Sometimes the only thing to do is go to the beach…

I’m off to Tonga and shutting down for 7 days.  Boy do I need it!  My book is off being given the serious eye by someone who promises to be cynical.  I think this is a good thing!  I’ve been getting up at 5am and working late for 8 months now to get the first draft done.  I’m run down and I have the flu.  Tonga is calling.  The beach beckons.

My new Acceler8me programme kicks off when I get back with eight hot businesses raring to go and spend 12 months accelerating their path to the ultimate win… the exit.  I’m very excited about that.  There’s much to do.  The Liber8 Factor is coming… in many forms.  Can’t wait.

However, knowing when to give in and re-charge is a key to success I reckon.

See you in a week!

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies. Based in Wellington, New Zealand.

Business Mentor Tip #74 – Kick sand in the gorilla’s face

Kicking sand in the gorilla’s face. I love this expression.  Told to me by clever guy called Dion Mortensen, investor, company director and all round smart guy to have coffee with.  We agreed over said coffee that building an exit strategy into your business plan was a critical element to overall success.  And the sooner you set your sights on the company that will eventually buy your business the better.  Pick a company that will be able to take what your business offers and add it to their own offering to increase value.  Work out who will want what you produce in the future, then set about building the business they will pay a lot of money for.

So where does the sand and the gorilla come into it?  See the gorilla as the big guys you want to notice you.  What better way to get them to notice you than to annoy them.  Dion talked about Trademe stealing the classifed advertising from under the nose of Fairfax Media… with their advertising revenues disappearing onto Trademe, Fairfax needed to buy that business to get their revenues back.

We talked about other stories of companies deliberately taking customers from their potential future buyer.  Annoying them to the point of increasing their desire to make you go away.  I recalled entrepreneur Jim Donovan telling me how his former company Deltec moved their head office to the same city in USA as the big company they had picked as their buyer.  When customers began raving about Deltec and moving their business across, Andrews Corporation felt very compelled to make them go away.  And paid them a lot of money to make it happen.  Classic!

So what about you?  Have you identified your future buyer yet?  How could you kick sand in their face?

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.

Business Mentor Tip #73 – If you build it will they come? @drrobadams

 “If you build it will they come?” is the title of a new book by Rob Adams.  I attended a workshop taken by Rob last week and was impressed enough to make it my next business mentor tip.  Forgive me Rob if my interpretation of your material in any way undersells it!

The key to successful business is having a product or service that enough people will buy to meet your financial targets.  Many (dare I say most) business start out with what Rob calls the ‘ready, fire, fire,fire, aim’ approach which typically goes like this.  Think of a product/service idea that you think people will love, get it ready for market, dress it up in the way you believe your target audience will find attractive and then attempt to sell it.  When sales don’t meet targets you re-visit your sales strategy and try again.  And again.  Sound familiar?

Well think again.  Surely a way to increase your chances of selling people what they want will increase if you ask them what they want and then deliver it to them in the way they want to receive it?  Or in other words as Rob Adams says … ‘ready, aim, fire’.

This is called market validation.  In essense this means that you go out to your market and find out what their problems are first.  Then you develop the product or solution that will meet those problems better than anything else out there.  You get it right before you invest in development and marketing.  It sounds so logical doesn’t it?

So how do you validate your market?  In Rob’s book ‘If you build it will they come?” he takes you through the methods and steps involved.  But before you rush off and buy it, I’ll share the tip he gave us at the workshop:

Before you launch anything new – a new product or service/a new brand or a new campaign – call up 100 people who represent your target market and ask them what they really need.   In Business Mentor Tip #63 – Gather Your Insights I gave you a list of questions that a someone developing a new business planning tool might ask.

In these questions you are looking for the problem to solve.  What frustrates people?  What annoys them with current options?  What are they trying to do that your product or service could make easier for them?  It’s all about easing pain.  Find the pain and offer the solution.  Ask questions that give you meaningful answers to help design your products and marketing campaigns to meet the need.

