breakeven analysis

When Can You Expect a Profit?

In business, making good decisions is often the difference between success and failure.  Do you rely on gut, numbers or maybe a combination of both?  There are a lot of tools to help, but one of my favorites is a breakeven analysis.

What is Breakeven Analysis?

Breakeven analysis is used to determine when you will be able to cover costs and begin to make a profit from your business investments.  You may have used it when starting your business to determine how much sales or revenue you needed to cover your fixed costs or overhead.

It’s helpful before starting a business.  It’s just as important as your business grows and projections are replaced with reality — actual numbers. But it’s also helpful when making decisions on a variety of issues – Should I:

  • Invest in a marketing campaign, website or social media marketing?
  • Hire additional staff to support our growth?
  • Outsource a project or task to free up my time for important growth initiatives?
  • Purchase a new piece of equipment?
  • Upgrade our computers or phone systems?
  • Invest in technology to support growth?

While ROI is often used for many of these decisions, you can also use a breakeven analysis to answer the question “When will I begin to make a profit from this investment”?

How to Calculate Breakeven

To do a break-even analysis, you need to know two things. First, the cost associated with your investment decision. Second, your gross profit margin (%).

To calculate the break-even revenue, divide the cost by the gross profit margin percentage.  For example, if cost is $5,000 and your margin is 45%, your break-even revenue is $5,000 / .45 or $11,111.  In this case, you will begin making a profit when you hit $11,111 in sales.

For help calculating gross margin, check out my blog post, Gross Margin: What You Need to Know to Avoid Disaster.

How Many Customers Do I Need?

Clients also find it helpful to look at the break-even point from a number of customers perspective.  You can do this if you know (or calculate) the average dollar sale or transaction for your customers.

To determine the customer break-even number, simply divide the revenue break-even (above) by the average transaction amount.  Example:  If the average customer sale for the above business is $283, the customer break-even is $11,111 / $283 or 39.3 (40) customers.

Decision Time

Once you calculate the breakeven, it’s decision time.  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is the breakeven reasonable and achievable based on the investment you are making?
  2. If the incremental sales include new customers, what is the potential lifetime value of these new customers?  How does this impact your decision?
  3. How does this investment compare with past initiatives or others you may be considering now?  Business is often about trade-offs and priorities.

Knowing when you can expect to see a profit can be a powerful decision-making tool.  Use a break-even analysis to help you figure it out.

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

Keys Entrepreneur Success

9 Reasons Successful Entrepreneurs Outperform Others

In preparing for a presentation on the pitfalls of entrepreneurship, I started to think about the business owners that have crossed my path over the past decade.  Why do some succeed while others struggle? And what are the keys to success? Here are some of the insights I shared with small business owners.

9 Keys to Entrepreneurial Success

Maximize Their Time. They understand that time is money, know what their time is worth and invest it wisely. They are productive, working on what’s important, instead of doing busy work – stuff that is low-value or a waste of time.  Are you busy or productive? The difference can cost you.

Lifetime Learner.  In the words of Ben Franklin, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” and successful owners take this to heart. They make learning a priority – so reading, taking classes, attending seminars and looking at what others do is a common practice.  When was the last time you read a book or took a class to learn something new?

Rely on Others.  It’s tough to reach new heights in business by yourself.  Successful entrepreneurs understand this – and embrace the power of delegation and outsourcing. They have teams of people they can rely on to provided needed expertise or simply to free up their time to work on more valuable tasks.  Who do you have supporting your business?

Disengage From Daily Operations.  They understand that a successful business is one that can run without their day-to-day involvement – and that suits them just fine! They also recognize that this can’t happen without people and systems.  So they create processes, set up clear expectations and develop systems to manage the work and help keep the team on track. You too can create a business that works FOR you by following the same approach.

Plan the Work – Work the Plan. It’s no surprise that highly-successful people have goals.  More important, they have a plan of attack to accomplish them. And they work that plan every day. If you are among the many business owners who get distracted or lose focus on what’s important, planning can make a big difference.  It’s not too late to start.  Write down your goals, identify what you need to do, schedule time to work on it and start doing!

