Summer Selling – What Else Can You Do?

wine on the beach enjoying summer

Summer feels like a time of year that you cannot get much done. So many people are away on vacation or out enjoying the time with their kids who are off school; basically slowing down. But if you are looking for sales in the summer you cannot slow down, so what else can you do? Here are three ideas I have for you that I have experienced over the last few weeks.

1. Beach Time

If you have access to a great outdoor space then invite some clients to join you for an afternoon event. Add food, great content and learning, and amazing networking. Invite some other experts and add a panel or Q&A that includes them. Make sure you charge enough to cover your expenses and you are highlighting your business. Introduce an offer or let people know you will be calling them to chat about doing some other things together and helping them with their needs.

One of the networking associations I belong to (with a membership of about 150 people) hosted an event for 12 people (first come – first served). You had to be quick to get a ticket and it was worth it. It was hosted at the directors cottage on Georgian Bay. We sat on the deck sipping wine, networking, learning and getting great support for our businesses. The cost at $55 was not excessive but it also was not nominal. She made a little money and supported her members in a unique way, which created a desire for next year. In addition, she did not have to leave the cottage to host an event down in the city, saving her enormous amount of time and extra costs.

2. Think Small

If you do events during the year you know how much time they can take for things like:

  • getting sponsors
  • selling display tables
  • finding a venue
  • selling the tickets
  • arranging food, accommodations, media, etc.

If you want to do something in the summer but you know you just don’t have time to create something big then think small. A small room that sits 15 would create a great atmosphere for learning and sharing. Keep the event to a 1/2 day or less so people can still plan their summer fun around it and add something fun to the program like summer punch tasters or a summer dress code.

This past weekend my friend Beatrice Johnston hosted a Brand building event in Toronto. She was visiting with another friend who had access to a small professional room. The event was from 11 am – 2 pm and was full of great content with a promise to follow up. She used Eventbrite to create the event page and sell tickets. She filled a small room of ideal clients. She left with an open door to follow up with each person and keep in touch. Since we all paid to be there she was not out of pocket for the event.

3. An Extra $2500

Could you use an extra $2500 this summer? My good friend Cindy Ashton had some time in between setting up her new national TV show, “Cindy Uncorked” (launching this fall on the Women’s Television Network) and getting sponsors, to do some coaching for a select few entrepreneurs. She really doesn’t have much time, but she loves to help entrepreneurs have a voice with powerful communications so she created a short $500 program with specific results for 5 people only. It’s an easy purchase for someone looking for those results and an easy marketing setup because it is only a piece of any of her full programs. It required a sales page with a video, the shopping cart for registration, autoresponders to send out the information after the purchase and her time, set in time slots of her choosing.

I loved this so much she gave me permission to use the idea to offer some extra time for my clients and came up with the Growth Explosion offer. Go ahead and copy my template if you want to try this for yourself.

There is still time to get something on your marketing calendar for the summer. Do it now and get more sales while everyone else is taking it easy.

Capturing Ideas – 1, 2, 3…

Do you come up with a lot of ideas? Do you get to act on them? Do you even remember them when it’s time to act? Getting an idea comes as quick as 1, 2, 3, but keeping the idea is harder.

1. When Ideas Come

When ideas come they happen fast. Often we may think, “Wow, that’s random. That came out of nowhere!” but it is likely not the case. Ideas are how our mind puts together concepts to solve problems. Not all problems are our own, so they don’t feel close and familiar. Ideas can come to us in lots of ways and at almost any time. Here are three key places you will likely come up with new ideas.

  1. In your sleep – Often when you are sleeping a great idea can wake you up. It may even keep you awake as you go through the process of evaluating this opportunity.
  2. From someone else – You may hear your next big idea when in a conversation with someone else, listening to others talk, at a conference, from a TV commercial, while reading a book, etc.. The idea that comes out of nowhere is likely an idea that was catalyzed by another experience. Surround yourself with interesting people and events to continue creating great ideas.
  3. While solving a problem – This is the classic time when people come up with some of the world’s greatest inventions. If you are familiar with the saying “Necessity is the mother of  invention” then you are familiar with the idea that having a problem forces our mind to go into solution mode. You will likely generate many ideas and solutions during this period.

2. How to Capture Ideas

The second biggest challenge with ideas is that they are fleeting. If you do not capture the information when you have it, you may not get a chance later. Think about a time you woke in the middle of the night with a great idea and then in the morning you thought to yourself, “now what was that great idea I had last night?” Don’t wait to record your thoughts. Don’t try to evaluate whether it is worth recording, just get the idea down.

