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

pen and padWhen it comes to business success, there is an underlying trait that every smart entrepreneur has – not just the ability to have a good idea, create a business, to set a vision and dream a dream – but the ability to see it through.

One of the biggest personality disorders I see among business owners is what I call the ‘magpie syndrome’.  This is the tendency to drop everything and run off after the next bright, shiny idea.  I see it all the time. It’s a lack of focus and often stems from not having a clear end goal and a business plan. Sometimes chasing another opportunity pays off, but more often it just weakens focus, takes your eye off the ball and often has a financial cost too.

Key number 8. Be disciplined

The disciplines of business involve having a long term and short term business plan with clear objectives and strategies. It means having an annual budget with forecasts, monthly actuals, clear reporting. It involves having clear job descriptions and performance reviews for everyone including the owners.  It means doing a proper business case to support a decision to do something that isn’t in the annual plan.

So many business owners I start working with are really sloppy when it comes to the infrastructure of their business – they don’t have a business plan, don’t have a budget, don’t set targets and do not have good reporting in place. They have no mechanism for monitoring and measuring their progress. And as a result they often find themselves running round and round the hamster wheel, working hard and going nowhere.

You have to be disciplined.  Business isn’t a fairy tale and it won’t have a happy ending if you don’t learn the rules of business and apply them thoroughly.

Exercise:  Rate your discipline

Do you have a clearly articulated and purpose for your business?  Yes/No

Do you have a business plan that can be shared with your team each year? Yes/No

Do you have measurable targets in place?  Yes/No

Do you have clear and regular financial reporting in place to monitor progress? Yes/No

Do you have a budget forecast that is updated and used as a management tool?  Yes/No

Do you use a business case study approach to making decisions?  Yes/No

Do you run regular performance reviews with your team Yes/No

If you answer mostly yes, you are applying a disciplined approach to business… it will help you grow for sure.

If you answer mostly no, you are most likely taking a more random approach to business which will likely be an impediment to growth.  A willingness to put more structure and focus into your business practices will help you grow, seek some assistance now to ensure you run your business the way it should be run.

As always feel free to email me questions or ideas at laura@liber8u.com

Happy growing!

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PS. Early bird pricing for 2016 Acceler8or Programme ends soon.  This is a 12 month journey to accelerated growth you’ll never forget, please email me at laura@liber8u.com for more information. If you are serious about growth or creating financial freedom from your business sooner rather than later, you will want to be involved.  Only 3 places left.

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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What’s the best weapon for world domination in business? A brilliantly simple tip…

DictaphoneCylinderGuest story with Mike Brunel

How did we take a small Wellington based radio sales consultancy business and turn it into a global success story servicing 400 worldwide markets and selling to 320,000 people?  It all started with a Dictaphone. In the early days we worked out that we could show radio media companies how to move advertisers from a small two week campaign into a 52 week commitment.  I watched my business partner in action and realised that he always did the same thing.  He said the same words, made the same offers and got the same results.  I spent a week watching him, recording him and taking notes.  I created a sales system around what we did, with manuals clearly outlining every single word and action taken.  We then packaged up the system and began selling it to other media companies… all around the world.  In effect we turned a commodity into a system.  Now my business partners and I live in Wellington, our CEO is in Atlanta and we have offices in four different countries… all doing things exactly the way we would.

And so my tip for business owners who want to decrease reliance on you and create a leveraged business is to take time to document exactly what you do.  Use the microphone app on your iphone/android and record yourself as you go about your day… every single little thing that you do and say. Then get it transcribed and turn it into a manual… paper or computer based, whatever works for you.  It may seem laborious – and it is – but this is ultimately what will set you free.  Turn what you do well into a system.  Then train others to use it.

Mike Brunel is co-owner of NRS Media, currently working with over 400 major television, radio, and newspaper companies in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe, the United States, South America, Canada, South Africa, the African continent, Australia, and Asia, NRS Media has offices in London, Atlanta, Toronto, and Sydney and employs over 175 staff. Mike is available for sales training and consultations, email mike.brunel@talkingmediasales.com

 

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

 

To achieve a successful exit, it helps to view your business as a product…

man in jarA successful angel investor friend explained to me the concept of exit strategy like this:

To achieve a successful exit, it helps to view your business as a product. A good business person empathises with their customer and understands their reasons for buying your product. You know what need your product fulfils in the market and who will want to buy it. You use your expertise and experience to create the best possible product to meet this need. You build a relationship with potential customers with a view to making sales.

Now, step back and look at your business as a product. Why would someone want to buy your business in the future? Which companies could take your business and create more value with it? What needs do they have that your business could fulfil? How could you build your business to make it easy for them to acquire and integrate it with theirs? This is your market and selling proposition. And just as it takes time to build a customer base for your product, it takes time to build a relationship with your potential buyer. So start now.

Excerpt from Liber8 your Business: The revolutinary business planning technique that will set every business owner free

Here’s to a successful exit!

