Why Leverage Gets You More and Costs You Less

I talk about leverage when referring to business growth. Leveraging what you have allows you to do more with your current resources. It costs less in time and money then setting up something completely new. It does not replace full system upgrades or the addition of all new products, services, or marketing streams, but it can help you make more from the products you currently sell and the time you currently give to your business.

The three areas of your business that are easiest to add leverage to are:

  1. Automation
  2. Systems
  3. Better Time Management

Here is one tip for each area to get you started.

1. Automatione-mail Button

There are thousands of free and inexpensive applications you can download to help make your work easier. If you are sending emails to groups of people then look for a mail program to help design your next email marketing campaigns (e.g. Mail Chimp). If you are speaking online to many people find a free conference calling program (e.g. Free Conference Pro) and reach more people.

2. Systems

Don’t make this an extra step. Record your process as you do the work. Having procedures in place will allow you to create a consistent client experience, evaluate what is not working well, and reduce the time it takes to offload and train someone else to do the work.

3. Better Time Management

Get an accountability partner to help stay committed to doing the work and to keep you on track for your immediate and long-term plans. Set a standing weekly call time, check in with this information:

  1. Did I get the things done I committed to last week?
  2. If not what was your biggest challenge?
  3. What am I committing to completing this week?

Get into the mindset that there are opportunities all around you and you just need to learn to take advantage of them by leveraging the time and dollars you have right now. Make more out of what you already have invested in your business.

Going for Gold in Business – What It Takes

At the Olympics there is only one gold medal given in each event. In business we can all take a gold medal in what we do. The mindset around going for that Gold drives the athlete to perform above the average sports-minded person. In business there is an expectation that if you do what is expected of you then you can outperform and become successful. The bad news is, you have to perform like an Olympic athlete to out-perform the average. The good news is, you can do this!

The one thing that really struck home with me this Olympics was the shear effort that an athlete takes to get where they are in the standings. When Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Silver medalists for the free dance skating event and Gold medal winners from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics were interviewed after the event, Moir said they never thought about quitting after 2010. Actually what happened was they were so focused on the practice and competition and the routine of doing the work that got them to their Gold that they just continued entering competitions and preparing.

In business after we have a ‘win’ what will often happen is a time to recover and relax, but that is not what will put you in the lead. It’s not about doing it great once, it is about doing it great over and over. It took many wins for athletes to just get to the Olympics. It takes many wins for a great business to get beyond good. It is the consistency of your effort, not the effort alone.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir CBC video of their performance

1. Keep Creating

Keep creating new competitions for your business to be part of. In fact, book several of them over the next year. Whether it is a sale, marketing campaign, charity event, speaking opportunity, or your own program, have something in the pipeline that you are always working towards.

2. Be Consistent

Be consistent with your effort. Every event will require the same amount of effort as your best effort can provide. To be great you have to perform great all the time.

3. Believe

Don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done. After all what are the odds an athlete that is good can get to the Olympics and then what are the odds they will get gold? If they gave up on the belief of their own ability then they lost before they started.

Have faith in what you can do. Daily effort, a focused goal, regular investment in ‘the new’, and a team of people that can help you get where you want is what I’m taking away from the Olympics this year.

 

To Make More Money – Give Them What They Ask For

There are three things that affect the way we want to sell our products: our idea of value (price), our self-worth (image), flexibility to create (product).

It is interesting to see how often, we as entrepreneurs, think we know best about what we offer and what will sell. It can be very different than what we think. Our clients are likely already asking for something specific and we sometimes are not listening. Creating a product, setting a price, and being able to deliver with an image of value is not easy.

I was working with a client recently (let’s call her Jane). It was clear that Jane was very focused on what she was good at and she has a phenomenal following. Clients and prospects love her. She spends a lot of energy trying to teach all the people about what she has to offer hoping the ones that understand what she is teaching will purchase from her. The funny thing is, she had several very prominent people saying they needed to work with her, but she didn’t know what she could offer them nor how she would price it.

