Category: Startups

Part 4: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 4: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

It looks like we have gotten to the end of another series; man, has this one been a pleasure to write. We have learned several tactics and mindsets that can help you overcome your business growth challenges in this series.

It was a pleasure sharing reasons 1-6 in the first three parts of this blog. If you have not read them, make sure to read them on my Linkedin page or my website before diving into part 4 today.

Here is a quick recap of what we have covered in the first three parts.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model 
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust) 
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage 
  6. Lack of curiosity 
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

In this final installment, we will chat about arguably the two most important reasons you have not been able to grow your business the lack of sharable and actionable vision and to set yourself up with a mirror, a system of honest, open feedback.

Vision with a plan

Most people start their business without a plan. To be honest, it is a reaction to a problem that leads them to create a solution. That solution begins to create a vision of what their life could look like without this problem.

I fully agree that this is the best way to start a business. It allows you to follow an organic path and respond appropriately. However, there is a point in this experience where the moment begins to wain, where vision alone will not push you through.

I encourage you to create a plan before you get to this point. Most companies call this a strategic plan or business plan. It doesn’t matter what you call it if you don’t use it. This section will talk about some tips & tricks for constructing your plan, making it actionable, and ensuring it is something your company lives.

Core elements of your plan should include:

  • How you deliver your experience? Think of this as your external client journey. The step-by-step experience of your client. This should include all the actions and feeling your client will go through.
  • How you create your experience? Think of this as your internal client journey—the step-by-step experience of your employees. Include not only what they do but also think about how they will feel when they are doing it, what they need to be successful, and what their benefit is.
  • The financial model. This is self-explanatory but make sure you are projecting revenue, expenses, gross/net profit, and, if you can, cash flow for the next 3-5 years. Bonus if you can include where your expected revenue will come from.
  • Why do you exist? This is the most critical section to live every day. This is the great problem you solve or what change you hope to make in the world. This is the fuel that feeds your engines and those of your employees.

There are many other sections to a good plan, but in reality, it should fit under one of the above four areas of focus.

Tips for making your plan actionable

  • Write 1-5 concrete action steps for every goal in the plan to get it done. If you follow the above core elements, you will do this instinctively.
  • Assign the person or position/positions responsible for achieving the goals. Bonus point if you can break it down into the roles/ responsibilities based on the above journey.
  • Create how you will evaluate your plan’s performance. Include how often you will review goals and action steps. Include who will hold you accountable (best to use an outside coach or third party who can provide a penalty or reward based on achieving).

The final component is to make your plan sharable, making it a part of your companies everyday experience. If you followed all that has been said above and focused on creating your plan as if it is lived experience and not just goals on a piece of paper, then you have taken the first step in making it a livable component of your company. To take it to the next level, you can do a few things.

  • Bring in your leaders from all levels of your business. Create a cross-functional team of people from executive/top-level management to your front-end employees to review and give feedback. Then empower those leaders to propel the plan forward.
  • Create a corresponding training program to push the core reasons why. Teach the necessary skill to achieve the company goals.
  • Give autonomy to execute these plans.
  • Sit back and let things run their course.
  • Repeat your reason why as often as you can.
  • Have your employees share their reason why often and ask them to incorporate those reasons into the companies why.

I know this is a brief overview of strategic planning. However, it is essential that you engage in this process if you wish to grow your business and you’re currently slowing down or lacking momentum.

Lastly, do not do this in a vacuum; get help; it is excellent to engage in an outside agency to help facilitate it. It is worth investment as it will allow you to think and operate with a long-term mindset. Finally, start your planning process before it is too late.

A Mirror

If you have read this far, your head is spinning with the action you can take. However, before you do anything else, could you do one thing?

Turn the camera on your phone and make sure it’s pointed at you. I am assuming you’re now looking at yourself in the screen. Now wave.

What did you notice about how you waved? Did you see your facial expression or the angle of your hand? Did you notice the bags under your eyes or the position of your feet? Did you feel anything interesting?

Now, what if that mirror could talk? What if it could share what it is seeing, the experience it has, and the things it has heard? How could that change you?

If you genuinely want to solve your business’s problems, you need to get an honest view of what and how you’re doing. There are many ways to get this feedback from family, friends, employees, but the best way is going to be through coaching.

The main reason is that you have invested in making yourself better by facing your faults and insecurities. That is in addition to them seeing opportunities where you don’t, providing you business education, access to additional resources, and so much more. However, I don’t want to write an entry on the benefits.

Sidebar: I personally have three coaches, one for business marketing, one for general business strategy, and one for mindset.

Instead, I want to talk about the insecurity of getting help.

The first insecurity to be prepared for is the fear that your coach will make you face yourself. They will force you to confront the things you don’t want to or have neglected. When you start this process, it can hurt, but the relief as you start making progress and begin to see your vision come to life. It can be the most rewarding thing.

The next insecurity to be prepared for; is do you really trust. A great coach is not only going to help you implement profit-generating changes in your business but also time freeing strategies. This usually requires you to invest in more people that can be employees, or it can be outside services.

