There are only two reasons to be in business. Do you know what they are?

world arrowAccording to Dun & Bradstreet* reports, “Businesses with fewer than 20 employees have a 37% chance of surviving four years and only a 9% chance of surviving 10 years.” 

I believe that the primary cause of these staggering statistics is that too many people go into business for the wrong reasons.

For me, there are only two reasons why you would start a business: firstly to make money and secondly to make a difference.

Making Money

Business is a financial game.  People who are very good at business understand that business is all about delivering returns to the shareholders.  As the Director and CEO of your own business you have a fiduciary duty to yourself as a shareholder to build a business that delivers maximum returns to you.  To look at it any other way is letting emotions get ahead of business.

Making a difference

And yet a business that cares only about money is a business without a soul. Your business is also there to fulfil a purpose, to add value and make a difference to the lives it touches, whether those people are customers, employees or beneficiaries of the higher purpose your business serves.

There is a fun irony to this concept if you can really grasp it.  If your business is truly focused on making a real difference to as many people as possible, you will attract more people to you.  The more people you attract, the more successful you become and the more people you make a difference to.  It’s a wonderful win/win concept.

Combine the concepts of making money and making a difference and you will build a business that will not only make you rich, but make you feel like a million dollars too!

Are you in business for the right reasons?

I hope so!

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*Dun & Bradstreet is a public company that licenses information on businesses and corporations for use in credit decisions, business-to-business marketing and supply chain management. D & B maintains information on more than 205 million companies worldwide. 

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

If you want to succeed as a small business, start thinking like a big dog

think like a big dogIt’s that time of year when you should be working on your business plan for the next financial year.  Please, please, please tell me you do a plan each year?  You simply cannot succeed in business unless you take it seriously and understand the game of business itself.

I encourage my clients and readers to observe and learn from successful big businesses.  Having been on the Board of an organisation with close to $1 billion turnover, I learned first hand how disciplined larger companies are.  They do not fly by the seat of their pants, nor stumble hopefully from one year to the next.  They set clear growth targets every year, put clear strategies in place and hold individuals and teams accountable for the delivery of those targets.  The CEO must inspire, motivate and direct his people towards this delivery and has overall accountability.  His/her senior management team must set targets for their own department and are held accountable for the delivery of these.  Within the teams, team leaders have responsibility for the successful (on time, to budget) delivery of their projects.

All of this is made possible by two things – a business plan and a team to deliver on it.  This is the game of business at its most basic.  As a small business owner operator, you may feel that you don’t need a business plan.  You may not yet have a team big enough to deliver on it even if you did.  Yes?

No!

No matter what your size, even if it is just you, if you are serious about growing a business (rather than creating a low-paying, high stress job for yourself), you must have a plan.  And part of this plan must be to grow a team to help you.

A big business will typically be divided into ‘departments’ with each responsible for delivery of objectives for the different areas of the business.  These would typically be:

  • Product development
  • Sales & marketing
  • Team/HR
  • Operations
  • Finance

I recommend to my clients and readers that no matter how small your business right now, that you begin to implement the disciplines of a larger business.  Imagine your business when it is fully grown – what departments does it have?  Write them down and set objectives for each department.  Then develop strategies for the delivery of these objectives.  What developments need to happen and what resources are required? Tie your targets and any expenditure required into your annual budget (you do manage using a budget right?  If not check out this article on preparing an annual budget) and start your financial year with a road map of monthly objectives and actions to make it happen.

Have you ever noticed how a small dog will take on a big dog, regardless of it’s size?  It doesn’t know it’s small, it behaves as though it is big enough to tackle the world.  This is the attitude you need to adopt with your business too.  By all means, be nimble, be smart and take advantage of the benefits of being small.  But learn the lessons from those companies who also started out small once (Apple, Virgin, The Body Shop to name but a few) and install some planning discipline into your business – sooner rather than later.

Remember – think like a big dog.

Grrrr!

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

The 9 big DON’TS if you want to successfully grow your business

no entryEveryone is always telling you what you should do to be successful in business.  I thought for a change, I’d tell you (based on my own bitter/sweet experiences) some of the things you really shouldn’t do.  Here are my top nine DON’TS when it comes to being successful in business:

1. DON’T start or continue a business with no idea of why what you offer is needed and wanted.  Find your niche, be sure people want what you have and have a plan for how you will grow this business into the future.