  1. Keep paper beside your bed – For those of us that have a brain that creates solutions to problems when they sleep, it is imperative to have something close at hand to record your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be fully fleshed out, just enough information to get you back on track in the morning. I have a sticky note pad and pen on my table beside my bed. I record short reminders of my idea on the page in the dark. It’s hard to read, but I have not yet been unable to recall my idea using this process.
  2. Have an idea book – Once you have a good idea spend a short amount of time fleshing out the details. I like to put the details of my ideas in an idea book. I have ideas for books, businesses, and patentable products in my book. If you are worried about ‘first to market’ or secrecy then get others to initial the pages with ideas on them and date it. They don’t have to read it, just confirm that they signed and the signature is theirs if you do end up fighting over a patent.
  3. Tell Your Team – Get it on the meeting agenda so you can discuss the value for your development for current or future plans.

3. How to Act on Ideas

Once we have an idea it is often difficult to know which one we should act on, if at all. Of course the biggest challenge with ideas is actually getting into action. As entrepreneurs we can be flooded with ideas, you know them, the Bright Shiny Objects that distract us from our core focus. Or do they? Some ideas are in line with our core focus and should be acted on. Some ideas are new and should be acted on in the future. Some are simply distractions and should be ignored.

  1. Enlist others in your circles, like peers, mentors, advisors, investors, etc. to hear out your idea and help you take appropriate action.
  2. Make it part of your goals. Put it into your business plan or create a project plan for it. If my ideas are for the growth of my current businesses then I get them into my business plan where I can act on them. If your idea is the missing piece of a service or product you have been creating then get it into the designs and process of that project.
  3. Have tasks you do each day that will further that action if it is in your current plan. Put it in your calendar to revisit your idea in the future so you can add it to your ‘ToDo’ list at that time.

Ideas are the solutions to your current challenges and your future growth. Don’t let them get away.

 

Your Message Affects Your Money!

First impressions should make people want to get to know you better.

A TV show I have enjoyed in the past is “What Not To Wear” on TLC. It was a show that had people nominated for a makeover. These people were hoping to do some great things in their life, like be a lawyer, run a global charity, have a successful business, or simply be accepted in the circles they were trying to be a part of. One thing that was common about these people was that they almost all would say, “I don’t want to change, people should like me no matter what I wear.” This is true, except as humans we are programmed to make judgements about situations, events and people to ensure we are safe, comfortable, and connected.

If your business language creates a first impression that screams ‘SHAM’, you say things that make others uncomfortable, or your vocabulary does not attract or appeal to your clients and others you wish to be connected to then it’s time to take a look at what you are saying/writing and make it create the right image for those whom you want to receive your message.

First Impressions

First impressions help us determine if we are going to be safe, comfortable, and feel connected. In the history of our evolution our brains have become wired for the ‘Freeze, Flight, or Fight’ reaction. We see or hear something and we have to evaluate immediately if we were going to be safe. We still have this unconscious reaction to new environments and new people, hence the reason why we still tend to make judgements about people we meet, when we first meet them. Although I would not recommend to anyone to make decisions on a first impression it is still important for you to create an image that makes people willing to connect with you again so a decision or a sale can take place. After all, we don’t purchase from people we don’t trust, so having a language that builds trust, especially on your first contact, is imperative.

First-impression Touchpoints

Where are your first-impression touchpoints? These are the places prospects are likely to experience you for the first time. Is it your website, your Facebook page, at a networking event, a video on YouTube, or an ad in a magazine? What does it say about who you are and what you do? Your first impression about you and your business has to say two things:

  • I am trustworthy, likable, and worth knowing
  • I have something of value that you might want

If you want to know if this is true of your message, have someone from outside your inner circle, preferably a client or prospect, evaluate the language they experience.

  • Do they feel like they would want to connect with you or your business? If so they should be excited to have met you or experienced your message.
  • Is your message clear or is there something missing they expected to find or understand about your or your business? For it to be clear they not only have to understand what you are saying, but must be attracted to your message. If they are not, your language is not targeted to the people you want to attract as clients.
  • Do they know what to do next? If you meet them at a networking event do they know what their next step is to stay connected with you. If they see your message in a magazine is there a clear call to action that they will actually act on? Do they want you to connect with them or do they want to simply have a way to stay connected. You need to know what the best way to continue this new relationship will be and have that message ready too.
  • What can you do for them right now that will also build on the trust? If you give first you will create a comfort level that will open the door for future conversations. Remember to give without expectation of reciprocation. This true gift is a language of its own that speaks directly to our unconscious mind.

