The Pillars to Successful Business Growth Strategy Series. Pillar 3 – Delivery

pillar-of-autumn-1541725-639x979If you’ve been following my 6 Pillars to Business Success Series, you’ll know that the first two pillars require you to have a product that matches a need in the market and is unique enough to carve a niche in that market and you need think about and plan for a business model that will enable you to scale and grow beyond the early days of dependency on you.

The third pillar is about ‘delivery’ – the systems and processes you have in place to ensure you can consistently deliver on the promise of your product again and again.

Delivery of expectation

Delivery is really about expectation. When you market your product and service well (we’ll get to the sales and marketing in the next blog), you create an expectation in the minds of your customer. This expectation carries across a number of areas:

Quality and consistency of product

Customers have an idea of what it is they are going to receive and an expectation of the quality they will experience – not just the first time they buy from you, but every time they buy from you. So your company’s ability to deliver a quality experience every single time is critical. As you grow, you have to be able to keep up the quality, regardless of size and quantity.

liber8-pillars-chart-450x289Quality and consistency of service

Your customers will also have an expectation of the level of service they receive – which will be bench marked against your previous service levels (you are expected to keep these up as you grow) and also against their experience with other providers. Each industry will have a standards benchmark that the market expects all players to deliver on. In an ideal world, you’ll know what this is and ensure your company delivers better service than your competitors – each and every time.

Efficiency and timeliness

How well and how timely you are on the delivery of their expectation is also a critical factor. You can have the best solution in the world but if it doesn’t arrive in time to meet your customer’s need, they won’t be happy with it.

A quick example – I ordered a mermaid blanket (yes really) online for my daughter as a Christmas santa present. It was a US based site, and international delivery was within 3 weeks. This was early November. There was plenty of time for it to arrive by Christmas. By early December it still hadn’t arrived. When I emailed, I was sent a link to a parcel tracking site. This was all in Chinese so I couldn’t make any sense of it. Further emails got no reply. A week out from Christmas it still hadn’t arrived, so I found another mermaid blanket on a NZ gift site, with guaranteed delivery before Christmas. This one arrived within 2 days of ordering. Then the original one arrived too – a few days before Christmas.

My daughter was thrilled to get two mermaid blankets from Santa. I was not so delighted. The original company continues to market to me, as I’m clearly now on their database. But I will never buy from them again. They had the superior blanket quality wise, but they let me down on the timeliness of delivery, and also their lack of reply to my emails and their lack of concern about their tracking information being in Chinese. They hadn’t set their distribution systems up well enough to match their delivery promise, they oversold and under delivered to me and many others I’m sure.

Delivery efficiencies

A key thing to consider about delivery is how efficiently your company can continually meet the expectations of your customers. As you grow it gets harder and harder to keep up the quality and control the costs involved to do this. You have to hire more people and invest in more infrastructure. Your costs go up and before you know it, your income is growing but your profits are shrinking.

So how do you grow and continue to deliver on customer expectations?

The answer to that question lies with these 3 things: systems, team, training.

1. Systems

You must have systems for everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. From how a customer is greeted when they first contact you or how the floor of the warehouse is cleaned to how your product is packaged, to how it is disbributed, how you present, how you communicate, how you deal with a complaint, how you do anything at all.

According to the online Business Dictionary, a system is defined as:

A set of detailed methods, procedures and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem.

Systems will set you free. And simply cannot be avoided.

To create a system, first prove that a process works (by trialling it for a while), then document it thoroughly step by step, and then ensure everyone in your company knows how to follow the process. One of my fellow mentors and author Mike Brunel, tells the story of how he started what became a $300 million company by following his business partner around with a dictaphone and then wrote up everything he did – this created a system they were able to sell to others all over the world. In their case, the system became the product because they found a way to do something better than anyone in their industry.

Put all of your systems into one ‘manual’ – which can be all stored online or delivered as a lovely glossy ‘welcome’ piece when new team members join. Let this become your manifesto … the ‘how we do things here’ guide to consistent delivery for your company.

