8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 4 …

SF8YGVOUL8Many business owners put all of their energy into the product they make or the service they deliver. Of course it’s important to have a fantastic offer and build customers who love what you do. But the real asset in your business – the thing that’s going to make it valuable – is the business model itself.  How is the business structured to enable growth?  If you were able to spend less time delivering what you offer and more time thinking about how to grow your capability and your market… what would your business become?

Key number 4.  Focus on your business model

If you are going to create an asset – a valuable business that will pay you back for all your hard work – it has to be scalable. It has to be able to grow. Which means you need to think as much about how you do business as what you actually sell.

In a simple services model, like my advertising agency, my growth model was always going to be systems and team.  I needed to build a team that would deliver the result as well as I could… time after time after time.  So I planned for this and put energy into this.

With my pet care services business we used technology to take care of all of the administrative side of the business – a sophisticated search and booking system allowed clients to find and book their pet carers. Head office didn’t have to do anything other than recruit and train carers, and marketing. Our model was infinitely scalable with minimal effort.

So think now about how your business model works and what needs to be changed or re-designed to enable growth.

A note on recurring revenue

The most valuable businesses to a future buyer are those with recurring revenue – money that comes in regularly every month without having to get a new sale. In my ad agency we had most of our clients on fee based contracts, so we knew exactly what was coming in. Most contracts were for three years, so we could plan our growth in advance.  Other recurring revenue models are subscriptions, memberships, franchise or license fees or product dependency (This is where you sell a piece of equipment – say a photo copier or printer, that requires the customer to buy ink, toner and paper every few months for the life of that machine).

If you can build recurring revenue into your business model, you can greatly assist your ability to scale and grow.

Exercise

Two things you can think about now – what do you need to change to enable your business to scale, and how could you add some recurring revenue to your business?  Grab a big pad of blank paper, or white board.  Grab your partners, or your key staff, or your business coach, advisors, friends… whoever you can get to share some time with you.  Brainstorm the growth potential for your business… what impediments do you have to growth, and what can you do to overcome them?  And how can you build recurring revenue into the model?

As always, feel free to email me with ideas or questions.  Love to help if I can.

Happy growing :)

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Newsflash!  Early bird price for 2016 Group Programme ends soon.

The 2016 Acceler8or Group Programme kicks off late July. The programme takes 10 business owners on a 12 month journey to discover the true potential of their business and how they can ultimately create financial freedom through business.  To find out more click here or just email me at laura@liber8u.com to find out more about pricing, early bird deals etc.

Acceler8or Testimonial:

“This has been the best money that I have spent on education ever! My business has gone forward in giant steps that I could not have imagined taking 12 months ago. The program has more than lived up to my expectations, the skills and tools that I have learnt have helped me immensely. I have a solid plan to work to and my business is achieving great numbers. As a result of the program we have changed our image and direction and are making strong confident steps in an area of the global market that I would never have imaged one year ago. I have hired great staff and added brilliant contractors that perform with excellence and have given me great standing amongst my A List Clients. My confidence in my own abilities to lead a team on a successful challenge has risen. We have really kicked some great goals on an international level over the past few months. I believe this is totally due to Laura’s coaching. As a company we have a vision and the brand is performing to expectations. Planning and budgets are now high on my list. I would totally recommend the programme to any business owner who is serious about stepping up. If you have the product this is the course that will take you to the top.”

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 3 …

success-846055_1280When I did a plan to start my own advertising agency I knew right from the start that I was building it to sell it within 10 years.  And I knew that the likely buyer would be a multi-national agency group.  I even wrote down what I wanted to sell it to them for. I painted a really clear picture of what they would be looking for in a boutique agency and I set about building that business for them.  I worked out what I was building and then I put a plan in place.   I was taught to do this at a business school I attended…. It made sense to me, so I stuck to my plan and achieved my sale price within 9 years.

Key number 3. Start with the end in mind

The key to my ultimate success with my ad agency was that I planned my exit right from the start. I knew what my end goal was, which enabled me to work out my plan to get there. I had a clear picture in mind, which kept me on track, even when the going got tough.

This is something I encourage all business owners to do. Plan your exit now – will you sell it one day, or will you build it so that it generates income for you even if you are not there? What kind of business do you need to build to enable this? What does it look like? What do you need to build in order to create value?

