BL Goal Setting

Keys to Better Goal Setting

Each of us defines success differently. Money, lifestyle, relationships, and personal growth are likely contributing factors. But your ability to achieve the success you desire starts with goal setting.

With January approaching, now is a good time to evaluate your performance in 2023 — and set goals for 2024.  Here are some suggestions to make your goal-setting payoff.

5 Keys to Better Goal Setting

Write Them Down & Keep Them Visible.  Your goals clarify what you want to be, do, have, or accomplish. So, if you are committed to achieving them, put them in writing and view them often. Don’t set them and forget them.

Don’t Go Overboard.  Since goals help keep you focused, too many can mess you up. Keep the number of goals manageable. Concentrate on the ones that are most relevant to your long-term success.   

Be Specific.  Goals that are too general are often less motivating. Earn more money or spending more time with family are simply too general to propel you to act. Define your goals clearly. Then you can track progress and focus on what actions you need to take to achieve them.

Set Deadlines.  All goals are not created equal. Some are more critical. Others take more time. Give yourself due dates. They help you prioritize and avoid procrastination.

Think Bigger.  Make your goals challenging but realistic. Get out of your comfort zone and put a little stretch into the goals you set. So you are motivated to take action.

Here’s a bonus. Don’t ignore the why. Why is a goal important to you? In many cases, the why is the motivation behind the goal. It makes your goals more meaningful. It is often what drives you to keep going from month to month.

A vision without action is just a dream; an action without vision just passes time; a vision with an action changes the world.

Nelson Mandela

Nothing happens until you take action. So, after you set your goals, jot down what you need to do to accomplish them. Those tasks are your roadmap to success.

Need Help With Setting Goals and Planning?

Then check out my Ultimate Action Planning Guide. This step-by-step guide provides everything you need to create an action plan for your small business. Packed with helpful tools, templates, samples, and worksheets to make it quick, easy, and effective. Plus, some proven ideas to help you increase sales, develop systems, build teams, improve customer satisfaction, and grow profitability.  Buy Now

ideas from others

How To Profit From Others Ideas

When someone offers you a new idea for improving your business (or your life), how do you react? Do you look for the flaws and try to justify why it’s a bad idea? Do you dismiss it as something you can’t do because it may require too much work, time, or money? Or do you find ways to apply it – in full or in part?

Today more than ever, building sales and profit in business require more creativity – the customers won’t simply show up on your doorstep or visit your website. The good news is you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Instead, pay attention to what others are doing — with a different attitude.  Instead of dismissing their ideas or tactics, look for their strengths and potential. How can you apply it in your business or life? What changes can you make to improve it?

Why Do People Dismiss Ideas That Might Benefit Them?

Sometimes, it’s because we’re overwhelmed with work and don’t want to contemplate taking on something new. But with an open mind, you may just uncover something far better than what you are currently working on. Replace the new idea with one that isn’t working, but taking up your time and money.

Sometimes, we dismiss ideas because we don’t trust or like the source. Recognize that ideas can come from good or bad people. Even questionable business practices often have, at their center, excellent marketing or customer insight. Break it down and reinvent some of the elements to fit your ‘better’ business practices.

Sometimes, we dismiss ideas simply because we don’t understand them. If the results seem too good to be true, don’t simply dismiss them out of hand. Take the time to ask more questions and truly understand. Your decision to act or dismiss is now based on some level of understanding.

Life is full of opportunities to be happier and more successful. Sometimes these opportunities smack us in the face, they are obvious. But often, they arrive in puffs – brief remarks or suggestions by friends or colleagues or chance encounters with strangers.

If you open your mind and eliminate the tendency to rationalize why ideas won’t work – you may just uncover a world of untapped potential. Listen to your team, your customers, and your “little voice,” – and seize the day. Then you and the business can, and will, become so much more!

Tired of Hitting Roadblocks?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support, and accountability from an expert help you to get moving in a new or better direction? If the answer is a resounding YES, let’s talk.  Schedule a free 30-minute discovery call today — click here to book an appointment.

Mid-Year Business Health Check

Ready For a Business Health Check?

It’s almost mid-year. It’s a good time to re-energize, re-evaluate and re-focus your efforts. Are you on track to reach your goals or is it time to make some adjustments? Time to do a mid-year business health check.

