The Pillars to Successful Business Growth Strategy Series. Pillar 1 – Your Product


pillar-of-autumn-1541725-639x979A successful business is made up of 6 pillars to success, with each needing equal amounts of attention, talent, passion and skill for a business to succeed. Most business owners put their energy into one or two pillars, usually where their comfort zone lies. But business owners who recognise the need for improvements across all pillars have a far better chance at success.

In this blog series we look at each pillar in turn and discuss strategies and ideas for you to improve in each.

 

liber8-pillars-chart-450x289

Pillar 1. Your Product

This is where every business owner starts. Some (most) start with an idea of something they feel passionate about and want to build a business around. This might be a product they’ve seen and want to sell, or something they want to build, or a service they want to deliver, often based around their own skill set or experience. Others (less frequently) start with a need or gap they see in the market and create a service or product specifically to address that need or gap.

The latter often have a better chance at growth. But why?

It’s called product/market fit. The better the fit, the better the chance at success – especially if the market that needs your product is big enough and has enough customers willing to pay a good price, with good margins for you.

Step 1

Step one to successful product development is to ensure there is a need for it and a market big enough to enable growth. You can do this in the early stages of business by creating simple versions of your product or service and testing it with sample groups of customers who represent your market. If you’ve been going for a while and sales are continuing to grow, then you have proven there is a need for what you sell. If sales are not going so well, you need to look at your product/market fit as well as your marketing. A simple survey out to those customers you do have could tell you a lot about what you need to do to improve your product to make it more appealing.

Step 2

Step two is to ensure you position your product to its market in such a way that it is seen as a more attractive option to all the other products out there. This positioning will form the first strategy in your marketing map (which I explain in detail in a later blog in the series), but before you even get to marketing it, you need to be confident your product is exactly what people want. Again, a survey to existing customers could give you some valuable information about how they see your product as compared to the competition out there.

Step 3

Once you are sure there is a need and you know what it needs to be to fit the need – is to make your product or service the best it can possibly be. This is called product development and of course, is an on-going process that lasts the life of your business. All great companies keep improving their products and services, and they have to keep up with the ever-changing needs in the market. You simply cannot sit still and expect that what you sold last year and the year before will remain relevant tomorrow – especially when things are moving so fast now. Technology is creating new and different solutions to old problems all the time. New, agile companies are challenging existing solutions and finding faster, cheaper ways for customers to get the same outcomes. So you have to keep moving, evolving and challenging your product development.

Step 4

Step four is to know when good enough is good enough. By this I mean that although your product or service is at the very epicentre of your business, and you have no business at all without it, you have to remember that it is only one of the six pillars you need to focus on. If you spend all your time delivering the best service, or crafting the perfect product, and none of it on the rest of the business pillars … your business won’t grow. So make it great, but know when it’s good enough to allow you to put your energy into the other pillars.

In my experience, small business owners spend the majority of their time and energy on perfecting their product or service… but often at the expense of increasing their knowledge and skills in other areas such as marketing or finance.

What about you? How much time do you spend working on, delivering or improving your product versus the other pillars?

Does your product meet the ever-changing needs of your market?

Exercise:

If you haven’t done a survey out to your customer base for a while, now could be a good time to do it. Find out what their current needs are, who else they are using to meet those needs, and what they’d like to see more of (or less of) from you to ensure you continue to remain relevant and necessary in their world.

Happy Growing!

laura-signature

 

 

 

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

screenshot-2016-11-13-12-45-26

 

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!

laura-signature

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 4 …

SF8YGVOUL8Many business owners put all of their energy into the product they make or the service they deliver. Of course it’s important to have a fantastic offer and build customers who love what you do. But the real asset in your business – the thing that’s going to make it valuable – is the business model itself.  How is the business structured to enable growth?  If you were able to spend less time delivering what you offer and more time thinking about how to grow your capability and your market… what would your business become?

Key number 4.  Focus on your business model

If you are going to create an asset – a valuable business that will pay you back for all your hard work – it has to be scalable. It has to be able to grow. Which means you need to think as much about how you do business as what you actually sell.

In a simple services model, like my advertising agency, my growth model was always going to be systems and team.  I needed to build a team that would deliver the result as well as I could… time after time after time.  So I planned for this and put energy into this.

With my pet care services business we used technology to take care of all of the administrative side of the business – a sophisticated search and booking system allowed clients to find and book their pet carers. Head office didn’t have to do anything other than recruit and train carers, and marketing. Our model was infinitely scalable with minimal effort.

So think now about how your business model works and what needs to be changed or re-designed to enable growth.

A note on recurring revenue

The most valuable businesses to a future buyer are those with recurring revenue – money that comes in regularly every month without having to get a new sale. In my ad agency we had most of our clients on fee based contracts, so we knew exactly what was coming in. Most contracts were for three years, so we could plan our growth in advance.  Other recurring revenue models are subscriptions, memberships, franchise or license fees or product dependency (This is where you sell a piece of equipment – say a photo copier or printer, that requires the customer to buy ink, toner and paper every few months for the life of that machine).

If you can build recurring revenue into your business model, you can greatly assist your ability to scale and grow.

