Learn Your Score with Consistent Cash Flow

One of the best things about starting ActionCOACH was that it gave me the chance to help really talented people achieve their dreams. I don’t just mean my clients, but my coaches as well. All of the people we choose to be ActionCOACH Business Coaches have experienced an incredible level of success before coming to us and once they become an ActionCOACH they take that success to a new level.

One of our top coaches, not only in the US, but around the world, is Tom Palzewicz from Elm Grove, Wisconsin. For years Tom has helped his clients grow, building one of our top firms in the world and a powerful reputation in his community. Now Tom is ready to deliver the message he’s used to help so many of his clients in his first book, Consistent Cash Flow.

Consistent Cash Flow leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the financials of a business. Tom goes deep to bring you every aspect of “keeping score” in your business that you could possibly think of… and most importantly, he tells you why these areas are so important to your business and how you can utilize all of this reporting to build a business you can pass down to your children, or sell at a nice profit, some day.

After completing the book, Tom told me, “After years of coaching business owners and asking numerous questions about the financial results of their businesses, I realized that most business owners really need a methodology to help them understand what to measure and manage in their business. This book is a direct result of hundreds of coaching relationships and will help readers create consistent cash flow in their business.”

It’s incredibly gratifying every time an ActionCOACH leverages their knowledge and skills to produce something that is sure to help business owners, and after reading Tom’s book, I’m positive it will do just that.

So if you want to learn exactly how to keep score in your business, and how to put that information to use to ensure your business always has Consistent Cash Flow, just follow the link and get your copy today!

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9 Steps To Help You Plan for a Profitable 2014

planning-for-2014Without proper planning, any action you may take could be a waste of time. Planning helps to put you on the right path to where you want to go and with the New Year here, it’s a great opportunity to spell out the best way to turn your plans into reality so here are 9 Steps to Develop a Plan for Action.

1- Express your solution as a series of goals

Ideally, when you commit to goals they are to solve a challenge or issue in your business or life. Having agreed on a solution to a particular problem, you first need to define that solution in terms of number of goals and objectives. For example, each goal could be expressed as follows: "For us to ....., we would need to ....." Record each goal at the top of a whiteboard or sheet of paper.

2- Generate a list of Actions for each goal

Use brainstorming to compile a list of actions to achieve a particular goal and record these below the goal. Arrange this list of suggested actions in sequential order.

3- Prepare a timeline

Beginning with a time point labeled "now" and ending with a point labeled "goal achieved", build a timeline on which you allocate dates by which you intend to complete each of the sequential actions listed under a particular goal. It is important that you get both sequence and timing right if you are to reach "goal achieved" effectively.

4- Allocate resources

Financial, physical and human resources must be allocated to each step toward achieving your goal. If resources are limited, or fall short of requirements at any stage, it may be necessary to return to an earlier step and revise the action plan.

5- Identify possible problems

Consider all of the things that could go wrong in the process of achieving a particular goal. List these problems and identify causes and suitable actions to resolve them. If necessary, these actions might need to be added to appropriate slots in the timeline

6- Develop strategies for monitoring progress

List ways in which progress of the action plan can be monitored. These monitoring stages should also be included on the timeline.

7- Assign tasks

Take each point on the timeline and ask : "Who will do what, by the date set, to bring about the specified action?” Allocate these tasks to appropriate individuals or teams.

8- Estimate costs

Give consideration to any expenditure required to complete the task. All costs will have to be taken into account when preparing a budget. If funds are not available, tasks will have to be reviewed and, where necessary, revised or eliminated.

9- Implement the plan

Translate all your information to a clean copy, listing the actions required, the person responsible for a particular task, and when that task is to be completed. Having now finalized the plan for action in specific terms, this information can now be made available to all involved.

With these steps, planning is made simpler and more efficient, so take them and run…all the way into the best year you’ve ever had in 2014.

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Customers Loyalty Strategies Will Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet

loyal-customersEncouraging your existing customers to return is one of the most important things you can do. For most businesses, until your customers have bought from you an average of two times, you're losing money, typically because most business’ acquisition costs are high.