Mid-Year Business Health Check

A mid-year check-up can help you identify areas that need improvement.  It can also uncover some previously overlooked opportunities. While it’s natural for business owners to focus on sales results, other things can impact the overall success of your business too. So let’s take a whole business approach.

Revenue | Sales

A consistent stream of new and repeat business is essential to overall profitability, so let’s start here.  

  • Are sales higher than in the same period last year? Is your average transaction trending up?
  • Are your sales efforts focused on your higher-margin, more profitable services?
  • Are you generating enough new or repeat business leads to support your sales goals?

If the answer is no, then it is time to re-think your marketing and sales efforts.  Are you using the right tactics and tools? Are you consistent? Do you have a sales process that converts and generates repeat business too? 

Daily Operations

A well-run business certainly increases profit. But it also reduces the stress that often comes with daily issues and problems. A well-run business is a combination of people and systems working well together.  So let’s consider the following:  

  • Do you consistently deliver what you promise, when you promise it?
  • Are rejects or reworks costing you time and money?   Do you fix problems or band-aid them?
  • Can your business run without your day-to-day involvement?  
  • Do you have the right people — employees, contractors, and suppliers — to support your business and customers?  

If the answer is no, then it is time to emphasize this area of your business. Having quality systems and strong people to run them will make your business more profitable, less stressful, and more fun!

Profit and Cashflow

As a business owner, profit is your reward for excellence in entrepreneurship. Are you and your business reaping the rewards?

  • Are your profit margins trending up or higher than last year? 
  • Do you have the cash flow you need to continue to grow?
  • Do you know where the profit leaks are — and how to fix them?
  • Is your income growing? Does it reflect your value, effort, and risk? 

If the answer is no, it’s time to dive into those financial reports and look at the margins and trends. How do yours compare to other businesses in your industry or similar industries?  A little number crunching and comparison can go a long way. 

It’s never too late to set a new direction. Based on what you discover, make a few adjustments now and you will reap the benefits sooner rather than later.

For a comprehensive checklist to help you identify more hidden opportunities in your small business, download my free Business Success Checklist.

Need Another Set of Eyes?

Sometimes another set of eyes can help you uncover a lot more opportunities. Are you ready to work with a coach to solve your frustrations and leverage your business?  Then let’s talk.  Click here to schedule a discovery call today. 

accountability business owner

Need Accountability?

Business owners typically relish being in control. It’s why many start their own business. They take ownership for their decisions, actions, and results.  So maybe they don’t need accountability? Or do they?

While controlling your destiny is valuable, many business owners recognize one simple truth.  It can be lonely at the top.  When was the last time someone  called to check on your progress and goals?   Or challenged you to think bigger and try new things? Or maybe congratulated you on a job well done?

Accountability can impact business success. Do you need accountability or maybe a fresh perspective during these uncertain times?

5 Signs You Need Accountability

  • I know what I need to do, but often procrastinate. 
  • With so many ideas, I get stuck in the weeds and miss out on opportunities.
  • I have goals and a plan, but find I go off in other directions a lot.
  • The business is doing well, but we have more potential. What am I missing?
  • Being my own boss is great. But not reporting to anyone makes it easy to put things off!

Bridging the Gap: Knowing what to do versus actually doing it!

When you share your goals with someone who has a stake in your success and can help keep you on track, something magical happens.  It brings a higher level of motivation and more structure that translates into results!

How to Build Accountability

Whether it be a colleague, another business owner, or a business coach, an accountability partner can help you get focused, stay on track, prioritize tasks, deal with overwhelm, make better choices — and provide a fresh perspective to challenges or roadblocks. Today, this can be especially helpful.

When choosing an accountability partner, be sure you ask someone who is up to the challenge.  They should be willing to ask hard questions and remind you of your goals – even if you don’t want to hear it!

Set aside time to discuss your goals and progress. Make sure they are clearly defined so that your accountability partner understands what you’re trying to accomplish as well as you do.

Finally, schedule regular appointments to check-in via email, phone, or teleconference. Scheduling in advance ensures appointments are not forgotten. It also gives you self-imposed deadlines to work toward – something my clients find valuable.

