Archive for January, 2013

Are You Ready for Growth

Most owners want to grow their business, but also feel some trepidation. “Am I ready? Do I have needed things in place? Will I end up just working more hours but earning no more money?” Examples I have worked with:

 

• You own a popular and profitable restaurant, and you have the opportunity to open a second location. But you can’t be at both places at the same time! How do you uphold your high service standards?

 

• You have a successful professional practice, with more clients than you can handle. You’re thinking of hiring and training others to work for you. But you wonder if you could end up boosting your revenue without making any more money yourself.

 

• Your small bakery sells in your shop and through a few local stores. Now a food broker says she can help you expand sales throughout the region. But this will definitely force you out of your comfortable “mom and pop” style. You’re afraid the added work will just swallow your life.

 

These are appealing options, but daunting. Do you have what it takes? Or should you just stay the same? Here’s how you can tell.

 

These are my “Top 10 Rules” for business growth. They’re also true if your main interest is building profitability or streamlining operations so that you have more time for other things.

 

Use the exercise to rate yourself.

 

The first rule is “The more you can let go, the more you can grow.”

This trips up many entrepreneurs, who, let’s face it, are control freaks. “The business is moi! I’m the only one who can do this work. It’s my sweat and blood. How can I trust others to take over these key tasks?” But those who learn to let go are those who grow, and they do so by applying the following factors:

 

2. The better teams you can build… the faster you can grow. 
People who grow companies rapidly know how to put a good team in place, then move on to the next thing. They become a leader of independent teams.

 

3. The more you insist on top performance… the faster you can grow. 
Do not let mediocre performers dictate your rate of growth, whether they are employees, customers, vendors, or professionals. Pay more for higher quality. Hire people smarter than you.

 

4. The more systematized you get… the faster you can grow. 
All routine tasks must be described in user manuals, checklists, and software programs, so that you and your people can focus attention on the big, creative challenges. If you don’t do this, you can’t do Rule #1.

 

5. The savvier your advisors… the faster you can grow. 
You must let go of the “lone ranger” approach to running the business. Bring in people who know more than you do, and aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re making a mistake.

 

6. The bigger you can envision… the faster you can grow. 
Your expanding vision creates the space into which your company grows. A small vision constricts the growth of your company. Make sure your near-term goals and actions move you toward your vision.

 

7. The more you can inspire and guide… the faster you can grow. 
You must be a leader, not just a manager—or a worker bee. Keeping your nose to the grindstone is the mark of a small operator.

 

8. The more open you are to changing direction… the faster you can grow. 
You must be somewhere between the Titanic plowing through the night sea and the hound dog scrambling frantically to find the scent of the rabbit. Stick with your direction—until it’s time to shift, then change decisively.

 

9. The more surplus or profit you generate… the faster you can grow. 
Profit is the engine of growth. Low margin companies gasp for the air provided by profit, and they huff and puff going up the slightest growth curve. Go for profit, not just revenue.

 

10. The more capital you bring in from the outside… the faster you can grow. 
Companies that grow from internal profitability grow at a much slower rate. Those that obtain bank financing grow somewhat faster, and those that collaborate with people or companies providing angel or venture capital can grow quite quickly – sometimes too fast.

 

Mike Van Horn is a small business growth adviser who works with owners of established companies that are grappling with the challenges of growth. He is author of “How to Grow Your Business without Driving Yourself Crazy” plus several other workbooks and ebooks. http://blog.businessownerstoolbox.com

 

Mike will gladly email you this entire exercise, including questions that will help you assess yourself, if you let him know your name and what kind of business you have. mvh@businessgroup.biz

Focus

Push past emotional blocks

How many times have you sat down to write a marketing piece and stared at a blank sheet of paper desperately searching for a flash of inspiration?  Suddenly you have an overwhelming urge to make a cup of coffee.  The corner of a note on your desk catches your eye and you remember a promise to phone someone.  Three or four interruptions later you are still staring at a blank sheet of paper; you are now out of time to write.