But businesses need to get them to come back more often and they'll not only become profitable, they'll become loyal customers, moving up the Loyalty Ladder on their way to being a Raving Fan.

Customer loyalty is such an important topic because it's far easier keeping a customer than finding a new one. Yet most businesses seem determined to do it the hard way, chasing prospects that may never become customers, instead of inspiring loyalty with their existing customers.

The fact is, unless you actively do things to encourage your customers to keep doing business with you, there's always the chance they may be lured away by another business, isn't there? And by concentrating on loyalty strategies, you'll be increasing their average dollar sale and their number of transactions at the same time, which will have a direct impact on your bottom line.

This is something most businesses miss. They fail to realize there are five, and only five, basic areas to concentrate on when trying to influence the bottom line. They are leads, conversion rate, number of transactions, average dollar sale, and margins, nothing more. And working with existing customers has got to be cheaper and easier than fishing for new ones.

This will be our last blog post of 2013 and as we move forward with these blogs in 2014, I will continue to outline powerful strategies I've introduced to thousands of business all over the world. They're easy to implement and they work, which means these are things that you must give careful consideration to. Each step represents the cornerstone of a great strategy.

And remember, it's vital you test and measure as you go. Remember that, while there are certain rules to running a business successfully it's still largely a matter of trial and error. This makes it essential that you meticulously record every result. Its extra work, but you'll be glad when you have a business that you know will produce results. That confidence only comes from testing and measuring these strategies to see what really works for your business.

And everyone have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday and a safe and Happy New Year...see you in 2014...

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Here’s Why You Need to Keep an Accurate Database

customer-databaseBy regularly updating your database you'll be sure your time and money are being well spent. Nobody wants to waste time and money trying to contact people when they have outdated information on them. What's more, they could be inactive customers--people no longer interested in what you have to offer.

Take real estate sales, for instance. If you were a real estate salesperson, you'd be keeping contact details of everyone who makes contact with you, be that from open for inspections, office walk-ins, or from your advertisements.

Hopefully you maintain a good record-keeping system that would indicate when they made contact, what was discussed, what their needs are, what the budget is, and which properties you've shown them. You should also keep records of what they thought of each property and how much they would be prepared to pay for each. Not only will this information help you accurately match their requirements with the properties you have on your books, but you'd also be able to provide your sellers with real market feedback.

Now, if you make contact with 10 or 20 prospective buyers each day, in a month you’ll have a sizable and potentially valuable database of well-qualified prospects. But unless you diligently update it, you'll quickly end up with a wad of useless information. You see, as the days go by many people on your list will buy properties from other real estate agents. As soon as this happens, they're no longer on the market. And they probably wouldn't reenter the market for six or seven years.

So unless you regularly update your database through keeping in contact with the people on it, you'd waste a lot of time that could be more productively and lucratively spent chasing other listings or buyers. Money saved here goes directly to your bottom line.

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Here’s a Powerful, Easy to Implement Strategy for Your Business

Make-More-MoneyNow I know this might sound simplistic, strange, or both, but if you want your profit to increase, the easiest way to achieve this is to increase your margins or your prices. It's that simple.

And the funny thing is that most business owners are too terrified to do this. They seem to believe it will drive them out of business! The exact opposite is true. You'll find that most of your customers won't even notice. And if they do, chances are they won't care. Those that notice and object are probably your "C" and "D" Grade customers anyway. My experience is that business owners have more of a problem with this strategy than their customers, so don’t over-think it, just do it.

You need to understand that this is the fastest and best way to bump up your profitability. But if you're too scared to increase your prices across the board, try doing it to just 80 percent of your range. Choose the slow movers first, increase their prices, and leave your fast sellers until last.

It's funny how many business owners instinctively want to cut prices to increase profit. This is something I never advocate. For most companies, a pricing increase of 10 percent and a new focus on the average dollar sale will invariably lead to more profits for the business. Cutting prices simply won’t help you grow your profits over the long term. In fact, it usually does the opposite and to make up for the profits lost to discounting you have to generate loads of new customers, which is typically expensive and time consuming.