It wasn’t what she was currently offering. Instead of saying ‘no’ or ignoring them we spent time looking at what she could offer them. It quickly became evident that it was hard for people to buy from her because her idea of value and her flexibility to create did not match her self-worth. She was in the realm of Guru and had created a halo effect around her expertise, but she spent her time selling to those that did not know they needed help in the first place.

By adjusting her product offering and her pricing she now had something that would easily appeal to those that were already reaching out to her. Her image matched her offering and now more easily draws in the right clients, which is not her niche target market.

When you stop and look at who understands you and what they need then evaluate what you offer and see if it matches. When it doesn’t you need to make some changes. Be flexible and willing to make the changes that will appeal to your target market. Here are some tips to make changes in these three areas.

Image Product Price
  • Be seen where your clients are.

Network where they network, advertise where they read, invite them to things they would attend.

  • Make it what they want.

If your clients say I can’t afford that now then make something they can afford. Listen for what they are not getting or they don’t want and adjust for their needs.

 

  • Do not charge by the hour.

Your product for 20 hours should not be 20 times more expensive then one hour. Add value, create interest and price to give breaks for those that pay up front for larger products.

By listening to those that identify with your image and want what you have you identify your niche and create products that will easily sell.

3 Tips to Serve and Still Take the Time Off

Are you worried about taking time off over the holidays? Maybe your client will need you. Maybe you will miss the call or email from that prospect you have been courting. Maybe they will be so upset with you that they stop doing business with you.

Maybe, but not likely.

Doing business and/or not doing business over the Christmas Holidays is a challenge for most small business owners.

  • Should I answer my email?
  • Should I close for the week?
  • Can I go without picking up my phone when my best customer calls?

These are all questions we find hard to answer since as a small business, every sale is often crucial to our future existence as a business. What I want to share with you this week are three tips to creating a relationship with your clients and prospects that will give you the balance in your life to close for a day or a week, be with your family, and still keep your best clients.

Work Life Balance

1. Set Your Boundaries:

This is actually true for all year round. Once set, when the holiday comes the expectation is understood. If you are always available then you will always need to be available, so don’t always be available. When we are setting up a relationship we need to let people know what is and is not important to us.

Do you have dinner with your kids every night? Are you a single mom with responsibilities that must be handled at specific times? Do you have other people in your life, like parents or friends that also rely on you? Likely you do and that is why you cannot allow your business to determine when you are available. You must set that boundary and stick to it.

The key is that you do not have to tell people why you are not available, just that you are not available. If you want to say, “I have an important meeting I cannot miss on Monday mornings” because you have to take your mother to the doctor’s every week, then say that. People will understand when you give them the alternative times you are available.

Here are some suggestions:

  • We return calls within 2 hours
  • We are closed on statutory holidays
  • We answer calls between 8am and 5pm EST
  • As stated in our contract, I will be available on Christmas day from 2-4pm EST
  • For immediate support please contact…

Remember, I am not saying there will never be exceptions, I’m saying you can set your boundaries and you will be pleasantly surprised to know that most people will be happy to connect at your available time.

2. Get the Word Out

If you are going to be closed, don’t make your clients guess when, let them know ahead of time. Post it in the most likely places it will be seen. Not everyone will see it ahead of time so make sure it is also in a place they will get the information on the days you are away.

Key – Make sure you add the date of the day you will return or reopen.

  • Put it in your email signature line (e.g. We will be close Dec 25 and 26)
  • Put it on your voicemail message
  • Put it in your Christmas cards
  • Put it on your website
  • Put it on the door or window of your business location
  • Put it in your special mailings, social media profile and/or newsletters

3. Turn it Off

If you are truly going to be unavailable to your clients, make sure you give yourself permission to not work. Shut everything down. Turn off your phone, don’t check your social media or email. If you do then make sure you allot a specific amount of time to be present and engaged in your business and then stop at the time you said you would be done.

