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!

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Your business is like a shed! A lesson in successful business planning …

shed picHere’s something I tell business owners all the time… “your business is like a shed”.

Whaaaat??!!

Read on for the explanation…

If I asked you to build a shed, what would you do?  You would do what you do with any project, right?  You’d get a picture of what the shed is supposed to look like. You’d look at the plans and follow the instructions.  You’d get the right tools ready and you might even find someone else to help you build it, someone with better expertise in this type of construction.

The key distinction here is when you’re building a shed you know what it looks like, it’s a project.  And a business is a project too, albeit a fairly long one. It’s not something that’s going to go on forever. It’s going to have an end.  Just like any project, if you know what the end looks like you can devise the plan to get there.  It’s a simple concept really but so many people don’t start a business that way.  The majority start a business with no idea where it’s going.   As a result a lot of valuable time is lost following strategies and tactics that are not leading to the ultimate goal… to build a business that works without YOU.

So get your picture clear.  What does your shed look like?  When your business fulfils all of your dreams for it, what makes it so amazing?  Who are your customers?  What is your team like?  What does your office look like?  What’s so special about it?  Why do people love working there?  What makes it irresistible to clients and team members alike?  What makes your business a head and shoulders above the rest?

The clearer the picture of your future business you have, the better your chance of building it just like that.  

Liber8ing Exercise for today:  Spend 15 minutes with a blank sheet of paper and draw a picture (with words or diagrams) of what your business might look like in 5 or 1o years time.  Then think about the tools you might need to get on board today to help get there.

Have fun!

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PS.  For more guidance on creating a clear end picture for your business, my book Liber8 your Business offers a step by step guide

 

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

 

 

The ten traits of wealthy entrepreneurs. What are they and do you have them? Score yourself here

financial freedom imageOver the past two years I have interviewed over forty successful entrepreneurs.  My criteria for an interview subject is that they must have built and sold at least one successful business.  Many of them have been serial entrepreneurs – having created more than one business and learned many lessons along the way.

As I’ve talked to these people it has become apparent that they all share certain traits that ultimately lead to their success.  If you want to succeed at your business (of course you do), you could do worse than focus on developing the traits exhibited by the rich and free.  Work out which ones you have in abundance and work on the ones you don’t.

Take a look at the traits listed below and grade yourself on a score of 1 to 5, where 1 means ‘not at all’ and 5 means ‘totally got it nailed’, against each of the traits. Don’t feel you have to be close to a 5 score to be successful. This is a reality check to identify the areas you will need to work on as you grow your business.

10 Traits of wealthy entrepreneurs:

  1.  Vision. Rate the clarity of the vision you have for your business when it is complete and you’ve created financial freedom from it.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

  1. Self-belief. Rate your confidence in your ability to build a business that will generate great wealth and freedom for you.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

  

  1. Passion. Rate your passion for your business

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

  1. Being goal-orientated. Rate the clarity of the goals you have set for your business

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

  1. Planning. Rate your current plan for a business that will feed you wealth

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

  1. Being action-focussed. Rate your ability to take action as needed.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

  1. Determination. How do you rate your determination to succeed?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                     

 

  1. Willingness to fail. How would you rate your willingness to learn from failures?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

  1. Being wealth positive. How would you rate your willingness to be very wealthy?

 1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

  1. Giving back. Rate your desire to make a difference through your business

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 

Review your scores for each of the 10 traits. In which areas do you already feel strong? Which areas do you need to work on?   And what plan can you put in place to lift your game in your weaker areas?

In my book, Liber8 Your Business, I go into more detail about these traits and show you how to develop your strength in the areas you need to.  To be notified of the book launch just click here http://liber8yourbusiness.com/

 

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Small business mentors and publisher of Liber8 Your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every business owner free.

Pre-register for a copy of Liber8 Your Business here: http://liber8yourbusiness.com/

Find out about working with Laura here: http://www.liber8yourbusiness.com/one-on-one-mentoring-programme/

So what’s the big deal about having an exit strategy anyway?

Why do I keep blathering on about the importance of planning an exit strategy?  Good question.

Here’s an excerpt from my VERY SOON to be published book…

Chapter 6. Why an exit strategy?

‘Affairs are easier of entrance than of exit; and it is but common prudence to see our way out before we venture in.’

–          Aesop.

I love that quote. Aesop might have been talking about business. It is easy enough to start a business but not so easy to finish it with style and wealth. By building an exit strategy into your business plan you give yourself a much better chance of success.

An exit strategy is the most overlooked element in business planning. I’ve researched many books about business planning and services available to small business owners. Few highlight the importance of an exit strategy.

As I explained earlier in this book, a study by business information experts Dun & Bradstreet estimated the failure rate for new businesses was 70% to 80% in the first year and only about half who survived the first year would remain in business the next five years.

I think the failure rate is horrifically high, when you consider the statistics represent someone’s dreams, their hopes for a business that was meant to bring them joy. For every one of these failures, someone has put their heart, soul, time and money into an idea that didn’t work.

Why would someone walk away from their business without it ever paying them back for all their energy and effort?