Many business owners tell me they will never want to sell their business.  I say that it really doesn’t matter… because if you build a business that is valuable and saleable, it will be ticking all the right boxes and you will have choice.

If you don’t build a saleable business and something happens to you… you don’t have choice… you work hard for years and years and have nothing to show for it.

Here’s an excerpt from my book “Liber8 your Business” on the topic of having a clear end game:

“A business is a project not a life sentence. By having a clear picture of where you are going, you can create your own map of how to get there. When I started and I was alone in my horrid little one-roomed office, with concrete walls and no natural light, I dreamed of a beautiful office with high ceilings, big windows, wooden floors and a big staircase sweeping up the middle. I saw a team of motivated young people all passionate about creating the best boutique agency in the country. I could see the award trophies lined up and could feel the joy of knowing I’d been successful. I painted a picture of exactly how I wanted my agency to be and worked out what it needed to be doing financially to deliver on this image.”

My book and my programmes teach you how to work out a realistic sale price and how to paint the end picture that will deliver this for you, and I’ll cover more of the critical components towards creating a valuable business in my next 5 keys to a bigger, better business.

Exercise

Think about this… if your business could be anything you wanted it to be in the future, what would it look like? Don’t let the obstacles you might see in front of you influence your imagination here. What does success look like for you? Think about the financial return as well as the satisfaction you will feel from building something really special. If someone knocked on your door offering to buy your business, what would be a price you would sell for?  And how would that influence your life? What sort of business would they be buying and what makes you feel proud?  Remember, you don’t have to sell it… but you do want it to be valuable.  Imagine the satisfaction of turning down the offer?

The 2016 Elev8or Group is coming soon!

For ambitious business owners who want to create a clear end game for their business, build a plan and be guided and supported to make it happen.  Only 10 business owners will be selected to join … are you ready for it?  Click here for more information.

 

 

8 keys to a bigger, better business. Key number 1…

sunset-1331088_1280Over the next 8 blogs I’m going to share my 8 keys (from my own experience and from observations gleaned by interviewing a myriad of successful entrepreneurs) to a bigger, better business and I’m going to invite you to think about each key, with an exercise to complete before the next key appears.

Key number one: Be in business for the right reasons

If you are going to sink your heart, soul, time and money into a business that will most certainly take over your world for a fairly significant period of time, you better be sure you know why you are doing it.

In my view, there are only 2 reasons to be in business:

To make money and to make a difference

Business is a financial game, it needs to make money in order to thrive. And it is not shameful in any way to want to generate profits in order to build a valuable business. If you are going to grow a bigger, better business you must have a good understanding of how this business will make money and how it will grow profits over time.  A business that does not care about growing profitability is more of a hobby or a cause than an actual business. This was a discipline I really had to learn from scratch – I had no business or financial skills when I set out.  But I hired in the help I needed early on – including getting two external directors – to make sure my business had a strong financial backbone.

However a business that cares only about the money is a business without soul. The desire to make a difference is critical because if you can find a way to solve problems for people, to give them something that answers their needs in a positive way, you will always have customers. And you will have a positive impact on the world, which in turn will make you feel good about yourself.  There’s a wonderful karmic attraction that happens when you put your focus onto making a difference – the more people you attract and the more money you make.

So when I work with business owners, we explore their reasons for being in business and we ensure it is a business that makes both money and a difference.

Exercise

Think about how your business is making a difference.  Who is it making a difference to?  What is the problem you are solving and for who? Why is this different and better to other solutions out there?  See if you can articulate the difference you are making in one or two sentences.  Remember the more people you make a difference to, the more people will come… so think scale, think big…

Let me know how you get on.  Feel free to email me any time at laura@liber8u.com … I’ll be happy to help your work out what your ‘make a difference’ mantra could be!

laura-signatureNewsflash!  The 2016 Elev8or Progamme – for business owners ready for the next level – will be kicking off soon.  Click here for more information.

 

The business case for the business case – how to make a good decision

question-mark-1106309_1280As a business mentor I often get asked my opinion on the validity of a particular decision.  Should I open a new regional office?  Should I hire a sales person?  Should I bring on more partners into the business?  Should I invest $50,000 in a new brand?  Should we launch a new product?  Should we open an new shop?

The answer is always the same: “I don’t know.”  Followed quickly by a question: “What’s the business case for it?”

Because rarely, if ever, is the question supported by a rationale containing enough information for me to assist with the decision.