Important note: Two of the areas you need systems for – to ensure you can afford to grow – are your sales and marketing, and your financial reporting. We talk more of these in future blogs in the series, but for now, be sure to build systems that enable you to plan your team and infrastructure growth alongside your sales growth – plan to have enough income/capital to be build your delivery systems and have regular financial reporting built into your rituals.

2. Team

You cannot grow without a team. You need people to deliver on the expectations of your promise to market. And you need them to know what to do, how to do it, when to do it and how important it is to do it this way every time. When you start hiring people, you will have to let go of doing everything yourself. You will have to trust others to do the work for you, but of course you’ll feel a lot happier about this if you know they are doing it the way you (and your customers) expect it done. So give them great systems to follow, and minimise the chances of them getting it wrong. Your systems will enable consistency, and will also enable your culture to survive as you grow. Your systems manual can include information on your rituals, meetings you have (and why you have them), values and vision for the company. The how and why of everything … this makes up your culture, and you should only hire people you think will enjoy being in a place that does things this way.

Another quick example: I go to a gym class at 6am three days a week. I get there at 5.30am and there is always a smiling face to greet me, which I appreciate even though I’m still half asleep. As soon as I scan my card to get in, they look at the screen and know two things – my name and the class I’m here for. They greet me by name and hand me my wrist band for my class without me having to say a thing (I do tend to grunt at that time of the morning). Then when I leave an hour later, no matter who is on reception, they always say ‘goodbye’ or ‘see you later’ as I scan my way out again. Always. This is systemised delivery of experience that every single team member knows about, and it makes me feel good about my gym.

3. Training

A business system is only as good as the people who follow it. So make sure to devote enough resources to training your team to deliver on expectations. If they don’t know how you want things done, they’ll do things the way they think they should be done. Train your team to know the company values and the expectations it has around delivery across all aspects of the business. Let them know why these things are important and then … and this is important… give them the freedom to follow the systems without micromanagement from you!

Exercise:

Conduct a ‘delivery audit’ of your business. Firstly consider all of the critical customer touch-points and the expectations they have of what and how you are going to delivery on your promise to them. Make a list of the key areas where you need systems in place to ensure you can meet those expectations.  Then start creating systems to ensure consistent delivery across each area.  You can get your team to help with this… the best person to create a system is the person who is currently doing that job well already.

Happy Growing!

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PS.  For more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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The Pillars to Successful Business Growth Series. Pillar 2 – Your Business Model.

pillar-of-autumn-1541725-639x979So you have a great product or service. You know there’s a need for it out there, you’ve defined your customers and your market (if not refer to Article 1 in the Pillars To Business Success Series).  You may well have proven just how great your offer is, with consistent sales under the belt. But how much thought have you given to the growth plan for your business?

The true value in your business will ultimately come not just from what you sell, but also how well you grow.

To grow well, you need to think about your business model, sooner rather than later.

There are two key questions to ask yourself when thinking about your business model:

  1. What is the potential for this business in the future (what is your vision for where you are taking it)?
  2. How will it scale?

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Let’s look at each in turn.

What is the potential for your business?

When I’m working with new clients, we spend a fair bit of time considering this question. We look at what you personally might want out of the business financially, the size of the market you are in, the competition you are up against, your future portfolio of customers – in terms of both size and value.  We consider what you are offering now and who you are offering this to, and how this might need to change over time to enable the true potential of the business.  We build a picture of what’s possible for the future, check in with your appetite for growth and your commitment to make this happen.

How will it scale?

When we have a clear picture of what’s possible, we look at the business growth plan that will enable this.  How and what is your business currently set up to deliver? How will it need to be set up in the future to enable the size and scale of business you are hoping to build? What changes do you need to make to ensure this growth can happen?  Will you be expanding into new markets? Do you need to make changes to the product or service itself? What team infrastructure is required to support the growth? What needs to happen to the way you make and deliver your product service? How can you reduce dependency on you and other key people, with systems, technology, team and training? We also look at the time frame over which these changes need to take place.  If your vision for future success is five years out, you don’t need to make all the changes necessary right now.  You can map them out over time and determine what you need to be working on right now to ensure you are preparing for growth in the future.