 

David Foster, known as the Hit Man for all of his hit records, said in his Success Magazine cover story that sometimes he does not feel like writing a song.  He does it anyway.  Maybe it will be good rather than great, but it will be a song.  He went on to say that he forces himself to sit down and start writing; the inspiration will come.

 

Professional writers have spoken about writing a ten page paper and throwing away the first two pages before they hit their stride.

 

The Nike slogan says it best, “Just do it.”

 

How?

 

You can reach for the ultimate comfort food – warm chocolate brownies.  Or you can stop giving yourself excuses and start working.

 

Easier to tell yourself to concentrate than to do it?  

 

Probably true, but also realistic.  Amazing how many excuses and distractions you can create when you do not want to do something, do not know how to do it, or are simply not motivated to do it.   

 

  1. 1.       Set a timer for thirty minutes and tell yourself that you will focus until the buzzer rings.  Once you actually start writing, it usually starts to flow.

 

  1. 2.      Give yourself a reward when the project is completed. 

 

  1. 3.      Ask yourself a critical question.  What do you want the audience to think, feel or do after reading the material?  Answering that question can provide inspiration.

 

  1. Who is your target audience?  Until you know the individual you are expecting to read your material, you do not know how to write in the manner in which they will want to receive the message.  Think about your target client and write as if you are speaking to them.

 

  1. 5.      What problem would you like to solve for them?  In the case of the focus issue, the problem is writers block; the goal is to get the writer “un-stuck.”

 

What would you tell one of your clients, one of your employees, or one of your children if they were hitting a blank wall on an assignment?  Would you subscribe to the “Take my advice, I’m not using it” theory?  You probably would not admit it to them.  I’ve hit the wall many times with projects.  These are the ways I solve the inertia problem.

 

Take my own advice

 

What do I want you, my reader, to think?  Think that you are not alone.  Every business person faces the dilemma of “blank page syndrome” from time to time.

 

What is the goal for you to feel?  Feel that a solution exists.  Think of the block as tissue paper rather than stone and know that you can push through to success.

 

What should you do?  Follow the Nike slogan and “Just do it.”

For more information on overcoming emotional blocks, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com.  Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching.  Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com

Words Linger

Words create memories – good or bad

How important are the words you put in print?  We hear about blogging, social media comments and even writing marketing copy.  Your written words are actually more important than your spoken words.

 

Spoken words may be forgotten, but the written word is permanent.  Once you hit “send” or “submit,” those words are available to be found forever.

 

Private?  Think again.

 

That funny party picture you posted as a joke is available also.  I hear some of you saying, “no, I posted in my private setting.  That posting will never be public.”  Wrong.  Regardless of the privacy setting, if someone wants to find it badly enough, they will.  If even one person re-tweets or copies the picture or text, it is now public.

 

True story

 

A young woman was so proud of her body building contest results that she posted the picture on her Facebook page.  If you know anything about those contests, you know that the attire makes a string bikini look prudish. What seems like harmless fun in her 20s may come back to haunt her.  Would you want a “nearly nude” picture of yourself on the internet for your parents, children and your boss to see?

 

Words come back to bite you

 

Be conscious of the words you write.  You are representing yourself and your company with each comment.  This is the age of the spontaneous comment.  It only takes a second to hit “send” but the results remain

 

Am I trying to scare you into not posting on the internet?  Absolutely not.  I’m posting this right now.

 

Another true story

 

Two individuals in an organization chose to escalate their disagreement into a public display.  Feelings were hurt, words were written which in retrospect should never have been said.  The repercussions are still being felt throughout the organization seven months later.  A disagreement which could have been solved quietly has mushroomed into a major disruption.  The entire organization is suffering.

 

Once written words become public, they may be retracted, but they are not removed from memories.

 

Words linger

 

.Why is writing important in your organization?  Your marketing copy is obviously public.  It represents your company.  The image you project in your marketing materials must be positive, but it must also be honest.

