Tag Archives: Margins

Jackie and her Ladder – A Business Story

Once upon a time there was a very nice lady named Jackie.  Jackie sold cupcakes and cookies from her cozy little home in the suburbs that she built herself.

Now, Jackie made great cupcakes…and cookies.   And Jackie was even pretty skilled at building houses. 

But..she was missing one small skill:  she did not know how to cut out and put in a door.

So, Jackie bought a ladder and put it up her Chimney. 

Every day, Jackie climbed up the Chimney with her cupcakes and cookies, sold them in the marketplace, and went back home through the Chimney.  It was an OK life.  And, since she was pretty good at going up and down the Chimney every day, Jackie lived a nice life.

That is, until Louise moved into the neighborhood.

Louise DID know how to build a door.  And she could fit not just cupcakes and cookies through the door, but Cakes and Coolers of Ice Cream.

And, if Louise did not have a specific item, she could go back easily into her house and get it.    As fast as Jackie was able to climb up and down the ladder; Louise’s door was still faster.

So, Jackie HAD gotten better at what she was doing.  But, because she was missing a crucial skill, her sales started falling. 

Everyone still agreed that Jackie had great cupcakes and cookies; but Jackie eventually went out of business. 

All because Jackie was convinced that her 20 years of ladder-climbing and cupcake/cookie selling experience were going to continue to sustain her.  She never saw Louise and her door coming until it was too late.

How many of you out there keep saying that you DON’T need help; because what you do has been working?

Well, THIS is what I help you do with a PLAN.  We’ll not just determine how you get from where you are now to where you want to be; but we’ll find out:

– Do you need a Door (a different marketing approach, new team members or better recruiting/hiring/team motivation plans)?

– How do you even ANTICIPATE a potential door-building competitor (there are simple financial indicators that will reveal problems long before they become catastrophes)?

– How do you build the door, or get the bank to lend you money to purchase one (having helped companies obtain millions of dollars in funding, I’ll teach you how you can get the bank to loan you more money at a lower rate)?

– Do you need to have Cakes and Ice Cream (new products or services)?

– How could you get your Cakes and Ice-Cream to market quickly and profitably?

It’s time, RIGHT NOW, for you to get that Plan. 

A Strategic Plan helps you now AND will provide you a way to see the signals if something is going wrong.  Plus, you learn how to be agile enough to respond to changing markets and customer desires.  AND MAKE MORE PROFIT. 

While I’m not Bob Villa with a tool chest building a house; I AM like a Bob Villa of Business Plan building.  Check out this LinkedIn Profile (at last check, 29 Strategic Planning endorsements and 35 Written Recommendations).

When we are finished you will have, IN WRITING, a LIVING DOCUMENT FOR YOU!

Engage Now for a Very Special Year-end rate.  CLICK HERE and reserve your spot!  On Saturday night,  November 17, 2012,  the $997 rate becomes the regular, $2,500 rate.

Remember:    It is OK for you to say “No” and keep going up and down your ladder without a Professional plan.  Just make sure that you DECIDED to do that; instead of letting it happen to you like it did to Jackie..by default.

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5 Financial Metrics Every Business Owner MUST Know and Pay Attention to (and Why)

It’s Halloween, so I wanted to pick what is a SCARY topic for many business owners: FINANCIALS.

Apparently, for most business owners (even solopreneurs), this is such a scary topic that they choose to ignore it.  The thinking goes that, as long as there is money in the bank after bills are paid, the business is doing well.  Leave it to the accountants.

Unfortunately, this is like saying that as long as you can still walk, you are “healthy.”  In reality, there may be growing problems that, unless you know how to look for them, will catch you by surprise.  After all, how many times have you heard someone mention a business closing and say, “I thought they were doing OK”?

Just like you need to pay attention to your blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and many other levels; it is essential that you as a business owner keep track of these:

1.  Revenue:  Current vs prior year, vs last 12 month average, vs. last 3 month average.    Revenue is, obviously, a measure of your businesses’ ability to get people to PAY for what you deliver.  That said, it is essential to understand what revenue is doing.