Your first impression is not a time for sales, it is a time to start a lasting, positive relationship .You might think, like the nominees of the TV program I mentioned earlier, that people should love you for what you do, but until they know you they need to like you for what they see and hear. Since they really don’t have a lot to go on yet your first contact should be a rich, warm experience full of value. The next time they experience you, like in the email, they will be thankful for knowing you instead of fearful of what you make be asking of them. With trust comes the opportunity to have your conversation around money.

 

More Products from What You Are Doing Right Now!

If you know your pricing is correct then making more money in your business can be achieved two specific ways: sell more or charge more. Charging more is a discussion for another day. Selling more product can seem daunting. What else can I sell? Do I have time to create something new? Do I have the skills needed to do something different? A way to make money in your business is to focus on what you have done or are doing right now. If you have been in business for a few years you likely have previous products and content you may be able to use to create value for your clients on top of, or within, your current offerings. Here are three ideas you can start with.

Past Content

We often create a large amount of content for our clients; like video, audio, and written content, as well as content we have created for our own use inside our company. Here is one example that may give you some ideas of what you could add to your own products.

When I started hosting the Power of Leadership 5 years ago (back when it was called the EClub), I wasn’t thinking about how I would accumulate the recordings of experts and their teachings over the years. Time often gives us a great deal of options that we only see as the single focus. In this case, I saw a monthly 1 hour expert call. When I realized I had over 50 hours of recordings from some of the most successful small business owners in North American I started thinking, “what else can I do with this?” I had recordings stored away and inaccessible to those that really needed it. I had hours of prep work and interviews invested and was still investing and no way to ensure the experts’ brilliance was available in an ongoing way. This made me think about creating something that would be easy to use and valuable to my clients. So I created a product that gave unlimited access to all past and future recordings for $47. It is digital access so I don’t have to monitor it (except to upload new calls) and people can download and listen to any call at any time.

Bundle & Packages

If you have ever given a webinar or online training, you can use some or all of the content created for a new product. In fact, it would be best to create products with the intent of reusing the content for a digital product.

For instance, I gave a 5 week online program call “Profit and Play”. It was a detailed program on business development which included group calls and group coaching. I put the group calls and exercise work into a digital product and offered live group coaching calls to go along with it. I only needed to deliver the content once for the program and then it was delivered via weekly download. I reduced the amount of time I had to put into delivering the program and was still giving people the insight and support they needed to grow their business.

Add Value

Use any past product, part of a product, or content to add value to a new product and entice more sales. You have seen this done very successfully by many experts. When you purchase their new product they add in access to something else.

e.g. Register for my 3-day program by ‘specific-date’ and get immediate access to my ‘X-program’.

You can even use your past content to add to your marketing reach by offering it to someone else’s product launch.

e.g. Purchase my new book today and get $1000 in free gifts. (which includes a gift from you)

If you have physical product sitting on a shelf because it is not selling as it once did, make it a ‘value add’ for your newer products. This helps with current sales and also helps you clear your inventory and balance your accounting. It is much better than having to count the product every year when you do your end-of-year inventory

e.g. Buy two and we’ll through in one of our best selling products at no extra charge.

Now that you have some ideas, get your mastermind group together and brainstorm what else you can be offering to create more money in your business sales right now!

Money – Details – Path – Spend!

It’s funny, people don’t ask me about spending, they tell me “I can’t afford to…” with a belief that someday they will have the money they need to spend. I call it a belief because it usually does not come with a plan. Listen to these statements below and see if any are things you have said before. (add to the list in the comments if you have other examples)

  • By next year I should be able to hire someone.
  • I just have to get through the fall, then I will be able to do that.
  • I need a new computer and a bunch of other things for the business.
  • I can’t afford to travel right now.
  • I need to move out of my office to something bigger.

Of course we have all said something like this. These are the statements that are the beginning of a plan. The difference between someone that does get what they want and someone with the belief they can and never seems to get there, is the plan.  If you have said any statement like these and found yourself saying again for the same reason next year, and the year after, you are missing the plan.

The person with the plan to ‘hire someone next year’ is not simply hoping they have enough money to actually hire someone, they are doing the research, evaluating the job requirements, deciding on what they will actually hire for, determine the costs, creating a strategy to make the money they will need, and identifying the exact time it will be possible to hire if they meet all their deadlines.