 

There is a common expression throughout network marketing and other media to “fake it until you make it.”   The catchphrase was originally designed to create a feeling of success; by acting “as If” you have already achieved the desired level of success, you will trick your sub conscious into making that your reality.  The problem is that when that statement goes public, others do not know whether it is an internal statement or the truth.  97% of people fail in network marketing.  Perhaps some entered the business with a false sense of probability.

 

Be aware of the consequences of your spoken words and your written words not only on yourself but also on others.

 

For more keys to a successful spoken or written presentation, contact Elaine Love at Elaine@Elaine4Success.com or www.Elaine4Success.com.  If you want to take your communication from Now to WOW, implement this simple key.  Want more keys to success for yourself and your company?  Hire Elaine Love as your coach, corporate trainer or keynote speaker.

 

Marketing on a Budget

 

Clutching at straws to make a marketing budget?

Following the crowd may work for some things, but not for marketing.  People flock to the “latest and greatest” and the price goes up as the market demand goes up.  Unfortunately, the results do not necessarily follow the upward trend of the prices. Be creative and ahead of the pack.

 

If everyone is doing it, it must be a good idea.

 

Warren Buffett, an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist, is widely considered to be the most successful investor of the 20th century.  He is reported to have said that if everyone is doing something, do the opposite.  If it was a good idea, it is not a good idea any longer.

 

Even though Warren was speaking of investing, this works for marketing as well.  When pay-per-click first came out, it was “the new shiny idea.”  Prices were cheap and results were good.  Soon it became very expensive to obtain any positive results. When email first became popular, it was unique and effective.  If your inbox is like mine, it is now clogged with a few hundred emails a day.  Unfortunately, far too many of those are junk.

 

The world is going mobile.  Text is more current than email.  Mobile GPS works better than pay-per-click.  Stay with the curve or ahead of it.

 

What is the best idea for 2013 marketing? 

 

Business logic has remained constant for decades.  The methods, trends and implementation have changed but business principles are just that, solid principles.

 

Business magnates have subscribed to a philosophy of using the proven as their main focus while testing a new idea as their secret to success since the beginning of time.

 

Proven Successful Marketing Principles

 

Define your target audience.  Exactly who is your product designed to benefit?  Who will pay to receive the solution your product offers?

 

An anti-wrinkle face cream would probably be targeted to women age 30 – 60 living in middle to upper class neighborhoods in a metropolitan area.  Narrowing down your target market may seem limiting but it actually helps you focus your advertising on exactly the message that audience would want to hear.

 

What message would they want to hear?  They want proven results.  They want testimonials of people they know and trust who have used the cream and received positive results.  They want to know how long it will take to receive their desired result.

 

Determine when your customers want your product.  Starbucks coffee ads would be highly effective in the morning.  Selling a comfortable mattress would be well timed in the evening or early morning; having people view the ad when they are ready for a good night’s sleep or did not have a restful night.

 

In a ski resort, marketing ads would be most effective in late summer when the property management companies are placing all of their marketing for the upcoming ski season.

 

Catch the potential customer at the time they are ready to purchase or immediately before they are making a buying decision.

 

Make it easy to find you

 

Google is a wonderful tool for research, but unless your business pops up quickly on a smartphone, you may be lost in cyberspace.  Our world is mobile.  Include your address, a map to locate you and your main focus as a keyword. If they are hungry for a pizza, be certain that your name and location pops up on their phone.

 

If you don’t pop up when they are ready, it is as if you do not exist.

 

It does not cost you any more to include a few key details like your address and phone.  Make wise use of your marketing dollars.

 

Know your target market.  Know the message they want to hear and make it easy for them to find you.