– Versus Prior Year:  How are you doing right now, versus the same time last year?  This is just a basic measure

– Versus Prior 3 Months:  This is particularly important in fast growing businesses.  So, if your average sales from June – August were $40,000, and September is $50,000; then you have the appearance of rapid growth.  That said, do the same analysis on last year (prior year September versus prior year June – August) to understand if the growth is just a seasonal “bump”

– Versus prior 12 months:  This helps you understand your current results versus what the average sales were over the last year.  Think of the prior 12 months as a “water level” for your business.  Is the current month’s revenue above, at, or below that “water level”

Once you know these numbers, do the analysis.   What was the reason for the change this month vs. the comparison periods?  Any new Marketing initiatives?  Different team members?  New products?  Product mix changes?  New Team members or lost team members?  New customer service initiatives?

2.  Transactions:  Do all of the same analysis that you did on Revenue.  If you are building your business well, then you should see steady increases in transaction counts.  Even more telling is if you can define whether your “mix” of transactions is coming from new customers, repeat customers on a regular buying cycle, or maybe repeat customers attracted because of a new marketing campaign or improvements in service.

3. Revenue per Customer:  What is each customer giving you for each purchase?  If this changes, is it because your prices went up; or are people buying different products?  Perhaps you trained your team on “trade-up” strategies, and they worked.

4.  Margins:  You must know your Margins, both:

Gross Margin:  For ever dollar you sell, there is a DIRECT cost of the product.  For example, a restaurant sells a meal for $10, but its cost of food, paper goods, garnishes, etc is $30; while it’s cost of labor directly attributable to the sale, both the cook and servers, is 20%: so, your Gross margin is 50% (100% less 30% less 20%)

Net margin:  Besides the costs directly attributable to the individual sale, you have your fixed costs like rent, management salaries, utilities, repairs and maintenance, training, office supplies, etc..etc…  Net Margin is what is left over after ALL costs have been subtracted from revenue.

WATCH CAREFULLLY the movement of Gross Margin and Net Margin, both  on an individual basis as well as compared to each other.  This analysis is a great way to “catch” waste and potential issues in your expenses that often are never looked at until they become huge problems

5.  Net Working Capital.  The “official” definition is current assets minus current liabilities.  What I tell my clients is to pay attention to this number as “how much money could I spend RIGHT NOW, if all of the bills due in 30 days had to be paid RIGHT NOW.”  I know it’s not the formal definition that the Accounting Board would approve; but it lets you have a real sense of what you have.

IF this number is negative, you had better know exactly why this is the case and have a specific path to make it positive soon (not “hope,” but a specific plan).  For example, you may invest in a new marketing campaign today that makes your Net Working Capital fall into the negative; but the expected return from the campaign will make your business a profit to make Net Working Capital positive in 60 days.

The fact is, TRULY successful businesspeople “know their numbers” because those are indicators of the health of the business.  Thinking that these are just “for the accountants” is a sure way for you to make poor decisions about the future of your business.

I’m going to be blunt and loud:  STOP WORKING SO DOGGONE HARD IN YOUR BUSINESS AND START UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S HAPPENING TO IT.  Understand and analyze your numbers, or you WILL struggle more than you have to.  If your sales are up, know why.  Maybe there is something you should be doing more of.  If sales are down, don’t throw “the economy” excuse at it; know why.  Is it seasonal?  Did your product mix change?  Is your team not providing great service.  etc., etc, etc.  Knowing your numbers will catch a brushfire before it burns down the forest.

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If you do not really understand how to do this, then make an investment in your future and invest in a coach who gets it (not just a “marketing coach”).   Get out of the “scarcity” mindset (I do not have the money to invest now..maybe later), and into an “abundance” and belief mindset (I have potential that can be maximized and I believe in myself and my business enough to start maximizing it now).  Every day you spend in scarcity just guarantees more scarcity.

5 Reasons why Groupon is a Losing Con-Game

Here you go, kid.  It’s free.  Just try it!

And so begins the addictive use of…….

Groupons and LivingSocial Deals.