Reasons businesses ‘fail’

  1. The main reason seems to be that owners get into business for the wrong reason. They have expectations of the business providing freedom, giving them control and the lifestyle they desire. In the first few years, the typical business is a giant blood -sucking monster. It is! It sucks out your time, it pulls on your money, puts you under stress and if you’re not prepared, or in it for the right reasons, you will walk away.
  2. The second most common reason is poor planning. Businesses charge ahead without  understanding the market,  or testing their assumptions about their product before they launch. They don’t know how to price correctly. They fail to plan for the long haul as well as the short-term.
  3. The third failure factor is a lack of capital. I estimate that running out of cash accounts for most of the 30% of companies that fail before their second anniversary. Too few business owners realise that a business can be a money drain and they need sufficient capital to keep it going. If you don’t understand that and are not prepared it can easily take you under.
  4. Poor management is the fourth factor and is really a combination of the three main reasons for failure. All sorts of areas in management can go wrong. Even with the best ideas, products and services, a poorly managed business can quickly cause its own demise.
  5. Poor marketing is another cause. You can have everything else sorted but you need to know how to tell people about it, in the right way, in the right place and at the right time to get people  to buy what you’re selling. If not, you will fail.

If you plan an exit strategy from the start and approach your business like a project, your chance of succeeding will significantly increase. The process of thinking about and planning your exit strategy will enable you to see your business as a long-term project with the achievement of a well-earned goal at the end. You’ll be amazed how time can fly. A business with no long-term goal can meander along, making a bit of money, keeping some clients happy, but taking its owners no closer to their life-long dream of being financially free to enjoy an old age free from worry.

Copyright 2012 by Laura Humphreys. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, whether electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author.

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From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.

Business Mentor tip #84 – Be wealth positive not money negative

By now you’ll be familiar with my belief that the purpose of a business is to create financially freedom for it’s owner.  Of course, you can’t be financially free without money. For most of us, we can’t live the life of our dreams and add value unless we have a healthy attitude to money. Mother Theresa, Buddhist monks and other humanitarians might be able to fulfil their purpose in life without money. But they are not reading this blog. They are not small business owner-operators looking to create freedom and wealth from their business. For those of us looking to make our way in business in western society, we need to love money, respect it and want to use it wisely. You’ll be amazed how many business owners I work with who limit their own success due to an ingrained fear of wealth.

 Changing negative beliefs

Is there anything buried in your psyche that limits your ability to build wealth from your business? Have you ever questioned what might be limiting you from creating a business that makes you a lot of money?

Here’s an exercise to help you check in with yourself about your own attitude to money and wealth. Find a pen and paper, and draw two columns. On one side, write the heading ‘Positive Attitude to Money’ and on the other, write ‘Negative Attitude to Money’.

 

Positive Attitude to Money Negative Attitude to Money

List as many things as you can in each column. Put your positive beliefs and feelings about money on one side and negative thoughts and feelings on the other.

What does this list tell you? If you have more negative thoughts on one side than positive, it’s possible you’ve got some negative beliefs that are holding you back. This will be true for many people.  If that’s the case for you, you might want to do some work about that. You might want to reconsider your underlying beliefs about money.  Contact me at laura@liber8yourbusiness.com if you’d like to know more about this.

 

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies. 

Business Mentor Tip #81 – Rate your scalability

I had a very enjoyable interview with John Holt (co-founder of HR Software provider Sonar6 which was sold to NASDAQ listed company Cornerstone On Demand) for my regular NZ Business Magazine column.  He said many wise things.

One was about a key factor a potential buyer would be looking for in a business to purchase.  And that was scalability.  Quick Wikipedia definition coming up:

Scalability is the ability of a system, network, or process, to handle a growing amount of work in a capable manner or its ability to be enlarged to accommodate that growth.

Or… does your business model support rapid and sustainable growth?

An interesting question and one I think every business owner should ask themselves right now.  What is your model for growth? And how will a future potential buyer be able to take your model and add it to their own for their own advantage?

Love to hear your comments on what makes a business scalable.

 

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Businses mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.

Business Mentor tip #79 – If Apollo 11 can be 97.5% off course, so can you…

You will know by now (if you’ve been reading my blogs or regular column in NZ Business Magazine; attending my talks or just following my random comments on Facebook or Twitter) that I am a dedicated believer in the power of forward planning.  To succeed you must have a clear goal and a plan to get there.  This I believe as strongly as I believe that Wellington is windy.  You must plan to build a great business.  It won’t happen by accident.

However, here’s something else that I believe with equal conviction  – your business plan will change along the way.  Once you’ve mapped out your direction, your business plan has to be flexible enough to allow you to adapt and correct as you go.  You must be willing to change your thinking and your model to keep abreast of the world we are living in.

In my soon to be released book The Liber8 Factor I talk about  how NASA used PERT (Performance Evaluation Review Technique) planning to put a man on a moon. How they set their end target then put their milestones in place. They began their planning in 1961 and gave themselves ten years to achieve their target (just as I did with my advertising agency and my goal to sell it). On July 16 1969, Apollo 11 was launched.  Four days later the lunar module, the Eagle, landed on the moon.