One of the most demanding challenges is to give up control over your baby. However, learning how to build real trust is a game-changer and the only real way to have the lifestyle you want.

The final insecurity to be prepared for; is delayed reward. Change takes time, and lasting change takes even longer. There are plenty of gurus out there that will say they solve the “insert problem” in just a few weeks or months. Many of them can do it but will that solution last. The answer is no.

The only way to create lasting change is to change yourself. Be prepared that it may take you time to make the internal changes to get the external results, but please do not allow that to stop you.

Thank you for reading this four-part series on the 8 reasons your business is not growing. I hope you have found it enlightening and that you implement at least one change. If you have read this far, I want to make you a special offer. I will provide you with one profit acceleration assessment and one month of coaching for free. All you have to do is email me and write in the header, “I want to grow my business.” Then, I will contact you to get started.

I look forward to helping you achieve your dreams. Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better change today.

The offer of free PAS and one month of coaching is good from January 20th, 2022, until February 20th, 2022.

Part 3: 8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 3: 8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

In our last installment of the 8 reasons why we discussed two roadblocks that, when done right, can provide you with the structure for effective growth. I strongly suggest reading the previous blogs before jumping into this one.

Today we will discuss numbers 5 & 6 on our list of roadblocks. In addition, we will be chatting about leverage (use of debt) and the lack of curiosity.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust)
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage
  6. Lack of curiosity
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

As with this entire series, one of these roadblocks is more tactical while the other is cultural. Why change a good thing now? Let’s get to discussing these two essential roadblocks.

Leverage

Many first-time or small business owners have the dream of being able self finance their business. Amazingly they will generate enough profit to pay themselves and provide the lifestyle they want while fueling their business growth. However, this is rarely possible. Instead, you will need to get some source of financing, which brings us to leverage.

Before I explain leverage and how you can use it to pole-vault your business. I must share a warning. With leverage comes taking on debt; debt comes additional risk with potential greater reward. However, if you have assembled a team of supporting organizations, including CPAs, CFP’s, & Business coaches, you can mitigate this risk.

Now that I have shared the warning, let’s dive into the superpower that can come with leverage. What is leverage?

Leverage results from using borrowed capital as a funding source when investing to expand the firm’s asset base and generate returns on risk capital.

Okay, so what does that mean. Let me give you a scenario that may help. Say you have a fantastic toy that requires you to cut out many small pieces using a laser cutter. However, your company is currently only worth (equity value) $100,000; this is the money you are using to cover your current operating expenses.

However, you know if you were able to purchase a few laser cutters for, say, $300,000, this would expand your max capacity and allow you to increase your total production by a factor of 10. So how can you raise this money?

If you watch Shark Tank, then you have seen companies raise money by giving up equity. However, there is another way by using debt financing.

You can borrow the money that you would need to purchase the equipment. Essentially you provide the lender with a promise to pay back the debt plus interest. This is an excellent option because you do not have to give up any ownership control of your business.

When to use leverage? When it comes to business, it is best to use leverage when launching new projects, increasing inventory, capital expenditures, and expanding the company’s overall operation.

If you’re considering expanding your business or have the desire to grow, make sure to consider leverage (debt) as an option to reach those goals. Once again, make sure to consulate your team of experts before taking on the additional risk. This can be a great tool to grow your business without giving up a level of operational control.

P.S. There are many ways to debt finance your business, from private lenders to small business loans.

Lack of Curiosity

Would you consider yourself curious?

Building a culture of curiosity can be one of the greatest tools to getting your business past the roadblocks that keep it from growing. Curiosity leads to problem-solving, problem-solving leads to calculated risk-taking, and calculated risk-taking leads to exponential returns.

This trait needs to be developed into your culture, not just an owner trait. You want all of your employees to be curious. This is a weird thing to hear from a consultant who specializes in creating SOP’s, but to me, it is truly the most important trait have in a company. So how do you build curiosity? There are many ways, but here are a few of my favorites.

  • Manage through questions
  • Have a failure policy
  • Communicate your guidelines
  • Create time for staff to explore their interests
  • Create employee dream plans as part of your onboarding & employee review process
  • Engage all levels of your organization in strategic planning

Anyone or a combination of these systems can begin to develop a company-wide curiosity. So what are the benefits of curiosity?

  • Your team will feel more positive and driven toward building the organization.
  • As an owner, you will have reduced stress because your employees will constantly use their problem-solving skills.
  •  Your company will develop a shared language organically and system for communication.
  • As an owner, you will develop higher levels of trust
  • Your company will become a place where people want to work
  • As an owner, you will begin to see problems solve themselves

With all that said, how are you developing a culture of curiosity?

Wow, what a third entry in our series. I hope you have begun to see changes you can make in your business at this point. Next week we will wrap up out 8 reasons your business is not growing with the importance of creating a shared vision and the most crucial reason a lack of a mirror,

Please feel free to share this series with a friend or colleague and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if we can be of any assistance or answer any questions, please feel free to email us. 