This allows you to respect your time and also those in your life you committed to spending time with. If you have someone in your family that cannot come to a meal without looking at their clock or answering their phone, then you know what it is like to be thought of as ‘second fiddle’. It stinks! Be as present in your time off as you are for your time in business and you will enjoy more balance in your life.

It’s All About You

As you step into the mindset of an entrepreneur it can start to feel very lonely. Decisions are made with great insight and research, but not always understood by those around you. Running  business can require you to know a lot about the people under you but they cannot know everything about you. And if you were to share everything about your business with everyone involved it could ruin your competitive edge, not to mention the moral of your business. Being the head of your business means you take responsibility for everything and sometimes that is a very solitary position.

In small business we are often the only person the knows all the ‘moving parts’ in the business plan. With few employees we will be the one wearing the majority of the hats in our business as well. When I say it is all about you, it is nearly all you. Running a small business takes skills and talents to be able to manage and understand the significance of every position in your company.

The larger your business the more support you get, in terms of offloading work, but you will still be responsible for all the work done in your business, just not doing the work. So what is that critical point at which it is not all about you anymore? What I mean is, at what point can you give away a responsibility and be confident that work is getting done?

Micheal E. Gerber in his book, “E Myth Mastery: The Seven Essential Disciplines for Building a World Class Company” tells a story of giving away the CFO position to a competent expert and still going bankrupt. His lesson to us is that we are always responsible for what our business does, what it owes, what it creates, what it ships, and how it treats its clients and employees, and at the top of the power pyramid in your company is you, the CEO.

Think of yourself as the parent of your company. As a good parent you are responsible for the action of your child until they are actually legally liable to take the responsibility themselves. It is similar with your business. Until your business is large enough that there is enough people in the company to help police and oversee each other’s actions, you will be the one to oversee everyone. In a family, if you were to share family issues with your kids they don’t have the skills or understanding to be able to process the challenge and understand the risks or solutions. It is the similar as the leader of your business. Giving everyone in your employ the knowledge of all aspects of your business can lead to worry, anger, doubt, etc. and may not be easily tolerated by your employees.

lonely_freedom_by_spahli-d5evx3e

It is a lonely seat that must watch over and guide the masses within, but it will get less lonely as you lead those underneath you to step up and be leaders in your business as well.

Until then, it is all about you, so act as the one responsible, take responsibility for the companies actions, and learn how to handle conflict without getting defensive. You will be modeling the way for future leaders to take over some of your hats, and as a result you will be increasing the value of your business.

Managing Stress – 3 Tips to Help You Stay Grounded and Feeling in Control

Stress in a business where you are the only one putting in the money and doing most of the work can be overwhelming. It can eat at you while you sleep, waking you to revisit challenges and run through them over-and-over. It can make it hard for you to participate in other life events. Stress can even stop you from being a great partner, spouse, or parent. You need to know how to manage stress so you don’t stop working toward greatness.

I would guess that it is the stress of managing a business’s growth, the finances and all the work that has led to the failure of so many small business. I guess this because I’ve come to that point many times in the growth of my two businesses, where I’m thinking, what would my life be like if I had a job!

I want to share three things I do when I’m feeling the stress of growth that helps me stay focused and feeling good about the choices I have made.

Key

Know your stress triggers. What is causing your stress: a deadline, an RFP, an employee interaction, a large project you’ve undertaken, a financial commitment, etc. If you are just stressed and you don’t know why it will be very hard to do anything about it. In fact there may be an underlying health issue. See my NOTE and comment below if this is the case.

1. Put It In Perspective

What are the most important things in your life? Why are you doing what you are doing? For me, my family is my most important thing. Initially, when my kids were small, I did what I do so I would have more time with my kids, be around them and available for them. Now that they are a little older, I do it so I can create more for my family and because I truly love what I do.