Do consumers love them..yes.  Are they good for most businesses?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  They are a Con-Game that appeals to business owners who do not know how to sell their products or services for what they are worth.

Why are they a Con-Game?   To quote the great Sales Trainer Tom Hopkins, “If you are selling someone something that is NOT good for THEM, then you should be locked-up; because, when you do that, you are nothing more than a Con-Man.”

So, let’s list the reasons Groupons and LivingSocial “deals” are very poor business-building strategies:

1.  They appeal to “deal-seekers,” and not your IDEAL customers.  Statistically, deal-seekers are not looking to become loyal customers of a product; rather, they are loyal to whoever offers them the best deal.

2,  By a focus on price, and not value; they tell your CURRENT customers that the full-price they have been paying was too much.   When people think they have paid too much, they feel “ripped-off” and you easily lose them.  So, even when you gain a few “tryers” who come back later; you risk losing regular customers who WERE paying full price.

3.  Because they reduce your margins, they encourage (or force) you to cut corners on value delivery.  In a Groupon, if you offer a coupon of $5 for $10 of product; you only get to keep $2.50 (Groupon gets $2.50 – sweet deal for them.  Why do you think they sold it for so much money?).    Think about it…you are getting $2.50 for $10 of product!  I have run into several business owners who tell me that, because they get so many Groupon customers; they had to reduce the quality of their product to stay afloat.  That is a death spiral.

4.  They create an addictive reliance on the “Groupon” check.    The fact is, Groupons bring in people; so the business owner begins to think that they “work.”  Never mind that these are not loyal customers, that your margins are taking a beating, and that you have traded out your IDEAL customers for deal-seekers; the initial transaction increase sure looks good.  However, the longer you do them, the more of your customer mix becomes the deal-seekers.  So, just like a drug addict; you cross a threshold where you CAN’T quit.  I know of a Steakhouse in which 90% of his customers are Groupon or LivingSocial Deals.  His annual revenues are $1m, but he is losing money hand over fist; so he does not pay himself anything and his waiters get paid salaries because the Groupon deal-seekers do not tip well.   Every month, the check he gets from Groupon pays for the next month’s expenses (like a mini Ponzi scheme); when, as most coupons do, the Groupons lose their effectiveness, he will be in desperate trouble.

5.  The money you “pay” Groupon could be spent far more effectively building you as a BRAND, and not as a DEAL.  Just like any Con-Game, Groupon looks low-risk.  After all, they collect the money and then pay you half of what they collect.  If you sell 100 $10 for $20 Groupons, for example; you collect $500.  But, Groupon keeps $500.  Because that looks like a good deal, you may do it for a few more months.  Unfortunately, for the reasons above, you are not BUILDING a business; you are becoming a “deal-house.”  If you just took that $500/month for 3 or 4 months and put it into a good BRAND-building marketing campaign; you would be MUCH better off in the long-term. Unfortunately, once you start crushing your margins; eventually you have no money to spend on a well-targeted marketing campaign.

Am I passionate about getting people to stop using these deeply discounted deals?  Absolutely!  Just like a Cardiologist might not want to watch some eat fried foods every day (even though it tastes good); I don’t like watching business owners get taken in by the Groupon and LivingSocial Con-Games!

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Build a BRAND, not a deal-house.   Schedule a 15 minute call with meMarketing Guru, Financial Wizard, and Team Motivation Expert – and we’ll talk about how to build a strong Brand targeting your Ideal Customers:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR   (PS.  even if you have not done a Groupon, call me.  🙂 ) 

5 Lies Businesspeople Tell Themselves (are you?)

Yes, I used the word LIES.  It’s a tough word, but there is no other way to say it.   Read these over, and ask yourself, truthfully, how many have you told yourself.  If you think otherwise, keep reading to see why this may be true for you.

1.  I’m working as hard as I can – Start tracking your time, every day, for the next week.  Be specific, and be honest, about every activity you are doing.   Was every activity truly moving your business forward (only count Facebook and Twitter if you have gotten REAL referrals from it)?