Remember, the best time to make a change was yesterday, so you better start changing today.

Part 2: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

Part 2: 8 reasons your business is not growing and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

In our last installment of the 8 reasons why we discussed two of the most immediate issues holding back your small business cash flow & owner-dependent model. I strongly suggest reading that previous blog before jumping into this one.

Today we will introduce the next two business roadblocks, your supportive relationships and lack of efficiency.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust)
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage
  6. Lack of curiosity
  7. Vision with a plan
  8. A mirror

These might not seem that important, and out of the eight on this list, they can make a lasting impact. We will discuss them today because prioritizing them can create the structure to move your business faster.

Supporting Relationships (Trust)

What is the first thing that comes up when you think about supporting relationships? I bet it is some combination of a spouse, a best friend, spiritual leader, doctor, etc. These relationships allow us as individuals to reach our highest potential, and thus you need to build a similar network for your business.

What does this network look like? It looks like many supporting businesses, from lawyers & accountants to your strategic joint venture partners. Many business relationships will be needed for your business to reach its greatest potential. Today, we will talk about two categories: the business that keeps you safe from the government and the business that keeps you focused on achieving your goals.

Keep you safe from the government: 

Business Accountant (CPA); there is a significant difference between an accountant and a business accountant. A general accountant can do your annual tax filing, but a good business accountant does your tax filing, plus evaluates your business for risk potential, and evaluates your business to provide strategic suggestions. When you select accountants, look for those that offer additional services. Plus, make sure to ask about monthly financial reviews and what they will provide.

Business Attorney: You need two types of attorneys (sometimes they can be the same person). The first is your preventative attorney; they can help you develop the best way to incorporate, write contracts, provide HR guidance, etc. The second one is a litigator; you will need this attorney for the inevitable time something goes wrong, and you need to handle a suit. This is why you need to ask questions about their core services. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:

What is your experience with my particular legal issue?

What are the potential consequences of this legal action?

Who all is on your legal team?

Are you willing to refer me to other small business lawyers as needed?

Business Insurance: The final business to keep you safe will be your business insurance partner. Now there are many options out there, but the best guidance I can provide is that you should be reviewing this provider every six months to continue to make decisions that are best for your business and provide you with the right amount of coverage.

Keep you focused on your vision: 

Business Coach: Everyone needs a coach. Listen to this carefully after you get develop your safety team. Your immediate next step is to find a coach. A coach is an objective person who can point out your flaws, help you to develop new skills, and it is in their best interest to help you reach your goals. When it comes to selecting a coach, it is essential to consider a few things:

What stage is my company in?

How honest am I about my flaws?

What is the biggest change I need to make to reach my goals?

You will notice that none of these questions are about the coach. This on purpose, many business owners fail to look at themselves first. Remember, growth is change; if you want to grow your business, you will have to make personal change, and the coach is the best person to help you do that.

CFP’s: Working with a good Certified Financial Planner can have several benefits, but most importantly, they should help you to get the best financial result out of the profit your business makes. In addition, they can provide many services from insurance to investment.

Bonus

  • The Networkers: The community connecter is the final relationship that is an absolute must. This person has been around for so long that they know all the players. This the person that all they need to say is “hey, you should talk with …” and that person responds with, of course.

Waste/inefficiency

The earlier a business puts in practice to reduce waste and inefficiency, the sooner they can scale. This is because a good efficiency plan allows your business to grow lean and while investing back into your business versus taking the best guess approach.

Now there are seven areas of lean waste:

  1. Delay: Waiting for any essential part of your process
  2. Replication: repeated tasks or information capture in your process
  3. Processing: simply too little attention or too much attention to a specific task
  4. Motion: This physical time it takes to walk across a room to get a document or disorganized inventory which is hard to look up a product.
  5. Under communication: the most extensive form is lack of systematic understanding. How are you confirming that your people know what to do?
  6. Errors: mistakes that are made multiple times and have not been improved in the process
  7. Under-utilized talent: Make sure you’re using your people correctly and checking to ensure it is still optimal.
  8. Opportunity Lost: This is the magic of your process; this is where your people have the guide rails to be flexible and help create the customer experience.

Now you will see that reducing waste and improving efficiency comes down to process. Do you have a process?

Most small businesses operate without clear SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures). These procedures should be the top priority of any business going from start-up to growth. However, the sooner you can create your SOP based on the eight areas above, the sooner your business can scale.

We covered a lot today, and I am sure you have a ton to think about. As always are coaches are standing by to assist you. If you want to discuss anything in these articles or if Fractional COO is suitable for your business, click here.

Next week we will discuss the two more reasons your business is not growing. But, remember, the best time to make a change was yesterday, so you better start today.

