If you don’t ask the answer is always no!

This was one of the slides at my talk to the Bubbles & Inspiration audience last night.  My point being that sometimes to get ahead in life you have to ask for things, even if it seems far too bold an ask.  My example was when I was a secretary in an advertising agency in London I asked the Managing Director if he would pay for me to go on a creative writing course.  It was a huge agency and he was a busy man.  I knew I had no chance of this happening. But I asked anyway.  And he said yes!  Who would have thought?  If I had not asked, I wonder where I would be today.  On a different path for sure.  So just ask.  The worse that could happen is someone will say no.

At the end of my talk a lovely lady came up to me and asked if she could do my twelve month programme and, because I offered a money back guarantee, could she pay at the end of the twelve months?  Of course I said no.  But I loved that she asked.  I knew that she’d been listening and there’s no harm in asking is there?

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

Business Mentoring Tip #60 – “Move fast and break things”

Ok Ok I admit it… this is not my quote.  It’s a “Facebookism”.  When smooching around Google looking for inspirational business stories (as I do) I stumbled across this blog entitled “Sh*t Facebook employees say” by Josh Levin.

The blog outlines some things learned about Facebook from their recent IPO filing.  Along with all the accounting and legal information there were  5 “facebookisms”.  And they are BRILLLIANT!  Take note business owners, this is how you build a culture… (All excerpts below are taken from the S-1 filing).

Facebookism No. 1: “Done is better than perfect”

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Facebookism No. 2: “Code wins arguments”

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Facebookism No. 3:Move fast and break things”

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

Facebookism No. 4:The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Facebookism No. 5:This journey is 1 percent finished.”

We encourage our employees to think boldly. We also have posted the phrase “this journey is 1% finished” across many of our office walls, to remind employees that we believe that we have only begun fulfilling our mission to make the world more open and connected.

Check out the Josh Levin’s blog here http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/02/01/facebook_s_ipo_filing_reveals_how_zuckerberg_and_his_employees_talk.html

Business Mentoring Tip # 51 – Goals and cocktails, a powerful combo

There’s nothing as satisfying in life as the achievement of a goal (Except perhaps a nice cold glass of rose on a summer’s day!).  Seriously… making progress in life, regardless of what you are trying to achieve, is made all the more meaningful if you are achieving what you set out to achieve. But I can tell you from my own experience that having other people to hold you accountable to your goals and then being there to celebrate with you when you achieve them… this makes all the difference.

Towards the end of last year I met up with two close friends for a cocktail.  We’ve been friends for a long time but hadn’t really seen much of each other in recent years.  One cocktail led to another.  And then cocktails led to dinner and a few wines.  All three of us are business women.  All self-employed and all with busy lives, sometimes struggling to fit everything in.  We got to talking about the projects that were really important to us and bemoaned the lack of time we had to  make headway with them.  We agreed we needed to feel some sense of accountabilty to motivate us to get moving on these projects.  We decided we would meet once a month over cocktails and dinner to review our milestones.

I told my friends about my book, The Liber8 Factor, which has been sitting inside my PC for a year now… all mapped out, the bones all in place just waiting to be given flesh.  The gauntlet was laid down.  I was challenged to commit an end date to finishing the first draft.  I bravely said end April 2012.  I had a milestone goal to have the first 12 chapters to them by end March.

As I write this blog… it is Saturday 31 March.  I am today reviewing the first 12 chapters.  They are all there… the flesh on the bones at last.  Tomorrow I will email them to my friends.  We will meet on Tuesday at our favourite restaurant and I’ll feel proud to have achieved my goal.  I will challenge them on their goals too, and offer support and help of course.

I am so enjoying re-connecting with my old pals in this way.  And LOVING the challenge, support and help we are giving each other.  So my tip for you today is ‘find yourself a support group’.  It could be old friends who share common interests and are also looking for motivation and encouragement in their goals.  Work colleagues.  Family.  Anyone who you know will both challenge and support you in your goals.  Agree your goals and timeframes then meet regularly.   Have fun with it… I highly recommend the cocktails and dinner approach…. for 12 chapters down and 12 to go… thanks so much Trish and Em.  We are on fire!

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

Business Mentoring Tip #47 – What’s your Mission Possible?

I’ll keep the tips even more simple today.  Facebook’s mission is ‘to make the world more open and connected’… what’s yours?

If you are following my blogs with any regularity you will know I am mad keen on all businesses having a purpose and a mission.  They are much the same thing… a reason for being that is greater than the company itself and beyond the making of money.  Think about your mission … what is your business doing here?  Really? What value are you adding to the world by having your business succeed?

Believe me, the greater value your business adds the greater value added to your business.

Business Mentoring Tip #45 – Budget from the bottom up

It’s budget time!  If you haven’t already set your budget for 2013/14 year… now’s the time.  There is an entire seminar in the liber8yourbusiness programme to walk you though the best way to do this.  Here are the key steps:

Decide what profit you want/need to make this year.

Then put in your expenses for the year, using last year’s expenses plus some extra for growth.

