Year End Financial Questions to Grow Business

7 Questions You Should Ask At Year-End

As we approach the end of the year and the start of tax season, are you pulling together year-end financial reports and information for your accountant?  Don’t just hand them over, take the time to review them. Then ask yourself some relevant questions to help make improvements.

Go beyond revenue or sales. Explore all areas of the business that drive profitability. Look at trends. by comparing results this year with prior years. Then armed with information, create a better roadmap for success next year.

7 Questions to Ask at Year-End

  • Where did our revenue come from?  Think in terms of customers and products/services. How many new customers did we get?  How much of our revenue is coming from current customers? What products or service categories grew versus declined?
  • What are the spending habits of our customers? Here we want to consider two things. What is the average amount our customers spend and how frequently do they buy?  Is spending up or down?  Are they using less or spreading the sales among more vendors?
  • Are the gross profit margins higher, lower or the same versus last year? How do our margins compare with others in our industry?
  • Is our labor as a percentage of sales up or down? Is increased labor translating into improved service and increased profitability? Do we have the right people to get the results we want?
  • Are fixed expenses up or down versus last year?  Can we reduce costs while also increasing value? Don’t assume.  Request quotes. You don’t need to change suppliers but you should know the going rate and other value vendors provide.
  • Is your business debt higher, lower or the same when compared to previous years? Is it manageable? Do you have access to capital moving forward?
  • What did you actually pay yourself for salary or draw this year?  Is it more than last year and adequate to meet your personal obligations? This is one you should never ignore.  Your business. Your risk. Your pay!

Where Are Your Opportunities?

Based on your findings, where do you need to see improvements?  Of course, you must do something to create change. So what actions do you need to take to improve each of the areas you identified? List those tasks and you have the foundation for a simple road map to get you there.

Need a Better Road Map?

If you need a better course for your business but struggle with planning and goal setting, check out my Ultimate Goals and Action Planning Guide for small business owners.  With my step by step instructions, plus easy to use templates and examples, you can create an effective, actionable plan in less than 8 hours! Click here to learn more and get started.

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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 in 2018.

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 2018, create the roadmap to help you get there.  Be flexible to take advantage of opportunities that emerge – they will.  Most of all, start doing.

Where Are Your Opportunities?

If you are looking for ideas or opportunities to improve your business, check out my Business Success Checklist. It’s designed to help you uncover the opportunities and actions needed to get more sales, profit, control, and freedom from your small business. Click here to learn more and download.

Repackage services

How To Package Services To Grow Sales

Is sales growth one of your key goals? When planning, many service companies look at expanding services to get there. It’s certainly one option. But why start from scratch or reinvent the wheel? Simply package or repackage current products and services to provide more options for your customers. After all, customers love and want options – and packaging provides convenience, savings, simplicity and often better results.

7 Questions To Ask Before You Package Services

Who is the package being created for? Be specific. If you want your package to sell, it must meet the needs of the target. It is much easier to add the relevant features when you have a specific customer or niche group in mind. You’ll achieve greater success if you avoid the one-size fits all solution.

What results can your customer expect to receive? If they purchase the ‘package’ what will they get – more time, savings, increased growth, convenience, etc. Try to be as specific as you can.

What makes it different from other products or services? This is an important question so don’t overlook it. Think about the system or process you use to use to deliver it? What makes it easier or convenient? How does it work better? What additional value do they get? Are the expected results tangible or measurable? Can you guarantee the benefit you expect to deliver? Often going through this process triggers ideas and helps you build the features for the package.

What features are included in the package? Remember to link these back to the benefits or results you will deliver and only include features that are important to YOUR specific target.

What will you charge? Before you just throw in a number, consider the target, the benefits or results they can expect and the difference from other products or services. If your new package is positioned around convenience or better results, your target may not expect savings or a lower price. But if it’s built around savings, then your price should reflect this. What would your target be willing to pay? Do you wish to establish a price but offer a special introductory offer to current customers? How will they pay – at time of service, payment plans, multi payments, monthly invoicing, etc?

What will you name it? While not applicable to every package, an easy to understand or cool name can help with marketing your new package.

How will you communicate it to reach customers? Do you simply wish to rely on up-selling or cross-selling existing customers or prospects? Do you wish to reach others with this package and need additional tactics to do it? The key here is to have a plan. Don’t create the package and hope for the best.

So get the juices flowing and look for ways to provide additional options that your customers want.  It really is a great way to generate additional revenue for your business.

More Ideas to Grow Your Business

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

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3 Hiring Secrets That Save You Time and Money

Need to add staff?  While it may be a challenge sometimes, here are a few hiring secrets to make your job easier – and save you money too!

Market for Employees.  If you want to attract quality people to your small business, think like a marketer.  Put the internet to work for you.  There are dozens of job posting boards – some are free and most offer a lot of flexibility so you can get creative.  One of my favorites, Indeed.com, offers both free and sponsored (fee) options plus a convenient way to track candidates from start to finish. In addition, don’t overlook your own website, especially if traffic to your site is consistently high.  Add a career page and make it easy for people find you.