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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 #73 – If you build it will they come? @drrobadams

 “If you build it will they come?” is the title of a new book by Rob Adams.  I attended a workshop taken by Rob last week and was impressed enough to make it my next business mentor tip.  Forgive me Rob if my interpretation of your material in any way undersells it!

The key to successful business is having a product or service that enough people will buy to meet your financial targets.  Many (dare I say most) business start out with what Rob calls the ‘ready, fire, fire,fire, aim’ approach which typically goes like this.  Think of a product/service idea that you think people will love, get it ready for market, dress it up in the way you believe your target audience will find attractive and then attempt to sell it.  When sales don’t meet targets you re-visit your sales strategy and try again.  And again.  Sound familiar?

Well think again.  Surely a way to increase your chances of selling people what they want will increase if you ask them what they want and then deliver it to them in the way they want to receive it?  Or in other words as Rob Adams says … ‘ready, aim, fire’.

This is called market validation.  In essense this means that you go out to your market and find out what their problems are first.  Then you develop the product or solution that will meet those problems better than anything else out there.  You get it right before you invest in development and marketing.  It sounds so logical doesn’t it?

So how do you validate your market?  In Rob’s book ‘If you build it will they come?” he takes you through the methods and steps involved.  But before you rush off and buy it, I’ll share the tip he gave us at the workshop:

Before you launch anything new – a new product or service/a new brand or a new campaign – call up 100 people who represent your target market and ask them what they really need.   In Business Mentor Tip #63 – Gather Your Insights I gave you a list of questions that a someone developing a new business planning tool might ask.

In these questions you are looking for the problem to solve.  What frustrates people?  What annoys them with current options?  What are they trying to do that your product or service could make easier for them?  It’s all about easing pain.  Find the pain and offer the solution.  Ask questions that give you meaningful answers to help design your products and marketing campaigns to meet the need.

The added bonus is that people will pay more for something that makes them feel better.  If you can give them what they really want, they are happy to pay for it.

So… as you think about your product development and marketing from now on, remember, Ready, Aim, Fire!

You can buy your copy of Rob’s book here: http://www.amazon.com/You-Build-Will-They-Come/dp/047056363X

 

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

Business Mentoring Tip #61 – How to win a competitive pitch

Just finished the chapter in my book with the same heading, so thought an abbreviated version of this would make a great tip.

As you know, my advertising agency went from zero to billings over $15 million within nine years. To achieve this we had to win some pretty big pieces of business, often coming from the underdog position.  This blog post is based on my experience of what it takes to win business in a competitive situation. If you have a business that involves tender situations, where you’re up against other players to win business, these 11 tips will give you a good head start to winning.

1. Make sure you are invited.  If you have taken any notice of my previous tips you may well by now have created your “Wall of Fame”, listing your top 20 – 50 ideal clients.  The ones you’d love to win one day.  And you would also have contacted them – they know who you are.  If not… do it now, because you never know when such clients will decide to change supplier and go to market looking.  You must make sure you are on their hit list when they do.

2. Discover their needs.  Once you have been invited to tender, see if you can make an appointment to go visit the people who will be involved in the decision.  If not, get the phone number and give them a call if you can.  Be prepared with a list of questions to ask them.  You are on a mission to find out what they really need.  Here are some example questions:

  • What are you looking for in this relationship?
  • What are your core frustrations in this area right now?
  • What’s really working about your current strategies?
  • What’s not working?
  • What are your customers telling you?
  • What would you like them to be telling you?
  • What are your goals/sales objectives this year?
  • How would you describe your ideal relationship with the successful supplier?

3.  Ask their customers. Once you’ve found out as much as you possibly can from the client themselves, go interview the people who represent their customers and find out what their needs are. Show that you know the market.

4. Get the right team.  When you are very clear what the potential client is really looking for, you must make sure you have the right skills and experience on the team you put forward for this business. Make sure you put forward those on your team that have either worked in the same industry or have got something to add that this client was looking for. If you don’t, be prepared to bring in a ‘ringer’ (a substitute with exactly the skills you need) or as many ringers as you need.

5. Write a damn good brief. Before you start to try and solve the problem or develop your approach, create a briefing document you can share with your team.  Put down everything you’ve learned from your meetings and research – the background, all of the objectives as you understand it, the clients’ real needs, the customer needs that you’ve uncovered, and the key insights that you think will help win this pitch.

6. Develop your strategy. When everybody on the team knows what the client’s looking for, you need your strategy for how you are going to win this account.  What have your insights told you?  What can you suggest to the client that is going to make a difference to them?  How are you going to show them that you are the best company for the job?