2.  My prospects believe me when I say that I have the best product and the best service – Go do a Google search on your product or service.  If you find NO OTHER business like yours saying it is “the best” in general terms, then you can ignore this one.

3.  Groupons are a good idea for my Restaurant or Retail business –  The corollary fib is, “once they TRY my product, they will keep coming back.”  Unfortunately, most business owners see little to no benefit in reality.  So they do another one.  Then another one…

Here is my challenge:  if you can find ONE business owner who can show data that proves how they have benefitted from a highly discounted Groupon “deal,” please send me a note or comment on this post.   What does NOT count – selling hundreds of coupons without showing a long-term lift in your business sales AND profits.

4.   My prices are what my customers expect – Why is this here?  Because most business owners have never done any research or testing of their pricing.    Just because people are paying the prices you have set, does not mean that you have set them well.  Many of you are leaving thousands of dollars “on the table” every year because you lack a pricing analysis strategy.

5.   I can wait until things “get better” to get help running my business   Or, its cousin, “My business is doing OK, so I do not need help.”  The issue with these untruths are that both of them assume that you are able to coach yourself.     Unfortunately, when you are in the midst of challenges, you are often too busy dealing with the daily fires to see how to get out of the burning building.   Or, in the second case, you think it is hot where you are because of your excellence; but it is eventually the fires you DON’T see that catch you by surprise.   Then, after your cash flow has dwindled and the problems are overwhelming, you find you cannot AFFORD to get the help you need.

In the end, some might call these “denial.”  But, really they are Lies that people tell themselves to avoid the hard truths about why they have not developed the business they had once imagined.

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If you HONESTLY feel like your business is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT where you want it to be, then no need to click here:    https://my.timedriver.com/191CR   On the other hand, if you have a desire for excellence; let’s talk.

The 5 Diseases of Business Owners that Cripple their Success

After working with dozens and dozens of businesses, from billion $ public companies to startups, I see many very smart and very nice business leaders suffering from disorders that are crippling their chances for achieving amazing success.  Based on my experiences, here are the top 5 diseases afflicting business owners:

1.   Independitis – The feeling that, because they need to be “independent,” no one else can help them.  The problem with this is that, if your expertise is in AC Repair; you would be much better off if you spent your time repairing AC’s while getting expert help to work on your Marketing and Sales tactics or coordinating your schedule;

2.  Blamethemenia – The belief that, when sales go down, it is because of “the economy,” “dumb prospects,” or “unfair competition”; when the real issue is an uncoordinated marketing plan (or no plan at all).  This is often an outgrowth of a previous case of “Igetallmybusinessfromwordofmouthia.”

3.  Denialopathy – When what “used to work” is not delivering results; you refuse to believe that you need to make a change.    You keep denying anything is wrong; even as your bank account dwindles rapidly.  Or, when employees perform poorly, you believe it is because of their lack of motivation or laziness; when YOU hired them and do not have a well-designed team building plan, training system, or job description manual.

4.  Putitoffinoma – When you delay doing what you KNOW you should; because you have rationalized that you can just do it “later.”  Sadly, all those “little” items eventually pile up and spread, so that your business dies a painful death; even though you HAD the knowledge to make yourself successful.

5.  Flybytheseatofmypantsology – You have no Plan; no strategy; you do not know what numbers you should know to track the health of your business; and you have not set a goal for the next month, the next quarter, or the year.  The biggest symptom of this is a business owner who is working 14 or 16 hour days, and keeps hoping that things will “get better” if they just “persist” and “persevere.”  Unfortunately, days, weeks, months, and years pass and nothing gets any better.

Other symptoms are:

-you cannot take much time off without worrying about your business; you have to tell your employees OVER and OVER AGAIN how to do something that seems so simple to you;

– your final profit margins are a lot lower than you expected, based on what you charge for your product;

– if someone asked you what your average sales were over the last few months, or what your most profitable products are, and why, you do not know;

– and, if someone offered to buy your business right now and pay you to not work, you know in your heart that the business just will not run as smoothly without you managing all of the details.  This disease actually is often accompanied by “Youownajobia.”