As you can see, there are a lot of questions to consider. Business is really a thinking game, and a planning game as well as a doing game. To be a good business person you need to think about strategy as well as delivery.

Here’s a definition of strategy taken from a well-known dictionary:

Strategy: A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.

The question is always, are you willing to do the thinking necessary to plan for a successful future? Or are you always going to be too busy delivering your product or service today?

My job as a mentor is to ensure my clients have the structure, support and guidance to do the hard thinking now that will set them up for the future.

If you think you might be ready for this … email me at laura@liber8u.com to find out more about my programmes.

Happy growing!

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PS.  For more thoughts on how to make your business more valuable, feel free to download this free booklet, based on my interviews with successful entrepreneurs

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8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 5 …

9ERZUJ4KZDOne of the biggest obstacles to increasing business value  is the dependency of that business on its owner. And an even bigger danger is the unwillingness of a business owner to let go.

Something I often hear people say is that their business is their baby. But it’s not.

Your business is not your baby. Which leads me to key number 8 in my bigger, better blog series:

Key number 8.  Remove dependency on you

I’ll say it again – your business is not your baby. I remember watching this powerful interview of a lady in America who had a bakery. It was doing very well in the town it was in, she was very proud of it and very emotionally attached to it but she needed help to grow, so she brought in two partners. She trusted them and sold third shares to each. Then they ganged up against her and fired her. She was marched from her own bakery at gun point (as you do in America). After the pain of losing her baby she decided that she wouldn’t get angry she would get even. So she started a new bakery business, but this time she decided she wouldn’t get emotionally attached to it. She approached it as a strategic exercise and within a few years had a chain of bakeries across America… whilst her old bakery with its two partners stayed small. I remember her saying that by not seeing it as her baby she could focus on what was really important and grow a business that wasn’t dependent on her.

And back to my earlier blog about exit and creating a valuable asset… a business depending on its owner has no value and no one will buy it. So you have to have removal of dependency on you as a key objective for your business over time.
But how do you do it?
In the early years of business growth, it is to be expected that the business will be dependent on the owner. To go into business and not expect to give it your all in the early years could be somewhat naive. So the goal is to lessen this dependency over time.
There really are only 4 ways to decrease dependency on the owner of a business.
1. Technology – in today’s world, it’s never been easier to find ways to use technology to help scale a business without necessarily using more of your time. In my pet care business, our sophisticated matching and booking system took care of the administrative side of the business for us. Our pet carers and clients met online, they got in touch with each other, they arranged the care they needed together and when the job was completed, the pet carer logged back into the system to close the job online, enabling them to go into the payroll system. Head office was responsible for recruitment, training and marketing. We built a team of 150 pet carers nationwide with a headquarters consisting of just 3 people working part time from home.

2. Products – it’s possible to build value into your business in ways that grow the revenue without growing the need for you to service your customers. This is true particularly in service businesses, where the value is derived from the exchange of expertise for money. Turning the expertise into products that can ideally create recurring revenue can be a way to both increase value and decrease dependency. For example, I have a client who creates internal process systems for his clients. He is creating software that will enable clients to map all their systems and host in one place for easy access. Clients will pay his company to set up the systems then pay a monthly license fee to access the platform that hosts their systems map. Staff can log in and access any information they need at any stage of a process, without having to ask anyone.

3. Systems – what’s clever about the product being created above is that my client recognizes the need for good processes and systems within any organization. If staff know what to do and how to do it at any time, things run smoothly without needing the owner to tell them what to do all the time. Growing a business requires consistency of delivery to your growing customer base. Everyone needs to know what to do and how to do it – the way you want it done – time and time again. The only way to ensure this happens is to document what you want done and how you want it done… then ensure everyone involved knows about it. There is a chapter on creating systems in my book “Liber8 your Business.”