Phone Interviews.  These offer a quick way to weed out unqualified candidates and save you a lot of time. Have specific questions to help identify skills, experience and other key requirements for the position.  Ask the same questions to each candidate.  If you are doing a lot of phone interviews in a short period of time, take good notes and possibly rate each applicant.  It makes choosing the top candidates to move forward a lot easier.

In addition to saving time, phone interviews also allow you to evaluate a candidate’s verbal communication skills. This is a critical competency for many jobs so why wait for the face-to-face interview to determine their skill level.

Online Research.  While you should always check personal and professional references, there’s no need to stop there.  Facebook, Google+ and Linked-In make it easy to learn more about potential employees.  In fact, you may be surprised at just how much you can learn – good and bad.  Take a few minutes to do a little research before you put the offer on the table.

When it comes to building a quality team, nothing beats a good hiring system.  Make sure yours includes some of these elements.  For additional hiring tips and other ideas to grow your small business, check out my article library.  

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 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.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

marketing small business

Are You Leveraging Your Marketing?

It’s risky to have a business that is too dependent on one customer or key employee. But what about your marketing? Putting all your eggs in one basket here is just as risky. Changes in customer attitudes and behaviors can leave you with an empty pipeline and roller coaster sales. Leveraging your marketing improves results — and can actually save you time and money.

What considerations go into your marketing choices? For some, it’s all about the latest buzz or what’s new. Others look for tactics that are easy or inexpensive. Maybe it’s time to think like your target market. Do they rely on one method to get information? The answer is probably no. Even if you work within a small niche, it is likely that communication preferences still vary within that group. Choice and convenience matter.

How To Reach More Prospects

The best way to reach more new prospects and build relationships with existing customers is to utilize a variety of communication methods. The same message, delivered consistently, through various channels will go a long way toward improving your results.

Marketing tools, when used together, create synergy – so the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Years ago, I did a direct mail campaign that achieved a 5% response rate – yes that’s really high! While my agency designed a great piece and we had a compelling offer, it was part of an integrated effort that included radio. And that made a huge difference.

As a small business, you don’t need to rely on broadcast media to create an integrated effort. Print with digital (online) marketing works well. So does print with on-site signage for retail and trade businesses. Digital, print, and phone work well together for many B2B companies.

The key to creating leverage is to plan ahead! Avoid the last-minute, toss-it-out there to see what sticks approach. Complement that direct mail campaign with an email effort and powerful landing page. Pump up your trade show with a follow-up postcard and email campaign. The options are limitless when you …

Think Integration. Think Complementary. Think Consistent.

For more articles on growing revenue, click here

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 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.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

3 Steps to Get More Sales

3 Steps To Get More Sales

While customers must need the products and services you offer, they will buy when they are ready, willing and able. You must meet all three to gain the business and get more sales. Here’s what you need to consider.

Ready is often a timing issue.  Customers may want what you offer, but not now. So how do you speed it up or put yourself in a position to win when they are ready? You have a few options here.  First, look for ways to make it easy for them to decide.  Turn their want or need into a must-have through differentiation and special offers.

Second, understand the timing cycles as it relates to your products or services.  Timing often impacts your ability to get more sales now.  So when do people think about what you offer?  Some are seasonal such as lawn care, tax preparation, and apparel.  Some are linked to events or milestones such as engagements, weddings, holidays, college graduation, the birth of children, new home purchase or death of a spouse. Others are linked to product life cycles and usage. How long does that heater, appliance, car or computer last?  Make sure your marketing efforts are timed properly to take advantage of the opportunities.

Third, have a system to stay connected with the ideal prospects in your sales funnel so you are the first one they think of when they are ready!

Related Article: Make It Easy For Customers to Decide

Willing has to do with perceived value and trust.  Do your customers understand what you do and why you are the better choice for them?  Do they perceive value as it relates to your products or services? Do they trust you to deliver what you promise each and every time?

This is where building a relationship with current customers and prospects really comes in.  Use your marketing to engage, educate and build credibility with online reviews, testimonials, and guarantees. This puts you in the consideration pool when they are ready to buy. Without trust, it’s difficult to get more sales.

Able is all about the capacity to pay.  No matter how awesome your products and services, some people simply can’t buy because they lack authority or financial resources.  Does your contact have the authority to make the purchase? Can he/she afford to buy your products or services now or in the future?  If the answer to both is yes, stay connected and continue to build and nurture the relationship.  Time may turn this opportunity into a sale.  If not, let it go and move on.

We all want customers who are instantly ready, willing and able to buy.  But the reality is that many aren’t.  So stay connected by phone, email, mail, in person or through social media. In doing so, you move them closer to the sale.  Take the three steps to create that all-important YES.