About Joan Nowak.  I’ve been helping business owners turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business, common sense approach empowers clients and drives improvements in key areas including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability. 

To learn more about my focus and accountability programs click here or book a complimentary consultation.


Do Your Products Deliver Value and Profit?

My customers are always demanding lower prices.  Sound familiar?  I hear it a lot from small business owners. Especially now as things begin to rebound. But before you start looking for new ways to attract more quality customers – or worse, cut your prices, go back to the basics.  Think value and profit.

As a business owner, your products and services must accomplish two things.  First, they must provide value so people want to buy them.  Second, they must produce enough sales and profit to provide you with the income you want and need to stay in business.

Create Value and Profit

The past year has brought about a lot of changes. So as you re-open the doors, take a few minutes to review your products and services. When doing so, consider both customer value and business profit. Remember, you want and need both. Here are a few things to think about.

  1. What products or services do I (or should I) offer? Which are profitable, which are low-margin?
  2. Who are the ideal customers for my profitable products or services?  Are they different than those who are buying my marginal products?
  3. How can I repackage my products or services to better meet the needs of my ideal customers today?
  4. What benefits, solutions or payoffs do my ideal customers receive from my products or services?
  5. What makes us unique and how can we capitalize on it?

The key to creating a balance between the value that customers want and profit you need starts with understanding your products and services as it relates to the benefits your target customers want – then packaging them in a way that is compelling to customers and profitable for you.

Related Article: How to Diversify Products to Maximize Sales and Profit 

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Looking to Rebound Faster?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business in a new and better direction? Let’s explore the possibilities with a brief, complimentary consultation.  No obligation, only opportunity. Click here to schedule your free consultation today.

all about attitude

7 Winning Attitudes for Success

As we move beyond Covid and work to get things back on track, I thought I would re-share this. While many of us have the potential to be better and stronger than we are today, our success starts with a winning attitude! So here are seven attitudes I found helpful five years ago — and I still believe it today. 

7 Attitudes to Create a Better Path to Success

#1 – There are no mistakes or failures in business — only learning opportunities.  Not everything you try will work as planned. Be willing to take calculated risks, learn from your actions and keep moving forward. 

#2 – I know I can.  You control your destiny. Believe it and own it.  Remember the words of Henry Ford “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” Take ownership of your decisions, accountability for your actions, and responsibility for your results.

#3 – Time is my most valuable asset. Instinctively we know that time is money. But it is so easy to get distracted today. So invest your time in tasks and activities that support your business, personal, and relationship goals. 

#4 – I don’t know what I don’t know. Personal and professional growth requires an open mind and a willingness to try new things.  When you think you know everything, you close your mind to learning.  Don’t shut out ideas or innovations with an “I know” attitude.

#5 – Business is fun!  You probably thought so when you started your business with a vision of more money, time, and freedom.  If the fun is gone, time to get it back.  Take control. Revisit your vision. Get re-energized.  Create a business that works FOR you – one that is simple, fun, and profitable. If you can’t do it alone, get help. 

#6 – An attitude of gratitude is priceless.  As a child, my parents often said, “Be grateful for the little things and the big things will come”.  I believe the past year has demonstrated this to a lot of people. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate the little acts of kindness, successes, and accomplishments that occur each day.  When we focus on the good stuff, we build positive energy that attracts more good stuff. Be grateful and stay positive.

#7 – It’s not what I know, but what I do.  Most people have an abundance of ideas or goals.  But until you start to take action, nothing will change in your business or life.  “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  While the quote from Thomas Edison makes me laugh, it is a reminder that personal and business success requires work.  Make doing a priority.

Looking for a Path to Business Success?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support, and greater focus and accountability help you get to another level? Then let’s explore the possibilities together with a free 30-minute phone consultation. Click here to book an appointment today.

About Joan Nowak

I’ve been helping business owners turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business, common-sense approach empowers my clients and drives improvements in critical areas, including revenue, operations, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

marketing payoff 1

How to Make Your Marketing Pay Off

Want a better return on marketing?  When it comes to marketing, effort and money won’t guarantee results. It’s not about doing a lot but doing the right things well. Here’s why small businesses struggle with marketing and how to fix it and make your marketing pay off.