Fail Forward.  The old saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained, certainly applies to successful entrepreneurs.  There are no guarantees in business, but they understand that taking calculated risks and viewing failures as learning experiences and opportunities is a critical element for success.  Don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from it and move on. It’s all in the attitude.

Numbers Matter.  Business owners love trying new things and are never short on ideas.  Successful owners don’t get personally attached to their ideas and ignore everything else.  They pay attention to the numbers so they know when to cut their losses or change direction. If something doesn’t work, is not profitable or not taking you toward your goals, be willing to make a change.

Look to Improve. Successful entrepreneurs seek out opportunities to get better in all areas of the business. Whether it’s through product innovations, expanding markets, better customer service or improved delivery – continuous improvement is a priority.  What are you doing to make your business better today than yesterday?

More Insights From Others

If you want to become highly successful, apply some of the suggestions above.  If you want to expand your knowledge or gain a little inspiration from others who have made it, pick up or download a few of these great books.

Ready to Create Your Own Success Story?

Are you ready to move your business in a better direction and wonder if working with a business coach can make a difference? 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

financial gross profit

Markup vs. Margin – The Difference Can Cost You

Your gross profit margin is a critical key performance indicator for overall net profit. Yet is is misunderstood by some small business owners.

Your gross profit represents what you have left over from sales (revenue) after you take out the variable costs – those that increase or decrease based on sales volumes.  These are often referred to as cost of goods sold (COGS) or cost of sales —  and it applies to all businesses.

  • If you sell products, like retailers or distributors, your variable costs include inventory.
  • If you make products, like manufacturers, your costs include raw materials and labor associated with production.
  • If you sell services, the costs include the labor associated with service delivery and may also include supplies required to do this.

Do you know your gross profit margin and how it compares to your industry? If not, take a few minutes to calculate it – divide your gross profit dollars by the sales/revenue for the same period. Please note that some small businesses include the above costs with expenses (versus the cost of goods sold). Talk to your accountant to make sure your costs are set up appropriately.

Demonstration: Markup Vs. Margin 

Are you surprised? Many small business owners are. And here’s the most common reason why. They use markup to calculate the selling price and assume the markup percentage is their gross profit margin. Ouch. They are not the same.

In fact, if you mark up your products or services 30%, your gross profit margin on this product or service is actually 23.1%. Below is an example to demonstrate this.

  • Your cost for your product or service is $100
  • You mark it up 30%  so your markup (or gross profit $) is $30
  • Your selling price (cost + markup) is then $130
  • Your gross profit is $30 – note the markup dollars and gross profit dollars are the same
  • But, your gross profit margin (gross profit $ / selling price) is 23.1%

I am not an advocate of using markup exclusively to establish selling price because it often ignores things like value and competition. But if you do use this method, be aware of the difference and start backward. Determine your DESIRED gross profit margin, then calculate the selling price required to achieve it.

BONUS: For a quick markup and margin calculation and conversion tool, click here.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to the next level of success? 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.

There no obligation, only opportunity. So call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Effective Leadership Be a Great Leader

Are You Ready to Lead Your Team in 2019

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things, but the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” If you believe the words of President Ronald Reagan, every business owner has the ability to be a great leader. You simply need to open doors for others on your team to accomplish great things.

So, as you start the new year, make developing leadership skills more of a priority in your business. Be the leader your team needs by focusing on these four areas.

Communication

Good communication skills are important at all levels of business. Luckily this is a skill that can be learned. The key is to keep your communication simple and clear. Most of all, keep lines of communication open. It’s a two-way thing – so encourage your people to communicate with you and others on your team.

Vision, Goals & Expectations
As the owner, you probably have an idea of where you want your business to be. Sharing that vision with others helps them to see it too. But don’t stop there. Your team needs to know why and how they are going to get there. Work with them to build goals and set expectations at all levels. Think beyond sales. Look at your team, operations, service levels, systems and profit margins. With clear goals and expectations, everyone is on the same page. Then let them do their jobs – with guidance from you when necessary.