Do you know how much of the time the rocket was on track for its destination during those four days?

2.5%!

This means that 97.5% of the time the rocket was not on target.  So what on earth (or in space) was it doing?

It was correcting. As well planned as NASA ensured they were for that epic journey, they didn’t know exactly it would stay on track once it launched. They just knew it had to go in the right direction to reach the target.  Along the way it corrected and corrected, forming an imaginary zig zag pattern in space.

The lesson here is that it’s important to have an end goal and milestones but it’s equally important to keep reviewing and correcting as you go. You need to ensure your action steps to reach each milestone remain relevant to the trends and market influencers happening around you.

Goal. Plan. Review. Adapt. Got it?

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.

 

 

 

 

Business Mentor Tip #78 – Watch for changing paradigms

Although I teach business owners to set an end goal for their business and plot milestones back today, I always add the rule that you must stop and review your plan every year.  Yes do the macro work and aim for the big picture.  But keep your detailed planning for each year ahead. Attempting to plan action steps with any accuracy any further out than twelve months is not realistic, in my view.  Things are changing too fast these days and we are not supplied with a crystal ball.  Technology in particular is changing the business landscape faster than we can keep up with – the way we do things today will not be the way we will do things in a year or even in six months time.

Just look at good old telephone directories.  When was the last time you used a physical copy of a directory to find something?  If you are anything like me the answer to that question would be ‘years ago’.  Why would you bother with a hefty directory when you can ‘Google’ what you are looking for and have the answer at your fingertips in seconds, without getting up from your computer.  Printed directories have been money for jam for years and years, charging exorbitant amounts to advertisers to promote their business within the hallowed pages.  But now we don’t need them anymore.  Search engines such as Google have created a new paradigm for finding the person or business you are looking for.  Phone directories must now re-invent … and it isn’t easy.  They have been slow to realise their targets were based on a dying market and have a lot of work to do to ever find that lost market share again.  It’s the same story for the traditional post office.  Just take a look at the dramatic drop in mail volume for the United States in 2009.

This decline is continuing.  Of course we all use email now for our personal and business communication. I have not sent an invoice in the mail for years, have you? To survive, postal companies all around the world have to find a new model.  Any business plan they may have had prior to 2009 must be changed dramatically.

So look to the future and build a broad plan to get there.  But be sure to review your plan every year and keep an eye closely on the trends.  Always ask youself what the paradigm for your industry is and how could it be changing?  Better yet, find a way to be the one to change the paradigm yourself!

 

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.

10 beliefs that will change your life…

Do you believe your beliefs can change the way your life works?  I certainly do. The following 10 beliefs come from an article I just read at inc.com written by Geoffrey James and I was encouraged to see that I subscribe to these pretty much on a daily basis.  What about you?

10 powerful positive beliefs

  1. I always act with a purpose
  2. I take responsibility for my results
  3. I stretch myself past my limits daily
  4. I don’t wait for perfection; instead, I act now
  5. I learn more from failures than successes
  6. I take my job seriously, but do not take myself too seriously
  7. I use rejection to renew my humility and sharpen my objectivity
  8. I use both negative and positive feedback to keep on target
  9. I am careful about what I put into my mind and body
  10. I seek out people who are similarly motivated to improve themselves

What are the positive and negative beliefs you carry around with you that influence your behaviour on a daily basis?

You can find the article by Geoffrey James here: http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/positive-thinking-how-to-change-your-future.html

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.  Based in Wellington, New Zealand.

Business Mentoring Tip #63 – Gather your insights

Good marketing is about being very clear who it is you are trying to sell to. It’s about knowing your target audience well.  If possible get inside their minds and learn the triggers that will motivate them.  The more insights you have about your potential customers the better.

Discovering insights doesn’t have to be difficult.  At my advertising agency Red Rocks when we got a new client or were pitching for a piece of business, we would always start by putting our ‘insights’ together.  These insights told us the core messages we would build our campaigns around.  To learn these insights we would find people who represented a typical customer for our client and ask them questions. Sometimes we brought them together as a group and asked them their thoughts in a discussion type format.  Other times we would go out and about and ask people on location, in a shopping mall, at an event or typical situation (such as kids at a skate park if you were selling a new brand of scooter like MGP).

Example questions for ‘insight’ survey

If I were to launch a new business planning tool and wanted to gather some insights from the small business market, here are some questions I might ask:

  • What do you love about owning your own business?
  • What do you like least about owning your own business?
  • What is your biggest frustration as a small business owner?
  • On a scale of 1 – 5 (with 5 being excellent) how would you rate your confidence around business planning?
  • What aspects of running a business are you most confident about?
  • What aspects are you least confident about?
  • What topics in the area of business education would be most useful for you right now? Please list your top five.
  • Which of the following method for learning would you prefer?  Book/Live seminars/webinars/video seminars/ipad app/other (please list)

When you ask such questions of large enough groups of people you start to see some trends happening.  Themes will appear and from the themes come your insights.  If enough people are telling you the same frustrations, you know you have an opportunity to fix this for them with your approach.

 

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies. Based in Wellington, New Zealand.