Conquer the Battle Within

Cherokee Proverb

Torn between emotions
Torn between decisions

 

What is your battle?  This internal dilemma theme has been touted in the pop song, “Torn Between Two Lovers” and the movie of its origin, Doctor Zhivago.  Country songs have moaned about it and our legal system is clogged with cases of two opposing viewpoints. One of the more definitive statements about internal turmoil is the Cherokee proverb, “There is a Battle of Two Wolves Inside Us All.”

 

One is evil.  It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego.

The other is good.  It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth.

Which wolf wins?  The one you feed.

 

Name Your Wolves

 

Destructive Wolf

 

Who are your destructive wolves?  Can you call them by name?  Anger, blame, guilt, resentment and lack of deservability are among the most familiar.  How often do you feed them?  Allowing your thoughts to drift too frequently to these negatives or remain there too long and you may be feeding them a seven course meal instead of a snack.

 

Don’t think for even a moment that I have not ever fed them.  Unfortunately there have been times when I felt sad, alone, hurt or even mistreated; those are the times I fed them.  If anyone ever tells you that they have never been upset, angry, disappointed, resentful or even jealous, they are lying, forgetful or delusional.  Experiencing the full range of emotions is normal human behavior.

 

Gentle Wolf

 

The gentle wolf is when my small grandson snuggles up beside me and just cuddles.  He doesn’t even want to talk or play, he just wants to be loved and feel safe and wanted.  How many times in your life have you experienced the supreme bliss of just being with someone?  Neither of you even had to say a word; you were content just being together.

 

Perhaps there were times you were consoling someone or being consoled when you felt better because they were there with you.  Remember the times you did something for another person without wanting or expecting anything in return.  Remember the warm feeling; it is like the glow of a fragrant candle in a dark room.

 

Turning Points

 

Jim Rohn, famous business philosopher, tells a tale of the “day that turns your life around.”

 

It may be the day you declare “I’ve had enough.  Things are going to change right now.”

 

Jim tells the story of a young mother who asked her husband for ten dollars and he said “What for?”  She vowed that very day that she would never ever ask for money again.  She looked for new skills.  She found the classes.  She looked for new opportunities to stretch and grow.  She kept looking until she found them.  Twelve years later she was vice president of a major jewelry company in New York City.

 

Her entire life changed because she turned loose of the fur of the wolf which fed her inferiority and embraced the wolf of hope.  Which wolf do you need to stop feeding and chase away?  Which wolf do you need to embrace?  The choice is yours.

 

The book Emotional Ice Water helps you identify each destructive wolf and release it.  You know you will always receive more of whatever you give your time, energy and focus.  Focus on the gentle wolves.

 

For more information on identifying and releasing emotional blocks, stay tuned to www.Elaine4Success.com.  Also inquire about hiring Elaine Love for your next sales training, executive meeting or personal growth presentation coaching.  Purchase the book Emotional Ice Water.  Go to www.Elaine4Success.com/Contact or www.MeetElaineLove.com.

Small Business Marketing Outlook for 2013

The aweber report, “2013: What’s in Store for Small Business” declares that small business retailers are

Small Business Marketing Outlook

cautiously optimistic.  47% believe the economy was better in 2012 than 2011.  With the rose colored tint on their business forecast, 67% plan to increase their marketing spending in 2013.  In 88% of the 3000 small businesses surveyed, the owner serves as the primary marketer.

 

The contradiction about the belief in the improvement in the economy and the increase in marketing spending is that the increase is anticipated to be an increase in social media and an increase in email marketing.   Since the report indicates that the owner is doing the marketing, the cost increase numbers do not make logical sense.  The cost in email marketing and social media marketing is either paying someone to do the postings or purchasing some efficiency automation program.  Either the entire marketing budget is very small or something is wrong with the data reported.

 

In any case, an increase in social media and email marketing is becoming a popular choice of very small companies; they reported that 93% of the companies had 5 or fewer employees.

 

Social media marketing, especially Google+ is excellent.  Guy Kawasaki’s book What the Plus is an excellent guide to the advantages and intricacies of Google+.  Google+ has numerous advantages over other social media sites.