7 Reasons Small Businesses Struggle With Marketing

1. Lack of Planning. You only have so much time and money. So it is important to create synergy with your marketing efforts. You can do this by integrating a variety of tactics (with the same message) so it gets through the clutter. But this requires planning. Planning helps you prioritize and build the synergy you need. So, when you have a new marketing idea, ask yourself “How does this fit with what I am already doing”.  Timing is everything and you will get better results and your marketing will pay off when you combine tactics and messages.

2. Failure to Understand Your Products or Services. Just like customers, your products are not all created equal.  Some are more profitable and some are unique.  Others are simply standard for your type of business.  In other words, customers expect you to have them.  Focus your resources, time and money, on those that are premium or profitable.  Let the others sell themselves. For more on this topic, check out my article, How to Diversify Products to Maximize Sales and Profit

3. Failure to Define Your Target. Don’t try to serve everyone. Figure out who the ideal customers are for each of your products or service categories.  Then market with them in mind.  Speak their language, understand their needs, and solve their problems. That is a recipe for marketing success.

4. Inadequate Follow-up.  Few sales are produced with one call or discussion. Prospects need nurturing. It takes 7-10 contacts on average to turn a lead into a sale.  For high ticket purchases, it may take more. Regardless of which methods or tools you use to generate and nurture your prospects, follow up and stay connected. You’ll turn more prospects into paying customers.

5. Inconsistent Implementation. When something works, keep doing it. Build a system to make it easier next time around. Document what you do and say and how you do it. Incorporate technology and automation where possible. It will save you time and money so you can do more with less effort. When your marketing is on auto-pilot it is easier to do or delegate to others. Consistency is the key to generating more profit.

6. Inadequate Information. The more you know about your customers, your strengths, competition, and past performance (results), the better your marketing will be. You will save money and time when you stop chasing the wrong customers and focus on what you do well.

7. Lack of Patience and Commitment. Marketing is a process, not a one-time event. You need to be in it for the long haul. If you treat it like a faucet that you turn on and off, you create large peaks and valleys in sales. It’s costly.  Instead, focus on doing a few things consistently well. Add or try new things but be willing to test, measure and modify as needed. Your commitment to building a pipeline of ideal customers will pay dividends now and in the future.

If you want to attract more quality customers into your small business, address these issues and make marketing something you do every day. To learn more, check out my article, The #1 Rule to Drive Business Growth.

About Joan Nowak.  As a business improvement expert, business coach, and consultant, I’ve been helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business approach empowers clients and drives improvements in key areas including revenue, operational performance, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.


Better Planning For Better Results

Whether you want double-digit growth or more control and flexibility, you need a road map to get there. Since better planning can create better results, now is the perfect time to reflect and re-set your priorities to achieve more this year.

Planning is not a one-and-done process. Priorities may change as you go through the year based on competition, customers, team or other issues and opportunities. So, it’s not the plan but the process of planning that is essential.

Don’t invest months trying to create the perfect plan. Concise, specific and actionable really do work best.

5 Steps to Get More from Planning

#1 – Look Back. Before you start planning the coming year, take a few minutes to look at where you are today in your business. How do your sales, profit, and other key results compare to the same period last year and your current goals? Are you ahead, on track or behind?

#2 – Acknowledge Accomplishments. Even if you are on track, a natural tendency is to focus on what you didn’t get done or what you could have done better. It’s important to acknowledge your successes, big or small. Jot them down and pat yourself on the back. Most of all, continue to do the things that worked!

#3 – Learn & Adjust. No matter how much you plan or how well you execute, some things may not work out as you expected. We tend to view these as failures. If you learn from mistakes and make changes to improve it next time, you haven’t really failed. You simply delayed success! Don’t dwell on it. Make adjustments for the coming year and move on.

#4 – Set Goals. What do you want to accomplish in the coming year? Be specific and realistic with some stretch – think bigger! Also consider all areas of your business, not just revenue. You will want to track progress, so make your goals measurable. Consider the exact outcomes you want. Here are a few examples. Acquire 4 new customers each month or increase gross profit margins 5% by year-end.