So when do you know it is time to spend? A few years back I blew the engine in my 12 year old Subaru. I think the universe was telling me it was time to spend, but I still had to do this work, even when it was a required purchase.

Don’t Have the Money

When you don’t have the money it becomes difficult to do the work, hire, travel, purchase, etc. When I thought about getting a new car or putting a great deal of money into my old car I kept thinking to myself, “next year” or “in the fall” or some other time. Like things were just going to change on their own to make it the right time to put out a large amount of money. It is the same for our businesses. Unless we have specifically earmarked money to spend and we know the plan to make it viable for the business it is just a belief in a future that we would like to see materialize.

When you don’t have the money you need to start by thinking, “How much money do I actually need.” To answer that question it is much more than simply saying ‘a lot’ or ‘a new car’s worth’.

Don’t Know the Details

If you want to know what you have to earn you have to know what you have to spend. This is particularly true if you are also hoping to have a profit in your business. Start with the details of your purchase. Do you know how much it will cost to rent a new office space or purchase that new computer? The ‘real numbers’ not just a range that you think you know based on signs you’ve seen or people you have talked too? I find that my expectation of value are different than my actual need and that affects my estimation of cost.

When I went to purchase two computers for my office I found that one was $1,000 more than I expected and the other was actually a little less than I expected. What I needed, what I wanted, and what I could afford were all different. I had a plan to purchase the computers with an estimation based on what I saw in flyers. Computers for business require different software, different setup, and different support, plus the work to transfer what I had to my new system. If I had made a plan I would not have been surprised. I would have had the money I needed and I would have known what I had to do to make it happen without stress or issue. As it was, I got only what I needed and had to give up some of my wants on one computer to get pay for the extra cost of the other. My belief was not my reality and it cost me time and money, and added stress to my purchase.

If you want to grow your business do the research long before it is time to buy. Know what you need, where to get it, what you must have, and what you can do without so that when you are ready you can simply step into that next level of your business without surprises in cost, time or stress.

Don’t Have the Path

What do you need to sell? What level of business must you be at? What is your plan to pay back debt (if that is a factor) and what do you expect to spend? Now that you know the exact numbers you can make a plan. If you need to spend $1,200 within the next 12 months then start putting away $120 per month inside your business to make it happen. That is on top of all your debt repayments, weekly, monthly, and yearly expenses, and your paycheque. If you need to $50,000 investment within the next 12 months then the same equation applies. If you do not have that type of money coming into your business then this is where your plan would include new strategies to create money or get new investment. The money does not come at the expense of your current payments, it must come as an addition to them.

Spend

Now it is time to spend. When you get to this moment, defined in your plan, it will not feel like you are being extravagant. You will not feel like you have to continually justify your purchase. It will feel like this is what you planned for. This is the next step in your business. This is how you will earn more money, make more income, create more profit, and serve more people. We all have to invest in our businesses. Every time we want to grow we have to invest. If you have a plan then your purchases will be investments aligned with your growth strategies. Don’t just buy, buy, buy because you see a need and don’t just kept putting off investment because you never see the path, create your plan to spend and invest wisely in your business’s next steps.

 

Create More Income in Mid-Summer Doldrums

Unless your business is a ‘summer seasonal’ business, you may be like many of us where sales are down over the summer. I think it is especially difficult in places where the winters are harsh and the summers short. Where I live (in a snow belt) we get long, cold winters with a lot of snow. This summer we have had incredible weather and no one wants to be inside. For those businesses that sell to other businesses it can actually affect the bottom line.

Yesterday I was talking with a client about her June/July sales which are down over last year. After looking at all the possibilities that can affect sales we thought one of the most likely causes is that her clients (massage therapists) are not seeing as many clients themselves because of the beautiful weather and hence not using as much product. After all, with the Canadian dollar disparity and a looming price increase, they should be purchasing more right now.

If you are having a usual or unusual slowdown in the summer (or another time of the year) here are three things you can do to create more income in your business to drive more sales.

Big Sale sign in red over white background

1. Sale

Have a sale. This is a great time to let your customers and past clients know they can purchase your service or products for a short time at a really great price. It will allow you to reconnect with past clients and get your brand in front of people that have not bought from you before. This may be the opportunity some people have been waiting for to get the product or package they want. Remember that your sale price should not be less than your cost, unless it is a ‘lost leader’ meant to bring in more customers to purchase other ‘on sale’ products.