Exercise

Two things you can think about now – what do you need to change to enable your business to scale, and how could you add some recurring revenue to your business?  Grab a big pad of blank paper, or white board.  Grab your partners, or your key staff, or your business coach, advisors, friends… whoever you can get to share some time with you.  Brainstorm the growth potential for your business… what impediments do you have to growth, and what can you do to overcome them?  And how can you build recurring revenue into the model?

As always, feel free to email me with ideas or questions.  Love to help if I can.

Happy growing :)

laura-signature

Newsflash!  Early bird price for 2016 Group Programme ends soon.

The 2016 Acceler8or Group Programme kicks off late July. The programme takes 10 business owners on a 12 month journey to discover the true potential of their business and how they can ultimately create financial freedom through business.  To find out more click here or just email me at laura@liber8u.com to find out more about pricing, early bird deals etc.

Acceler8or Testimonial:

“This has been the best money that I have spent on education ever! My business has gone forward in giant steps that I could not have imagined taking 12 months ago. The program has more than lived up to my expectations, the skills and tools that I have learnt have helped me immensely. I have a solid plan to work to and my business is achieving great numbers. As a result of the program we have changed our image and direction and are making strong confident steps in an area of the global market that I would never have imaged one year ago. I have hired great staff and added brilliant contractors that perform with excellence and have given me great standing amongst my A List Clients. My confidence in my own abilities to lead a team on a successful challenge has risen. We have really kicked some great goals on an international level over the past few months. I believe this is totally due to Laura’s coaching. As a company we have a vision and the brand is performing to expectations. Planning and budgets are now high on my list. I would totally recommend the programme to any business owner who is serious about stepping up. If you have the product this is the course that will take you to the top.”

8 principles of brand building every business owner must know

brand manOk here comes another rant.  Something else I feel PASSIONATE enough to SHOUT ABOUT IT.  Today’s outpouring is about your brand… and why if you seriously want to grow, you must take this subject very seriously indeed.

I do believe the power of a company’s brand is the single most misunderstood and under appreciated aspect of doing business.

I also believe it’s this simple – businesses with a great brand give their shot at major success a MASSIVE (I’m shouting again) BOOST.

In other words, those that understand brand do better than those who don’t.

Having said this, I’m no brand expert, so I struggle to find ways to articulate the importance of this to my clients – the people I most want to succeed.  So I went in search of some wisdom from someone who can tell you what I really want you to know.

I found this article featuring Scott Bedbury, who grew Starbucks and Nike into global brands (I think you’ll agree that earns him the right to talk about the topic!).  Here he gives us his eight brand building principles – I think every one is a winner, so please read the article fully and think about your own brand as you do so… just click the link below.

Scott Bedbury’s 8 Principles of Brand Building

Please believe me, if you focus on your brand as much as your product, you will grow your business.  It is a worthwhile investment of time and money.

So read Scott’s thoughts and let me know your own thoughts…

Be smart, be brave, be free :)

laura-signature

 

 

 

 

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

laura-signature

 

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

laura-signature

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

laura-signature

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2 critical factors to business growth that no one else talks about…

tiger kittenIn recent months my business partner, Mike Brunel*, and I have been helping a number of small business owners overcome their blocks to business growth. And as we dig deeper into what it really takes to grow a business, we have had an epiphany that we’d like to share with you…

There are 2 critical factors to business success that NO ONE talks about.

And in our view, it’s time this changed… because if you understand these 2 factors and embrace them in your business …. You WILL SUCCEED and you can grow an EXTRAORDINARY business.

So what are they then, these 2 secret factors? Let us share them with you…

  1. Mindset. The first factor involves your appetite for growth in the first place. How big are you really willing to grow? What limitations are you putting on your business before it even gets started? Have you even thought about the true potential for your business? What are your attitudes to wealth? What is your relationship with money? Are you sitting inside a comfort zone that is restricting the potential of your business? As the Liber8 team investigates these questions with our clients, we are witnessing huge mindset shifts that enabling growth that simply didn’t exist before.
  2. Model. Once you adopt what we call the ‘growth mindset’, the next critical success factor is your business model. Do you have a model that is capable of growth? Where is your current model restricting growth? How can you re-engineer it to be less dependent on you and more scalable? Is your offering positioned to take advantage of the largest market open to you? Have you thought about the model underpinning your business? Have you explored the potential you are sitting on?

Until you address these two critical factors, it doesn’t matter how many courses you attend, or what tricks you learn… you remain in danger of standing in the way of your business’ true potential. You won’t see the shift from ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY until you step outside of your comfort zone and explore what’s truly possible.

The Liber8 team are building Mindset & Model into all our materials – programmes and products – from now on. We’ll keep you informed on how you can take on the challenge to allow your business to be EXTRAORDINARY.

Be prepared for significant break throughs!

laura-signature

Mike Photo JB* Meet Liber8 Mentor, Mike Brunel. Like me, Mike has successfully built and sold a business. Unlike me, Mike’s business was global – with offices all over the world. Like me (and every other successful entrepreneur I’ve ever interviewed), Mike had humble beginnings. He began as a sheep shearer and then door-to door salesman. I began as secretary. We both built successful business. But we are neither one of us trained business people. The Liber8 motto is “if we can do it, anyone can do it!”.  We hope you’ll be joining us on Liber8 programmes soon.

“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!

laura-signature