Over the years, we’ve instituted this strategy with thousands of businesses and it is almost always a positive for the company’s bottom line, so don't write off this strategy without a further thought. Thousands of businesses I've coached have increased their prices without any negative effects.

These companies benefited immediately and marveled at the effect it had on their business. So resist the temptation to give money away before you've even begun negotiating with clients or selling to customers. Don't do it. Instead, raise your prices a bit and measure the results.

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In the Red or Black? Actual Costs and Set Budgets Can Make the Difference

set budgets and actual costsLast week I gave you an overview on money-related strategies and this week we get to the heart of the matter, the strategies, so let’s get started with Actual Costs and Set Budgets.

It's really amazing how many businesses have no idea what their actual costs are. Some who believe they know their costs usually only now the obvious ones like salaries, rent, materials or stock on hand.

But there are a lot more costs that go into running your business and the basics are only the tip of the iceberg. If you were to sit down and think about it, you'd soon realize that many of your costs are never actually measured or evaluated. How can you reduce them if you don't know what they are at present?

You’ve got to take the time to find out what your actual costs are. Spend a week checking in your business, absolutely everything. If you don’t have the time or patience, hire someone to do it for you, it'll be well worth your while.

Once you know what all your costs are, you can call around and get quotes from different suppliers for the things you spend money on regularly. You might be surprised at how much you’re wasting. And any savings here directly affects your profit.

Once you’ve gone through this process, you need to think about setting monthly expenditure budgets. By setting monthly budgets and sticking to them, you can ensure you're never in the position where you have more money going out than you have coming in.

But don't forget to let everyone involved in your company know what your budgets are because they can only stick to them if they know what the limits are… and stress that these, budgets are never to be broken.

If your company is like a lot of companies around the world, this little exercise will be a real awakening for you. You can begin to uncover a lot of things that need tightening within your business and add those resources directly to your bottom line.

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What Are Money-Related Strategies?

money-related-strategies-brad-blogHow you manage the financial side of your business obviously affects the profits it will make. That goes without saying, but there are money-related strategies that you should use that can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Over the next few weeks we will talk about many of those strategies, but before we do let’s clarify some terms.

First, what do I mean when I talk about money-related strategies? Am I referring to investment strategies or different accounting systems or ways of keeping your books?

No, what I'm referring to here are strategies you should be using to generate more profit, not deal with your profits after you’ve made it.

I know you can "make" more profit simply by changing the way you account for your money, but that's not really the object of what I'm suggesting. I'm talking about really making more profit, (and more money) not smarter ways to make it appear as though your company is making more money.

I'm looking at this from a management point of view, not an accountant's. This is what makes it doable, because you don't need to be a numbers person to make it happen-and you certainly don't need a financial degree.

To start, let's once again take a look at the word "money." What does it mean? And how does it relate to profit? According to the dictionary, it is a medium that can be exchanged for goods and services and is used as a measure of their values on the market.

But how does it relate to profit? Well, it also means profit or loss relating to• money: He made money on the sale of his properties. Isn't that interesting?

Next week we will get into some strategies that you can use to make that money and believe me, those strategies won’t be accounting tricks…

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More Questions to Ask Before You Start Your Own Business…

questions-before-your-own-businessA few weeks ago we talked about some questions you need to ask yourself before you start a business. This week let’s look at some more questions you need to go over before you get too deep and have trouble getting your start-up off the ground. Let's get started...

What business are you in?

This is a simple question right? Wrong.

No matter what kind of business you are in, your business isn’t about the product you sell. Your business is about the customers you serve. When you think about it this way, it’s easier to remember that you and every other business in the world are in the customer service business.

Strong businesses are based on repeat customers and the referrals they bring to the business. You may survive without repeat customers, but your business will never thrive and you will constantly be catering to people based on price, rather than the value your company provides them.

To keep your customers happy, find out what makes them happy and do it. This is how you keep them coming back for more. Any business can build repeat business and referrals, if they focus on the customer first.

What is the ultimate goal for you and your business?

If you want to have a business that supports your needs and goals, you need to think globally, even at the beginning.