2. Unique Offering

Offer something you never sell as a one-time purchase. For instance try these unique offerings:

  1. Pair up with another business to give a ‘2-fer’ – two great purchases for one great price. Pair up with someone that offers a product or service your clients would love to have but that you do not offer (e.g. Reiki and massage / weight loss and supplements / coaching and marketing assessment). Remember, you still need to both be making money.
  2. My VA offers a summer ‘try me’ package that gives a month of her time on a trial price (50% off her regular). Believe me once you have someone doing the work for you as a consumer you are likely to continue to purchase. If you do the work for your clients try this last idea out.
  3. I have a client that loves to offer a 10% discount at a local health food store when people come through her nutritional programs. The big win for the health food store is they get new clients in the door and my client looks generous being able to get her clients this discount on food they will need for their new lifestyle.

3. Bonus

Add in something that has great value but costs you little or no additional time or money.  If you have a product that can be downloaded (a program that teaches or relaxes or energizes, etc.) you can add it to any other offering for a short period of time. Remember, it must have true value, not just your ‘free offer’.

Something else I have tried is giving clients access to a personality assessment which I purchase in bulk. This does cost me a little, but it is nominal since I purchase in bulk and it has great value to help my clients understand their marketing language, marketing archetype, or fascination value – all of which makes them better able to cope with the leadership requirements of business ownership. It also gives us language to use when we are working together so we both have a better understanding of what they need to do next for their business’s strategic growth.

Don’t let summer (or any seasonal lull) stop you from making money. Keep your clients happy, keep them coming back, keep them in-the-loop with your offering by making it more desirable to purchase right now.

As for my client with the June/July dip in sales, she has decided to offer her loyal customers one last opportunity to purchase at a lower price after she raises her prices to cover the import costs. After all, who wouldn’t want to stock up before they have to pay more?

 

If You Are Not Sure – Try it On!

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can’t do that”? Some people are afraid to try new things because we don’t know what the outcome will look like when we have never tried it before. Especially when we know it will not be easy. We want people to see us as competent so we don’t want to make a mistake doing it wrong. The challenge with this is sometimes it makes it hard to change. Trying something new means we have to do something we have not done before and that means we are not competent. This is when comfort can over-ride our need to change and we stay stuck.

I remember in the first year of business, when I met Rose Adams, who is now a good friend of mine. Rose had (and still has) the presence of a leader. She is warm and welcoming and always well dressed. I had chosen to be a part of her networking group because of her and a few other strong business women that were in the group.

Rose was kind to me and interested in seeing me do well, so she offered some advice which I accepted gratefully. She offered to go shopping with me to get new clothes. You see, I was still in ‘mommy mode’. My clothes were appropriate for outdoor at the park, walking kids to school, going camping, but not for business. I was very ‘shlumpy’. Rose and I were just acquaintances at that time so her offer was very surprising. I was honoured that this stylish, professional lawyer would take her time to shop with me. There were a couple of conditions for our shopping trip: I was not allowed to buy anything black and I had to try on everything.

Fashionable clothes that fit and look appropriate

Think about these conditions – they were very important because they were to open my eyes to ‘the new’ and what else was available to me. I had worn a lot of black and everything was comfy, jeans & T-shirt – super casual. If all I tried on was the same as what I wore, I would look the same as I had always looked. I had to get out of my comfort zone and try on things I thought looked disgusting, weird, or not me. Of course it didn’t look like me, I never wore it – but it could be me if I changed, and I did. What I found was sometimes the things I thought looked disgusting on me and sometimes they looked amazing, and everything in between. I really had no reference points to make judgements or discussions from. I didn’t know good from bad, stylish from dumpy, my style from someone else’s style. I had to start by trying it on.

The same is for learning what you are best at in your business. What do you love to do? Who do you love to spend your time with? When are you most powerful and where? Can you speak in public, are you a leader, can you create new programs, work one-on-one with your clients, do group events, host a conference, support a NFP, work with a partner.

Sometimes we just have to try something on to see if it fits. Don’t say, “No I can’t do that”, ask, “How could I do that” and then figure out how you can try it on. After all, if it doesn’t fit, you can always find someone else to wear it for you. What you will get is a sense of your limitations and what you can do well. I have used this model to find out I can actually tell great stories from the stage when I thought I was not a story teller, and that I am not the “Richard Branson” charisma leader. We all have our core strengths, and they are all valuable. Using your best strengths (wearing what fits) and learning what ‘look’ is yours will bring you authority in your authenticity because you will feel powerful and comfortable in everything you do.