 

Comparison of Social Media sites

 

Facebook is mainly a people posting site.  It is geared to be social.  Aunt Martha’s vacation, Johnny’s first day in kindergarten and a great new restaurant, purely social updates.

 

Twitter serves as a breaking news update.  You have 140 characters to convey your entire message.

 

Pinterest is about pictures.  Facebook and Google+ are 25% pictures, Twitter is 5% pictures and Pinterest is 95% pictures.

 

With Google+ it is possible to group your contacts by interest.  Different circles could be created for each group of friends: Rotary, professional speakers, exerciseaholics, business, and family.  Create as many circles as you like and know that each group will only receive the posts which interest them.  Overlapping circles?  No problem.  The same person may be included in more than one circle.

 

Some studies say only 12% of your Facebook followers may see a certain post but 100% of your selected Google+ circle will see every post.

 

Another advantage of Google+ is that you can edit after you hit submit?  As small business is increasing social media and email marketing, being able to edit after you hit send is huge.  Ever found an error immediately after you hit send?

 

Caution:  Whatever you post on the internet is there for someone to find. Privacy is an illusion. You post it and someone can find it.

 

Caution number two is that social media is social.  95% of your posts should be adding value to someone and not more than 5% selling or promoting something.

 

If you are going to use social media and email marketing for your small business, select the platform which works best for you.  Whether you believe the economy is improving or not, the success of your marketing and your business is your responsibility. 

Reflections and Realizations 2012-2013

 

Commit to making 2013 even better than 2012

Looking back over 2012, what were your highlights?  Being a glass half full and optimistic person, I prefer to focus on the positives.  Yes, I learn from the negatives as well as the positives.  Since it is a known fact that we always receive more of whatever we give our time, energy and focus, I prefer to concentrate on the positive.

 

What were the personal highlights of 2012?  What did you learn about yourself?

2012 was an eventful year for me.  My first book, Emotional Ice Water was published.  The comments about how much it helped people to get out of their own way and start truly living life to the fullest warmed my heart.  One man very close to me said, “It was better than I thought it would be; that could be a compliment.  I’ve decided to take it as a left-handed compliment.

 

Even though it was an entire year ahead of schedule, I became President of the Castle Pines Rotary club in July.  With the unexpected turmoil which caused my early ascension, it has been a bumpy road but we are making progress.  I jumped in with both feet up to the top of the curls and relate 100% to the values and mission of Rotary.

 

A few unexpected financial events have made a wonderful and truly appreciated upswing in income toward the end of 2012.  That is never a bad turn of events.  Nice way to end the year.

 

 Which relationships meant the most to you in 2012?

Once again, the deepening friendships with Rotarians have astounded and pleased me.

In fact, the genuine outpouring of caring from friends and my sons has truly been heartwarming.  I can’t say enough loving words about my sons.  Wow, am I fortunate.  I’ve laughed that I’m not certain if the fine men they have become is because of me or in spite of me, but I’m grateful nonetheless.

 

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced this year and how did you handle it?

For me as for many Americans, the challenge was endeavoring to keep the income above the outgo.  There are conflicting points of view as to whether the economy is getting better or if the Band-Aid on America’s debt will pull loose revealing a deep gash.

 

 What did you do for fun in 2012?  What was one of your fondest memories?

One of the highlights of my year is always related to my grandsons.  Those adorable little guys have Gamma wrapped securely around their little hands.  For instance at 5 am on Christmas morning both little guys pounce on the bed and say, “Up Gamma, you’re missing Christmas.”  Sleepy-eyed but smiling, we all head upstairs to the Christmas tree.

 

Even though the questions and answers could continue, the importance is reflecting on 2012 in a positive way and seeking the wisdom to commit to making 2013 even better than 2012.  Not just commit, but follow through.

 

When we build positives on positives, the world becomes a happier and more fulfilling place.

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”Elaine spoke to our top leaders from 8 states, she gave us new and positive ways to connect with people
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