must have clarity, focus, & purpose.

A lot of business owners seek me out when they are burnt out.  By working with them to clarify their vision & purpose and at the same time creating worthwhile meaningful goals, they now become motivated and re-energized doing the same activities that made them feel burnt out in the first place.

If you stay focused on your goals, you will maintain your motivation and avoid burnout.

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

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Marketing, Uncategorized

Knowing the answer to this question will help you to create an unlimited marketing budget.

When I ask business owners if they know where their leads are coming from they usually say, “Yes, we ask every customer where they heard about us”.  I then ask to see the data of their results.”

Street Sign saying Marketing Results this way

After squirming a bit, they tell me that the information is just in their head.  Let me be clear about this!  It is impossible to accurately measure this information in your head.  To get a clear picture of what media, headline, or offer is working, it is not enough to only ask how they found out about you, but you must also record the results.  If you don’t measure it you can’t improve it!

When you understand that marketing is all about “buying customers” you begin to change they way you look at your advertising and marketing.  By understanding and knowing the acquisition cost of a customer, you can begin to create an unlimited marketing budget and buy as many customers as you want.

So, how do you turn your marketing from an expense to an investment?  Meaning, that for every dollar you spend on marketing more should return.  You must measure and test your results.  Let’s look at an example…

The concept is simple, you invested $1000 on advertising, and you get 50 phone calls, then you are paying $20 per lead.  Now if you close 20% or 1 out of 5 of those leads, you’re paying $100 (5x$20) per customer.  If your product sells for $200, you’ve just made $1000.

50 (Calls) x 20% (Closing %) = 10 New Customers

10 (new customers) x $200 (cost of product) = $2000 Revenue

$2000 (Revenue) – $1000 Advertising Investment = $1000 in Gross Profit

If you knew that on average that every time you invested $1000 in advertising you got 10 new customers and a return on your investment of $1000 you’ll begin to see how you can create an unlimited marketing budget.  Once you understand your customer acquisition cost it will change your mindset and how you think about marketing forever.

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

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Time Management

Man digging one hole to fill anotherAs a business coach one of the biggest challenges that I’ve seen most entrepreneurs face is that of time management.  The first misnomer is that you can’t really manage time.  I believe that time is just a flow of energy. All we can do to harness this energy is to manage ourselves better.

The second misnomer is that we mistake activity with productivity.  I’ve seen a lot of very busy and unproductive entrepreneurs.  (I can include me in that group)  This might sound funny but a lot of people tell me they are “too busy” for a business coach.  They don’t have time to take on anything “new”.  We can get so busy doing and doing and doing and don’t take the time to step back to make sure we are doing the right activity in the right way.

One of my priorities as a business coach is to advice business owners and executives to make sure they are doing the most productive thing possible at every given moment.  To make sure that the activity they are engaged in will get them closer to their predetermined worthwhile goals.

  1. Create Worthwhile Goals
    The first step to managing yourself better is to have clear written goals that are true priorities in your life.  If they are not priorities you will find yourself attracted the newest “shiny thing” that appears in your life.  Without specific predetermined worthwhile goals you will be travelling the ocean of life with  a sail boat that has no sales.
  2. Conduct a Time Study
    There’s a saying that says,”If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.  We need to first plug the holes in our ship before we can take out.  Most of us have no clue on how we really spend our time. One of the tools I’ve personally used and coach my clients to use is to conduct a time study.  For one week record everything you do in 15 minute segments.  At the end of the week categorize each task to see where you are spending most of your time.  After conducting a time study one client realized that he was spending 3 hours a week doing inventory, a task that he could train one of his employees to do.  He then took those 3 hours and put them to use to work on his business to achieve his goals.
  3. Use a Default Calendar
    In his book “First Things First”, Stephen Covey, tells the story of the big rocks.  The story teaches us that to be really productive we have to focus on the “big rocks” in our lives and do them first and all the little stuff will fall into place.  By determining our worthwhile goals we are picking our big rocks.  A tool that I use to make sure I always have time for my “big rocks” is a default calendar.  In essence my default calendar is blocks of time where I schedule appointments with myself to do my “big rocks”.  I found that if I don’t schedule those “big rocks” my schedule tends to get filled with the next “shiny thing” that comes my way.

By learning how to invest your time and not spend it, you will become more productive. Remember, time is your most valuable asset.  Once you’ve spent it, it’s gone forever.

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

 

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