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 #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 #39 – Grasp the trends

I think Bob Dylan said it best, “The times they are a changing”… and ironically this fundamental truth hasn’t changed. Change is inevitable, I’m sure you are aware of it yourself… how fast things are changing these days.  Just look at social media, just when you think you’ve got the hang of Facebook and Twitter, someone comes up with Pinterest and you’ve got to start learning all over again!

This is just an example of clever people, backed by people with money, jumping onto fast moving trends that force us all to throw ourselves into it just so we don’t miss out.

A key factor in business success these days is your ability to spot a trend and steer your business towards it.  For example, a key trend I’ve always been aware of is being championed by Sir Richard Branson … businesses as a force for good.  Businesses that are making a genuine difference to some significant problem on our planet will be in the right space for today’s consumers.  Trends coming up will be around the needs people have, whether on a global scale such as the environment and worldwide food shortages, or on a more personal level such as the massive shift towards online retail over traditional retail.  If you sell something, you pretty much have to sell it online… and to the right hardware, be it pads, androids, pcs… it’s changing all the time!  We are all coming to accept this reality more and more.

But what other trends are happening that could impact your business?  And how can you use a trend to your advantage?  Do you need to re-engineer any aspect of your business to be ready for an impending trend?

Let me know what trends you see coming…

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 www.chesterelton.com – 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 Mentor Tip # 34 – Don’t pray and spray your PR!

Here’s a top tip from one of New Zealand’s most savvy PR consultants, Bridgette Paton-Tapsell of Village PR and Marketing http://villagepr.co.nz/ :

When you send your news releases to media, don’t be afraid to follow up the journalists with a phone call. Media get bombarded with media releases and sometimes even fantastic stories get shelved for later, then unintentionally lost in email space.  Don’t pray and spray with news releases.  Determine the outcome with a well-timed, persuasive and succient follow up call. And if they say no, make sure you find out why the story was rejected, to learn if you need to make improvements.

Thanks Bridgette, great to grab a top tip from an expert – I’ve certainly been guilty of not following up press releases before.  No more though!

If you have a top tip from your area of expertise you’d like to share with liber8yourbusiness followers, please email it to me at laura@liber8yourbusiness.com.

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

Business Mentoring Tip # 31 – Education is the key to success…

I’ve decided to start numbering my business mentoring tips to make sure I get to 100 before I stop.  So here’s number tip number 31…

If you know any very successful business people you may have observed something they all have in common… they all continue to educate themselves.  I’ll bet you anything, Bill Gates reads business books and watches business videos,  talk business with other very successful business people.   Just because they are at the top of their game doesn’t stop them learning.   So what about you?  What are you reading right now?  What seminars are you going to?  What courses are you subscribing to?  What blogs have you signed up for?  There is so much great information out there…

Here’s the tip. Make a promise to yourself to have two books on the go at any given time.  One for pleasure to relax you and one for business to enrich you.  If you are not sure what to read start with Micheal Gerber’s The E Myth.  Only until my book The Liber8 Factor comes out… then you will want to be reading that!!!

Let me know your favourite business book…

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Small business mentors and experts in exit strategies for small business.  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?

Business Mentor Tip – Try this formula for effective goal setting

Now is the time of year for goal setting.  I’m a bit late this year… spent too much time on holiday (is there such a thing??).  But every year I make sure I’ve got my goals clearly defined and most importantly, written down.  There is something so powerful about putting your goals down in writing.  I’m sure it triggers something in your subconscious that makes you do the right things towards achieving them, even when you’ve forgotten what they are halfway through the year. Anyway, in my constant pursuit of a balanced life I set goals across all areas of my life, not just my business.

I do have a formula for effective goal setting that works really well for me, so I thought I’d share how I do it.  Hope its useful for you!

1. Start with your purpose
You may remember from my last blog that I have articulated my life purpose in one simple sentence, which is:

“To live a wealthy, healthy, happy life whilst making a difference to as many people as I can”

This covers all aspects of a life well lived in my view as under those four areas (health, wealth, happiness and making a difference) I can set goals to cover everything that’s important to me.  I put my purpose at the top of a blank sheet of paper to remind me what my goals need to deliver to.

2. List your the key areas in your life that are most important to you

For me these are:  Health, Wealth, Happiness and Giving Back (Contribution)

3.  Put sub-headings under each area.

What aspects of your life are most most important to your feeling of success under each of these headings?

For example, under Happiness I put the sub-headings ‘Relationships’,’Family’, ‘Leisure/me-time’; under “Health” I put ‘Fitness’ and ‘Emotional/mental health’; under “Wealth” I put ‘Business’ and ‘Investing’….. you get the idea.

4.  Determine if you need to sub-categorise further

For example, I have two businesses so I under my Wealth category of ‘Business’ I put liber8yourbusiness and Pet Angels sub-headings, as I will have key goals for each of these (of course the business plan for each business will have much more specific goals and targets for the business)

5. Allocate no more than 3 goals to each sub-category.

Limiting yourself to three goals under each heading keeps you focussed on what’s really important to  you.

6. Remember goals must be measurable, slightly challenging but realistic (eg. a goals to conquer the world is a challenge but might not be realistic), measurable and time bound (write a date by which this goal will be achieved).

Here’s an example of one of my three goals under the liber8yourbusiness heading:

To have a further 1000 new members join the liber8yourbusiness programme by March 31 2013

7.  List 3 key strategies under each goal – what are you to do to achieve this goal?

A goal without a plan is just a goal.  So to increase your chances of success, you need strategies for achievement.

To continue the liber8yourbusiness example… my goal is to have 1000 more members.  My three key strategies are:

1. Improve internet conversion to sales

2. Ramp up PR activities

3. Publish book to increase profile

8.  List 3 tactics that will be implemented for each strategy

I’ll carry on the liber8yourbusiness example and give you the action steps under one of the key strategies:

Strategy: “To improve internet conversion to sales”

Tactics:

1. Re-vamp website with focus on conversion

2. Add Affiliate membership function

3.  Implement internet marketing campaigns to drive traffic to site

  9.  Under each tactic, list 3 actions you can do this month to get momentum going.

If you want to turn your goals into a plan, you can keep going after the strategies and tactics, and start giving yourself action tasks.   I won’t give you an example this time, I think its pretty self explanatory.  One the key traits of wealthy entreprenuers is the ability to take action.  The formula for successs is simple:

Goal + Plan + Action = Success

Hope this was of some use… I’m off to finish  my goals!

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