Getting Your Pricing Right – 3 Key Points

Do you ever feel like you are either under or over charging for you are delivering? How about the feeling of not being completely sure what to deliver – is that an issue too? Getting your pricing right has a lot to do with what you deliver and the value it provides.

This past weekend I worked with a client that is not new to business but is new to this current business. She has incredible transformational skills that are highly valued by her clients. The challenge is she felt she was constantly giving more time than she was charging for and she could not see how she could charge more for what she was delivering.

Your Ideal Client

Knowing your ideal client will always make it easier to sell your value. In a discussion today with a business owner (let’s call her Beth) that sells personal care products, that are organic and healthy, Beth talked about how many people asked, “why would I buy your product when I can get the same product at Walmart for 1/4 the price?” Those questions don’t bother her any longer because Beth knows her client is the mother with a child that cannot tolerate additives, scents, gluten, etc., that are the cheaper way of making the products sold for less. Her ideal client needed what she has and is excited to find it both locally manufactured and sold, even at a higher price.

What is the Result/Benefit?

Our clients don’t buy for features, they buy for the results it will give them. This is why it is so important to understand who your ideal client is. By knowing who they are you can also know what they value most. Is it more time to be with their family, less stress around managing a business, or healthier kids that don’t need prescriptions? Whatever it is, it will be something that closely affects the happiness and enjoyment of their lives. Your product or service needs to speak to their needs. It must provide a benefit that solves their issues. If you don’t know what that is, ask your best clients what it is they get from you.

For Beth it is not the product she is selling, it is the health of a mother’s child which in turn gives them the ability to do better in school and live a happier more productive life. Beth knows that a child with sensitivities or allergies cannot easily focus in school and they start acting out or falling behind. Beth also knows that having toothpaste, hand cream, or cleansers that don’t aggravate or trigger her child is absolutely invaluable when her client’s child comes home with an ‘A’ in school.

Always know your ideal client’s needed results so you can sell the benefits and not the features.

Your Own Value First

You must be able to truly believe that what you are charging is of great value. That you are giving something that is going to do what you say it will do and you must know the cost in hours and expenses. This helps determine your pricing.

In the case of my transformational client from this past weekend, she was offering a choice of two coaching packages: 3-month or 6-month, where the 6-month was twice the price of the 3-month. So what is the value of purchasing 2x more time with her? There was nothing that she knew her clients needed that would be defined by spending twice the time with her. So what did they actually get? It turned out that her best clients usually started with a focused session that identified their blocks. They actually left this first visit feeling better. The remaining time is how she locked in their transformation, went to the deeper blocks, and kept them continually feeling better. Her problem was she felt guilty about giving them 2+ hours for the first visit because she was not charging them for it and she did not want to increase the price because she did not know the value (or at least she could not define the value in terms of benefits and results).

Without changing her hourly rate we re-evaluated her product delivery and benefits and came up with a product that met her ideal client’s needs, gave them measurable results, and was priced to cover her costs, both in time and in expenses. It did not feel more expensive. It was actually easier to sell as she could speak directly to the transformation and the time it would take. She could stand behind her offering and really make a difference. It made selling more like an invitation for her clients to feel better and be more productive.

By knowing her ideal client and their needs she could create a product with lots of value that gave the results they were seeking. She could now easily charge what she was worth.

Being congruent with your value first will allow you to be valued by others and will make you more competitive. Charging what you think people will pay will not. Don’t let an industry, a mentor, or a potential client tell you what to charge. Do the research and the math and make your numbers represent the actual value. It will be worth your time.

Creating a Successful 2015 – 3 Important Keys to Growth

Are you looking to create a more successful year in 2015? What are you planning on doing different?

If you want something different to happen you must do something different and this is often the challenge of creating more. Different sometimes means ‘more of the same’, but often that is not possible. The challenge with growing a business is usually that we get to a place in our business where we are so busy, and we are so invested that we have no more time and no more money to do ‘more of the same’.

Creating a more successful business takes doing something new. Doing something new is almost like starting a new business. There is new development, implementation, marketing, operations, costs, and customer support. You wouldn’t start a new business without a plan so don’t start a new year with a new focus and no plan.

1. What are You Creating?

Doing what you do

Be very clear about what you are planning on implementing. If growth simply means taking on 5 new clients per month doing what you currently do, then first you need to evaluate if:

  • what you do is selling well enough now to be able to sell more
  • you have enough time to service 5 more clients running the way you currently do
  • you will need the same, more, or different marketing to reach 5 more clients

You may need to change your product, hire someone to manage other things in your business or create a new marketing campaign to be able to attract and handle 5 new clients.