8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

8 reasons your business is not growing, and it has nothing to do with sales, revenue, or profit

There are 30.2 million small businesses in the US, accounting for 99.9% of all businesses in the country. Even though they account for 99% of all business;

  • They employee less than half of the American workforce
  • The average annual business revenue is $46,978 
  • 86.3% of small business owners make less than $100,000 a year in income

It begs the question; what is holding back your small businesses from reaching its full potential and becoming multi-million dollar businesses. This series will discuss 8 reasons why your business may not be growing and the action you can take to fix it. Today we will discuss numbers one and two.

  1. Cash Flow
  2. Dependent Model 
  3. Supporting Relationships (Trust) 
  4. Waste/inefficiency
  5. Leverage 
  6. Lack of curiosity 
  7. Vision with a plan 
  8. A mirror 

Cash Flow

Cash flow is considered by many to number one business killer. There is a saying cash is king when it comes to your business; there is no more accurate statement. For those that don’t know this term:

 

The term cash flow refers to the net amount of cash and cash equivalents being transferred in and out of a company. Cash received represents inflows, while money spent represents outflows. A company’s ability to create value for shareholders is fundamentally determined by its ability to generate positive cash flows or, more specifically, to maximize long-term free cash flow (FCF). FCF is the cash generated by a company from its normal business operations after subtracting any money spent on capital expenditures (CapEx). (definition provided by Investopedia)

 

So how do companies get into cash flow trouble? 

  • Accounts receivable; you have provided service but have yet to receive the cash. Again, this usually comes down to your payment terms and your ability to collect whenever possible try to get full payment before or at least at the time of completion. 
  • Paying Bill First; we all hate owing people, but many businesses do not take advantage of the same payment terms. For example, if someone offers you net 30, 60 payment terms, take advantage of them and wait until the last opportunity to complete payment without accruing penalty. Also, consider renegotiating for a more favorable term.

There are many other ways to develop cash flow problems, but these are two of the biggest. Please take the time to review your cash flow statement & balance sheet see how your cash flow looks. Then, consider setting goals to improve your cash flow as a tool to increase the value of your company.

 

Dependent Model

Now that you have begun to conquer cash flow, the next step will be to make an independent business model. But, of course, you’re probably asking yourself what the hell does that means?

It means creating a business model that does not rely on you as the owner to push the buttons, pull the levers, provide the basic service. It is the philosophy of shifting from working in the business to working on the business. 

There are several reasons why owners struggle to make this transition; we will discuss a few today but remember there are many more, and it is up to create time to do the work and discover your cause and correct it. Today we will discuss the sphere of control.

This is a big one for most owners. At some point, you will get to the place where you can’t be everywhere at once and can’t interface with every client. This can be very tough because this usually means you need to hire middle management. It requires a different set of skills than the ones you have hired before but usually comes with a dip in profit. So what can you do about it?

The first step is to get organized and answer these two questions:

 

What do I need them to do?

Where is the information they need to get the job done stored?

 

Simply put, to create a stable sphere of control, you need to have a documented process with clear expectations, responsibilities, and most importantly, the information to be successful. The standard term for this is SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).

Creating your companies SOP’s or engaging these new hires in creating the first version can significantly reduce the mistakes, miscommunication, and headaches that occur.

I hope you have begun to see your opportunities to improve your business. As always, our fractional COO’s are here to help with these and all of your other operational challenges. Thanks for reading, and remember the best time change was yesterday, so you better change today. 

Is growing your business your goal? Then a COO should be your next hire.

Is growing your business your goal? Then a COO should be your next hire.

The right time to hire a chief operating officer (COO) is just before trouble appears in your company. But, unfortunately, the reality is that most businesses realize they need a COO too late.

Signs that you need a COO:

  • You spend too much time working in your business and not on your business.
  • You find yourself stopping business growth activities to maintain your everyday. 
  • You are feeling constantly overwhelmed and struggling daily in your company.
  • You know you need to strengthen and solidify your leadership team.
  • Your company needs to grow significantly in scale operations.

A COO — especially your first one — should come from outside your company. Insiders are typically part of the problems you are facing. However, they lack the perspective, required knowledge, skills, or experience to view your company objectively and with checked emotions.

The COO Position

A COO is quite different than any other employee in your company.

Typically, the leader of a company is a visionary. As the visionary, you operate best when thinking long-term, generating big ideas, fanning a fabulous culture, and cultivating strategic relationships. Without a COO, you become mired in the day-to-day operations, which can cause your business to stagnate, wither and eventually die.

A COO is your team’s number 2, your MVP! As your integrator and executor, the COO brings your entire company together to deliver products and services effectively and efficiently.

The COO is the quintessential “change champion.” They define needed changes, lead the change effort, manage the change and even celebrate the success of the change.

Your COO is your closest partner, coach, and mentor. The COO is trusted to run your company when you are not there. They have the ability to take your vision and execute it to an extent unimagined. As a coach and mentor, your COO not only supports your personal and professional business development but that of the entire company.

Your First COO

When you need a COO, you are looking for someone typically with years of experience and education — much more than most companies can afford for their first COO.