4. Team – a business cannot grow without people. And you will never be free or create true value in your business without a team. People will set you free. You need to create the systems and the culture you want to invite people into, then find the best people you can to join you on your journey. This in turn means you have to learn how to be a leader and a manager. In my experience this is one of the hardest things about growing a business… you have to confront your own leadership style, learn to let go, learn to trust and be willing to let people make mistakes with your business. Which brings me right back to ‘your business is not your baby’. If you are too emotionally invested, you will struggle to allow others the opportunity to grow with your business. You will hold the reins too tight and slow down your own progress. Learning to build a high performance team is not easy… but it is totally necessary. The Liber8 Academy has a good pool of experts who can help you with this, if you are willing and able to do what it takes.

Exercise
Grab that big piece of blank paper again (I have several A3 pads lying around my office and house so I can pour out my thinking at any time). Write in the middle: “Decreasing dependency on me” then put 4 headings: Technology; Products; Systems; Team. Under each heading brainstorm ideas that will free you and your business over time. Write down as many ideas as you can without questioning the practicality of your ideas. When you’ve exhausted your thinking, go back and circle the ideas that have the most merit, and then the ones that you can begin to implement sooner rather than later. Remember, you can’t decrease dependency quickly, it takes time. You need to build it into your long term and short term planning. Financial freedom will come when you have a business that operates smoothly and profitably without you having to be there all the time.

As always feel free to email me with your questions and ideas at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

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PS.Want to build that business that is not dependent on you?  The 2106 Acceler8or Programme kicks off late July and will be transforming life and business for 10 committed business owners. There is a big early bird saving to be had, check out the programme by clicking here then get in touch for the details.

 

 

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 2 …

K91LZQUBJI (4)Here it is … key 2 of my 8 keys to a bigger, better business. These keys are aimed at ambitious business owners, those looking to create something of significant value both in terms of what you offer and in terms of what your business is ultimately worth financially. Getting bigger and better isn’t necessarily easy, but if you’re up for it, read this key and think about the exercise at the end before the next blog.

Key Number 2.  Create an asset not a job

If your business is dependent on you for its survival, if it can’t survive for more than a few months without you being there to keep it going… and you haven’t got a plan to change this over time… you haven’t created a business, you’ve created a job.

The difference between an owner operator and a wealthy entrepreneur is that an owner creates a job whereas an entrepreneur sets out to create an asset.

An asset is something that will feed you income even when you are not working… which means it has to have value. A business that is a true asset has to generate profits without dependency on you, and it has to grow value over time so that someone else would want to pay you significantly more than you’ve invested (including your time, sweat equity, opportunity costs and money) in it.

So if you are serious about building a bigger, better business… you have to ask yourself now, have you created a job or an asset? Where is the real value in your business? Is it you and your talent and your skills? Or have you created value through systems, product and team?

And you have to ask yourself if you are willing to make the necessary changes. Because doing what it takes to move from a small business to bigger business, one that has true financial value, takes a shift in mindset. Are you willing to do what it takes to make this shift or would you rather stay inside your comfort zone?

The answers to these questions will determine whether its worth you reading my next 6 keys on creating a bigger, better business.

Exercise

Answer the question honesty: Have you created an asset or a job?

If its the former… you are on the right track, so what needs to happen to increase the value of your asset? Write down the 5 key strategies you have in place to ensure growth.  (Keep reading my keys… we’ll cover this).

If it’s the latter… do you really want to change this? Think about your comfort zone … how willing are you to get uncomfortable in order to grow? In my experience, only those willing to make changes in mindset will do what it takes to create a valuable business. It isn’t for everyone but it is worth it.

As always feel free to email me at laura@liber8u.com with questions or ideas on this topic, or leave a comment below.

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The 2016 Elev8or Group is coming soon!

For ambitious business owners who want to create an asset not a job.  Only 10 business owners will be selected to join … are you ready for it?  Click here for more information.

 

 

 

What makes a saleable business?

In this video, I’m talking to a large group of business owners about creating success in business. And as those who know me will tell you, my definition of success when it comes to business is … to build an asset that ultimately feeds you financial freedom for the rest of your life.

If you ever want to sell your business (and even if you don’t) there are 9 key elements that make a business ultimately valuable and saleable:

  1. Great product – meets a need/Clear niche
  2. Great model – scalable/growth potential
  3. Great brand
  4. Great reputation
  5. Great customer base
  6. Great cash flow – Locked in revenues
  7. Great team
  8. Great systems
  9. Great financial model

Take a look at the 4 minute clip above to hear more about these… and if you want to start creating that valuable business sooner rather than later, email me today about the 2015 Acceler8or Programme.