More Business Improvement Ideas

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

customer satisfaction

How to Create a Positive Customer Experience

Do you want customers to feel good about your business?  Of course!  Your marketing — what you say about your products, people, and service levels — may get people interested. But what happens next, the actual customer experience, will ultimately determine what they think and feel.

From the moment you close a sale, you have a lot of chances to create a customer experience that gets people talking about your company. Do it right, then you get more repeat business and referrals.  Mess it up, and all you get is a lot of negative press – especially today in our socially plugged-in world.  Sales and profit suffer, along with your reputation.  Don’t leave it to chance.

Plan The Experience. Execute Well.

Map out what you want YOUR customer experience to look like – from start to finish.  What should your sales process look like and what are the touch points along the way?  How will you deliver your product/service to customers with consistent quality and efficiency? What about billing?  What are you doing after the sale to continue to build the relationship?

It’s not difficult. You probably already have an idea of how you would like things to work.  It’s also not expensive.  In fact, it’s one of the low-cost ways to build profit.  So map it out and put it in writing.  Now stop and ask yourself two questions:

  • What can we do to make it easier for prospects and customers to do business with us?
  • What can we do to wow or inspire them, to make them smile or surprise them?

Investing resources, both time and money, to generate new leads is important.  But what you do from that point on is the key to repeat business and referrals. Decide what you want, document it and implement consistently.

Make the customer experience an asset to your business.  You’ll be rewarded with loyal customers and more profit in your business.

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 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.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

good-better-best2

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. 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

When was the last time you actually thought about your products as it relates to both customer value and business profit? Been a while huh?  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 

More Business Building Ideas

For new business improvement articles, exclusive tools and insights on entrepreneurship, click here to subscribe to my monthly eNewsletter. When you do, I’ll also send you my free eBook, How to Build Profit Through Leverage.

key-to-success

4 Tips For New Entrepreneurs

At a recent event, I spoke with a woman who was considering starting her own business – and looking for some suggestions. While we discussed the need for goals and an actionable plan, I also recommended a few books that are helpful for new entrepreneurs, including Ken Blanchard’s One-Minute Entrepreneur.

If you are just getting started, One-Minute Entrepreneur is full of helpful insights for new entrepreneurs. Of course, seasoned business owners will also benefit from a little reminder!

4 Rules for Entrepreneur Success

  • Sales have to exceed expenses.  Build expenses as you build customers.
  • Collect your bills.  Be reasonable, but don’t be your customers’ banker.
  • Take care of your customers.  They pay the bills and write your checks.  You work for them!
  • Take care of your people.  They are your company.  When you shut your doors at the end of the day and your people go home, your business goes with them.

These may sound obvious, especially to the seasoned veteran. But in the quest for business growth or increased pressure from daily operations, it’s easy to forget these basic concepts. Sales are important, but profit and cash flow are king. Payment options and terms may be necessary to close sales, but let go of customers who pay late or after a lot of follow-ups.  Finally, if you take care of your people, they will take care of your customers.  Then everyone wins!

If you haven’t read the One-Minute Entrepreneur, check it out in digital or print.  For my list of other recommended books for entrepreneurs, click here.

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 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.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

Quick Fix or Best Solution

Is the Quick Fix The Best Solution?

I recently ran across an article, 9 Deadly Leadership Mistakes.  The author, Peter Economy, made some great points.  But one, Looking for Quick Fixes, stood out because you rarely see this associated with leadership.  But it is.

Peter went on the say “No matter how difficult the problem, there is always a quick solution”.  And with so many fires to put out or hats to wear, the quick fix is often welcome.  It allows you to move on to the next crisis, issue or opportunity.

Solving the immediate problem quickly is a good thing, especially when it impacts customers, team or money. But the quick fix is often nothing more than a band-aid.  It doesn’t address the root cause; it’s not the long-term solution.  The problem will return again and again.

Here’s an example to demonstrate this point.  Your technician performed a service.  The customer was unhappy and called to complain.  You apologize and send someone out to re-do the work.  Problem solved. The customer is now satisfied and you move on.  But what have you done to fix the problem moving forward?

Are You Fixing or Band-Aiding Problems?

While fixing a problem will take more time, it’s worth it in the long-run.  Just think about the impact these problems have on costs, profit, customer satisfaction, team satisfaction – and you personally.  Do you really want to spend your days putting out fires?

Going from band-aid to fix is not difficult.  You still want to solve most problems quickly – especially when customers are involved.  But when you do, go a little further.  Ask more questions:  How do we make sure this doesn’t happen again?  Is this a system or people issue – or maybe a combination of both?

Get others involved as necessary and dig a little deeper when you encounter problems.  Make the commitment to really improve your business.  Get rid of the band-aids and fix the problems for the long-term. Think systems and procedures. Need some help in this area? Check out my article, How to Create Business Systems

Related: How to Turn a Quick Fix Into Permanent Solution

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 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.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com