A COO is much more than a highly paid operations manager. However, companies typically make one or all of these four mistakes when they need a COO:

Mistake #1. Possibly the most egregious mistake is they hire the COO last. Instead, the companies prioritize the  CMO, CTO, VP of Sales before hiring their COO, causing an effect that leads to dysfunctional and siloed organizations without a clear vision and priority.

Mistake #2. Instead of hiring the C-suite executive they need, they seek a director or vice president of operations. This choice saves them an executive salary, benefits, bonuses, and perks. People hired in this role are expected to operate at the position of a COO without the title but usually cannot.

Mistake #3. They lowball the salary of their new COO position. This forces them to hire someone capable of being a director or vice president of operations but who will fail to meet the expectations of a COO.

Mistake #4. The company treats the COO position as if it were any other position within the company. Thus, the hiring process, benefits, bonuses, and perks all mirror those of most other employees.

The reason companies make these mistakes are because of two things. One, they cannot afford the true talent they need. They do not understand the inherent differences between this position and every other position in their company.

The first COO is one of the most critical positions to get right. Hiring the wrong COO can cause your company to struggle significantly.

Consider A Fractional COO

If you cannot afford what your company needs, how do you move forward? You cannot keep struggling in your visionary role while being the full-time integrator.

A fractional COO is a business professional with many years of experience willing to work in a temporary capacity, part-time. That would typically amount to the same as hiring someone full-time. However, you can bring on talent with experience as a business owner, business coach/consultant, or former full-time COO without all the costs. Fractional COOs might get paid the same as a full-time COO, but they bring to your company much more. Plus, there are many other benefits to contracting with a fractional COO.

Benefits:

  • A fractional COO will take a company through a process that produces the tools to answer the essential questions of how can we grow?
  • A fractional COO works in a hybrid model, saving you from creating a separate executive office.
  • Fractional COOs do not require an elaborate executive hiring process — thus, you do not have to build separate HR processes for just one position.
  • Being a contract employee, the fractional COO does not require executive benefits, bonuses, or perks.
  • A fractional COO creates a try-it-before-you-buy-it experience, allowing you to kick the tires and determine what you need from a full-time COO.
  • The fractional COO is there to work themselves out of a job — they focus on building your company so you can truly afford a full-time COO in the future, and they can even help you find and hire their replacement.
  • If the fractional COO does not work out, let them go — firing an executive can be a grueling situation fraught with cost and legal dangers, but allowing a contract employee to go is relatively easy.

If you take anything from this blog, invest in a COO if you want to grow your business, produce franchises, make a sellable business, or achieve whatever goal you have. They’re your partner who specializes in making your dream come true. 

If you want to discuss if your business is ready for a COO, click the link and sign up for a one-hour strategy consultation. Remember, the best time to change was yesterday, so you better make the change today. 

 

Charity is Good Business

Charity is Good Business

Is charitable giving a part of your organizational practice? If so, kudos to you; you are well on your way to building a culture and financially optimized business. 

Yes, you read that right, financially optimized. 

If giving purely for altruistic reasons is not your thing, don’t worry; in today’s blog, I will share four reasons why you should make giving a part of your business plan.

Need a little more convincing how about $2.45 trillion reasons

“Omnicom Group’s Cone Communications study shows, 70 percent of millennials will spend more on brands that support causes—and with millennials representing $2.45 trillion in spending power, the subject of corporate social responsibility carries an unexpected level of clout.”

 

Reason Number 1: Employee Morale

Gen Z and Millennials share an appreciation for “Why”; their desire for purpose-driven work can help you retain these employees. In today’s climate retaining talent can be as important as generating new business. 

According to a Deloitte study on volunteering, millennials were “twice as likely to rate their corporate culture as very positive” if their company participated in workplace volunteer activities. This is because employees respect companies that care for their community–it simply makes employees feel good and increases the emotional attachment to their employer.

 

Reason Number 2: Two for One Marketing Dollars

Charitable giving can be like doubling your marketing dollars. The goal of your marketing budget is to get your message in front of your target audience. One of the best ways to do this is by creating strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations that have similarly aligned missions to the product or service you provide. 

For example, if your company makes sporting equipment, consider sponsoring local sports teams or tournaments. That will show your current and future clients that you care about your business and your community.

 

Reason Number 3: Uncle Sam is going to take it anyway’s

This is one of the most immediate benefits of corporate donations. You may not instantly see how your contribution benefits your community, but you will quickly notice the tax savings. Of course, businesses shouldn’t donate with the sole expectation of financial gain, but there are financial rewards for helping a charity in need. In addition, companies can usually receive tax deductions from sponsoring charities or events. Still, you should make sure to follow the rules and go about the process in the right way to comply with all tax requirements. Talk to your accountant about creating a charitable giving strategy as part of your revenue model. 

 

Reason Number 4: Giving is Good

The final reason is arguably the most important. It feels good to know that you have found a way to help build your community. Plus, according to the Cleveland clinic, it can have the following health benefits;

  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • Increased Self-esteem
  • Less Depression
  • Lower stress levels
  • Longer Life
  • Greater happiness and self-satisfaction

Create an Action Plan

As today is Giving Tuesday, there is no better time to build a charity culture into your business practice. So here are a few different ways you to give back.