2. DON’T believe you are the only one who can do what you do as well as you do. No matter what you do, no matter how specialized it is… there will be others out there who can be trained to do it just as well as you… if not better.  Get your ego out of the way.  Or you will become your business’s biggest liability when it comes to growth.

3. DON’T be afraid to hire people.  You cannot do it alone.  No one will ever buy a business that is dependent on its owner.  You must build a team around you.  This is, however, one of the most challenging aspects of business and most small business owner often make a complete mess of it to start with.  Which leads us to DON’T number 4…

4. DON’T do your own HR.  Most business owners are better leaders than they are managers.  You can probably inspire people to want to work for you with your vision, your passion and great ideas.  But an employee will never share the same level of passion as you, no matter how good they are at their job.  Get an expert (HR consultant) to get the right tools and processes in place to motivate your team and manage their performance effectively.

5.  DON’T try to grow too fast.  You need people – but you need to know you can afford them first.  Make sure there is enough forward cash flow in the business first – don’t hire them hoping the business will miraculously appear out of nowhere to pay for them.

6. DON’T ever believe that doing the work is more important than selling the work.  Learn to do the IN/OUT dance – make the out there selling part of your job as important as the in there doing.  You must have a sales pipeline in place at all times, always thinking about where your income is coming from next.

7. DON’T try to run a business without a budget.  Business is a financial game, and you must lead with the numbers.  Project your sales, set your expenses – have a plan to achieve these and then make the plan happen.  Lead with the numbers.  Create strategies to achieve financial targets and take action.

8. DON’T try to do it on your own.  Business can be a very lonely game.  Especially in the early days when you are doing everything.  Even if you have a business partner or management team, it’s too easy to be introspective and talk yourselves into believing what you are doing is right.  Get an external perspective on your business right from the start – a mentor, advisor, Board, Advisory Board… someone who will challenge your strategies and hold you accountable to your goals.

9.  DON’T let the bastards grind you down!  There is an extremely high probability that at some stage during the life cycle of your business you will want to quit.  You will hate your clients, hate your staff, hate your suppliers and maybe even hate yourself for putting up with all their crap.  You will have days like these.  I call them duvet days.  Go home, pull the blankets over your head and hide.  But come out fighting again the next day, because as I saw on a billboard once:  “I’m not saying it will be easy, I’m saying it will be worth it”.

Hope you liked this blog post.  Now DON’T be shy… share your comments below, let’s get talking about the DO’s and DON’Ts of business success!

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Brought to you by Liber8me.  Business Mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every business owner free.

How to motivate your team… take the check list challenge

motivation-newIn my latest book, The Liber8 Disciplines, I’m working with HR consultant Antonia Haythornthwaite on the key strategies to build a high performance team.  Antonia advises that you find out what key factors motivate a particular individual and then use these to encourage the best performance from this person.   Knowing what motivates an individual and then building this into their goals and challenges can make a stunning difference to a person’s performance. In the book, Antonia provides a check list you can give employees to find out what drives them.  I’m going to share it with you in this blog.

Take a look at the check list below.  Your challenge is to book a time over the next few months with each of your team members to begin an informal evaluation process.  Create a form for them using the following checklist. Get them to complete this check list and begin to work out the high performance formula for each individual.

MOTIVATION CHECKLIST – WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Tick the five factors that are most important to you at work:

¨  Pleasant physical work environment

¨  Sense of achievement, pride in a job well done

¨  Being treated fairly compared to others

¨  Job security

¨  Knowing that I’m doing what I’m best at

¨  Variety of work

¨  Challenging work

¨  Safe working conditions

¨  Promotion opportunities

¨  Freedom to do the job as I want

¨  Collaborating with others

¨  Project work

¨  Being well paid

¨  A good relationship with my manager

¨  Study and training opportunities

¨  Spending time socially with the people I work with

¨  Flexible working arrangements

¨  Regular feedback on performance

¨  Clear systems and processes to follow

¨  Goals to work towards

¨  Recognition of a job well done

¨  Perks

¨  Communication about the direction of the organisation

¨  Knowing how I can do better

¨  New, untried experiences

Once you know what motivates someone and build these things into their work day – their happiness and desire to perform increase dramatically.  Give it a try – and let me know how you get on.