Accountability

Clear goals and expectations are a great start, but you can’t simply set it and forget it. Give them the tools, support and authority to do their jobs and achieve their goals. Build in accountability.

By definition, accountability is the acknowledgement and assumption of responsibility for actions, decisions and implementation within the scope of their job. It comes with an obligation to report, explain and take ownership for results.

The best way to build accountability within your company is through follow-up. Check on progress along the way. When you follow up on projects or tasks you reinforce their importance. It also gives you the opportunity to recognize their work, keep them motivated – or help get them back on track if necessary.

Delegation

Effective delegation obviously saves you time and allows you to focus on the right stuff. But it’s really more than that. When you effectively delegate work to others, you allow them to learn new skills and take on more responsibilities. It helps you empower others to accomplish great things for you and your business.

Related: How to Delegate Effectively

Mentoring

If you take care of your team, your team will take care of your customers and your customers will take care of your business. Good leaders understand this so they make teamwork and developing others a priority.

We’ve all had people in our lives who we admired or learned from. They make a difference and are often unforgettable. Many of these individuals are former bosses, coaches, teachers or business colleagues. And when you ask people about them, you will often hear “I learned so much from him/her”.

You too can be that person in your company. Whether you teach them directly or open the doors to learning, you have the ability to help your team reach their full potential. Share your knowledge. Promote training and development within your company. Be the serving leader your team needs to excel at work and in life.

Related: Leadership: What Makes Some Great

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.

There no obligation, only opportunity. So call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

LI team-profit

4 Ways Your Team Can Impact Profit

Small business owners wear a lot of hats and take on a range of responsibilities from leadership to technician.  The same can also be said for the people working in these companies. They have the ability to impact profit in so many ways.

Unlike larger organizations, where tasks and goals are departmentalized, smaller companies don’t have these silos to contend with.  More direct communication between leadership (aka the owner) and staff makes it easier to uncover improvement opportunities, react quicker to market changes and work together as a team. That is of course IF everyone is on the same page – and focused on the same outcomes.

Where Is Your Team Focused?

So where should your team focus?  When working with clients, here are the four core deliverables that I find impact profit and growth:

Revenue | Sales

No surprise here.  Growth comes from two areas – getting new business and keeping the customers you have.  It’s more than just marketing and sales.  Every person on your staff, from the receptionist who answers the phone to the technician who performs the work, can impact revenue with their actions and behaviors.  Share your goals, but also discuss the ways each member of your team contributes to the results.  In other words, connect the dots for them.

Costs | Expenses

Reducing expenses is a no-brainer.  Even if you are happy with your current providers, a little comparison shopping on key services or products can uncover savings opportunities.  Don’t ignore other factors like quality, service and on-time delivery, but use the information to negotiate and keep suppliers honest.

Look beyond cost-cutting and traditional expenses.  Think return on investment and get your people involved. What are you spending money on today that you could re-allocate elsewhere?  While this may not put savings directly on the bottom line, better use of financial resources can support growth in both sales and profit.  Look at everything from your marketing and sales to operations and billing.

Can you better utilize technology to reduce work that is labor intensive? Technology changes at a rapid pace and options for efficiency and savings come with them – often at a price that is now affordable for smaller businesses.  Take advantage of them.

Customer Satisfaction

Nothing drives results more than happy, loyal customers, especially today in our socially-connected world.  As an advocate for your business, they can directly impact revenue through referrals, social sharing, testimonials and online reviews.

A lot of factors impact the level of satisfaction your customers have.  Depending on the business, it may include quality, service, convenience, choice, hours, price, etc.  So everyone plays a role in delivering the ‘buying experience’.

Develop a list of key satisfaction drivers for your business – be specific.  For example, quality means a lot of different things so your list might include shows up on time (on-time delivery), done right the first time or quick to solve and fix problems.  Again, connect the dots.

Operational Performance

Not always the most popular, but if you are looking for impact, here’s an area worth consideration.  Simply put, this is nothing more than finding more efficient and effective ways to do all the tasks you and your team perform each and every day.  It’s about eliminating waste, leveraging resources (time/money) and automating processes for continuous improvement in all areas of the business.

