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 :)

laura-signature

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 :)

laura-signature

 

 

 

 

The darker side of business ownership …

Depression-quotes1

I don’t have time to write this blog.  But I can’t sit at my desk in integrity and not write it.  Because I’ve owned a number of businesses and I have been to the dark side.  And when my mission is to set business owners free, I can’t ignore the black hole that seems to engulf certain entrepreneurial spirits amongst us.

This week I’ve read about two young entrepreneurs (one in his early twenties, the other thirty years old) in America who have ended their life, seemingly worn down by the immense stress that building a business can place on the founder.  In this latest article, with the tragic headline ‘Start up founder jumped to her death from a roof top bar’, the writer references a study by Dr. Michael Freeman, a clinical professor at UCSF and an entrepreneur, was one of the first to link higher rates of mental health issues to entrepreneurship.

Of the 242 entrepreneurs he surveyed, 49% reported having a mental-health condition. Depression was the No. 1 reported condition among them and was present in 30% of all entrepreneurs.

This statistic doesn’t surprise me.  I talk about this subject a lot with my clients and members… the harsh reality of business that no one tells you when you get started.  I call it the roller coaster of business – a world of extreme highs and extreme lows.  If you are determined to be successful, this is a ride very few dedicated business owners can avoid.  I talk about because I want my clients to be prepared – to buckle up tight and ride out the highs and the lows.

In business, you will have moments of joy, when everything goes right – you win clients, you love your team, the income is looking healthier than it’s ever done.  And you will have times when the bottom falls out of your world.  You lose a big client, you have a rogue staff member, you are worried about money, you are working too hard and sleeping too little.  You can only imagine the worst.  You feel like everything is on the line and you’ve put all you have into the business – your heart, your reputation, your time, your money – the thought of losing it all is overwhelming.  It’s a lonely and miserable place.  Despair can live here if you let it.

But you mustn’t let it.  You must know that this is normal.  Every business owner experiences the highs and lows. I’ve been there, I know.  I nearly had a nervous break down halfway through building my first business.  I will never forget how depressed I  became during that time.

I do think it is very sad that young people such as the woman in the article are losing their way in our entrepreneurial society – becoming so desperate that they feel they must take their own lives.  These are young people with the courage to dream, to step out into the world and take on the challenge of building something amazing.  They don’t know that they are also building their own monster, the beast that grows and can eat them alive if they are not ready for it.

Of course it isn’t just young people.  Success in business takes its toll on all business owners from time to time.  So in writing this I want you to know that this is normal.  If you are reading this, you are a business owner.  And I know you will have found the whole thing unspeakably tough sometimes.  So I just want to say to you something I’ve learned that keeps me sane and grounded, whatever life throws at me:

It always turns out OK.  Always.  

No matter how bad it seems, no matter how desperate the situation feels – it always gets better.  Don’t let things keep you awake at night with worry (although I know you will sometimes).  The worry doesn’t fix it.  Even if the whole thing crashes and burns, you will be OK.  YOU WILL BE OK.  Life will go on.  Your family and friends will still love you.  The sun will still shine.  And as Jack Dawsey says in my favorite line in Titanic, “you will die an old lady (or man) warm in your bed”.  Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.  Just get up in the morning and do the best you can to fix whatever is going wrong.  Whatever happens, you’ll be OK.

I work with business owners because I know I can help them.  I’m there through good and bad, highs and lows.  Mostly we work on the growth and I push people to strive for the dream of a beautiful exit, where they get to live happily ever after.  But I know it’s not a straight line to the top.  So I’m also the voice of comfort and reason when the going gets tough.  I love my work!

If you ever find yourself struggling and feeling like it’s all too much, remember my mantra…”it always turns out OK”.

Thank you for being a dreamer and an action taker.

You rock.

laura-signature

 

 

 

 

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.

Does your business ever feel like a life sentence?

My early mentor in business was Robert Kiyosaki. I studied with him all around the world, long before he wrote the Rich Dad Poor Dad books.  One day, at his business school in Hawaii I was sitting next to him at dinner.  We were talking about finding your life purpose and building a business around this.  I asked Robert how to find my purpose, my passion.  He replied, “Laura, you’ll find what you love by looking at what you hate most.”