This will tell you what your Gross Profit needs to be (Gross Profit minus expenses = profit).

The put in your cost of sales based on last year’s margin (Sales minus cost of sales = Gross Profit.  The margin is the % difference).

This will tell you what your sales income needs to be to meet profit targets.

Then spread all the numbers out across the 12 months, allowing for a ramp up across the year as your sales and marketing plans kick in.

This is your budget.  Beside each budgeted figure each month there should be an ‘actual’ column. This is where you put in what actually happens each month so you can see how you are tracking against budget.

Of course you need an awesome plan to achieve your targets each month. That’s the game… set the targets, plan the attack and achieve them.

If you want to know more on how to do this and all the planning you need to achieve targets.. join the  liber8yourbusiness programme!

Guest business mentor tips – 10 things you need to know about sales this week

Look out for regular guest mentor tips from now on as I call upon experts from all specialist fields of business to share their top tips with you. Today I welcome these tips on sales from one of the best sales people I know, Mike Brunel.

10 things you need to know about sales this week….

1. Everyone is a salesperson. Everyone is in sales, we just do not realise it. Have you ever tried to convince your partner that you want chinese food and she or he wants Italian? Whoever wins that discussion employs all the skills that great salespeople use.
2. Presenting face to face is better than doing it by email. Do not hide behind email, get out and meet your customers, face to face selling is not dead. Email is often an easy way to hear a no from a client.
3. Closing is never over until your client dies or goes out of business. Closing a sale is really the beginning of a sale, unless you are in the business like selling TV and electronic products where you may never see the client, the sale actually begins when the client says YES.
4. There is no such thing as a No- think of it as a KNOW- the client wants to know more. Too many salespeople give up after the first no… All your client is saying to you is… I want to know more.
5. Telling your clients that you are the best is not their concern- solving their problem is. So many sales people think it is about them. Big mistake. It’s about the customer stupid!
6. People want the unusual-are you? What makes you any different from the 50 salespeople your clients see every week? What makes you different?
7. Wealth is in the list. Work your client list; the regulars are the first to target with up sells and your lapsed clients next.
8. You will not win if you follow the crowd. If you are in too broad category you will be like everyone else. What make you the best in your field?
9. Cheating in school is call marketing in the real world. Learn from others, if there is a good idea you think you can use from another field adapt it and then use for your industry.
10. Sit with your client or vendor for the day and see how they do it. When was the last time you went out with your client, or worked in their store for the day, or ran a focus group with your clients if you own a business?
Mike Brunel is a director of a number of companies both in New Zealand and worldwide which specialise in generating sales revenue for television newspaper and radio stations. NRS Media operates in over 65 markets throughout New Zealand, Australia, US, Canada and Europe. Their simple sales concepts have generated in excess of US$900 million.
Mike is a phenomenal sales person, as well as a stimulating and relatable trainer.
Contact him at mike.brunel@talkingmediasales.com
Mike offers a limited private consultancy for select clients. For more information contact trishs@maygrovemanagement.co.nz

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

Watch #Sir Richard Branson talk about #Screw Business as Usual

“Do good, have fun and the money will come”. So says Sir Richard Branson. We are in the new era of business, where the lines between work and purpose are merging into one. Where all businesses need to be thinking about how they can become a force for good. I love this. Take a look at the video, buy the book. And let me know how your business is making a difference.

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

Business Mentor Tip #43 – Get real…

Here’s a quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

In other words, don’t kid yourself you are something you are not.  In business it’s all too easy for us to convince ourselves everything is alright.  That we are running a wonderful business (just because you are telling the world you are doing famously, doesn’t mean its true) and will one day be millionaires.  Here’s the thing… you have to know what’s really going on with your business.  You have to know what your targets are, what your breakeven points are, what your margins are and how you are tracking against all of these.  Don’t leave it to the end of the year to find out if you are making money or not.  Do a reality check on your numbers right now.  Get your foundations strong… then blow your targets out of the water!

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

When a $10 million mistake gets you promoted…

I love the famous story about IBM story from the 1960s.  An executive at the company made a decision that ended up losing the company $10 million.  He was summoned to the office of formidable CEO, Tom Watson.  As he cowered, Watson asked, “Do you know why I’ve asked you here?”  The executive replied, “I assume I’m here so you can fire me”.  Watson looked surprised.  “Fire you?” he shouted, “Fire you?  Of course I’m not going to fire you. I’ve just spent $10 million educating you!”

Business Mentor Tip #41 – Don’t be afraid to say no

Being in business can make you a real ‘yes’ man/woman.  Yes to any new business that comes your way.  Yes to whatever your demanding clients demand of you.  Yes to the staff member who needs a day off on your busiest day of the year.  But remember, good business is about quality.  You want quality clients, not just any old idiot who wants to do business with you.  Say NO to small budgets, teeny projects that you know you’ll lose money on, bad briefs, ridiculous deadlines.  Say YES to quality clients, quality communication, good budgets… in effect, say YES to good relationships… with clients and staff alike. Your business will grow in value the more you respect your offering.  Don’t sell yourself cheap!