Yes, very few businesses are going to start out with more than one location or serve a larger market than the one they have on hand, but a global mindset is incredibly important to the long term success of any business because if you consider your business nothing more than a local establishment, guess what it will always be? It will always be a local establishment.

If you aren’t thinking globally you are limiting yourself and decreasing the chances for your success before you’ve even started.

Remember, this is your dream, so dream big.

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Relationship Marketing Will Help You Grow Profitably

Handshake and teamworkIs relationship marketing cheaper than traditional advertising? Of course it is and with the social media boom still in full affect, in many ways it’s easier than ever to build relationships with your clients and customers

There are relationships you need to cultivate to get your business booming and the first, and most important, is your relationship with your customers. If your relationship with your customers is strong, you will build an army of ravings fans who bring you enough referrals that you don’t have to invest so many of your resources in traditional advertising.

So how good is your relationship with your customers?

Here is how I measure the relationship I have with customers. I ask them how likely they are to refer my business to others on a scale from 1 to 10.

If they answer a nine or ten, the relationship is very good, a five to eight, the relationship is ok, but they aren’t going to refer you to anyone. A score under five isn’t good and you probably won’t have their business much longer, let alone get any referrals.

If your scores aren’t good, you should be excited because you have massive room for improvement. Don’t be afraid of bad scores because it’s worse than not knowing at all. If you haven’t asked the question, you don’t know the answer and you can’t fix the problem.

Once you understand the relationships you have with your customers, it’s time to move on to generating referrals.

You need to measure this aspect as well so start by creating a baseline by asking yourself how many ways do you ask for referrals every day, what strategies do you have for creating referrals and do you make it easy for customers to refer your business?

There is no limit to the number of strategies you can employ to generate referrals. Of course there isn’t, but if I told you that you could only use 10 strategies to generate referrals, how many would you use? You’d probably use all 10 because if you used less, you might feel like you were falling behind your competition. You could use more, but that may be too much work, but you shouldn’t do any less because you want to figure out what will work.

Remember, for referrals to work, you have to ask for them and make the process easy and a major part of doing those things is developing relationships with your customers.

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Why Your Business Is Best For Cashflow

cashflow-bradblog2First and most importantly to me, it's fun to use your business as a cashflow generator. I love to play the game. I love the challenge of marketing, team building, sales, accounting, and cashflow management. I love doing deals. I love making decisions and I love being a leader. I also love the fact that I get to deal with so many different things as well as so many of the same things. You'll fall in love with it too when you see the results it can get for you.

Second, where else can you get all of the tax benefits a business brings? Depending on your tax jurisdiction these will vary, but globally the tax system certainly favors those of us in business.

Third, the revenue stream can jump massively in a couple of weeks, days, or hours. And, very often, a 10 percent increase in income will double or triple the profits, thus doubling or tripling the paper value of the company.

Fourth, a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. It doesn't take much to outperform your competitors in business. Like it or not, most business owners do a very poor job of running their businesses. So, I only need to do some basic, commonsense things to totally win in the minds of my customers.

Fifth, you can get 30 days' credit.

Sixth, you can employ others.

Seventh, once you've written the system, you've written the system.

The list goes on and on.

In case you hadn't guessed it, I love business. But most importantly, I love business because it meets my investment rules.

Business grows in capital value, and throws off passive cashflow while still allowing me to draw a wage (if it makes economic and taxation sense).

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For Real Cashflow You Need to be a Business Owner

cashflow-bradblogMost people rely solely on their jobs for their cashflow. Notice I don't use the word income. You see income seems to imply some level of work or activity involved, and one of the central themes of everything you'll learn from me is that one of the keys to riches is actually having others do the work for you. By the way, job is just an acronym for "Just over Broke."

Having a normal job, whether it's in your own business or someone else's, severely limits your cashflow capabilities. Here's why. It's possible to work only so many hours per day and make so many dollars per hour for your own personal labor. Thus a paycheck can be only for the number of hours you've worked multiplied by your hourly rate.

Yes, I know there are a handful of people on the planet who take home million dollar plus pay packets, but they've almost always already served 20 or so years at normal wage levels, and secondly, if they stopped working tomorrow, the paycheck stops.