In many cases, after I’ve said “I don’t know” the business owner goes and does whatever it is anyway. And in equally as many cases, after a lot of time, money and emotional energy invested, it turns out the decision to proceed wasn’t the best decision. A fair amount of time is wasted and focus away from the big picture costs the business in growth opportunity.

I’m allowed to comment on this because I’ve been guilty of chasing my own ideas down rabbit holes far too many times in business. I’ve wasted as much time, energy and money as the next person. I’ve learned the hard way the value of time spent upfront assessing the value of the idea. When I hired my first General Manager, Angela Meads, she forced me to run all my ideas through her business case health check. The following steps have helped me to make better decisions, maybe next time you have a great idea, they could help you.

7 steps to making a good decision – the business case for the business case

  1. Articulate the why. Write the best rationale you can for why you want to do this. What problem does this solve? What are the expected benefits?  How will the business be better off? Make sure this includes tangible and measurable benefits, not just emotional ones.
  2. What are the alternatives? List all the other options the business could consider, including doing nothing.  What are the pros and cons of all options considered?  Then re-consider the ‘why’.  Why is this idea better than the others?
  3. What resources are required to implement the idea?  This includes financial investment (what is the real cost – to implement and maintain) and people investment (who’s going to do it and what will they have to drop in order to do it?). This is the bit I see skipped most often when business owners rush into new ideas… it has a high cost of time and money they were not prepared for.
  4. Return on investment – what do you expect to see in terms of financial return, over what time period?
  5. Risks associated – what could go wrong? And how will you handle it? What buffers do you need in place should the worst happen?
  6. Share your business case.  NEVER launch off on a new idea without running your business case past someone wise, ideally someone external to the business. You can be a legend in your own mind sometimes, you are the batman of your own dreams… don’t let your ego drive your decisions. Be willing to listen to the voice of reason. But equally don’t let them talk you out of it if it really is a good idea… just make sure your hear their questions and have confident answers.
  7. Make the right decision based on all above.  Be bold if its the right thing to do.  But be smart if it isn’t.

Good luck with it!  And if you ever want to run your business case past me… feel free to send it to me at laura@liber8u.com … just makes sure it has all the elements above :)

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8 principles of brand building every business owner must know

brand manOk here comes another rant.  Something else I feel PASSIONATE enough to SHOUT ABOUT IT.  Today’s outpouring is about your brand… and why if you seriously want to grow, you must take this subject very seriously indeed.

I do believe the power of a company’s brand is the single most misunderstood and under appreciated aspect of doing business.

I also believe it’s this simple – businesses with a great brand give their shot at major success a MASSIVE (I’m shouting again) BOOST.

In other words, those that understand brand do better than those who don’t.

Having said this, I’m no brand expert, so I struggle to find ways to articulate the importance of this to my clients – the people I most want to succeed.  So I went in search of some wisdom from someone who can tell you what I really want you to know.

I found this article featuring Scott Bedbury, who grew Starbucks and Nike into global brands (I think you’ll agree that earns him the right to talk about the topic!).  Here he gives us his eight brand building principles – I think every one is a winner, so please read the article fully and think about your own brand as you do so… just click the link below.

Scott Bedbury’s 8 Principles of Brand Building

Please believe me, if you focus on your brand as much as your product, you will grow your business.  It is a worthwhile investment of time and money.

So read Scott’s thoughts and let me know your own thoughts…

Be smart, be brave, be free :)

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What makes a saleable business?

In this video, I’m talking to a large group of business owners about creating success in business. And as those who know me will tell you, my definition of success when it comes to business is … to build an asset that ultimately feeds you financial freedom for the rest of your life.

If you ever want to sell your business (and even if you don’t) there are 9 key elements that make a business ultimately valuable and saleable:

  1. Great product – meets a need/Clear niche
  2. Great model – scalable/growth potential
  3. Great brand
  4. Great reputation
  5. Great customer base
  6. Great cash flow – Locked in revenues
  7. Great team
  8. Great systems
  9. Great financial model

Take a look at the 4 minute clip above to hear more about these… and if you want to start creating that valuable business sooner rather than later, email me today about the 2015 Acceler8or Programme.

10408030_10153303069549365_3957956822873282887_nThe Liber8 Acceler8or Programme is designed to help business owners build valuable businesses… sooner rather than later.