Happy team building

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From the desk of Liber8me: Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every business owner free

5 critical success factors for a future business sale… what every small business owner should be thinking about right now

soldBusinesses do not typically sell by accident.  The owners that end up selling their business for a significant amount of money have usually been preparing for that day for some time.  You don’t have to be thinking about selling your business any time soon to start planning now for the day when you might want to.  If you consider the following five things, you will be in good shape when the big day finally arrives…

1. Set your end goal. Decide how much you want to sell it for and by when, and work backwards. You’ll find a tool to help you work this out at www.liber8yourbusiness.com/tools.

2. Name your buyer. It’s important to have a good idea who might want to buy your business in your early planning. Imagine spending 10 years building a business you intend to sell only to realize you have created something nobody wants to buy. If you build a business with a buyer in mind, you have a much better chance of building something they really want.

A potential buyer could be a larger player in your industry looking to grow through acquisition. This growth might be regional – they want a presence in your city or town and it’s easier to buy you than start from scratch. It might be strategic – you have a smart product or service they could add to their existing infrastructure to create additional revenue streams. An example of this might be a large accounting firm buying a small book-keeping firm to add value to their client base. Your service or product could become a ‘nuisance’ to a competitor (read more on a strategy called ‘kicking sand in the gorilla’s face’ in my book, Liber8 your Business) and they buy your company to prevent it competing or to regain lost revenues. It could be a management buy-out, when senior employees raise the funds to buy you out. It could be a competitor of a similar size wanting to grow and willing to invest to gain rapid growth through acquisition. I’ve sold businesses to two types of buyer. A multinational bought my advertising agency and a local competitor bought my pet care company. My father’s photocopier business sold to his senior management team. A good friend has built three recruitment agencies. The first sold to one of the original partners, who bought out the other partners. The second sold to a multinational looking for regional representation in her city. The third is in its early days of growth and I’ll watch with interest who buys it (I have no doubt it will sell because I know the founders expect this and will build with this in mind). Another type of buyer could be a private equity group or even an individual who sees great potential in what you’ve built.

So who might want to buy your business? What are you building that could add huge value to someone’s offering? Now is the time to start thinking about these things.

3. Remove the dependence on you. To make your business attractive to your future buyer, it cannot be dependent on you. That’s a key message I want you to learn:

No one will outright buy a business that’s dependent on its owner.

If the buyer takes you out of the picture and no business remains, they will either insist you stay in the business or they will walk away. So whatever your strategy is, whatever your end goal, whatever that picture is of your shed or your man on the moon … it needs to not have you in it. I did that at my agency by making sure the clients loved the business but weren’t dependent on me. In the last few years, I hired two senior guys and put them in charge of our biggest clients, so my buyer could see the clients were not reliant on me.

4. Start building a team as soon as you can. I couldn’t afford to bring in those big guns until later in my business growth. I started by hiring people I could afford, with a couple of youngsters straight from college. I trained them to do things exactly the way I wanted. I call it ‘training your clones’. I kept building my team that way until we could afford to hire more senior people. And then we had to make sure we had a really strong culture to manage senior people.

5. Secure future earnings. Getting all our key clients on fixed-term contracts was another critical strategy that worked. They all had two or three year contracts so when the buyer looked at my business they saw a high level of spend committed for the next three years. This was an important lesson I learned from my businessman father. Remember I told you about his photocopier business and how he sold it and retired soon after his fiftieth birthday? One of the best secrets to success he shared with me was, ‘you’ve got to have a back end.’ To explain, he gave the example of his own business. While the sale or lease of each copier was worth a lot of money (especially in the 1970s when these huge machines were a relatively new addition to business productivity) the real value came from the additional contract that went with each machine. This locked the customer into buying all their ink, toner and paper for the life of the machine, as well as regular paid servicing – which meant that, for every machine sold, my father had income guaranteed for the next 10 years, enabling him to predict with complete accuracy his future income. You can see why this made by father’s business attractive for a buyer. They could see a guaranteed return on their investment. It made sense to me when I started my own business, and I hope it does to you too. It will get you a higher price when you come to sell!

A business with committed future revenue that is not dependent on its owner to deliver that revenue is a business worth investing in.

Hope these five things have given you something to think about.  Good luck!

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 The above is an extract from my book, Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free.  Available now on Amazon.

Do you have the right mindset to be successful, rich and free? Rate your freedom mindset here…

welcome to financial freedomAs part of my Liber8me business mentoring programmes, I spend time interviewing successful business people. My key criteria for selecting an interview subject is that the person must have built and sold at least one successful business, which has created wealth and freedom of choice for them. I ask what they believe are the key traits that have made them successful. A pattern has emerged as all interviewees mention similar traits. Ten traits stood out and I believe form the foundation of the Freedom Mindset.