The fact is, many business owners suffer from more than one of these maladies.  And, even though these are “curable” with the right prescription and ACTIONS, how many of YOU still continue to suffer and hope it gets better on its own?

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Everyone knows that early detection of any disease greatly enhances your chance of a cure.   Waiting is just allowing the disease to become more entrenched.   Let us give your business a thorough “Exam.”   Just like a Doctor, I will ask you some questions about your business; and then we’ll work on the “cure.”  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR

Sales Lessons You Can Learn From Scooby-Doo

How many of you would like a 100% “Capture Rate” in turning prospects into customers?

Well, Scooby-Doo and the “meddling kids” DID capture 100% of “prospects.”

Yes, I know it was a cartoon.  But, if you watched closely, you could take away some lessons that might just increase YOUR ability to convert prospects to customers.

Lesson #1:  Have a Strategy to bring the prospect to YOU, even if you feel a little intimidated.    The kids never really caught these “scary monsters” by chasing them.  Instead, the team created a strategy to get the creature to fall into a trap they had set.  Now, I am not saying that you need to “trap” your customers.  But, I am telling you that you are far more likely to get a sale if you LEAD them to you based on a defined plan.  Will it work perfectly every time?  No.  However, you have a much greater chance of success if you have a strategy for them to want to chase YOU.

Make yourself interesting; ask a lot of questions; and create more compelling marketing than “we have provided great service at reasonable prices for thousands of years” (see Why Most Marketing Copy is Terrible).

Lesson #2:    Your prospect is not a Monster; they are just a person.  You do not have to be afraid to prospect.    Interestingly enough, even though EVERY time the “monster” turned out to be some crook in a costume; these kids acted like it was real the next time it happened.    The kids in the “Mystery Machine” never seemed to connect the dots.  But…YOU CAN.  Many of YOU will not prospect because you have mentally put your prospect into a monster costume.   You are afraid of the terrible consequence if they say “No.”  But, as a former VP I worked with once said, “They can’t eat you.”

Lesson #3:   Find out what your “Scooby Snack” is; then use it.  I do not know what was in those things, but they must have been amazing for a dog AND a person to be willing to face mortal danger in exchange for a couple of bites.   Of course, most of you are not facing mortal danger; but, you DO face the unknown.  So, maybe you need to listen to a favorite song, a motivational CD, speak some affirmations to yourself; read some previous customer testimonials, or get someone to “pump you up” before making your sales calls.  Whatever you need to do, it it perfectly OK, and even recommended (although, I cannot recommend that you eat dog treats for strength..unless it works for you 🙂 ).

Lesson #4:   Watch for clues, and then be open to information and inspiration from those clues.    If you watched Scooby-Doo, there was always some point at which Velma would say “Jinkies”; because, suddenly the clues added up.  Not only would she have an idea of the “who,” but also the “why.”  For many of you, if you do your research, your customer will leave you clues as to whether they are the ideal candidate for you.   Also, with the proliferation of Social Media, websites, and online reviews, and the expertise of companies who can do research for you; you can discover specific factors that will help you create more targeted marketing, as well as be far better prepared when you are prospecting and presenting.

Many companies spend very little time researching their markets’ and their customers’ specific needs; then wonder why their marketing is ineffective and their prospects are “shopping” them and then negotiating on price.

As a side note, CONTINUOUS research is essential.  Just because your product/menu/service were the perfect solution 6 months ago does not mean they are still appropriate. 

Lesson 4.5:  Relax and watch some Scooby-Doo this week.  Give your brain a break. 🙂

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Are the “Monsters” of the Economy, unmotivated team members, and/or cash flow stresses chasing you and your business?   Take the Mystery out of having a business that makes you more money with less stress.    Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  Use my online calendar to schedule a 15 minute call to learn more.   https://my.timedriver.com/191CR

Proof that Most of You REALLY Do Not Believe in Your Business

I know what you are thinking. “What is Roger saying?  Of COURSE I believe in my business.  After all, why else would I be doing it?”

Well, to be honest, I really don’t know why you are doing your business, either.   Because, very plainly, the facts speak for themselves.