#5 – Identify Key Tasks. Results come from doing so identify the tasks or things you must DO to achieve the goals you set. Most business owners, like you, have revenue growth goals. So, you likely want more leads, better sales conversion or more repeat business. What do you need to do to get them? Your plan should list these tasks. Remember to include time frames or deadlines – they help to keep you on track.

If you want to achieve more in the coming months and year, create the roadmap to help you get there.  Be flexible to take advantage of opportunities that emerge – they will.  Most of all, start doing.

Let the Journey Begin | Free Consultation

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business in a new and better direction? Let’s explore the possibilities with a brief, complimentary consultation.  No obligation, only opportunity. Click here to schedule your free consultation today.

financial gross profit

When Cutting Costs Isn’t Enough

When sales and profit are down, most businesses, big and small,  look for ways to cut costs.  It’s a natural reaction.  And while managing costs, in any economic climate, is important – you can only cut your payroll, marketing, and operations so much and still have a business.

But what if you took a different path?  One that put more profit on the bottom line without cutting stuff that is essential to growth?

Get More With Less

Instead, of cutting expenses, focus on improving efficiency and productivity.  Get more with less resources — time and money.  Here are a few examples to demonstrate this.

First, take a look at your current sales process.  If it includes quotes or estimate, include this in the review.   Is it efficient and effective?  Does it convert a lot of prospects into paying customers or do you waste a lot of time and money chasing opportunities that never materialize?  Improvements in targeting and implementation can double (or even triple) your conversion rate. So you get more revenue while saving a lot of time and money!

Second, take a look at your billing and collection procedures.  Are they efficient and effective?   Are you billing customers in a timely fashion?   Are bills accurate?  Do you follow-up quickly when customers fail to pay or do you wait until the cash is low to start making contact? Again, improvements here will put more cash in your pocket and ultimately save you a lot of time and money.

RELATED: How to Plug the Profit Leaks in Your Business

These are just a few of the areas where profit is potentially slipping away.  Cut costs when they are out of line, that just makes good sense.  But don’t overlook the profit opportunities that come from system improvements in all areas of your business. Unlike cost-cutting that has limitations, improved systems and procedures offer unlimited profit potential for many small businesses.

Leverage Your Time and Money

Systems are key.  Most business owners know this. They take time.  But you don’t need to address every procedure to see improvements — that’s the real beauty of systems.  Each one makes a difference so start with the ones that can improve revenue or sales, free up your time or increase customer satisfaction.

Not sure where to start?  Then check out my Ultimate Guide to Systems and Procedures.  It’s the perfect solution for small business owners who prefer the ‘do it yourself’ approach.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a brief, complimentary consultation.  It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.   Click here to schedule your free session.



5 Ways to Increase Your Gross Profit Margin

When it comes to improving the bottom line profit, 9 out of 10 small business owners tell me they need to increase the number of customers or reduce their expenses. It is funny how they rarely mention the need to improve their gross profit margin.

Whether you sell products or services, your gross profit margin is a key profit lever in your business. So here are five ways to increase yours:

  • Promote the heck out of premium or higher-margin products. A lot of small businesses promote lower-margin products and services, then try to up-sell the customer into something better. Why not do the opposite. Use your marketing budget to support sales of the good stuff — and let lower margin options become the alternative for those who can’t afford the best.
  • Look for ways to reduce product or service delivery costs so more profit falls to the bottom line. Renegotiate with vendors, eliminate slow-moving products or streamline your delivery procedures to reduce labor costs.
  • Find alternate, cost-effective ways to get your products or services to customers – joint ventures or the web are just a few.
  • Identify effective ways to add value that customers will pay for – so you can raise prices more than the cost of the value-added. Not sure what you can add? Talk to your customers.
  • Differentiate yourself so you stop competing on price. Give them other reasons. What do you do well? What makes you better than your competitors? Price is certainly one consideration – don’t make it the only one.

Here’s one more to consider.  When it comes to pricing, know the difference between markup and margin.  They are not the same and a mistake here will cost you a lot of money on the bottom line. To learn more about this topic, check out my article on markup versus margin.

About Joan Nowak.  As a business improvement expert, business coach, and consultant, I’ve been helping entrepreneurs turn ideas into profits for more than a decade. My whole-business approach empowers clients and drives improvements in key areas including revenue, operational performance, team development, customer satisfaction, and profitability.

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