Each of the ten traits is list below with a score against them.  It’s time to take the test. Grade yourself on a score of 1 to 5, where 1 means ‘not at all’ and 5 means ‘totally got it nailed’, against each of the traits. Don’t feel you have to be close to a 5 score to be successful. This is a reality check to identify the areas you will need to work on as you build your business and your path to financial freedom.

1. Vision. Rate the clarity of the vision you have for your business when it is complete and you’ve created financial freedom from it.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

2. Self-belief. Rate your confidence in your ability to build a business that will generate great wealth and freedom for you.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

3. Passion. Rate your passion for your business

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

 4. Being goal-orientated. Rate the clarity of the goals you have set for your business

1                      2                      3                      4                     5

5. Planning. Rate your current plan for a business that will feed you wealth

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

6. Being action-focussed. Rate your ability to take action as needed.

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

7. Determination. How do you rate your determination to succeed?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

8. Willingness to fail. How would you rate your willingness to learn from failures?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

9.Being wealth positive. How would you rate your willingness to be very wealthy?

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

10. Giving back. Rate your desire to make a difference through your business

1                      2                      3                      4                      5

Review your scores for each of the 10 traits. In which areas do you already feel strong? Which areas do you need to work on? Keep these in mind as you continue to work on your building your business and your success.

Good luck!

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The above is an excerpt from my book Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free. Available now on Amazon.

What one thing will make your business more valuable to a future buyer? Build this ‘attractor factor’ for the future into your business plan today

money treeThis is an excerpt from my book Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free.  It’s such an important point when it comes to building a valuable, saleable business, I thought I’d share it in today’s blog:

How to command a premium price when selling your business:

Your reputation may get you noticed but by a potential buyer but it won’t get you that premium price. Business is business, at the end of the day. And once the buyer has made their approach, their focus will quickly switch from appearance to substance. They will have three words buzzing round their head from the minute they start looking at the inside of your business. Their focus is Return On Investment (ROI).

The sooner you demonstrate your company’s ability to make acceptable future profits, the closer you will come to sealing the deal you want. If you are serious about selling your business, your business plan should have clear goals for ‘locked in’ forward revenues – money committed to the business for a reasonable future period. A buyer will look at your turnover/profits from past years. They will probably find them interesting and give encouraging nods and praise how well you have done. But they really want to know what’s going to happen next. What profits can they expect when they own the business? You need to convince them their investment is as risk free as possible And the best way is to show them the amount of income that is ‘locked in’.

 Planning for forward revenues

How do you lock in future income? You need clients who have committed to buy for an agreed period in advance.

Sign them for the future

When I sold my advertising agency, a primary attraction for the buyer was the knowledge my key clients had signed three-year contracts, agreeing to a set amount of spending with the agency for each of those years. The buyer could see the worth of the future business they were buying and not just on projections based on past performance. The contracts significantly lessened the risk of losing those customers and their revenue streams.

Contracts

Most of us don’t want to sign contracts. We much prefer the freedom of taking our business where we want, and when we want. To convince your customers to sign contracts for future business, you’ll need to construct an attractive proposition that offers benefits in return for their commitment. For many businesses an effective way to do this is to create ‘packages’ whereby you offer a customer a pre-determined level of service for a set fee each month. You can also have a tiered approach to packages, so customers can choose from a range of different monthly fees depending on the level of servicing or type of products they want included in their plan. A tiered package plan could look something like this:

Starter Small Medium Large
List features included List additional features List additional features List additional features
From $125 per month From $245 per month From $450 per month From $850 per month

The benefits of signing onto a monthly plan should be made very apparent to customers. Typically you would have a higher hourly rate for those not on plans and over time be able to demonstrate to a client how they are better off with a set fee than running up ad hoc charges.

 Memberships

A popular method of locking in projected income is the membership model. It’s a more subtle and often complicated approach to secure forward sales, but it can be done. Gyms have been doing it for years. A common tactic for them is holding annual fees at the level of foundation membership – in other words, as long as you don’t take away your patronage, you avoid price increases. Loyalty cards are a simpler version – think of the cafes that create a sense of membership by giving you a card that entitles you to a free coffee after so many visits. The smart café operators quickly learn the percentage of customers who return to use the cards.

