How to grow your business… the Pillars to Business Growth Strategy Series

liber8-pillars-chart-450x289Nearly 5 years ago now, after selling my last business, I accidentally fell into being a business mentor. I found myself speaking at business networks, telling my story about how I went from being an advertising copywriter to creating and ultimately selling my own advertising agency… the approach I took, how I planned the sale right from the start, and what I learned about business along this way – with my agency and my subsequent pet care business. Before long people were asking me if I could help them turn their business into a valuable asset and my business mentoring career began.

 I get clearer and clearer all the time how best to increase a business owner’s understanding of the fundamentals that will determine whether they build a successful business that feeds them wealth and freedom into the future, or whether they build a hard working job that will stop feeding them income the minute they stop doing it.

Over the next seven blog posts I’m going to share the key pillars to growth I believe can help any business owner, regardless of their industry, get a better understanding of what they need to do to be a smart business person.

The Pillars of Business Growth Strategy

Firstly, in Blog 1 in the series, I’m going to explain what the Pillars of Growth Strategy is … and what it isn’t.

What is it not is a revolutionary new concept that will set the business world on fire. There’s nothing new in here. It’s business 101 really.

What it is, rather, is a hopefully easy to understand summary of the fundamentals of what any business needs to grow. It seems obvious to someone who’s been through the journey of creating a business, but experience now tells me that it is not obvious to most small business owners – it certainly wasn’t to me when I started.

Your product is not enough

I meet business owners all the time. They seek me out and ask me for help on a regular basis. I take on 10 – 15 new small business clients a year and work with them intensely for a 12 month period. What I see so often is that business owners typically focus all their energy into creating and delivering a great product or service, based around something they feel passionate about.

And of course, having a great product or service is important, and forms the first pillar in the Pillars To Growth Strategy.

What many business owners don’t do, or realise they need to do, is focus equal amounts of energy into the several other pillars that ensure your great product or service forms the centre of a great business – one that will ultimately have true value.

If you focus on all six of the pillars with equal enthusiasm, and apply yourself to learning what you need to ensure each is operating at maximum effectiveness, you will build a great business – one that is independent of you.

The 6 Pillars to Business Growth

The six pillars are:

1. Product – what you sell, and the need it meets in the market
2. Business model – Where you are taking this business, how it will make money and how it can scale/grow bigger than you
3. Delivery – how you take your product to market, your distribution channels, operational effectiveness and efficiency and the robustness of the systems that support this
4. Sales & Marketing – how you attract new customers and retain and grow your existing customers
5. Team – the structure of the organisation you need to build and the quality of the people you engage, the way you ensure high performance
6. Financials – how you keep tab on your performance by driving revenues and profits up, and the reporting around this that lets you know how you are going

Most business owners are good at a few of the pillars, where their natural skills and experience fall. For instance I was always good at the sales and marketing and ensuring great product delivery. But I sucked at financials and team building. I learned this the hard way, and had to surround myself with people who knew these areas better than me before my business could really grow.

How about you? Which are you best at and which do you avoid because they are outside your comfort zone?

Exercise
Look at each of the six pillars and rate your business 1 – 5 for each, with 5 being “Nailed it” and 1 being “Oh dear not really.”

If you accept your business needs to score a 4 – 5 in each pillar to be truly successful, what areas do you need to put more effort into? And what is your plan to achieve this improvement?

Next blog in series
In the next of the 6 Pillars to Business Growth blogs I’m going to take a look at the Product pillar and see what distinctions we can make to make this rock even harder for you.

Happy growing!

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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

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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.

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 6 …

NikeIn my view, branding is one is the most misunderstood and least valued weapons an entrepreneur has on the road to success.

To be blunt, I think one if the biggest differences between really successful entrepreneurs and small business thinkers is their commitment to having a powerful brand. If customers love your brand and your teams deliver on your brand promise, they don’t need to love you… and when customers love your business more than they love you… you’ve really nailed it!

Key number 6. Build a brand that stands for something

Your brand is not just a logo and a bunch of colours – despite what many graphic designers will tell you. It’s not what goes on your business card. It’s everything your company stands for. It’s driven by the difference your business is making in the world and by your company vision.  It influences how you stand out from your competitors, how your staff behave, how you approach your marketing and every other business strategy.