Thus, we need to look for another method of bringing in massive amounts of cashflow. There is only one tool I recommend that you use for creating cashflow in your life-your own business.

Your own business is by far and away the best tool for creating massive cashflow and having someone else do the work. Business is also, as you'll see later, one of the best ways to develop a large pool of capital with which you can invest in assets.

By the way, am I saying that everyone should quit their jobs and buy their own businesses? To put it bluntly, yes.

Let me make one point very clear: Having a job definitely serves a purpose, in fact two purposes we'll go through next week, but suffice to say you may not have to quit your job just yet...

So, why should we use our business as a cashflow generator?

There are several reasons and next week we will take a look at some of them…

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Are You Ready For A Change?

change-sameIf you are thinking about starting or buying your own business, odds are you are ready for a big change. If you aren’t, stop considering business ownership now. If your life is comfortable and you like it that way and aren’t ready for the work it takes to take your life to the next level, just stop.

But if you are ready, keep reading.

Not sure? How can you quantify your readiness for this? Reading this blog is certainly one sign you’re ready for something different, but there is a formula you can use to put your desire for change into perspective. Here’s my formula for change:

D x V + F > R

What does that mean?

Your (D) Dissatisfaction times your (V)Vision plus those (F)First Steps you have to take are more than your (R)Resistance. If your resistance is greater than the other factors, you simply won’t be properly invested (mentally) in making your business a success.

Remember, owning a business isn’t a job. It’s a number of jobs and, when starting out, you might not get paid for any of them right away.

That’s where the dissatisfaction of your current position and the vision you have for the future come into play.

Your dissatisfaction has to be so great that change is your best option. You simply can’t go on the way you have. But without vision, your dissatisfaction can be unproductive. Without vision you’ll never have a strong plan or a strong business.

And even if you have a vision, without understanding what the first steps you have to take are, none of that matters. Once those three factors are at a sufficiently high level, change comes almost organically, as part of the natural growth of things.

Nothing in the world would ever change without a certain amount of dissatisfaction, without the vision to make that change and the courage to take the first steps.

Some people simply don’t have that courage. It’s much easier to get the same check, every two weeks, by working a regular job and there’s nothing wrong with that for many people. Sure, you won’t get wealthy, but you won’t go poor and you will always have enough to get by.

If you’re ready to take this journey, you can’t have that attitude. You have to want and be ready to have something more.

If you are safe and comfortable in your life, but want to take this journey it’s time to make some big changes. And what’s even scarier is the fact that you might not consciously think you think that way, but your actions tell another story.

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Here’s Why You Should Embrace Your Mistakes

embrace-your-mistakesThe only reason I know more than most people is that I've made more mistakes than most people have. You've got to be willing to take some risks and I have always jumped in with both feet whenever I undertake a project.

Why?

Because long ago I learned that to succeed you’re going to have to fail at some point. You've got to be willing to fall down, and then get back up. You've got to be willing to participate 100 percent at all times and not worry about failure or negative consequences. Everybody fails, but the people who ultimately succeed didn’t let failure stop them.

Think about it this way… Remember back to when you first learned to walk. How many shots at getting up and walking did you give yourself before you called it quits? Did your parents show you how to do it and then say, "Well you've fallen down 17 times, that's it. You'll never learn to walk. You'll be a crawler." Not likely. Instead they supported you until you accomplished your goal, no matter how many times you fell down... and eventually you were walking.

In that case, you kept going until you found a way to get there. If one thing didn't work, you tried another. You pushed on until you reached your goal. Your will and determination didn't have this thing called pride, or common sense standing in the way. And the people around you supported you and cheered you on until you reached your goal. You'll need to remember these things as you strive for sales, marketing, and cashflow success.

The only way you can lose is to stop trying, because every time you make an attempt, you learn another way not to do it.

So commit to yourself to keep trying, if you fail most of the time. In the end, the only way you can fail is to not participate at 100 percent. Take action and participate right now…and if you fail, chalk it up to experience on the path to success.

