A successful exit… the ultimate business goal

Exciting news… Trilogy sells for approximately $20 million after just 8 years in business. Two sisters started the skin care company from very humble beginnings in Upper Hutt, Wellington. The company launched with 5 products in New Zealand and Australia and at time of sale had 40 products in 3500 stores in 15 countries. I love hearing news like this. A business that had all the right ingredients, was well planned, well executed, delivered great value and met its targets… eventually feeding wealth to the owners, who deserve to be paid back for their hard work and their smart business growth.

This is the ultimate goal for liber8yourbusiness, to see more business owners follow a well considered plan through to the end result of successful exit and wealth creation. Well done Trilogy!

Life’s too short to have bad clients…

Had another great Q&A Skype session with a small group of clients on Friday. It is very pleasurable to be able to facilitate business people in good healthy discussion about some of their business issues. This week the group talked at length with the owner of an accounting franchise who found herself with an unhelpful number of ‘difficult’ clients. By difficult, she revealed that these clients don’t want to pay, want a cheap job and have even tried to bully her into charging lower fees. Her question was “how do I attract more quality clients?” We asked her to define a quality client, and really her needs were not unreasonable. She wanted clients who wanted to pay a fair price for good work, who provided quality information in a timely fashion and with whom she enjoyed working. We then asked her if she had many clients like this already and she was happy to answer that she did. So we suggested that she survey her top client group, the ones she’d like to have more of, and ask them for feedback on her business – the good, the bad, the ugly.. and the lovely stuff they felt they could rave about. We suggested she offer a prize draw to increase participation in the survey and also to develop a referral incentive so that she could also ask for referrals from these clients. The best way to get more like-minded clients is to ask your existing ones if they know people just like them. And to reward them for their effort.

You cannot underestimate the power of a good survey. My business partner in Pet Angels, Lisa and I surveyed the 2000 people on our database last month. We used survey monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) which made it easy for clients to complete and very professional, with multi-choice tick box answers as well as space for comments on various themes. We had impressive participation in the survey and were thrilled with the positive feedback we received, which we were able to then use as testimonials. We learned what our clients love and where we can improve on a few things, and we had a dialogue with our clients which gave us a human, caring face too.

Our accountant friend left the Q&A session with some clear action steps to help her re-engineer her client base into one she would profit better from and enjoy a whole lot more. The first of those steps of course was to fire the whiners, scrooges and bullies to make way for the myriad of good, reliable and fair new clients just waiting to hear from her. We asked her if she felt OK about writing to those clients who didn’t come up to scratch and politely informing them that she would no longer be able to help them. We could hear the smile in her voice when she replied, “Yes, I feel very OK about that!” Good job!

Traits of the Rich & Free #8 – Willingness to fail

The world’s most successful people are failures! It’s true. You can bet your bottom dollar that any successful, wealthy business person you can think of has failed at something in a spectacular way. You cannot go through life without failing, unless of course you never try anything. In business you will fail in some way. You will make mistakes. Some may cost you a lot of money. But the trick to successful failure (I know, I know, its an oxymoron), know only too well by the rich and free, is to view mistakes as valuable education. You learn more from the things that go wrong than the things that go right. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn. I had lunch with Melissa Clark Reynolds yesterday, who has had and continues to have great success in business. She had a lovely statement she subscribes to, “If I have an opportunity to learn something or an opportunity to earn something, I will choose the opportunity to learn every time.”

The other side to being willing to fail is the ability to learn from past failures and plan to avoid them in the future. Just because you are willing to fail, doesn’t mean that you will. If you can see failure ahead, you can plan to avoid it. This is the secret to successful risk taking. You need to take risks in business (and in life generally) to grow. You simply cannot grow by standing still and remaining in your comfort zone. But if you plan well for your journey when you do step out of your comfort zone, you can increase your chances of success. And the wonderful thing about comfort zones is that once you do step outside, your comfort zone expands. What was once unfamiliar and uncomfortable becomes known and comfortable. Leaving you ready to do what? Step outside it again of course! Here’s to planned risk taking and learning from our mistakes…