Here are four very clear signals that you just do not truly believe in your business (and NONE of these are that old-fashioned notion that you “would do it for free”):

1.  Your “pipeline” is not full of potential customers, and STILL you do not prospect enough.   Ask yourself this:  If you saw a burning building, and had a hose in your hand that would be guaranteed to put out the fire, wouldn’t you point the hose at the fire and turn it on?  So, if you are not prospecting, that’s pretty good evidence that you are not a real believer that your offering is a real benefit to others.   If you really thought it was amazing, you would do whatever it takes to find more people who need it.

2.  You discount your prices.   Let’s say the test results come back, and you need to have your knee replaced.  You go to the hospital, and they ask you who you want to have operate on you:  Dr. Joe, for $3,000; or his fishing buddy Mike, an accountant who has seen “House” a few times, and will do it for $2000.   That’s $1,000 cheaper!   Do you think Dr. Joe is going to buy your argument that, because Mike is $1,000 cheaper, Dr. Joe should lower his rate?  I doubt it.  Because he knows it takes skill, experience, and knowledge to do what he does.  If you REALLY believed that you have strong skills, experience, and knowledge in your business; you would not discount either.

3.  You insist on “staying small.”     Again, back to the burning building.  You have the hose, the building is on fire; now would you just put out the fire on one part of it, or would you try to put out the WHOLE fire?  I’m hoping that most of you would put out the whole fire.   If you REALLY believed in your business and its ability to benefit others, you would try to build your business so that it could serve more people.  Or, is your talk about wanting to “help others” just a cliché’?

4.  You do not invest in a Coach/Consultant because it seems “expensive.”  This is a LOT of you, isn’t it?  So you are working 12 – 14 hour days; your sales are not as strong as you had hoped; but, you think you can “figure it out on your own,” “it is not the right time to make the investment,” or you “want to wait until you can ‘afford’ it.”   Given that independent research has shown that, if you really implement what you are taught, you get $5 for every $1 you invest in someone like me;  if you REALLY believed in the long-term potential of your business, you would figure out any way possible to make that investment.   Even the BEST investors rarely return $5 for $1.   So, your delay in getting help is just your belief that your business is not really a long-term solution.  In fact, waiting to invest is telling your subconscious that you want to “see if this business works out.”

Interestingly enough, if you do #4, I’ll show you exactly HOW to avoid 1-3.

I always welcome comments.  🙂

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The NUMBER ONE Problem of Business Owners

Having worked closely with dozens and dozens of business owners; I can tell you that the NUMBER ONE problem of business owners is……

FEAR.

And, if you ask yourself the following questions, and say “Yes,” then your FEAR is costing you MONEY and adding to your Stress.

1.  If your Sales are not where you want them to be, do you spend at least 75% of your time actively speaking to “bullseye” prospects and potential customers?  Or,

– Do you sit in the office posting on Facebook, Twitter, “KLOUT,” etc.?

– Are you constantly “tweaking” your website?

– Are you “networking” with people who would never buy your product or even connect you with people who WILL buy your product?

– Are you spending hours in meetings with “Strategic Partners” who “serve the same market as you do,” yet never really build a strong RELATIONSHIP with anyone (so you get no referrals from them)

– Do you attend a lot of “Educational Seminars,” but never REALLY implement what you learn (or, you start to implement, then give up because it is not a “magic bullet”)

– If you own a restaurant or retail store, do you get out into the neighborhood and personally invite people to come by?

All of these are most often because you are afraid that someone might say “No” if you actually ask them to be your customer.    So, you stay one degree away from the actual prospects.  That one degree is expensive, because cash cannot get to you with that blockage.

2.   When you meet with a prospect, and they “flinch” at your price, have you reduced the price “just to get them started” in the hope that they will see the value and pay you more later?  Or, worse, do you give them a “free trial”?

This is really a fear that you will not be able to deliver the value you are offering.   And, your fear is actually triggering doubt in your prospect.  If you called Ferrari tomorrow and said that you want a “Free Trial” of their cars, would you get it?  Then, believe in YOUR value, be a Ferrari, and stop giving away your product/service.