Now, this is an area where your team can really help.  From marketing and sales to customer service, delivery and billing, every area of your business can benefit from improved processes.  In most cases, your team knows where the glitches or problem areas are.  They are often a source of customer complaints or employee frustration – why do we do it this way?  Just ask.

While you can’t fix everything overnight, pick 2-3 and focus on making those processes more efficient, consistent and effective.  Your customers, vendors, and staff will thank you.  And did I mention profit?

As a business owner, you have a lot of valuable assets – your team is one of them. They have the power to affect your business in so many positive ways when everyone is on the same page.  It’s never too late to get them started; time to refocus!

New Monthly Article & Business Tools

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.

goals.resolutions

Do’s & Don’ts for Setting Goals

Now is the time when many of us reflect on this year and begin looking forward to what the new year may bring. Take the time to acknowledge your accomplishments and maybe some lessons too. It’s important. But then move on and focus on what is ahead of you. It starts with setting goals.

Whether you own a business or work for someone else, setting business, professional and personal goals pays off. 

7 Do’s & Don’ts for Goal Setting

Do Write Them Down & Keep Them Visible.  Your goals clarify what you want or a desired outcome.  If you are truly committed to achieving them, put them in writing and keep them visible so you view them often.  Whether that be daily, weekly or something else – 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 – and set them for all areas of your life and business.  I recommend 4-5 personal goals and no more than 5-7 critical business goals. 

Do Be Specific.  As they say, vague goals create vague results. A goal like earn more money (which most people want) is too general to propel you to act. If you want to earn $100,000 next year, say so. Put it in writing. Now you can focus on what you need to do to achieve it. 

Do Make Them Measurable.  Goals are accomplished over time — so you will want to monitor your progress and stay on course. Quantify goals so you can track how you are doing. What we measure, we can achieve so build measurements into your personal or business goals.

Measurements can include actual results or improvement percentages — whichever works best for you. Here’s a few simple examples to demonstrate measurable goals:  Lose 20 pounds, Increase salary/wages by  20%, Arrive home by 6:00 pm, Read 2 books per month, Hire 2 new employees, Increase customer base by 10%.  

Do Set Deadlines.  All goals are not created equal.  Some are more critical.  Some take more time.  Some are contingent on others. Establishing due dates for your goals and related actions helps you prioritize what is important and creates urgency to get it done.  Deadlines also help you avoid procrastination.

Do Think Bigger.  Set goals that are challenging but realistic given the time-frame you establish. Get out of your comfort zone and put some stretch in those goals — so they actually excite and motivate you to take the action to achieve them.

Don’t Ignore the Why.  When setting goals, ask yourself “Why is this important to me?”. Know the motivation behind your goals to make them more meaningful.  Why do you want to earn 20% more this year or be home by 6:00 pm?  The why is often what really drives you — to keep going throughout the year. 

Goals without actions are simply dreams.

Nothing will happen until you take action. So once you identify your goals, take a few minutes to jot down what you need to do in order to accomplish them. Some goals require more tasks than others, but your road map to success requires you to take action.

As a final thought, share your goals with someone who has a stake in your success. Accountability goes a long way and can be the ingredient you need to put you over the top!

Attention Business Owners. Do you struggle with putting your goals together and developing a road map for success? Then check out my Ultimate Guide to Action Planning. This step-by-step guide will put you on the right path.

Get Started. Stay On Track

Do you want your business to take a major leap forward next year? To get off to a quick start and stay on track? Then my accountability program may be just what you need. More than accountability, this program provides business owners with structure, another set of eyes and practical advice too! And it all starts with setting goals. Click here to learn more or call me at (856) 533-2344.

dream team

How To Get the Right People On the Bus

According to US Department of Labor reports, 2 out of 3 new hires prove to be a mistake within the first year – costing companies thousands of dollars for each departing employee. Hiring mistakes negatively impact productivity and erode your company’s profits.  You can accept this as a cost of doing business or take the steps needed to get the right people into your company.