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Moving Towards Being a Generalist

generalistEducation is a vital part of being successful in any career, but education can also be limiting because what it teaches us isn’t necessarily conducive for entrepreneurial success.

Think about it, when you went to school, what did you learn?

In most western nations, education has not been advanced in decades. The basis of public schools, as we know it, in most nations is based on conformity.

If you are good, do as you are told, turn your work in on time, when you leave school you will be able to get a good job.

Where does this idea come from?

Public education is a relatively new invention, coming around in the mid to late 1800s as a way for nations to build ready for conscription young men who would fight in wars. They learned obedience and how to follow orders. It was and still is a system set up to teach you how NOT to think for yourself.

With the Industrial Revolution, the emphasis switched from teaching students how to be soldiers to teaching them how to be workers. Schooling was all about getting a good job and in those days you might have that job your whole life. And to be properly trained for that lifetime job, you needed to be a specialist.

You can still see it today.

Testing is so important that learning has become secondary. If you can memorize, you are smart. Other people grade you, meaning their opinion is more valid and important than yours.

So what does this mean for you, the budding entrepreneur?

Over the course of your life, most of your schooling and education has taught you to be a specialist, but that is exactly what you can’t be if you hope to become wealthy.

No, you must learn how to be a generalist and that is what I've been teaching for years.

You see, as a generalist, you won’t be pigeon-holed in staying at one job, one business or one industry.

When you’re a generalist the world is overflowing with opportunity because you aren’t limiting yourself to just one area or idea.

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Here’s Why You Need a Jockey for Your Business

jockey-brad-blogBy now, you’ve probably heard the ActionCOACH definition of a good business…a profitable, commercial enterprise that works…without you.

So if you are going into business, and you go by the true ActionCOACH definition, you’re going to need to put someone in charge of the day to day activities so you can focus on growing the business. You may think of this person as a manager or some other title, but I call that person “The Jockey”.

Think about it this way, if you’ve ever been to a racetrack, there are many factors that go into deciding which horse to put your money on.

See when I look to invest my money on the horse, do I take a close look at the jockey? Of course. But let’s take it another step. Are there some horses I bet on just because they got a great jockey on them? Yes. Sometimes all that separates a winning horse from a loser is the jockey.

Now when you look at your business, who is going to be the jockey for you?

Of course when you are just getting started, in your first few businesses, you are the jockey, but if you want to make serious wealth, if you want to build a strong business that will provide you with the wealth and time you want, you need to eventually find someone to be your jockey, so you don’t have to spend all of your time in the business.

Remember, you can’t start off as the perfect business owner or entrepreneur. It takes time to rate as a great business person or leader and a big part of being the leader your business needs is finding a good jockey.

So what have you got to become to be willing to hand over the reins of your business to a jockey? You’ve got to study and learn and most importantly, be willing to take Action by focusing on creating cashflow and profits in your business.

Then keep your eyes open for good people, whether they are already in your organization or with another. I’m always on the hunt for good business people and if I find someone working for someone else, I might bring that person in and put him into our management training program.

So, ask yourself, how can I find good people? How can I bring them into my company? How can I build a business that they can then run for me? Where is my winning jockey?

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Questions to Ask Before You Start Your Own Business

brad-sugars-blog-mistakes-business-owners-make-part-oneStarting your own business is a massive task that should not be undertaken lightly. For that reason, it’s important for anyone getting ready to bootstrap and invest their time and resources take stock of themselves and their prospective business before getting started.

Over the next few weeks we will take a look at some important factors to consider when starting your own business. So before you jump right in, here is the first of some important questions to ask yourself before you move forward with your business plan.

What is your plan?

It all starts with your plan. The first step any budding business owner has to do is to plan for your business’ success. A great idea only goes so far… a great plan takes you where you need to go.

I teach my clients about “Dream, Plan, Goal, Action”, the simple formula I use to make my dreams come true. You already have a dream otherwise you wouldn’t be starting a business. But how do you take that business from a dream to a reality?
Opening a new business is a huge project, so when you break it down it makes the entire thing easier to accomplish and when you make a strong plan you are less likely to make mistakes that can cost you.