Planning for an increase in sales may take shifting your resources and adding more or new duties. Look at all aspect of your business evaluation and determine where you need to make changes.

Doing something new

If growth means creating a new product or service, reaching a new target market, opening a new branch, selling franchises, or licensing your business model then you have a much bigger plan to make. Don’t skip making a plan just because you have done this before. Success requires knowledge of the endpoint and a grasp of what it will take to get there.

Where to start

Start with the end. Where do you plan on ending? What does your ending point look like? Be specific. Do you plan on creating a new service? Describing the product is likely the easy part. You already have this as it was the vision you had seen when you first thought of growth. But don’t stop at ‘I want to create a new program and it will have 5 levels and take 9 weeks.’ You need to know everything about it.

  1. What will it cost me to run this program (in time)
  2. What will it cost my business to manage this program
  3. How many new clients do I need to cover the cost of creating this new program
  4. How many clients do I need to breakeven on the cost of the program
  5. What will it take to attract these new clients
  6. What other resources do I need (new website, more help, investment, etc.)

2. What is the Plan?

Figuring out how to get your business working should not be left as a surprise for the end of the year. If you set something in motion you should know the outcome and if it is not what you expect you should make changes along the way. Don’t just make your plan and hope you get what you expect to get next New Year’s Eve.

Man surprised at what he was not expecting

Now that you know what the end looks like work backwards.

  1. If you know it will cost you an extra 15 hours a month to run the program, book 15 hours a month for the program in your calendar right now. Figure out when you will offer the programs and make it real.
  2. If running the programs does not cost you any extra money then great, otherwise, figure out how you will pay for that cost when you don’t have any clients. If you cannot afford it (e.g. you have a manufacturing process that must be developed and optimized) then look for other ways you can pay for it (investment, loan, pre-sale deposits, other income) while you build up your sales.
  3. Determine how you will pay for the creation of the new product. My favourite way to launch a new product is to offer it at a reduced price for a short period of time to the people that already love you. Getting your clients to pay you a little to  create something new is a win-win. You get to start, they get to learn, you get feedback, they get support.
  4. If it will cost you more to support this new number of clients than you can afford in time and income, you need to evaluate what you are charging. Know what your time is worth and how much of it you need to get paid for (not your company, but you).
  5. Look at your current marketing. Is there any way you can get more clients from what you are currently doing? It is more likely that you will need to add a marketing channel or invest more time into your current channels. If your new product is a service or a program delivered by you, the best way to get new clients is to get out speaking. If you get your marketing right, you should have the clients you need at your product launch. This will help with the cost to launch a new product.
  6. Know the cost of everything (in time and money). Don’t dismiss a cost just because it only took you an hour. One hour here – 15 minutes there – a week later on. Everything you do will add up and when you don’t know your costs you won’t understand why you have no time or why you are so overwhelmed and it may lead to a failure to launch.

3. What are the Steps?

Doing the work of your business is never a ‘One-off’ event. Everything you do leads into the next event, launch, sale, program start, etc. There must be a continuous process in place with timelines for each event, all the pre-event work that must be done, and all the post-event follow-up booked to be complete. Start with a marketing calendar, it will illuminate the steps and uncover the work that needs to be completed.

For example, let’s assume you plan on launching a new 5-level program on Monday June 1, 2015. It will take 3 months to deliver with 3 hours per week delivery time and 2 hours a week prep-work. You will deliver it 3 out of 4 weeks per month over the three months for a total of 9 weeks (at 15 hours per week).

  • Start at June 1 and put your program delivery times into your calendar.
  • Put your prep time into your calendar
  • Add follow-up time for the week (or more) following the program. Remember to ask for testimonials while you are following up.
  • Add up your new expenses.
  • What are you going to charge?
  • Define your expected sales income.
  • Now work backwards.
    • What is the last date someone can sign up for the program?
    • What events will you host to fill your program? Remember you will need to know your conversion rate for any specific type of event to know how many you will need to do to fill the program.
    • What do you have to do to invite people to the pre-events
    • Where else will you tell people about your program (website, flyers, business cards, ads, Google, networking). Book time and other resource now to ensure these channels get set up early so you are not challenged with technical work when you are trying to focus on inviting.
  • And work forwards
    • What is the next program this will lead into? Make sure that it is in your calendar so while you deliver this program you are talking about the next step up. (The best time to convert a past client into another sale is when they are totally loving what you do and they are seeing the results of working with you.)