Keeping customers loyal and restricting churn can be time-consuming but if you can show your potential buyer you have repeat customers, and can quantify it, they’ll see extra value in your business.

Remember! A buyer wants future earnings, not past performance.

Avoid one-off sales

A business based on one-off sales is destined for hard work, not only for its daily survival but also when it comes to finding a buyer. In my advertising days, I came across many design companies that worked mostly on a project basis, designing a brand identity for a client and then struggling to get exclusivity on future projects. As an advisor to such companies these days, I always ask them to think of ways to lock clients into contracts – whether it’s for services (such as providing web hosting) or through methods of payment (monthly retainers, for instance).

The traditional retail model accepts that future earnings will be based on past performance and projected growth modelling. Most shop owners still seem happy for a customer to buy an item and walk away. But a buyer will still pay more for guaranteed earnings or, at least, income that is based on more than random chance. Having a decent database of customers, with information on how much they spend and when, is better than telling a prospective buyer you know nothing about where you money comes from. Imaginative retailers come up with clever ways to encourage repeat business. If you’re in retail, put some effort into finding a concept that suits your business and it’ll pay dividends.

LIBER8ING EXERCISE: THINK ABOUT FUTURE EARNINGS

Whatever type of business you have, take a few minutes to think of its future earnings. Do you already have a way of securing future revenue? If not, what could it be? How could you build a base of guaranteed future earnings from your clients to increase the value of your business to a potential buyer? Could you re-design your offering into ‘packages’ so that customers sign up for a monthly fee?

Excerpt from Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary planning technique that will set every business owner free.  Purchase the book here www.Amazon.com

Winners have a strong brand. Do you? A lesson on branding from The X Factor USA

x-factorI’ve been trying to explain the importance of branding to people all year and then recently I watched the final of The X Factor USA and I saw the power of brand building in action… in a way I think will help people understand.

The three finalists had each been working hard on their personal brand the entire competition:

Carlito-Olivero-The-X-FactorCarlito Olivero is a Hispanic competitor from the Bronx who has been an underdog all the way, even ending up in the bottom two twice.  Every week he tells America that he’s a fighter.  He tells them he’s come from the gutter, and he’s going to work hard and fight his way to the top.  This is his brand.  This is what he stands for.  And we all love a fighter.

jeff guttJeff Gutt is a single dad who is inspired by his three year old son.  He was depressed and gave up music until his son came along. He needs to win for his son.  We’ve all bought into his story.  He stands for sacrifice, determination and parenthood.  He stands for hope. He’s a father. That’s his brand.  We are routing for him to win for his son.

alex and sierraAlex and Sierra are the beautiful young couple who are madly in love.  They are the lovers of the competition. They both have wonderful voices and sing into each other’s eyes week on week.  They stand for love.  That’s their brand.  Love.  And who doesn’t want to believe in love?

Do you see what I’m saying here?  In the X Factor the winner is chosen by the vote of several million viewers.  But it’s not just about the singing. The good contestants have not just demonstrated their talent.  They have also shown us what they stand for.  We have fallen for their story and what the values they represent to us.  We have an emotional connection to what they are about not just what they do.

In the real world (because we can’t all be X Factor stars), your brand is what your business stands for, not just your product or service.  You have to sell an emotional connection.

In the X Factor final, love won the day.  What does your brand stand for that will make you a winner in your world?

Best,

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PS  You can read more about the power of branding in my book Liber8 your Business.  Available on Amazon right now.

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

Why are customer surveys so important? And how do you do them properly?

survey workI’ve recommended to three different clients in the past week that they undertake a client and prospect survey to find out what’s really going on with their business.  Each of these clients has different challenges but each will be able to make better decisions by asking the people they are trying to reach.

I was in the advertising industry for over 20 years and the most effective work we ever did for clients came out of insights we had gained from understanding their customers and potential customers.  When I ran my own agency, we would always start a new campaign by talking to both existing customers and potential customers.  We would base our advertising messages on what they told us…. more so than on what the client told us about their business.

Today I am still a huge believer in the power of talking to your customers on a regular basis.