10408030_10153303069549365_3957956822873282887_nThe Liber8 Acceler8or Programme is designed to help business owners build valuable businesses… sooner rather than later.

The 2015 programme now kicks off with a workshop 28/29 July. Email me now laura@liber8u.com if you’d like more information.

Does your business ever feel like a life sentence?

My early mentor in business was Robert Kiyosaki. I studied with him all around the world, long before he wrote the Rich Dad Poor Dad books.  One day, at his business school in Hawaii I was sitting next to him at dinner.  We were talking about finding your life purpose and building a business around this.  I asked Robert how to find my purpose, my passion.  He replied, “Laura, you’ll find what you love by looking at what you hate most.”

This thought stuck with me and over time, as I’ve worked with and talked to hundreds of business owners, I realised that what I hate is seeing small business owners becoming slaves to their business – after setting out with a dream of creating their own destiny, being their own boss, running their own lives, they find themselves chained to a business that doesn’t pay them enough, works them too hard and impinges on their quality of life.  It’s not supposed to be like this.

The team at Liber8 are committed to setting small business owners free.  To help them create businesses that are not dependent on the owner for survival, that can grow and prosper and pay the owner back handsomely for all their hard work.

Are you ready to turn your business into a valuable asset?

We’re running our 2015 Acceler8or Programme with a workshop kicking off very soon – designed to help you build an asset not a life sentence.  If you’d like to know more about it, email me laura@liber8u.com and we’ll send you some information.  It’s for a small, select group of business owners how are ready to build the business that sets them financially free.  Are you one of them?

Be free and happy!

motivation-new

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Plan your business with the exit in mind… a mantra I never grow tired of!

If every business owner started their business knowing it was meant to be an asset not a job, we would be a nation of wealthy entrepreneurs and one of the leading economies in the world. My mission is to help every business owner I come into contact with grow a business as it should be… something extraordinary that they can eventually exit from and leave a legacy of greatness.  This short clip explains this… take a look.

Does this sound like something you’d really like from your business?

If so you might want to join us on the ultimate journey to create financial freedom from your business… The all New Acceler8or Programme kicks off this month. We’re helping passionate business owners build the business they really deserve. Click here today for more information.

Yours in freedom and happiness

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3 steps to turning your business into a valuable asset

11156283_10153303242804365_8882445748495223375_nThe Liber8 team held a powerful workshop a few weeks ago.  Twelve people in a room had the courage to look at their mindset around money, wealth and business.  On their feedback sheet after the workshop, 80% of them mentioned the realisation that a business should be an asset not a job, and the keys to getting there were key out-takes for them.  This is what we teach at Liber8.  We are passionate about it and we strongly believe that if every business owner in New Zealand set out to create an asset rather than a job, we would see a very different economy and a very different Country.

In a moment I’ll share three of the keys to building a valuable business… but first let me explain this flip chart from the workshop.

If you business requires you to go to work every day in order for it to continue to exist… and you don’t have a plan to change this in the future – you don’t have a business, you have a job.  And it may even be a job that pays you less than someone else would pay you to do the same job, makes you work twice the hours, puts too much stress on you and doesn’t let you take enough holidays.  Sound familiar?  A job is something that pays you some income, but doesn’t allow you to build wealth on the way.

If your business is able to generate income without you having to be there – it has become an asset.  If your business has value to someone else, who would like to pay you a significant sum of money to buy it – it has become asset.  An asset will feed you long after you stop working.

Which is your business?  A job or an asset?

If it’s still a job, don’t panic.  Every business starts out that way.  But its the business owners who make a conscious decision to transform it into an asset over time that really win.  This is what we teach at Liber8.  Financial freedom by turning your business into an asset.

Here are just three of the steps we encourage our members and clients to take:

1. Decide that you want to create a valuable business not just a job for yourself.  Think about your own mindset and paradigm, what are you telling yourself on a regular basis that would prevent you from striving for this.  Question your own belief systems around growth, wealth and what is possible for you and your business.