The added bonus is that people will pay more for something that makes them feel better.  If you can give them what they really want, they are happy to pay for it.

So… as you think about your product development and marketing from now on, remember, Ready, Aim, Fire!

You can buy your copy of Rob’s book here:

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.  Based in Wellington, New Zealand.

Business Mentoring Tip #72 – How to create an effective system in six simple steps

Systems are critical to building a business that will one day set you free. If someone holds information critical to your business and they don’t show up for work tomorrow, you have a problem…especially if that person is you.  So you need to build a business on a foundation of systems that show others what to do.  Here’s a six step process for creating an effective system.

1. State desired outcome

2. Create solution

3. Test it

4. Refine it

5. Document it

6. Train others

You start with your desired outcome.  For example, let’s say that you want everyone in the company to answer the phone the same way to create the best first impression.  You will need to create a solution for this, which in this case is a script you’d like everyone to follow.  You write the script.  You distribute it to all staff.  To test it you let others answer the phone and check they say the right thing.  You make any changes if you feel necessary and once happy with it you put the script into your company manual.  Then you train everyone who comes into the company on how to answer the phone.

Simple as!

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business Mentors and experts in small business exit strategies.  Based in Wellington, New Zealand.


Business Mentoring Tip #71 – Think like an alien

Imagine if you had to exit your life for 12 months (to go save the world because you are in fact a secret super hero… we are imagining here) and an alien version of you will be arriving to take over your household.  How will they know how to live your life in a way that doesn’t send everything and everyone around them into a complete spin?  You will need to leave them detailed instructions right? You will have to think of every single aspect of how your life runs – what you do, when you do it and how you do it.  From the moment you get up to the moment you go to bed, including what time you get up and what time you go to bed.  You will need to write down instructions (yes they can read) for how your household runs, including how to work all the gadgets, how to pay the bills, how to access your bank accounts and where to find things.  You will need to explain who is in your family and how the family operates.  You’ll write down the rituals your family needs to function such as your meal times and types of food you eat. What time do the kids go to school?  How do they get there?  Who takes them? What do they do when they get home?  What do you do on the weekends? You will also have to consider what things are really important to your family. How do you treat each other? What are your values? What are your rules, the expectations you all have to guide your behaviour?

The more you think about it, the more things you can think of to write into this ‘manual’ for your life.  You want to make sure the alien you will run your world as close to the way you do it as possible.  You don’t want to miss anything out.

Aliens in the workplace

Now imagine this alien is going to come to work and attempt to run your business for a year. If they walked in today, how would they cope?  Would they know what to do?  How long would it take them to get up to speed?  Would they be able to run things exactly the way you do?  Or would they have to make it up as they go?  How dangerous would that be if they were let loose on your clients and your accounts without clear instructions?

It’s a pretty basic analogy but it works.  The alien in the workplace represents a potential buyer looking at your business and wondering if it will work without you in it.  If the answer to this is ‘no’ they are either going to walk away or insist you stay in the business for some considerable time to help them learn the ropes.

The alien could also represent a senior employee that you hope will take over a large part of the running of the business from you.  You want this person (or this team of senior people) to be willing and able to keep the business running the way you want it run.  You know what works.  You know what sales need to come in the door to meet targets for the year. You know what your clients expect from your company.  You know what keeps your staff motivated and what will create upset. You’ve got everything working well with you at the helm.  But how do you share this knowledge?  How do you ensure someone else will be able to keep everything running as smoothly as you do?

The answer to all of these questions is of course… with systems.

You ensure nothing exists purely inside someone’s head, neither yours nor your key staff members.  If someone holds information critical to your business and they don’t show up for work tomorrow, you have a problem…especially if that person is you.

In the next few blogs I’m going to talk more on systems – which systems you need and how to create them.  Watch this space!

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Business mentors and experts in small business exit systems.  Based in Wellington, New Zealand.