Why and when should you do a customer survey

  • To learn more about customer purchasing and spending habits, and how they are utilizing competitor products – so you can be sure you are positioning your product and marketing in the most appealing way
  • To build a more detailed customer profile for future marketing campaigns – who are your hot clients, what do they want and where can you find more of them?
  • To further define a clear point of difference – what is that you do that your customers love, and why do they choose you over the competition?
  • To learn what frustrates your customers about your industry and how can you package your offering to provide the best solution to this
  • To assist with brand development – if you are undergoing branding work, you can build better strategies with customer insights
  • For new product development – before you spend money building something, make sure it is needed and wanted by matching it against client/prospect needs
  • To find out why clients are not referring others, even with very good incentives to do so

How do you go about it?

I’ve just published a report called ‘Customer Insights: Developing valuable insights for marketing and product development’, which outlines the steps to take and the types of questions you should ask.

You can download it at www.liber8yourbusiness.com/tools

Research is a really important part of product development and positioning so do check it out, and let me know if you have any questions at laura@liber8me.com

Good luck

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From the desk of Liber8me.  Small business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business, the revolutionary planning technique that will set every small business owner free.

Which is more important… delivery or sales? Should you be in doing or out selling? Learn the 5 steps to the ‘The In-Out Dance” here…

sync swimmingAs a small business owner you’ll be familiar with ‘The In-out Dance’ I’m sure.  It goes like this.  You are busy in the business, delivering your service or product, working hard, working hard.  There’s too much to do and you need help.  So you hire some people and now you have to spend more time training them and managing them as well as doing all the work you already have on your plate.  There’s no time to think about getting out there and selling your wares.   Busy in, bum down, doing it, doing it, doing it.  You’re working hard, putting in the hours, no time to sleep, worrying about dropping balls and hoping your delivery meets client expectations.

Then suddenly the work dries up.

You’ve got the team, but no income on the horizon.  So you have to get OUT there and sell you butt off.  Out, out, out, sell, sell, sell.  The pressure is on, there are mouths to feed and everyone is relying on you to bring home the bacon.  It’s a frightening and stressful time and the buck stops with you.  Now you’ve got time to sleep but you can’t because you’re worried about money. So out you go.  Pick up the phone, network like crazy, press the flesh and try to keep the desperation out of your voice when you talk to people.

Hopefully your efforts pay off.  The orders pour in and back you go to the coalface.  Doing it, doing it, doing it.  Work, work, work.  Late nights, no time to sleep, on and on until…

Suddenly the work dries up.

And out you go again.

You get the picture.  It’s ‘The In-out Dance’ and very exhausting it is too.  It can be really, really stressful – especially when you have to lay people off because you can’t afford to pay them in the quiet periods.

So what do you do to change this pattern?

You need to learn to dance better.  You’ve got the steps all wrong.   Instead of in, in, in then out, out, out, the dance needs to be more like in, out, in, out, in, out.  A gentle rhythm set to an even beat.  You must be out as much as you are in, or at least have a marketing system that allows for constant out focused activity.

 Here are 5 pointers to Strictly Come Dancing In-Out Style:

  1. Understand the in/out balance.  Business is a balance of sales and delivery – you cannot have one without the other.  If you put all your focus on sales but not delivery you will disappoint customers, damage reputation and lose business.  If you put all your focus on delivery and not sales, you will run out of business and the best delivery in the world won’t matter.  So you must ensure you dedicate time to both no matter how busy you are.
  2. NEVER take your eye off sales.  When you are too busy to think about sales, this is the time to think about sales.  Ensure sales and marketing activities are in your weekly work in progress and given equal priority. Try not to bump the sales activity off the to do list because you and your team are too busy.
  3. Keep the pipeline full.  You should always have a number of hot prospects waiting for conversion, a number of proposals in progress, a number of leads to follow up, a database to make irresistible offers to.  This can only happen if you keep the pressure on your sales and marketing at all times.
  4. Have a marketing system.  Create a marketing process that happens every week.  Make sure you have a hot list of potential clients you are targeting and a regular campaign underway.  With a system in place you can get other team members to help with the logistics.
  5. Hire people out of cash flow. Don’t hire new people on the basis of today’s busy period alone.  This can lead to disaster down track if the work dries up.  Try to use contractors to start with if you can until the workflow is more certain.  Ideally you’d be hiring people you know the business can afford, or at least ensure you have money in the bank to cover salaries should there be a quiet period on the horizon.

There is a reason that marketing and sales make up the important pillars to business growth.  You can’t grow without them.  Life for a small business owner is a constant juggling act in the early years.  Your job is to remember to keep both sales and delivery balls firmly in the air.  And learn to be a champion ‘in-out dancer’!

Dance on!

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From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business:  The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every business owner free