7. Create a theme. Once you’ve done all that, as part of coming up with your strategy for your pitch, develop a theme, be creative.  A theme ties your whole presentation together – your document, your powerpoint slides, your follow up.  You can base your theme around one of the insights you’ve discovered.  Or around one of the key messages you are giving about yourself.  For example, if you are showing the benefits of a smaller, more responsive company over the larger, more expensive companies, you could theme your proposal around “Boxing above our weight”.  Give it a boxing them, use boxing gloves as your icons for points being made.  We did exactly this one time when pitching for an account.  We even had the ding ding sounds of the bell in the ring each time we changed powerpoint slide!

8.  Plan your presentation well.  Carry the theme through to your presentation, so your t-shirt, your Power Point headings, everything about your presentation is themed so that you look really cohesive.  Make sure in your presentation that you cover off all their requirements, make sure you checklist everything that they’ve asked for in their original tender document plus everything they’ve told you when you’ve met with them.  Make sure your presentation has a really good flow, allocate time well, don’t go over time. Make sure each team player has a clear role. And here’s the most critical thing – practice, practice, practice.  I’ve put that three times for a reason – because you should practice at least three times!

9. Send a teaser.  Here’s how you can get a head start over the others. If you are going to present, or even before you send the main document, send out a teaser.  Something that gives them a taste of the brilliance to come.  Get them excited about your proposal before they’ve even seen it.

10. Show your passion.  On the day of the presentation, just throw it out there. Be excited by what you’ve come up with, excited by the thought of working with this client. Have them walk away thinking that team really, really wants this business and they’re going to work hard for us – they’re the ones we want to work with.

11. Follow up.  After you’ve done your presentation, leave behind a great document summarizing everything you’ve presented.  Then a few days afterwards, send everyone who was on the panel a follow up.  Ideally, a fun little gift along the theme of your presentation.  And a thank you card.  Show them once again how much you want the business and give them a sense of what a great company you’d be to work with.

Next time you are in a competitive tender situation, pull these tips out.  Then go get ’em!

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

 

Business Mentoring Tip #57 – How to make a tough decision without losing sleep

There is no doubt.  As a business owner you will have tough decisions to make.  Sometimes it might feel this is almost on a daily basis. Should you invest in that overseas training right now?  Should you bring on that next staff member?  Should you re-brand now or wait until next year?

There is a regular onslaught of decisions to be made when running a business.  And sometimes the decision will be made tougher by not knowing how to approach the decision making process itself.

Over the years I have worked out a formula to help with these tough decisions:

1.  Get a big piece of paper (yes, that’s pretty much my step one for most problems in life!)

2. Write the question at the top

3. Explore the options.  If you don’t do this thing, what else could you do?  Why are you thinking about it and what other options are there that could get you the same outcome?  List and articulate each option.

4. When you’ve exhausted the options, write a list of pros and cons for each option.

5.  Work out the cost/ROI scenario for each option.  What will it cost in money/time/effort?  What will it return to the business and how quickly? What are the opportunity costs if you don’t follow this option versus one of the others.

6. Compare each option.  Which one has the most pros and the least cons, which one has the most potential ROI in the shortest time?

7. Select the option that stacks up the best.

I am confident that just by following this process the right decision will become apparent.  And not only that you will also feel confident in the decision you have made and not lose sleep over it that night.  This alone is worth the hour or so it will take you to do this exercise.  Happy decision making!

 

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

 

Who are your business super heros?

Thankfully successful business people don’t wear tights and cape, get dressed in a phone box or fly through the air.  But I think all of us in business have business super heroes out there who we truly admire.   Those who have shown us greatness, not just in their business success, but in who they are as people.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit as I subscribe to various blogs, facebook pages and twitter accounts.  What am I looking for?  What is going to inspire me and others?  As I carry out research for my own book about business, I have to ask myself constantly … what makes a really successful business person great and why should I write about them?  What do I love about them?

For me what defines a business super hero is not just someone who has made a lot of money.  But someone who has created a phenomally successful global business that becomes a game changer, that makes a difference to our lives.  And yet, even this isn’t enough for me.  What makes me really put a business leader up there on that pedestal is the quality of caring shown by the individual.  Billionaires who care.  Billionaires who make a difference.  Billionaires who show us all the values that make them a first class human being, not just a first class business person.

With this said, I can name my top 5 favourite business super heroes:  Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Anita Roddick, Robert Kiyosaki and Oprah Winfrey.

For me each of these people represents something important in this world… they show us that you can be wildly successful and in doing so make a difference to millions of people.

Who would you put on your top 5 business super hero list?  And why?

Business Mentoring Tip #47 – What’s your Mission Possible?

I’ll keep the tips even more simple today.  Facebook’s mission is ‘to make the world more open and connected’… what’s yours?

If you are following my blogs with any regularity you will know I am mad keen on all businesses having a purpose and a mission.  They are much the same thing… a reason for being that is greater than the company itself and beyond the making of money.  Think about your mission … what is your business doing here?  Really? What value are you adding to the world by having your business succeed?

Believe me, the greater value your business adds the greater value added to your business.