Every sale, every launch, every networking event, every speaking engagement, etc. is an invitation to a program or next event you are hosting. It is a constant process of filling your programs through your marketing channels. Fill your calendar with your marketing plan so you can fill your programs with new clients.

 

How To Make Less Risky – More Confident Decisions

If you have ever thought to yourself, “Hey, I’ve thought of that idea before. I could have been rich like that guy.” If you think you could have made money off an idea you had because you see someone else making money off of it, you are right. You can still likely make money off of that idea, but now you have an excuse not to do the work. The main difference between the person that does make money off an idea and those that feel they missed out, is the decisions that were made around what had to be done.

Everybody Dreams – Few Do the Work

Women Thinking

If you want to see a significant change in your business or life, like more clients, more income, bigger target market, larger territory, a new product line, more employees, more notoriety, etc. you have to be willing to decide on the change that must take place and then do the work. Decision making is a core entrepreneurial skill and you MUST learn to be good at this so you can take action when action is required.

As an employee, you were given tasks to complete and core responsibilities to manage. Your decisions were defined by the level of leadership you held.

  • New to the position? – do the work you are given.
  • Manager level position? – decide on events and issues that will affect the people that work under you and how you will respond.

Now that you are a business owner you are responsible for all aspects of your business. You must be able to make decisions easily and with clarity for the benefit of the business and all the people it will affect.

Confident decision making seems to be a weakness of women business owners in particular. I cannot tell you how many times I have had a successful business owner tell me she have identified a specific need for her business and then, after speaking to her non-entrepreneurial spouse, had decided that it would not be a great idea. The spouse, out of fear for a future they cannot perceive, will always default to a safe response, as only money = security to a non-entrepreneur. Money should always be a factor in your decision making for business but not the only factor.

Perspective without a view can hamper good judgement and stop growth. If the person making decisions in your business does not have full view of the big-picture, their perspective will now benefit the growth of your business. Either give them all the details or stop asking them for their advice.

Below are three factors that will help you with decision making. If your business decisions are clear about these three factors then you will start making less risky, more confident decisions.

1. What is Your Business Goal?

You should always be working towards a goal in your business and life. If you have no set goals (and that does mean it MUST be written down) you will not have the motivation to continually do what it takes to make your business work, especially when things are tough. You should have one ambitious long-term goal, a mid-range goal (1-2 years to complete) and several short term goals that support them. For instance:

Long-term goal To have a successful national membership program with a minimum of 500 members country-wide.

Mid-range goal – To create a national program that has monthly meetings in 5 main cities across the country, with 25 members per city, paying a yearly memberships of $200 each, by 2016.

Short-term goal – Launch the first chapter by May 2015 with a minimum of 15 members.

Ask Yourself – How does this decision affect my goals?

2. Know Your Business’s Mission

My mission is to help business owners feel empowered to successfully implement big ideas in their business so they can make a difference to others in the world. When I look at decisions that I have to make for my business I first want to make sure it is in line with what I want to do, who I want to do it for, how I will provide that service, and why I want to do it. If my decision does not support my mission then it is likely a shiny object that I have been distracted by.

Ask Yourself – will acting on this decision further the goals I have set to support my mission?

3. Know How to Calculate Your ROI

Let’s talk about the money. Sometimes it is hard to spend the money required to make more money because all we can see is the expense. I know, I have this same issue. It also does not stop me from making key decisions in my business that will help propel my business growth.

Write down your answers to these 4 questions.

  1. What is the Cost? – This is the obvious number to look at.
  2. What can you change that will make you more money if you do this?
  3. How much money can you generate from this change in your business?
  4. How else can you pay for this?

The last question is the key to making more money. Looking for opportunities to reduce or eliminate costs is the best way to create an easy path to confident decision making. I recently heard a story about Richard Branson starting Virgin Airlines and how he reduced the risk of the expense of purchasing a Boeing Commercial Airplane. He made a deal with Boeing that they would purchase the airplane back from him in a year if he could not make the new airline company work.

In 2013 I was creating my event plans for 2014 and I knew I was going to be spending a lot of money on locations.  I made an arrangement with a business centre to become my sponsor for the year. My clients were their ideal target market. I got the locations for free, they got online advertising with the programs and the opportunity to speak directly to my clients at the events.

Check-in

Does your decision further your goals; Is it in line with your mission and can you make enough money by investing your time, money or energy required to implement this decision so you can continue to grow your business

After passing these three check-points you can now look at your ability to fund the idea and make a less-risky, more confident decision.