But you aren’t a planner, you say…you like to jump right in and get started. Think about it this way, you wouldn’t take a trip without a plan would you? Then why would you start a business without plan? It amazes me that some people take far more time planning vacations than they take in planning for their business and failure to plan is really just planning to fail.

Yes, you will have to modify your plans as you go. It’s virtually impossible to plan for everything that might happen, so some surprises might pop up. But, keep in mind, you can only succeed if you know what you want, so write everything down and leave nothing to chance.

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Invest in These Strategies to Bring In New Customers

invest-in-customersIt’s time to develop a referral strategy that will lower your customer acquisition cost while bringing in the type of customer you are looking for.

So how do you generate referrals?

First, start by asking for them.

If your business has been around for five years, you probably have a number of valuable customers and you can use your best customers as a resource to generate new customers... so don’t be afraid to ask them to help.

If you tell your best customers you are looking for more customers just like them, you’ll not only flatter them, they will probably bring you more customers that meet your needs.

You can give incentives for referrals as well. For instance, offer customers half off a service for each referral they bring you.

If you generate more referrals, but they still aren’t the type of customers you are striving for, consider where you’ve been looking for your customers.

You say you are looking for “well to do” customers, but where are you going to find them? The avenues you mentioned aren’t exactly where the rich are looking for your business.

They are more likely to find you online than in the Yellow Pages, but only if your website is easily found. If the sites you currently have aren’t drumming up business, you should probably look a bit closer at Search Engine Optimization, or the way search engines find your business.

Have you optimized keywords on your website to increase your rating in searches? Do you even have keywords that describe your business and match what people might enter in a search when looking for your services?

Another strategy you should consider is a host/beneficiary strategy.

Try partnering with another business that caters to the type of customers you want and work out a deal in which they promote your business

For instance, depending on your business, you could work provide services to other companies at a discounted rate so long as they allow you access to their database of customers.

When your company does a great job with those other businesses, do you think that might generate a referral or two?

Of course, getting those new customers is just the first step. Once they are customers, you have to make them repeat customers and then raving fans, or you’ll find yourself stuck in the same situation down the road.

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The Identity Iceberg

identityicebergWhen you see an iceberg, you only see a small percentage of the actual iceberg, only the portion that comes out of the water. But more than 80 percent of that iceberg is under water, much like your identity.

When it comes to your identity, people see the small portion that is above water, your actions, behaviors and decision, but what they don’t see are your skills, beliefs and values.

Those “under water” aspects of your identity aren’t readily apparent to others, but they are exactly what you have to learn to control and change if you are to make a big change in your life, like becoming a business owner or entrepreneur.

You see, it is impossible to change what is “above water” in your identity, without changing what is underwater.

Your actions and behaviors are mirrors of your skills, beliefs and values. You can change your actions for a short period of time without changing your beliefs and values, but eventually the old ways of doing things rises up.

So how do you make this major change?

First, begin with some “I Am” statements. You want to convey what your Ideal Self is to yourself so that you come to believe it.

When using your “I Am” statements you want to get ahead of your identity. You can’t be too current because you want to be able to use those statements to achieve your goals. For way too many people, self-sabotage gets in the way of success and happiness, but using “I Am” statements helps overcome this by bringing to life who you are and what you want to become.

These are particularly effective in overcoming fear, and fear, can be the greatest self-sabotage mechanism you will ever have to fight.

Think about why people stay in jobs, or relationships in which they aren’t happy. Why do people stick around? Fear of the unknown is usually the top reason.

Look at FEAR as an acronym which stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. Typically, when you fear something, the idea is worse than the reality. How many times have you dreaded something, but once it’s over you realize it wasn’t that bad?

This just goes to show that the best way to overcome fear is through knowledge, education and, of course action.

Now your job is to change the way you think.

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Be Sure Your Growth Doesn’t Widen Your Cash Gap

cash-gap-business-growthEverybody wants their business to grow, but growth can be a challenge if you aren’t prepared for it.

If you’re growing at a rapid rate, then you’re going to have cashflow issues, there’s no two ways about it. You may have more customers than you can handle and need to grow your team or buy new stock to keep your shelves full.