So, when I’m stressed and I know the root cause – often money – I ask myself these questions:

  • Is my mortgage paid? – will my kids have a home to come back to after school?
  • Are my utilities paid? – can we live comfortably?
  • Are my other financial commitments met?

I usually can answer yes and if the answer is no to any of them I ask

  • Do I have a way to meet my financial commitment – and I work out a plan

What I find is by putting my stress into perspective I usually get great relief. When I can answer, ‘yes my kids have a home and food on the table’ and knowing this meets my biggest goals and focus for what I do and why I do it, I know I am OK and I can take a big breath.

2. Share it with Others (not just one)

Can’t get it into perspective? Then share it with someone else, preferably someone in your peer group, that can easily understand your predicament and be able to give you real advice, not just console you. Here are some ways to ensure you have these people in your life before you need them:

  • join a mastermind group
  • regularly connect on a personal level with someone in your networking group
  • get socially connected with other business owners
  • belong to an association of people doing what you do
  • engage a coach, adviser, or mentor you can reach out to for support
  • be an adviser/mentor to someone else

Do not expect great support from your parents or siblings if they have never owned their own business. They want to help and see the best for you because they care, but they won’t see what you see and you may end up feeling worse off then you were before you talked to them.

3. Have a Plan (and work it)

When you get through the work your stress levels should be back to normal. Having an end point to the stress is how you will work through it. For me, getting from payment to payment for a short period of time was how I coped. Knowing I had the money in my account to cover my leases made the stress go away so I could fully focus my energy on being the best I could be for my clients and my family.

Another big stress time for me is during my events. At each stage of implementation there is a critical point in which I have to get something completed. I needed to create sponsorship packages, but to have that I had to have my speakers lined up. I had one speaker back out last minute and that created a bit of a panic. It was short lived because that person, helped me find the new speaker and that was the end-point for that stress trigger.

Knowing why you do what you do, having a team to help you through it, and a plan to manage it are my three keys to managing the stress in my business. Knowing that, as your business grows so do your challenges. The changes your experience will create new stress and you’ll need new plans to manage them.

As Carrie Fisher once said, “There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

NOTE – This information is provided as a coping tool. Not all stress is manageable and may be an indicator of something more serious. If you are feeling yucky all the time you may want to seek professional medical help to ensure you are not trying to work through something worse. I’m not a doctor so please know that if you cannot relieve your pain, you should at least ask your doctor about your situation. I have had friends end up in a break down, and it can be devastating to you, your family, and your business. Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association or other resources to get more information online.

Don’t Ignore Your Trends

Do you know what trends are driving your industry? Understanding the trends means that you can watch for trend changes and be on top of it in your business if you have to make a course adjustment to your business growth and sustainability.

Trendy_purseFirst – What is the trend your business is built on?

Selling water filters may be based on the trend for healthy living, selling MRI machines for hospitals may be the trend of increased disease awareness and the drive for healthier living, and electric bikes may be driven by environmental concerns and the need to also continue with a healthy lifestyle.

In my business of coaching, speaking, and training I see a couple of trends that affect this market and increase the number of people doing what I do tremendously: the economy collapse and the need for education for people later in life.

In 2008 the collapse of Wall Street brought a lot of unrest and worry to the average person, not only in the USA but also in the global market. People were losing their jobs and their homes at an alarming rate. Getting support to carry on, build something new, apply to another industry, or go back to ‘the market’ is difficult and scary. Getting support from someone that can help find the path and keep you on it was one of the reasons coaching became more popular. A second outcome was that the people in that transition could also become a coach.

When people realized that to make a change and apply for a job they had never done before would require education, the education industry exploded. My understanding is that this is true in unstable markets were job loss and unemployment are high. Being a business expert and a coach meant that I could hit a market of people in transition, starting something new by creating a business for themselves, and needing education to make it last. This is the trend I watch.

Second – What are you going to be watching for?