Tips to Hire Good People

Build a Case for Hiring

Before you replace someone or add a new employee, take the time to build a case for your decision.  Too often when one team member leaves, we rush out and replace them.  Instead, use this as an opportunity to look at your entire company.

Can you restructure some positions and hire for different skills than the departing employee had?  What goals will the position allow you to accomplish – revenue, productivity, profitability?  Should it be a full or part time position or should you outsource the tasks instead of hiring?  What is the full cost for the employee based on wages, bonuses, taxes and benefits?  Now you are ready to move forward.

Create Good Job Descriptions

Most business owners use job descriptions to insure the candidate is clear on the position duties and responsibilities.  But a good job description also helps YOU find the right people — those that possess the skills and competencies to do the job and fit your culture.

In addition to tasks and skills, include the following:  (a) certifications, education or experience required or preferred, (b) work environment and any special physical requirements, and (c) how you measure success – the performance indicators you will use to evaluate performance for this position.  Good job descriptions for all team members keep you focused on what you want, ready to execute when the need arises and communicates your expectations to candidates and current employees.

Market For Employees

Recruiting, like marketing, is most effective when it is targeted, planned and executed with consistency.  Start with the basic question, ‘What makes your company a great choice for potential employees?”  If you are not sure, ask your current team – they’ll tell you.

Identify Best Method to Reach Candidates

 How will you reach potential employees? Today you have a lot of options from online recruitment sites and social media to networking, referrals and print.  The best method may vary by position and experience requirements. Be open to various approaches — especially if you want diversity within your company.

Always be on the lookout for good people who can bring value to your organization.  Make recruiting something that is ongoing, not haphazard.

Make Hiring a De-Selection Process

Your time is valuable and you don’t want to waste it interviewing people who don’t possess the skills you need for fit into your culture.  You can improve your process and save time by incorporating a phone screen on candidates that pass your initial resume or application review.  Stay disciplined and only interview candidates who make it through your process.

Once you decide to bring someone in for an interview, email the job description to them in advance. So they are clear on the expectations before they arrive.  This also paints a professional image of your company.  The interview is an important step in the process, so have the candidate meet with multiple people, where possible, and use behavior interview techniques to probe for the skills and competencies that are most critical.  Be disciplined and be patient.  Be willing to turn down candidates who are not the right fit – don’t settle.

Do Research 

Most experts agree that hiring success hinges on job fit more than any other factor, including experience and education. So before you put out that job offer, do a little research. Today it’s easy.

Search engines and social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can help you uncover more information about a potential employee — good or bad.  They offer clues on hobbies, personal preferences, likes/dislikes and more. Stuff that doesn’t necessarily appear on a resume.

Fill the Gaps 

Many businesses include background and reference checks in their hiring process. Don’t skip these because you are in a rush to hire or the candidate was referred from an employee. These can often uncover potential issues but only if you take the time to call former employers and run background checks.

Believe You Can and You Will

When you tell yourself “I can’t get good help” — you defeat yourself before you even get started. We make true whatever we believe. So if you have a great team — own it and go hire more just like them.

If you have weaknesses in your team, then make fixing the culture, environment and people a priority. As the business owner, you own this as well.

So there you have it.  I use this method when I hire people and with hundreds of small businesses that I work with. They work. So start putting this system to work in your business and you too can have a team worth talking about.

On a final note, once you have the right people in your company, consider the words of Stephen Covey, “Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers”.

RELATED:  How New Hire Orientation Creates Productive Employees

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

drive business growth grow revenue

The #1 Rule To Drive Business Growth

If growing your business and attracting new customers is a priority for you, here’s the #1 rule you need to follow.  Never let a day go by without doing at least one marketing activity.

Unfortunately many small businesses only focus on marketing when time allows, which rarely happens, or when forced into it when sales decline or the pipeline dries up.  Like most things in business, success comes from consistency – doing the right things each and every day.

Now you may be thinking, “I barely have time to do what I do, how do I add marketing into each and every day”?  Well here is the key – break down activities into small tasks that can easily be done in 15-30 minutes AND block the time on your calendar to do them.