3.  Do you have a “system” for getting consistent feedback from your customers; analyzing your online reputation; and seeking continuous improvement?

Or, are you afraid that if you ask for feedback, your customer will say “Hmm..this is not as good as I had hoped.  Let’s stop working together”?    The worst part of this is that fear of the present will crush your future.  I was looking up a restaurant online the other day and saw 4 MONTHS of negative reviews; with the last review saying “They Closed.”   You MUST get over your fear of bad news and embrace it as feedback to help you grow (or survive).  And you cannot be afraid to change when you find out that what used to work is not working anymore (because maybe it will one day work again, you keep telling yourself).

4.  Have you thought about investing in a Consultant/Coach, but keep asking yourself if you “can afford it” or “if it will work”?  This may sound self-serving, but I see too many business owners who struggle mightily and keep hoping that their “persistence” will pay off.  Persistence in your business without knowledge and accountability is not different from playing the lottery – you leave too much up to chance.

Interestingly enough, business owners will spend thousands of dollars on equipment and offices and websites; but fear the idea of spending a few thousand dollars on good advice, mentoring, and accountability.    If you REALLY thought you had a business with potential to grow BIG, then investing in help would be an easy decision.  You would know that what looks like a big investment now will one day be pennies.  However, since many business owners fear that they have a business that does NOT have potential to truly be big; they never invest in it beyond the minimum.

How many of these above are true?  Be honest with yourself: is your Fear keeping you from your dreams?

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If you have a “Fear” mindset, do not call me.  But, if your mindset is to build an EXPLOSIVE, Accelerating business, contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  It’s not FREE, because everyone’s “Free” sessions are just sales presentations.

We’ll give you real value, so this 90 minute session is $297 (this means that I only talk to SERIOUS business owners who are willing to THINK BIG).  Email my assistant Kelly@CoachRogerBoneno.com to schedule a time.  GUARANTEE:  If, at the end of the session, you do not have a WOW! from our session, then your investment is ZERO.

Why you MUST Innovate to get REALLY Rich (and 3 Steps to do so)

In 2006, the trend in consumer cell phones was to make them smaller and cheaper.  The Motorola Razr dominated the market; and almost no one paid cash for one.  Instead, with a 2-year agreement, you could get one for no cash out-of-pocket.  And, most people used their phones for…calling people.

If someone had come to you and said, “You should come out with a Phone targeted at consumers that will be BIG and expensive ($599 with NO Discounts), is not really that great at making phone calls, and will be used primarily to play games and surf the Internet” you would have thought they were crazy.

Then, in 2007, Apple came out with the IPhone.

And this started a revolution that has made Apple Billions of $$ and completely changed the cell phone market.

The fact is, what is keeping many of you from REALLY accelerating your business success is that your efforts to differentiate yourself are like having a penguin put on a red jacket.  Underneath, he is still a penguin who walks like a penguin, swims like a penguin, and has the body of a penguin.  At his core, he really is not that different from the other penguins.

But, if you are willing to open your mind to TRULY innovate, you can get make a LOT of money.    Why? Because TRULY innovative products have NO competition, command price premiums, and are much more likely to get “buzz.”

So, how do you create highly innovative offerings:

1.  Map out your offering, STARTING with the end.

– How does your customer USE your offering?

– How does your customer BUY your product/service?

– Who are your customers?

– How do you sell your product?  How do your competitors brand and sell THEIR products?

– How do you pay your staff?

– Map everything there is about your business.

Be very detailed with this map.  I would suggest that you set aside 2-4 hours to do this.

2.  Start with the map, and then ask yourself to make a map that COMPLETELY conflicts with what you currently have

– If your customer uses your product occasionally, then write down “OFTEN”

– If they buy it one at a time, then write down “IN BUNCHES”

– If people pay for it after delivery or with a 50% deposit, what if they did the entire investment “IN ADVANCE”

– If you sell your products to individuals, then change that to “GROUPS”

– If you pay your employees a fixed hourly rate, change their compensation to include a highly variable component.

You get the picture, I am sure.