Knowing the metrics, factors, purchasing habits, etc. are great, but knowing exactly what you will be watching and at what time you need to start looking for a new path is even more important. Businesses that are successful stay on top of the trends in their market. Google broke into an already crowded cell phone market a few years back by knowing that there was still room in the technology for growth and innovation. There was still a lot of people that did not own a cell phone and although the younger buyer may be set with their Apple purchase, the older consumer using Blackberry was now looking for something different. If Blackberry had been on top of this trend they would have released their own button-free, touchscreen phone years earlier and it would have likely helped their sales tremendously.

As the baby boomers continue to retire, many without the funds to live comfortably without work, there will continue to be a need for what I do. After that bubble passes my expertise may be in less demand and changing my marketing strategies as well as my services will be the first places I start.

Find out what the trend is that you are following, and look for new trends in your market so you can be prepared.

Why Knowing Your Position Can Increase Your Profits

I bet you have answered this question at least once in the last week if you have done any networking, “What do you do?” Our answers vary depending on what we feel we do. I’ve heard responses like:

  • I own a business
  • I’m a massage therapist
  • I work with speakers and coaches
  • I do marketing
  • I’m a WordPress expert

And so on… There is a better way to answer this to ensure you get interest from your target client, but that is not what we are talking about today. What I want you to notice is that we often mention what our specialty is. What we do as the ‘technician’ of our business, as Michael E. Gerber would put it. This is our mindset as to our role in our business and it is the reason we can fail to grow our business.

When you want to grow your business there is one question you need to ask yourself to start the process.

Q.  What is my role in this bigger business?

To answer this question you have to think big. Think about the business you want to have. How big is it? How many employees? What income and profit does it make? How big is your location? How much inventory do you carry?

Once you have this number (pick one to focus on) multiply it by 10. If you were going to be a $100,000 ($100k) a year life coach, then your new number for this exercise will be $1,000,000 ($1M). Why do I want to you look at this huge number? Because this is where you will find your ultimate role and it will allow you to more easily manage a business of $100k or surpass it if you choose to.

So now ask yourself these questions about your $1M business.

  • If I had a $1M business how many clients would I need to have (or how many products would I need to sell)?
    • Can I manage all these clients myself?
    • If the answer is ‘no’ then how many people would you need to hire to manage that many clients?
  • Would I be able to create that much business by myself to get all those clients?
    • If the answer is ‘no’ then what marketing or sales strategies would you need to have in place?
  • Will I enjoy running the business and never seeing the clients?
    • If the answer is ‘no’ then whom will you hire to be your CEO or President to manage the ‘big picture’ of your business?
  • Can I continue to oversee the administration, reception, and financials of my business?
  • If ‘no’ then identify how many people would be required to manage those functions in your large business.

As you go down these questions (and you may think of many others) you help eliminate those roles that you are currently doing but would not be able to handle when your company is really big. What you are left with is the one or two roles that you really want to do and should be doing in your business.

How does this increase your profits? As you attempt to grow your business the #1 issue people run in to is that they cannot handle all the work. They are overwhelmed. This will stop a business dead in its ‘growth’ tracks. When you know what roles in your company you will need to offload as the business gets bigger you can start by outsourcing small pieces of those responsibilities. Start with offloaded an hour and continue to offload responsibilities that you cannot manage until you can hire someone into your company. No one gets hired until their role is making you money – meaning you save more time to make the money or they actually are bringing in dollars.

You cannot run a business and do all the work in a large company, so don’t expect to grow your business and continue to manage everything. Know your ultimate role and grow your business until you get to play in that role exclusively and others are looking after the rest.

Want more help with this, watch for my next CEO Hat event coming in November.

What Money is Not

Recently I have spent a lot of time considering success and significance, not only in my life but also in others. What makes someone successful and what makes them significant and is there a difference? If you get Success Magazine, go back to the CD in the October 2011 issue and listen to the interview with John C. Maxwell. Maxwell describes significance as the ability to “make a difference with people that want to make a difference doing something that makes a difference at a time when it makes a difference.” I would add to that “while empowering others to become significant so they can also make a difference.”

