Business Mentoring Tip #48 – Is your market big enough?

Just some numbers to think about.  What is your margin?  And how many/how much do you need to sell for your business to truly make great profit for you after normalised expenses?  What’s the population of New Zealand?  And what % of the population might want your product?  Are you going to make it happen here?  Just saying.  For those of you who are creating businesses for NZ only.  Most cities in the world have larger populations that our entire Country.  Again… just saying….

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 #46 – Have a plan and execute it

A simple tip today. Just some advice I have a very good friend as he left for the airport today. How do you take your business to the next level? Work out a plan… for new business, for growing existing clients, for building the best team, for keeping your margins as high as possible…. then…. EXECUTE IT!

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.

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!

Business Mentor Tip #40 – Talk it up baby

Whatever is going on in your business, when it comes to your public face, you need to talk it up at all times.  Never let the outside world know you are having a bad patch.  All businesses have rough times, when sales are down and cashflow is tight, when staff are leaving and stress is off the dial.  But both negativity and positivity are infectious.  And both can be self-fulfilling prophecies.  So if you are hurting, smile.  When someone asks how it’s going, say “It’s going great”… and think of at least one good thing to say to back it up…”my team are just awesome”… or “I’m loving the new office”… or “we’ve got some exciting plans coming up”

And teach your team to do the same.  Make sure they are not out there telling the world that you’ve lost clients and they’ve nothing to do. Be sure to have your positive speeches ready for them too.  Keep morale up.

Because guess what…. it will turn around!

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

Business Mentor Tip # 35 – Recognise effort, reward results…

Here’s a tip passed onto me by a client I was working with today, apparently originating with Chester Elton – best selling author and renowned expert on leadership.  I guess it speaks for itself, but here’s my interpretation of it:

As a leader you have to be sure your people feel their efforts are being noticed and feel some acknowledgement of their input.  So make sure you recognise them, with open and specific praise for a job well done; a card; a voucher; anything that shows their effort is of value.  Do this as much as and as often as is appropriate and necessary for your people to feel the love and want to give you more of the same.

However… be careful not to confuse the effort with their achievement of their core KPI’s for the company.  Save your financial rewards for the real results when delivered upon.  Don’t give someone a financial bonus or pay rise unless the results are there and their own measured contribution to it is clear.  It’s all too easy to give someone a pay rise because you’ve seen them working hard… but at the end of the day your business only works on results, and so should your financial rewards to your team.

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

Business Mentoring Tip # 32 – Know your margin

It’s easy for small business owners to think sales/income is the key number you need to be focusing on.  But actually the key figure is your Gross Profit figure (sales minus cost of sales) and your margin… the % difference between your income and your Gross Profit.  You can have millions of dollars of sales and think you are doing well, but if your cost of sales is is nearly equal to a million dollars and your margin is being squeezed by high cost of sales… you could be in trouble.  Finding ways to increase your margin… increase your prices/lower your cost of sales is a great way to increase your profitability.

How healthy is your margin?

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

Friday Business Mentoring Tip – Create rituals

FINALLY back from my holidays… 6 weeks in total… where on earth did February go???  So back to posting business tips for all of you who appreciate a daily morsel of practical business advice.   This one is a goodie and absolutely crucial if you have a team of people around you.

Rituals are the glue that holds the culture of an organisation together.  They are the things that you do together as a team on a regular basis.  The rituals of your company become the elements that give your team a sense of certainty and define how you all work together.  A good team will work together, laugh together, be serious together and have a lot of fun together.  Your rituals can create the environment for them to do this.  So what do I mean by rituals?  Let me give you some examples.

At my advertising agency we had a number of rituals, some came in the form of regular meetings.  We always met on a Monday morning for Work In Progress.  Fresh muffins were put out for everyone to share. Every person in the agency except the receptionist was required to attend this meeting as we went the progress of every job in the system.  At the beginning of this meeting we would do WIFLS… What I Feel Like Saying.  Each person in turn says how they are feeling about the week ahead.  They are allowed a maximum of 2 minutes and no-one is allowed to interupt.  The purpose of this exercise is twofold:  Firstly to allow an individual to let the team know what headspace they are in and secondly to get the person themselves ‘present’ and focused in the room.  So if someone says “My dog died on the weekend and I’m feeling very sad”, everyone knows to treat the person with some compassion, maybe take things a bit easy with them.  If someone says “I’m on fire, ready to go, going to bust through all my goals this week’, you can expect to have a high energy week from them and they will in turn expect to live up to their own promise.   I learned about WIFLS when I studied with Robert Kiyosaki years ago and have done them with every team I’ve had… it may sound a bit flakey but believe me, it really works.

Another ritual we had at Red Rocks was to have a morning tea for everyone on their birthday.  We always got a big cake and candles and made a fuss of the person.  A small thing, but again… part of who we were as a company, showing we cared about our people.  We also gave people a day off the week of their birthday as our company gift to them.

We always stopped work at 5pm on a Friday and gathered around the meeting area for drinks and a celebration of ‘wins’ for the week.  My senior people were encouraged to lead a discussion about what achievements we’d had during the week and to be sure to acknowledge any team member who’d done something noteworthy that week.  The purpose behind this ritual was to leave the week on a positive note and to make sure we had a culture of encouragement and celebration.

Another ritual was getting all new people to do a piece of artwork in their first 2 months with us.  All the staff artwork was framed and put on a wall in one of the meeting rooms.  The subject was always “your view of Red Rocks” and in most cases the art was pretty abstract… there was no pressure for anyone to feel like an artist.  We have them materials to help them.  When a person left the company, we presented them with their artwork as well as a card made by our creative department (which were usually very funny).

As you can see, some thought was put into creating a sense of belonging within the company.  Rituals do this within any group environment.  Think of your own family and how kids get their sense of belonging through the regular things you all do together.  Kids love structure and rituals, and so do staff.

Have a think about your team.  How bonded are they? What rituals could you put in place to encourage a sense of belonging?