3.   Finally, take the revised map and take a risk!  Develop a new strategic plan, be willing to turn your business upside down, and change EVERYTHING.

And IGNORE those who would say that your plan is “fraught with problems.”

Yes, I am WELL AWARE that very few people are willing to make this kind of leap.   This explains why most business owners, even if they do “fine,” never REALLY achieve greatness.

And, before you say it can’t be done, here is a short list of people (besides Steve Jobs) who were willing to completely change the traditional model of their businesses/markets (or create entirely NEW businesses):

– Henry Ford

– Thomas Edison

– Michael Dell

– Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com)

– Larry Page & Sergey Brin (Google)

– Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)

All of these people made radical innovations; often creating demand  for an offering that people did not even ask for.   But, they were willing to think FAR, FAR “outside the box” and made themselves AND a lot of other people very wealthy.

I want you to be RICH, so take some time this week, step away from “how things have always been done,” and set your course up for true innovation to bring yourself significant wealth.

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After reviewing what has helped my clients the MOST, and how to add even more value, our new focus is on creating truly innovative businesses.  If your mindset is to grow “moderately,” do not call me.  But, if your mindset is to build an EXPLOSIVE, Accelerating business, contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.  It’s not FREE, because everyone’s “Free” sessions are just sales presentations.

We’ll give you real value, so this 90 minute session is $297 (this means that I only talk to SERIOUS business owners who are willing to THINK BIG).  Email my assistant Kelly@CoachRogerBoneno.com to schedule a time.  GUARANTEE:  If, at the end of the session, you do not have a WOW! from our session, then your investment is ZERO.

When Saving Money is Bad Business

When is the worst time to try to save money?  When your customer has a problem.

Two stories illustrate the challenge with this:

– Yesterday, the transmission on my XC90 went out, just 30,000 miles after it had been replaced.  Unfortunately, after it had been replaced last time, and I was having issues, my (former) mechanic told me that it was probably just “settling in.”   I then asked if there was a warranty (in case it WAS a real problem) and they said it was 18,000 miles.   Given that I had just spent $4,000;  perhaps they would have been smarter to tell me to bring it in so they could fix it, and then they could have offered me a longer warranty.    Because, once I felt like they were not really standing behind their work; they lost me as a customer for EVERYTHING.

– My parents were paying for a monthly “pass” at a car wash service.  One day, they brought their car in for a wash and the system ruined their customized license plate (had their names on it) AND broke a side mirror.  Rather than give them $125 to pay for repairing the mirror; the Car Wash said it was not their responsibility.  So, to save $125 one time, the Car Wash lost a customer for life; which will cost them hundreds over a lifetime.  And guess how many people now know about their problems with that Car Wash?

What is tragic is that: everyone knows how valuable customers are.  We have all heard how much more expensive it is to acquire a new customer than keep a current one.  Every business owner prides themselves on providing great “Customer Service.”

So, WHY do businesses continue to have issues dealing with customers?  Because most businesses do not have a specific process to deal with issues.

The fact is: you cannot just SAY you believe in customer service.  What you must do is EXECUTE when the situation comes up. When your customer calls you with a problem; that is your chance to shine!

Here is your four step “THRILL Your Customer” Process:

1.  Apologize.  After all, you ARE sorry your customer had a problem, right?  Even if it is not your fault; your customer often will relax if you just say you are sorry.

2.  Offer to make it right.   Yes, it may cost you a little to have a longer warranty; or repair that mirror.  But, how little that is compared to the lifetime value of a customer?

3.   Give your customer something free.  Wouldn’t THAT set you apart?  What if, instead of refusing to fix that mirror, the Car Wash had paid to replace it AND given my parents a free month?  How many people would they have then told about their positive experience?

4.  Step back and examine how could avoid the issue in the future.   In steps 1-3, you addressed the symptom; in this step you address the cause.  Skip this step, and it WILL cost you more money in the long run to deal with customer issues (as you deal with the same problem again and again).

In the end, when your customer has a problem; use it as an opportunity to create a “Raving Fan” AND improve your quality.  Making your customers happy is almost always a path to profitability.