The 2015 programme now kicks off with a workshop 28/29 July. Email me now laura@liber8u.com if you’d like more information.

The 2 critical factors to business growth that no one else talks about…

tiger kittenIn recent months my business partner, Mike Brunel*, and I have been helping a number of small business owners overcome their blocks to business growth. And as we dig deeper into what it really takes to grow a business, we have had an epiphany that we’d like to share with you…

There are 2 critical factors to business success that NO ONE talks about.

And in our view, it’s time this changed… because if you understand these 2 factors and embrace them in your business …. You WILL SUCCEED and you can grow an EXTRAORDINARY business.

So what are they then, these 2 secret factors? Let us share them with you…

  1. Mindset. The first factor involves your appetite for growth in the first place. How big are you really willing to grow? What limitations are you putting on your business before it even gets started? Have you even thought about the true potential for your business? What are your attitudes to wealth? What is your relationship with money? Are you sitting inside a comfort zone that is restricting the potential of your business? As the Liber8 team investigates these questions with our clients, we are witnessing huge mindset shifts that enabling growth that simply didn’t exist before.
  2. Model. Once you adopt what we call the ‘growth mindset’, the next critical success factor is your business model. Do you have a model that is capable of growth? Where is your current model restricting growth? How can you re-engineer it to be less dependent on you and more scalable? Is your offering positioned to take advantage of the largest market open to you? Have you thought about the model underpinning your business? Have you explored the potential you are sitting on?

Until you address these two critical factors, it doesn’t matter how many courses you attend, or what tricks you learn… you remain in danger of standing in the way of your business’ true potential. You won’t see the shift from ordinary to EXTRAORDINARY until you step outside of your comfort zone and explore what’s truly possible.

The Liber8 team are building Mindset & Model into all our materials – programmes and products – from now on. We’ll keep you informed on how you can take on the challenge to allow your business to be EXTRAORDINARY.

Be prepared for significant break throughs!

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Mike Photo JB* Meet Liber8 Mentor, Mike Brunel. Like me, Mike has successfully built and sold a business. Unlike me, Mike’s business was global – with offices all over the world. Like me (and every other successful entrepreneur I’ve ever interviewed), Mike had humble beginnings. He began as a sheep shearer and then door-to door salesman. I began as secretary. We both built successful business. But we are neither one of us trained business people. The Liber8 motto is “if we can do it, anyone can do it!”.  We hope you’ll be joining us on Liber8 programmes soon.

“Starting a business is easy. Creating something of value is harder”

 

TVNZ Interview

TVNZ Interview

If you have a few minutes, take a look at this interview with me on TVNZ Good Morning show earlier this week. To be honest I was quite thrown by the questions asked. I had expected it to be a jolly chat about my book, with a view to inspiring some talented mums at home to consider the opportunities, just like I had. I wasn’t expecting the first question:

 “Why do you think anyone can start a business?”

Wow, that made me think. Watch as I look up into my brain for the answer.

And then it came to me, starting isn’t the hard part. Anyone can start a business. But not everyone has the vision and the fortitude to make it work.

In the interview, I end up back on my own soapbox, showing how passionate I really am about the need to approach business with a long-term view in mind.

The good news is that I got to explain my mantra – ‘start at the end and work backwards’. Think about where you are taking the business and what you want out of it financially, as well as what you want to do right here and now. Plan your business properly – start with a good idea and a clear market for it – and be clear what the end game is.

I’m not sure I inspired those stay at homes to launch into business tomorrow, but I did get to say my piece. The reason I do what I do – helping small business owners become big business owners by planning their way to financial freedom.

I hope things are going well for you in your business right now. I’d love to help you plan your end game and plot the course to get there.

Acceler8me 2014 kicks off July 3rd – for business owners serious about growth. You can find out more about it here – just use the enquiry form supplied to have a chat about it.

Hope to see you soon!

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Do you have what it takes to grow? The 2 qualities every serious entrepreneur needs

growthThere are only two things I look for when it comes to choosing a business owner I want to work with, or who I invite to join my mentoring programmes.  If I see these two things I know this business owner has a chance at building something amazing – with a little guidance, a lot of determination and a commitment to thinking strategically.