This thought stuck with me and over time, as I’ve worked with and talked to hundreds of business owners, I realised that what I hate is seeing small business owners becoming slaves to their business – after setting out with a dream of creating their own destiny, being their own boss, running their own lives, they find themselves chained to a business that doesn’t pay them enough, works them too hard and impinges on their quality of life.  It’s not supposed to be like this.

The team at Liber8 are committed to setting small business owners free.  To help them create businesses that are not dependent on the owner for survival, that can grow and prosper and pay the owner back handsomely for all their hard work.

Are you ready to turn your business into a valuable asset?

We’re running our 2015 Acceler8or Programme with a workshop kicking off very soon – designed to help you build an asset not a life sentence.  If you’d like to know more about it, email me laura@liber8u.com and we’ll send you some information.  It’s for a small, select group of business owners how are ready to build the business that sets them financially free.  Are you one of them?

Be free and happy!

motivation-new

laura-signature

 

Plan your business with the exit in mind… a mantra I never grow tired of!

If every business owner started their business knowing it was meant to be an asset not a job, we would be a nation of wealthy entrepreneurs and one of the leading economies in the world. My mission is to help every business owner I come into contact with grow a business as it should be… something extraordinary that they can eventually exit from and leave a legacy of greatness.  This short clip explains this… take a look.

Does this sound like something you’d really like from your business?

If so you might want to join us on the ultimate journey to create financial freedom from your business… The all New Acceler8or Programme kicks off this month. We’re helping passionate business owners build the business they really deserve. Click here today for more information.

Yours in freedom and happiness

laura-signature

3 steps to turning your business into a valuable asset

11156283_10153303242804365_8882445748495223375_nThe Liber8 team held a powerful workshop a few weeks ago.  Twelve people in a room had the courage to look at their mindset around money, wealth and business.  On their feedback sheet after the workshop, 80% of them mentioned the realisation that a business should be an asset not a job, and the keys to getting there were key out-takes for them.  This is what we teach at Liber8.  We are passionate about it and we strongly believe that if every business owner in New Zealand set out to create an asset rather than a job, we would see a very different economy and a very different Country.

In a moment I’ll share three of the keys to building a valuable business… but first let me explain this flip chart from the workshop.

If you business requires you to go to work every day in order for it to continue to exist… and you don’t have a plan to change this in the future – you don’t have a business, you have a job.  And it may even be a job that pays you less than someone else would pay you to do the same job, makes you work twice the hours, puts too much stress on you and doesn’t let you take enough holidays.  Sound familiar?  A job is something that pays you some income, but doesn’t allow you to build wealth on the way.

If your business is able to generate income without you having to be there – it has become an asset.  If your business has value to someone else, who would like to pay you a significant sum of money to buy it – it has become asset.  An asset will feed you long after you stop working.

Which is your business?  A job or an asset?

If it’s still a job, don’t panic.  Every business starts out that way.  But its the business owners who make a conscious decision to transform it into an asset over time that really win.  This is what we teach at Liber8.  Financial freedom by turning your business into an asset.

Here are just three of the steps we encourage our members and clients to take:

1. Decide that you want to create a valuable business not just a job for yourself.  Think about your own mindset and paradigm, what are you telling yourself on a regular basis that would prevent you from striving for this.  Question your own belief systems around growth, wealth and what is possible for you and your business.

2. Address your business model.  What is holding back the growth right now?  Have you created something that is very dependent on you?  If so, what changes could you implement that would reduce this dependence?  Do you need to find a way to duplicate what you do and train others to deliver?  Do you need systems and products that can deliver without you?

3.  Create recurring revenue streams.  The most valuable businesses are those where cash flow can be predicted into the future.  Clients who are locked in to regular income – income not dependent on the owner – this is where value is created.  There are many examples of business models with this value well and truly in place.  I will share some of these in my next blog.

In the meantime, think about the three steps above.  And feel free to email me with your questions at laura@liber8u.com

Yours in freedom

laura-signature

The all new Acceler8or Programme

We are looking for business owners ready to get serious about transforming their business into a valuable asset.  Our next Acceler8or Programme kicks of end of July.  Do you think you have the right mindset to join us?  Email me laura@liber8u.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

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

laura-signature

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.

laura-signature