  • Volunteer Day’s
  • Event Sponsorship 
  • Sponsor Youth Sports or Programs
  • Donate to research 
  • Charitable match program 
  • A competition where each team member represents a charity, whoever sells the most or exceeds monthly expectations the company will donate to their charity.

The options are endless and entirely up to you. If you need help creating a charitable process that will benefit the community and your bottom line click here and one of our coaches can help you design the best program for your organization.

 

Now get out there and give. 

 

Win The Rat Race

Win The Rat Race

We’ve all worked jobs we hated. We were underpaid, underappreciated, and bored out of our minds. We either quit these jobs or were fired for poor performance because we just gave up. Instead of taking that approach, you need to consider every job an opportunity to learn something new that you can apply down the line to find success.

When you give people the tools they need to come up with unordinary solutions, you are enhancing their lives for the long run. What if one of your terrible jobs had been one with no pay at all, and you needed to come up with some ingenious ways of making money and finding value? 

You’re an entrepreneur, I bet if you were forced into this situation you would find a way to make ends meet and position yourself to reach your long-term goals. This same urgency can be applied to your company now.

I don’t recommend going into the next meeting declaring that no one will receive pay anymore. Instead, you can tell your employees that their potential raises, bonuses, and other perks are now dependent on their creativity in ways to enhance business. Present them with the opportunity and put success in their hands. This is the abundance mindset approach, it simply says there are infinite possibilities, resources, and opportunities it is up to us to see them and take advantage. 

Adapting an abundance mindset is integral to your success, the company’s success, and your employees. One way to start becoming abundance-minded is through a concept called financial literacy. A concept that sadly is not taught in school but is still essential to know.

 So, what is financial literacy? 

Our culture teaches people to be good employees and not employers. This mindset will never make you wealthy. Instead, you need to focus on becoming a good employer. You also need to learn how to not only attain wealth but sustain wealth for generations. This is what financial literacy is all about.

So, how do you get out of the rat race and start working toward a wealthier future? You need to understand the difference between an asset and a liability. Take a look at your own life, and you’ll probably find the following:


Assets

  • Real Estate
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Intellectual Property

Liabilities

  • Mortgage
  • Consumer Loans
  • Credit Cards

 

You’ve probably been fooled into thinking things like your house, car, and entertainment system are assets. They aren’t! Assets should be continuing to make you money. When you continue to struggle, you are not building wealth. If your primary income is from wages and each time you make more money, you pay taxes, you’re not creating wealth either, are you?

So, if buying a house isn’t an asset (and it’s not because you spend about 30 years of your life paying it off), then what is? Here are some of the best assets to attain and when you can start to see wealth being created because of it:

Average time of holding on to an asset before selling it for a higher value:

One year

  • Stocks (Startups and small companies are good investments)
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds

 

Seven years

  • Real estate
  • Notes (IOUs)
  • Royalties on intellectual property
  • Valuables that produce income or appreciate

 

So, here are the steps to getting out of the rat race and onto your journey of creating wealth:

  1. Understand the difference between an asset and a liability.
  2. Concentrate your efforts on buying income-earning assets.
  3. Focus on keeping liabilities and expenses at a minimum.
  4. Mind your own business.

If you need help getting out of the poor mindset and into the wealthy one, start by reading “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Then schedule a call with one of our coaches to integrate wealth concepts into your company’s daily operations.

We went through the first three, and next time we’ll talk about how to mind your own business to keep your eye on the prize.

39 Tried and True Lessons to Put Your Word-of-Mouth to Work

39 Tried and True Lessons to Put Your Word-of-Mouth to Work

In the last post, we talked about conducting word-of-mouth research and then putting that research to work. Today we’re going to give you 39 great tried and true ways to use word-of-mouth when building and executing your campaign.

We’ve done it in a list form, so you can go through and highlight the ones you want to put into action. For more information read George Silverman’s “The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing”.

Here they are:

  1. Give them something worth talking about
  2. Cater to your initial customers shamelessly
  3. Give them incentives to engage in word of mouth
  4. Ask them to tell their friends
  5. The customer is always right
  6. Always tell the truth
  7. Surprise the customers by giving them a little more than they expected 
  8. Give them a reason to buy, make them come back, and refuse service from anyone else other than you
  9. Make eye contact, and smile, even through the telephone
  10. Find ways to make doing business with you a little better: a warmer greeting, a cleaner floor, nicer lighting, a better shopping bag, extra matches, faster service, free delivery, lower prices, more selection.
  11. Never be annoyed when a customer asks you to change a large bill even if he doesn’t buy anything.
  12. The customer is your reason for being. Never take her for granted. If you do, she will never come back and will go straight to your competition.
  13. Always dust off items, but never let the customer see you doing it.
  14. Never embarrass a customer, especially by making him feel ignorant.
  15. Never answer a question coming from a desire to show how smart you are. Answer with a desire to help the customer make the best decision.
  16. Never shout across the store, “How much are these condoms?” or anything about the personal items a customer is buying.
  17. When you don’t know, say so. Do whatever you can to find out the answer.
  18. Every customer is special. Try to remember their names.
  19. Don’t allow known shoplifters into the store.
  20. Don’t ever let two sales staff talk when a customer is waiting. The worst thing you can do is count your cash while a customer is waiting.
  21. If you can suggest something better, they will be grateful. Always respect their choice.
  22. Never pressure anyone into buying anything.
  23. Never knowingly give bad advice. Just help people come to the right decision.
  24. Personally visit the store of the competition or assign people to visit and report back to you.
  25. Hire a shopping service to prepare periodic reports on how your people are treating your customers.
  26. If you hear of a store where the management is insulting the customers, buy it, then put up the sign “Under New Management” outside. Then sell it later based on the increased sales.
  27. One expert (in the drugstore’s case, a nurse or physician) who is convinced you are better brings hundreds of customers and their friends through word of mouth.
  28. Always look for ways to make a stranger a customer.
  29. People will walk several blocks to save a dollar, or see a smile, or be treated right.
  30. Always run a sale promotion or an offbeat event. Make them come back to see what you are cooking up next.
  31. Use the best sign-maker you can find and pay him more than anybody else.
  32. If someone is mad at you, they will tell everyone who will listen for as long as they are angry, maybe even longer. So correct any dissatisfaction, and ask customers to send their friends.
  33. Treat your employees and salespeople who sell to you the same way you treat your customers.
  34. Have a zero-error system. There may be terrible consequences for example if a mistake is made filling a prescription. Have people check each other’s work for safety.
  35. Occasionally make intentional mistakes to see if people are checking.
  36. Always measure your performance.
  37. Always ask a customer to “come back soon.”
  38. If customers say they are moving away, offer to send them their favorite items by mail.
  39. Tell jokes.

 

I know your looking at this exhaustive list and asking yourself how can I implement these lessons. We’re going to wrap up this lesson to give you a chance to digest, prioritize, and plan. To aid you with this here is a little homework assignment.

Go through the list again, find 1 or 2 lessons that fit your company and that you feel you can implement. Then I want you to write down we business activities the lessons are relevant to. Next, write down a no more than 5 step process to implement those lessons into that business activity. This will provide you with a quick action plan.

If you need help with this process, feel free to email me at doogie@ideasactionsuccess.com and I will review it and provide you with feedback. 

Remember the best time to change was yesterday, so you better start today.

Search & Implement

Search & Implement

People only remember the extraordinary, strange, wild, surprising, and unusual. You need to make sure your ideas and marketing reflect these reactions. This doesn’t mean you have to have a product or service that is completely out of the norm; in fact, this could easily drive customers away. You need to have a product or service that is high quality and marketable, then you need to market it as extraordinary and new. 

As you research word of mouth, there are some questions you need to ask along the way:

What are the users willing to tell the non-users?

  • Exactly how do your customers describe your product?
  • What are the non-users willing to ask the users?
  • What are the things they need to know but are unwilling to ask?
  • What happens when these issues are raised?
  • Precisely what do your prospects have to know to trigger purchase?
  • Exactly how do your customers answer the objections, concerns, and qualms of your prospects?
  • How do your customers persuade their friends to use your product?
  • How do your customers suggest they initially get to know or try your product?
  • What warnings, safeguards, tips, and suggestions do your customers tell to your prospects?
  • Are your sales messages, positioning, and important facts about your product getting through and surviving word of mouth?
  • What messages do you need to inject into the marketplace to turn the tide in your favor, and how will you deliver them?

 

There are two main reasons why word of mouth research is so important:

  1. To get the real impression and feedback from customers
  2. To define word of mouth itself and the concept it creates

There is a simple formula that can help you conduct your word-of-mouth research. It’s called the “2-2-2” model.

2-2-2- Model

What this breaks down to is:

  • Two groups of customers 
  • Two focus groups of prospects
  • Two mixed groups (enthusiasts & skeptics)

 

In these groups, you need to ask the following questions:

  1. What would you tell a friend?
  2. How would you persuade a skeptic?
  3. What questions would you anticipate from a skeptic?
  4. How would you answer their objections?

The best way to conduct these groups is by teleconference. This ensures you’ll get a good variety of demographics for your customers and potential customers. It also allows people to feel safe and more able to express their true feelings. To avoid adding pressure to the situation, these teleconferences should not be conducted by you but by an independent party.