So, on my journey I have found myself continually surrounded by people that are significant to those in their lives, bringing success and significance to others. One of those people is Rev. Karen Russo.

The Money Keys

I am so grateful to have been introduced to Rev. K, the author of “The Money Keys“. When she was in Toronto a couple of weeks ago she made time to come and speak at my event. Her message was so powerful even I had to purchase her book and CD’s to further my own money mindset and the traps I have around money that stop me from becoming more successful.

In chapter two she has an exercise that had me write two columns: one titled “Money is” and the other titled “Money is not”. Under each title I wrote what I felt money is and what I knew money was not. The interesting thing was that success fell under money and significance fell under what money is not. Here are my two columns.

Money is – Food , House, clothes, shoes, Success, vacation, Cottage, bike, car, membership, people that you know

John C. Maxwell describes success as money, position, expertise, and that it is all about me – Selfish

Money is not – Happiness, time, learning, ability, relaxation, significance, creativeness, love, fun, people that know you

John C. Maxwell describes significance as “something more than success”, what I can do for others – unselfish

Work towards having money, because the challenges of having to deal with life on a minimal or limited budget can be  more stressful and a lot less fun than if you do have money. But once you have money start working towards significance.  What can you do for your community, your city, your country, others without success or significance in their lives, locally and around the world. What are you passionate enough about that you will make a significant difference to someone else? This is what money is not.

More Money – More Success? Right?

Dollar Signs

When we think success we look at the things people have and think, ‘nice car, they must do well to afford that’ or ‘they are always going away on vacation, it must be nice to have that kind of money.”

Is it really the money that makes people successful? The answer is Yes and No. It would be great if I could say, ‘well you can be completely successful without money, but there is a component of success that deals with comfort. Someone can be successful in money when they reach their comfort level, whatever that may be, but being comfortable does not mean they are successful. Let’s look at the three pieces I feel really elevate someone, in my eyes, to being seen as successful and what you can do to obtain success yourself.

1. Significance

The number one (#1) thing that really screams success to me is how significant the person’s life is. By this I mean:

  • What are they doing that will outlive them
  • Who have they positively affected
  • How many people are now on the path to being successful themselves

Having a life of significance is important to use all. It doesn’t have to be that the world knows you; it is that the world around you knows you. I think the easiest way to measure someone’s significance is to listen to what others say about that person.

To bring significance to your own life look at doing something like:

  • Take on a volunteer project that you can stick with for more than one event
  • Give back every opportunity you have without expectation of receiving
  • Mentor someone else so they become more successful

2. Credibility

To become successful people have to trust you…

  • trust you to do your job right
  • trust you with their children
  • trust that the information you gave them will be correct and actually help

To be successful you have to be credible in the things you do. Try some of these tips to become more credible in what you do.

  • Honour your commitments
  • Continue to learn and be open to being wrong
  • Apologize when you are wrong and make it right

3. Struggle

Every person who is successful has a story. At some point there was a challenge that caused the person to grow. To be able to take on more we have to learn how to be bigger and more effective at what we do. This means there is a struggle that happens during these times of transition:

  • Struggle to believe in their own worth
  • Struggle to make the money last longer than the month
  • Struggle to become credible and significant

This growth stage (which will happen every time a successful person grows again) can be eased by following these three tips:

  • Surround yourself with great people (supporters, mentors, staff, partners, coaches, etc.)
  • Accept that you don’t have to come in with the answer, but that you will leave with one
  • Have a specific and measurable plan so you can have full faith in your own abilities to reach your goals

Being successful, whether at home, in your job, at your volunteer position or in your business, means reaching your goals through tolerable struggle, creating credibility around our abilities, and having a legacy of your worth as a parent, spouse, leader, teacher, owner, or entrepreneur. With this in place, the money will come.