2. Address your business model.  What is holding back the growth right now?  Have you created something that is very dependent on you?  If so, what changes could you implement that would reduce this dependence?  Do you need to find a way to duplicate what you do and train others to deliver?  Do you need systems and products that can deliver without you?

3.  Create recurring revenue streams.  The most valuable businesses are those where cash flow can be predicted into the future.  Clients who are locked in to regular income – income not dependent on the owner – this is where value is created.  There are many examples of business models with this value well and truly in place.  I will share some of these in my next blog.

In the meantime, think about the three steps above.  And feel free to email me with your questions at laura@liber8u.com

Yours in freedom

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The all new Acceler8or Programme

We are looking for business owners ready to get serious about transforming their business into a valuable asset.  Our next Acceler8or Programme kicks of end of July.  Do you think you have the right mindset to join us?  Email me laura@liber8u.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

“Starting a business is easy. Creating something of value is harder”

 

TVNZ Interview

TVNZ Interview

If you have a few minutes, take a look at this interview with me on TVNZ Good Morning show earlier this week. To be honest I was quite thrown by the questions asked. I had expected it to be a jolly chat about my book, with a view to inspiring some talented mums at home to consider the opportunities, just like I had. I wasn’t expecting the first question:

 “Why do you think anyone can start a business?”

Wow, that made me think. Watch as I look up into my brain for the answer.

And then it came to me, starting isn’t the hard part. Anyone can start a business. But not everyone has the vision and the fortitude to make it work.

In the interview, I end up back on my own soapbox, showing how passionate I really am about the need to approach business with a long-term view in mind.

The good news is that I got to explain my mantra – ‘start at the end and work backwards’. Think about where you are taking the business and what you want out of it financially, as well as what you want to do right here and now. Plan your business properly – start with a good idea and a clear market for it – and be clear what the end game is.

I’m not sure I inspired those stay at homes to launch into business tomorrow, but I did get to say my piece. The reason I do what I do – helping small business owners become big business owners by planning their way to financial freedom.

I hope things are going well for you in your business right now. I’d love to help you plan your end game and plot the course to get there.

Acceler8me 2014 kicks off July 3rd – for business owners serious about growth. You can find out more about it here – just use the enquiry form supplied to have a chat about it.

Hope to see you soon!

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Do you have what it takes to grow? The 2 qualities every serious entrepreneur needs

growthThere are only two things I look for when it comes to choosing a business owner I want to work with, or who I invite to join my mentoring programmes.  If I see these two things I know this business owner has a chance at building something amazing – with a little guidance, a lot of determination and a commitment to thinking strategically.

So what are they?  These two things… let’s take a look:

1.  A willingness to grow.  This might seem obvious but when I work with people I often have to battle the mind before I can help uncover the potential.  Too many small business owners are exactly that … small business owners.  They live inside a comfort zone of their own creation. It’s warm and snuggly and safe. But it’s also restricting, limiting and stifling.  When someone really wants to grow, I know I can help them.  When they don’t, I can’t.  It’s that simple.  If I ever invite you to work with me, I will interrogate your willingness to have your comfort zone expanded, along with your dreams.

2. A business model capable of growth.  Even with the strongest desire in the world to grow, you have to have a business model that is capable of expansion.  There has to be a market for what you offer, a need for what you sell and a business structure that can scale up.  If a business owner has the willingness to grow, we can work with a business model and if necessary change it to allow for growth.  But there has to be a willingness to change if this is necessary.

So how do you think you shape up against these two criteria?  Are you willing to grow?  Are you willing to challenge your business model and explore re-engineering to enable growth if necessary?

If the answer is yes to these questions, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m about to launch my annual Acceler8me Programme for business owners seriously looking to grow.  I have two more spots to fill.  Could you be one of them?

If you are willing to move outside of your comfort zone and explore the true potential of your business, email me here today  and I’ll tell you more about the programme.

Growth isn’t always easy.  But you don’t have to do it alone. I’m here to help.

Talk soon

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From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and publisher of multi-award winning book Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free