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Journaling Your Business Path

Entrepreneurs know they should have a business plan when they move into business ownership; some do, some don’t. Regardless of whether you have a formalized business plan in your office and refer to it on a regular basis you may still want to keep a journal of the process. We’re not talking about a “Dear Diary” type process, but one in which you make note of  how you got where you are in the business process and where you hope to end up.

There are three items you can make note of and track in your business journal:

  1. Entrepreneurs with a business plan already have a formal, this-is-how-we-do-things, but a business journal is a place where you can jot down various new ideas that may pop into your head — a new process or service to offer,  new way to market for clients, random thoughts on how a service can be tweaked or revised. This is a place for business dreams.
  2. Use your journal as a place to reflect — whether it’s on the day just past, a week in review or a conversation with a potential client that didn’t come to fruition. This is a place where you can jot notes and review what you might do differently. The business journal is a place where you can congratulate yourself on a job well done.
  3.  Planning for the future. Before you put your next steps into your formal business plan, use the business journal as a place to plan for future services to be offered, ways to grow the business, changes you may need to make in staffing, etc. Because you’re not reworking your formal business plan, your thoughts are more free to flow as you uncover new paths for your business to follow.

Do you have a dedicated place in which to jot down random thoughts that pop up during the course of your business day and your client interactions? You should!

Steps Of A Successful Sales Cycle

As a business owner you are also a sales person. Does that take you by surprise? We’ve found that when we work with our clients some of them don’t identify themselves as sales people but if you own a business and are the face of that business you are a sales person.

Now that you know you’re a sales person, let’s look at the five steps in a successful sales cycle; chances are you already have these in practice, but it’s sometimes good to look back at the cycle and perfect it if necessary:

  1. Prospecting. Everytime you leave the office for a networking event or meet with a potential client or answer the phone you are in the prospecting phase. If you’re cold calling you need to understand where your target audience is and what your services will do to address his or her pain point.
  2. Pain points aka needs identification. How will you know whether your goods and services are a match to a clients’ needs? By talking with him and uncovering what his underlying needs are. As a seller you need to uncover those needs and validate to the client how you can help him.
  3. Needs development is a way in which you and the client come together to build a better mousetrap, as it were. What can you offer that will not only address his problem, but make it better for him?
  4. Satisfying your clients’ needs. During this part of the sales cycle, let your prospect “interview you.” Let him or her uncover if you truly have the items necessary to help them effectively. Consider this part of the cycle, the “test drive” phase for the client.
  5. Make a commitment. Once the sales cycle is over, and the sales cycle is truly never over, you need to commit to doing what you said you would or the sales cycle will have been for naught. Every time you make a sale you are making a commitment to that client that you will meet his needs as you indicated you would during your initial meetings — you should try to exceed those needs if possible.

How well-refined is your sales cycle? Are there steps on which you stumble? Do you freeze at the prospecting phase? We can help.

How Refined Is Your Marketing Strategy?

When it comes to marketing we find that many of our clients have a “scatter shot” approach, they simply aren’t targeting on a specific bulls eye but are sending out messages “everywhere” hoping that something will hit the target. This is no the way to go.

Picture2Here are some steps you should implement to make your marketing efforts, and your marketing dollars, make sense:

  • What is your brand and how are you using it? Do you have a logo that you use consistently? Are there specific keywords that you want your brand associated with? If so, are they being used in your marketing messages? Your brand, bottom line, is your company image, its mission and vision statement and you and it must be authentic in all of your dealings.
  • Do you have a strategy in place for your marketing? Strategy involves understanding where your clients congregate and putting plans in place to reach them there whether that’s through newspaper or radio advertising, attending networking events, visiting LinkedIn or Facebook or both or even having a robust Twitter presence. You can’t strategically market unless you know where your target audience is.
  • Planning and implementation of that plan go hand in hand. Once you have a strategy, you then need to plan how you will actually market. Your plan could include, “posting to social media sites five days a week” and then to implement it you need to have a person dedicated to making it happen.

If your company needs assistance implementing a marketing strategy give our consultants a call.

What Is Your Leadership Style?

Picture1There are managers and then there are micro-managers. There are leaders that push their teams toward excellence and then there are leaders that have their staff dreading walking through the door in the morning. What kind of leader/manager are you? If you’re carrying the entire weight of your business, even though you have hired professionals to help you, you may need to revamp your style!

In our working with business owners we have uncovered three distinct management styles, which one are you?