We’re going to transition a bit and talk about how to construct a word-of-mouth campaign. First, we’ll talk a look at the essential ingredients you need to put together a campaign. These ingredients are:

  • A superior product
  • A way of reaching key influencers in your marketplace
  • A cadre of experts willing to bat for you
  • A large number of enthusiastic consumers
  • A way of reaching the right prospects
  • One or more compelling stories that people will want to tell to illustrate your product’s superiority
  • A way to substantiate, prove, or back up your claims and how the product will work in the real world
  • A way for people to have direct, low-risk experience, a demo, sample, or free trial
  • A way of reducing overall risk, an ironclad guarantee

 

Once you have those ingredients ready to use, you should consider the situations in which your company can benefit from a strong word-of-mouth program. Some of these situations are:

  • When there are credibility problems
  • When there are breakthroughs
  • When there are marginal improvements
  • Where the product has to be tried in large numbers or over time
  • Where there is a high risk in trying the product
  • With older or mature products that have a news story that people tend to ignore
  • With unfair competitive practices such as spreading rumors or telling lies about your product
  • When there are governmental or other restrictions on what you may say or claim directly

 

While most of the word-of-mouth tactics are favorable for your word-of-mouth program, there are a few products to avoid using in this program. They are:

  • Products where a seminar would not provide meaningful added value
  • Products that can’t be tried and where there is no consensus among experts
  • Products that are inferior, without having a compensating superiority for similar products
  • Products that are so personal or emotional that rational discussion is irrelevant to the decision
  • The medium will not be cost-effective for products where the decision value is so small (low price/low volume). 

This wraps up this post on word-of-mouth research and how that research can be used when putting together your word-of-mouth campaign. However, if you need help with the research and a plan to use the results of that research, try our FREE test drive to get all the help you need with our top-notch resources and tools.

9 Levels of Word of Mouth

9 Levels of Word of Mouth

Last time we talked about the second part of word-of-mouth tactics which help you put together a system to help shorten your customers’ purchasing decision time, which can increase your profits immensely.

Today is not so much of a blog but a tool to evaluate where your word of mouth stands and how it affects your business. We’re going to talk about the nine levels of word-of-mouth which gives you a scale to measure the word-of-mouth circulating around your company, products, and services. You can then see where you are getting negative or weak word of mouth and find ways to correct it.

So, launching into the nine levels of word-of-mouth, it should seem relatively obvious that the negative levels are, well, negative, and the positive levels are positive. 

Word of Mouth Scale

Minus 4-Death Blow

This is the worst of the worst and means your product or service is creating a scandal. Remember when the popular over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol, were deemed unsafe? Yea, you won’t want that kind of word of mouth.

If this is where you are, it is most likely a death blow for your business and you have most likely done something very wrong. 

Minus 3-Karen is Out for Blood

Disgruntled customers are going out of their way to convince other consumers from purchasing your products and services. They are boycotting you. 

They are actively making a seen, leaving bad reviews, making their tik toks. In some respect, this can be the worst place to be. Karen does not allow you to have a minute to respond and fix the problem. 

Minus 2-Unacceptable and Unhappy

While not outwardly boycotting, when customers are asked about you, they will give a negative response. They will take the time to leave a Yelp or Google review and most likely leave it at that. 

Minus 1-Solvable 

At this level, people are mildly dissatisfied, and while not outwardly talking about it, they will have an opinion if asked. Now they may purchase from you despite their negative feelings; this can be a little confusing. 

These people may stick with you because it is easy or the pain is not enough to change. It is important to spend time giving them a better experience.

Level 0-Neutral 

This is sort of a neutral place to be. Customers are using your products, but don’t really talk about it. People rarely ask them about it, so they aren’t sharing their opinion with others. This can be a slippery slope because you don’t want to turn that neutral experience into a negative one. You should work to make it a positive one.

Plus 1-Satisfied 

At this level, we are finally starting to work our way into the positive word-of-mouth about your company, products, and services. Plus 1 signifies that people are generally pleased with your products, but unless asked, don’t really say anything about them.

Plus 2-Tip of the Tong Solution

When asked, your customers will talk about how much they love your products or service. They will be a person who says something like, “o I use …” or “consider trying …”. These people need to be prompted but once they have been you’re their go-to.

They may give a review but most likely need to be prompted before they will do it.

Plus 3-Have You Heard About

Customers will go out of their way to talk about your products, services, company, and shopping experience with you. This is most evident when you see how people recommend movies to their friends and family.

These people will leave an unprompted review and 5-star score. These tend to be your 7-9 net promoter scores.

Plus 4- Champion

Your product is the toast of the town. There is an obvious buzz going around, and your business is the place to be. People are not only talking about your great products and services, but they are talking about their shopping experience, your customer service, and how they perceive the company to help them in the future.

These are the people who do not only leave a review but also go out of their way to make a social media post. These are your 9-10 net promoter scores. 

Some great examples of Plus 4 companies are:

  • Lexus
  • Harley Davidson
  • Lululemon 
  • Tesla
  • Apple
  • Costco

 

We’re going to leave this lesson for you to mull over and take a look at what kind of word of mouth you are generating. If you need help with this process, try our FREE test drive to get help from our experienced business coaches.

Next ti, we will talk about the 30 ways to harness the power of word of mouth.