So what are they?  These two things… let’s take a look:

1.  A willingness to grow.  This might seem obvious but when I work with people I often have to battle the mind before I can help uncover the potential.  Too many small business owners are exactly that … small business owners.  They live inside a comfort zone of their own creation. It’s warm and snuggly and safe. But it’s also restricting, limiting and stifling.  When someone really wants to grow, I know I can help them.  When they don’t, I can’t.  It’s that simple.  If I ever invite you to work with me, I will interrogate your willingness to have your comfort zone expanded, along with your dreams.

2. A business model capable of growth.  Even with the strongest desire in the world to grow, you have to have a business model that is capable of expansion.  There has to be a market for what you offer, a need for what you sell and a business structure that can scale up.  If a business owner has the willingness to grow, we can work with a business model and if necessary change it to allow for growth.  But there has to be a willingness to change if this is necessary.

So how do you think you shape up against these two criteria?  Are you willing to grow?  Are you willing to challenge your business model and explore re-engineering to enable growth if necessary?

If the answer is yes to these questions, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m about to launch my annual Acceler8me Programme for business owners seriously looking to grow.  I have two more spots to fill.  Could you be one of them?

If you are willing to move outside of your comfort zone and explore the true potential of your business, email me here today  and I’ll tell you more about the programme.

Growth isn’t always easy.  But you don’t have to do it alone. I’m here to help.

Talk soon

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From the desk of Liber8me.  Business mentors and publisher of multi-award winning book Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free

3 reasons why your business is not ‘your baby’

babyBefore you read this blog please take a moment to watch this quick video about Kathleen Turner of  Tate’s Bake Shop – the story of a woman who lost it all then rebuilt it – with major success.

I love how towards the end of the video, Kathleen King talks about the reason for success behind her second business was because she took the emotion out. “I knew I had to execute efficiently and grow a viable business,” she says, “I didn’t have the same emotional attachment that I had with my first business.” Her first business was her baby. And after 23 years, when she was emotionally wrung out and exhausted from caring for this demanding baby for so long, she ended up $200,000 in debt instead of financially rewarded. Her baby bit her in the bum.

It’s not personal. It’s business

How many times have you heard someone refer to their business their ‘baby’? Have you ever called your own business your baby? It’s a very common analogy and one we can all relate to given the blood, sweat and emotional tears we put into our business when we decide to take that leap of faith and build our own dream.

But in my view it’s not a good analogy at all. Here are three reasons why I strongly believe your business is not your baby:

1. Babies are dependent on you for at least 18 years

With business one of your primary goals should be to decrease it’s dependency on you. A business is meant to be an asset, not a job. In the first few years, there are some similarities with parenting a newborn for sure – long hours, sleepless nights, relentless giving of your time and energy to name but a few – but this is not meant to last forever. And certainly not for 18 years! Prepare to start cutting the apron strings long before your business reaches adolesence. Don’t get so attached you are not willing to let go.

2. A baby is the single most emotional connection you will ever have

You will love your baby forever, regardless of who they become. I’ll never forget my mother after a few wines the night before my wedding hugging me tight and saying “I loved you the minute you were born. And then you started taking drugs!”   Yes I was a troubled and troublesome teenager (although I like to think there were a few memories in between birth and my first foray into magic mushrooms). But she still had to love me, and thankfully still does.

The emotional connection is what makes parenthood worthwhile. But in business, the emotion can make us weak and cloud our judgment. Remember Kathleen King in the video? She had her first business – her baby – for 23 years and all it did was leave her with $200k in debt. Her second business she did without emotion – just with a clear plan and a determination to execute the plan. She went from scratch to $6 million in revenue, selling cookies in 50 US states in just 8 years.   A far cry from the 23 years of her previous business where she kept her apron strings on right up to the very bitter end.

3A baby is unlikely to pay you back financially

The days of the younger generation taking care of their parents financially are mostly over. Do you expect your kids to pay for you when you grow old? I know I don’t. That’s why I create businesses with a view to ensuring a financial pay back down the track – so I know I’ll be able to care for myself.

It’s important to view your business as an asset – something that you build to pay you back financially. Sure you have to be passionate about what you do, and love your business for the difference it makes in the world. But don’t be so attached to it you can’t see it for what it really is – one of your primary wealth creation tools. Unlike a baby, it should be feeding you.

In summary

Your business is not a baby. It’s a business. The game is to keep the emotion out of it, decrease its dependency and regard it as an asset that will ultimately feed you financially, not drain all of your resources.

Now, how do you feel about this? Still think your business is your baby?

Love to hear your comments. Post below.

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