Whatever the challenge, for that sort of growth you have one of two options. If you know what you are doing you can cashflow the growth; or you need to find investment partners. To me the decision is an easy one. You’re going to have to learn to manage your cashflow.

So where do you start? First, look at your cash gap.

Your cash gap is that lag in what you have to invest to properly grow and when you get paid for it. This is a prime example of where cashflow problems come from. You buy your stock on this day, you ordered it and thirty days later you have to pay.

You put the stock on the shelf and sell it to someone who has 30 days to pay for it and some of them take 60. You can see how the cash gap could lead to bigger problems.

What most companies need to look at in that scenario is how do they move from letting people buy on terms to getting people to buy with cash upfront? And how do you move the terms with people buying over shorter and shorter terms?

Keep in mind that if you’re falling prey to the cash gap, there are companies in which the cash gap is actually in reverse. These companies buy but won’t pay for 60 days, yet they sell those products well ahead of those 60 days…and as you can probably tell, that’s a much healthier looking company.

But what about companies that exist in industries that have cash gap problems, for example, building contractors. When did you pay the kitchen cabinet people who worked on your last remodeling? They probably get paid at the end. Why? Well, that’s the way they’ve always done it.

That kind of, “We’ve always done it that way” thinking can hurt your business, and it will definitely lead to a cash gap and cashflow problems.

So review your terms, give your clients the chance to pay in installments that meet your cashflow requirements and set the parameters of what you expect from your clients right from the beginning of the relationship. In other words, teach your clients how to best do business with you.

And in keeping with this mindset, if you need to be paid within 30 days, but you have clients that wait until 60 days, fire them and find new clients who will work within your terms. In other words, don’t let growth hamper your business by letting the cash gap get out of control.

Remember true growth isn’t necessarily the size of your business, but the size of your profits. Growing for growth’s sake can be the worst thing you’ve ever done for your business, but if you understand cashflow, the cash gap and managing your growth, you’re building a healthy business.

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Franchising Means You Are In Business For Yourself… Not By Yourself

BSblog-franchisingThe Franchise System is one that I believe in wholeheartedly. In fact I believe in it so much, my business, ActionCOACH is franchised all over the world…so you know I’m all for it… but why does it work?

Simply put, you’re in business for yourself, but not by yourself.

Building a franchise business is the nature of teaching others how to run a business. You see, franchising is 20 percent systems and 80 percent relationships.

When you buy into a franchise, the way to profits is spelled out in the manual and you have other business owners, in the same situation as you are, who you can rely on (depending on the franchise rules).

From the franchisor side, when you build a business and sell franchises, you have to find people who best fit what you look for in a franchise owner.

So what is franchising?

When you are the franchisor, people pay you a fee for your system, your support and your company name or brand. As a franchisor, you sell people the right to run your business in a certain area for a certain period of time. Yes, despite the fact that that McDonalds has existed in your neighborhood seemingly forever, the franchisee has to renew the contract every so often to keep that McDonalds open.

When you sell franchises you want people with both skill and capital. You can train on skills, but some people just don’t have the aptitude to succeed in certain areas. If you want your franchise to succeed, you’ve got to get the background of your prospective franchisees to ensure you get the best possible results, not just franchisees that can pay the franchise fee but let the business suffer.

This was a challenge we had with my main company, ActionCOACH.

We train all of our franchisees extensively, so for a time we considered that we could train people past their own point of incompetence. In other words, if they can pay the franchise fee and on-going royalties, with our system and support we can make anyone a successful Business Coach.

It turns out that simply isn’t true and some franchisees were unqualified and did more harm than good in their given territory. Luckily our franchise agreements allowed us to remove or retrain the underperforming franchisees and we quickly made the necessary changes to stop this from hurting our business, but it was an important lesson to learn and one you need to consider before you sell franchises to anyone and everyone who wants one.

One of the great things about franchising is that you win because you have ownership at every level of the business. For instance, your franchisees run the business that you’ve created, by the rules that you wrote…and they pay you every month for the right to do it.

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