The best companies in the world have strong brands. Great CEOs understand what a brand is all about. As the CEO of your own business I encourage you to study branding… look at successful companies you admire, see if you can work out their strategy by studying their brand.

If you are going to invest in anything right now, I’d say invest in your brand. Talk to a good brand strategist and ask them to assess your brand.  And if they tell you that you need to do some work on it…. be willing to spend the money. Look at it as an investment in your future, not as an expense.

Exercise:  study branding

If you really do want to build a valuable business and be a wealthy entrepreneur rather than an owner operator, then you need to understand the power of your brand. If you do already, great. If not, it’s time to educate yourself. Look at brands you love and see if you can work out their business strategy from their brand. Compare your brand to a brand you believe to be really valuable.  How does it stack up?  Google articles on branding, see if you can really understand why a whole industry exists just to help people with their branding.  Why is it so important? Here are a couple of articles I found on the subject as a starter for 10:

http://www.slideshare.net/liquidbranding/branding-booklet-slideshow

http://www.slideshare.net/coolstuff/the-brand-gap

As always, feel free to email me with questions, ideas, thoughts for discussion 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 5 places left.

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 :)

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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 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 3 …

success-846055_1280When I did a plan to start my own advertising agency I knew right from the start that I was building it to sell it within 10 years.  And I knew that the likely buyer would be a multi-national agency group.  I even wrote down what I wanted to sell it to them for. I painted a really clear picture of what they would be looking for in a boutique agency and I set about building that business for them.  I worked out what I was building and then I put a plan in place.   I was taught to do this at a business school I attended…. It made sense to me, so I stuck to my plan and achieved my sale price within 9 years.

Key number 3. Start with the end in mind

The key to my ultimate success with my ad agency was that I planned my exit right from the start. I knew what my end goal was, which enabled me to work out my plan to get there. I had a clear picture in mind, which kept me on track, even when the going got tough.

This is something I encourage all business owners to do. Plan your exit now – will you sell it one day, or will you build it so that it generates income for you even if you are not there? What kind of business do you need to build to enable this? What does it look like? What do you need to build in order to create value?

Many business owners tell me they will never want to sell their business.  I say that it really doesn’t matter… because if you build a business that is valuable and saleable, it will be ticking all the right boxes and you will have choice.

If you don’t build a saleable business and something happens to you… you don’t have choice… you work hard for years and years and have nothing to show for it.

Here’s an excerpt from my book “Liber8 your Business” on the topic of having a clear end game:

“A business is a project not a life sentence. By having a clear picture of where you are going, you can create your own map of how to get there. When I started and I was alone in my horrid little one-roomed office, with concrete walls and no natural light, I dreamed of a beautiful office with high ceilings, big windows, wooden floors and a big staircase sweeping up the middle. I saw a team of motivated young people all passionate about creating the best boutique agency in the country. I could see the award trophies lined up and could feel the joy of knowing I’d been successful. I painted a picture of exactly how I wanted my agency to be and worked out what it needed to be doing financially to deliver on this image.”

My book and my programmes teach you how to work out a realistic sale price and how to paint the end picture that will deliver this for you, and I’ll cover more of the critical components towards creating a valuable business in my next 5 keys to a bigger, better business.

Exercise

Think about this… if your business could be anything you wanted it to be in the future, what would it look like? Don’t let the obstacles you might see in front of you influence your imagination here. What does success look like for you? Think about the financial return as well as the satisfaction you will feel from building something really special. If someone knocked on your door offering to buy your business, what would be a price you would sell for?  And how would that influence your life? What sort of business would they be buying and what makes you feel proud?  Remember, you don’t have to sell it… but you do want it to be valuable.  Imagine the satisfaction of turning down the offer?

The 2016 Elev8or Group is coming soon!

For ambitious business owners who want to create a clear end game for their business, build a plan and be guided and supported to make it happen.  Only 10 business owners will be selected to join … are you ready for it?  Click here for more information.

 

 

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.