  1. Do you need to know it all and be involved in every aspect of everything? If so, you are stifling your staff’s ability to take the lead and solve their own problems. Also, if you have hired individuals to perform specific tasks because of their unique talents, then let them do what you hired them for. You don’t need to know, or do, it all.
  2. Do you feel the need to micro-manage every step of every project? Do you make your staff feel as though they cannot make a decision without first clearing it through you? If so, again, you are standing in the way of progress for your staff and not allowing them to take the lead nor are you empowering them to take risks.
  3. Do you have no contact with your staff or project managers? Do you simply toss a task their way and say “have at it?” If so, you’re the opposite spectrum of the micro-manager; you’re so hands off that your staff doesn’t hear from you until a problem arises — when it could be too late to salvage a project.

A good leader is a mix of all these leadership styles. He knows how to get in the trenches and when to step away and let the individuals he hired for the project take it and run with it. If you’re not sure of your style or want to change the style you’re currently operating with, contact our office.

Harnessing The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Do you have a dream of owning your own business… someday? Is there something that’s holding you back?

As business coaches, we work with budding, and “someday” entrepreneurs and we find they share some common traits when it comes to taking the bold step into business ownership and here a few insights we offer if you’re considering becoming an entrepreneur:

  • Remember that businesses take time to make a profit. We’d like to think that everyone can be an “overnight success” but that just isn’t the case for many. Your ultimate goal is to make a profit, but be patient as it may take time to get there (it’s best to have either a back-up plan or another source of income while you’re starting out). Don’t start off under-capitalized.
  • Getting it done is better than being perfect. If you wait for “perfect” to arrive you may never move forward. While you don’t want to offer shoddy goods or services, you need to be willing to put it out there and then tweak as you move forward.
  • Have a business plan. This bears repeating: Have a business plan. Your business plan doesn’t need to take up reams of paper, nor does it need to be so detailed that you get buried down in the writing of it and never get the business off the ground. You do need to know how to find your ideal client and to market to them effectively as well as knowing what to charge for your goods and services. A business plan is also your roadmap toward what you consider to be success — how will you know you’ve arrived if you don’t know where you’re going?

We’d love to hear your stories of success as well as any challenges you may be facing. Feel free to contact our office or leave us a message.

In Business: Failure IS An Option

We’ve all heard the saying that, “failure is not an option.” As business owners though, we know, that in order to succeed there are times when you simply have to fail. Why? If you’re not pushing your business’s limits and your own personal boundaries of growth, you will remain in a safe, but likely stagnant, place.

Fear of failure holds many business owners back from making that next leap whether it’s hiring their first employee or opening a second store front or offering a new service or product. If you don’t try you will never know whether your idea would have borne fruit.

How can you embrace the idea of failure? Here are our thoughts because we feel that the fear of failing will negatively impact your potential by:

  • Not expanding your growth and learning potential. If you don’t fail and don’t learn from your mistakes you will never grow.
  • Fear of failure could mean you don’t achieve the successes that you should. You need to push yourself and your business and that may mean taking risks.
  • You could be missing out on opportunities if you hesitate and are too cautious in trying new ventures.

As a business owner you can either take actions and keep your business moving forward and experiencing growth or you can watch your competition as it makes those leaps into the unknown.

 

What “fear of failure” practice is holding you back?

 

Who Is Your Ideal Client?

As business coaches we work with clients regularly that have no defined idea of who their ideal client is. In order to enhance your business’s bottom line, you need to identify your ideal client. Why? Because if you’re chasing clients that simply aren’t a fit or marketing on social media sites or even local newspapers or radio stations but don’t understand whether your demographic is listening or reading, you are negatively impacting your bottom line.

How can you pull together a picture of your ideal client?

  1. Narrow your niche. If your niche is too broad, you are not fully focusing on clients that might be right in front of you. Remember, you can’t be all things to all people to determine which niche market you want to focus on then target your efforts there.

  2. Who is using your services right now? Do your current clients fall into a particular market segment? If so, they may be your ideal client or they may have characteristics of what your ideal client should look like.

  3. Who do you enjoy working with? If you aren’t thrilled with the clients you’re pursuing that will show in the work you do for them. Find clients that fit your company’s vision and mission and those who value who you are and what you do for them – that is part of the entire focus for finding your ideal client.

If you pursue a particular market but ultimately decide they aren’t your ideal client, step back, regroup then refocus. Your business can be a continual work in progress as long as it’s continually moving forward.