Quick Hits to Grow Revenue

What can you accomplish in just 15 minutes?  A lot when you stop viewing it as JUST 15 minutes – and eliminate the distractions, busy work and time wasters in your day.  Here’s just a few things you can do when you plan your time and make business growth a priority:

  • Initiate new contact request on Linked-In
  • Write a few notes or cards to people you met at an event
  • Call a customer (or two) to request a testimonial or online review
  • Write a blog post
  • Make a ‘how is it going’ call to customers – put that database to work!
  • Call to schedule lunch or a meeting with a current or potential power partner
  • Post an update or share a tip on social media
  • Reach out to a Linked-In connection with a private message
  • Contact a former customer – any new opportunities?
  • Ask or answer a question on social media (groups)
  • Make a follow-up call to prospects in your sales funnel
  • Make a ‘survey’ call to customers or prospects – for feedback and ideas
  • Set up Google Alerts to stay abreast of industry or competitor changes
  • Investigate industry or business groups – and schedule attendance at an upcoming event

So what about all those ‘bigger’ marketing activities – a direct mail campaign, overhauling your website or implementing a new marketing strategy?  Even if you outsource the project, there are tasks that YOU will need to do.  This is where breaking down tasks into smaller pieces can really pay off.

For example, you want to build a better Linked-In sales strategy — to generate more high quality leads. It will certainly take more than 15 minutes to update your profile, do some company or industry research, and create compelling templates.  If you wait until you have a few extra hours to tackle this, it will likely remain incomplete!

So break it into smaller chunks – and work on pieces for 15-30 minutes a day.  Over time, you can complete the project — while still handling your other responsibilities.

Remember, if you want to see consistent results, you need to take consistent action.  So make marketing activities, big and small, something you do every day!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you grow both revenue and profit? 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.

Call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or schedule an appointment.

Is Creativity Required

Is Creativity Required for Success?

I read an article about skills you need to succeed at anything. Intended for businesses, it talked about communication and listening, decision-making, personal (time) management, analytical skills, and creative thinking – to name just a few.

Okay, improving many of these skills will certainly make a difference and contribute to your success — in business and in life. But creativity in how we think and solve problems? Well, it got me thinking…

When things go wrong or problems arise, how do you resolve them and what do you do? Ever had anyone tell you to get creative or think out of the box? And therein lies the problem.

By definition, creativity means you have the ability to create new or original ideas or methods. But most of us don’t consider ourselves creative unless we are a designer, artist or craft person.  So messages that promote ‘creative thinking’ can fall flat – and the recipient feels doomed before they start.

Innovation Vs. Creativity

Here’s a better approach. Think innovation. By definition, innovation is the introduction of new things or methods. Subtle difference – introducing new methods versus creating them. Innovation does not require originality or uniqueness that is often associated with creativity. It’s simply a matter of continuously looking for better ways to do what you do – and you can use what others have already perfected.

The good news is we all have the ability to be innovative and we don’t need to go at it alone. Make it part of your culture and get others involved too. It’s important if you want to achieve sustainable success in business.

Where to Apply Innovation

So where should you apply innovation in your business? The answer is simple – everywhere. From marketing and sales to customer support, service delivery and team building, all areas of your business will benefit from a little innovative thinking and action!

A process to stay connected with customers to improve retention rates is innovative.

Finding new markets for your products or services is innovative.

A marketing campaign that consistently delivers quality leads is innovative.

Applying technology to a current system — for improved efficiency — is innovative.

Re-packaging products and services to improve margins and sales is innovative.

A system for consistently hiring quality people is innovative.

So don’t get hung up on creativity, but do make innovation a definite priority. It will pay off on the bottom line and may actually make what you do a lot more fun!

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

out of the box innovation

Business Innovation & Growth: How to Keep It Alive

When money flows into your business effortlessly from banks and customers, it’s easy to ignore mistakes, take the path of least resistance, and live with the problems. But when times get tough, it becomes more difficult to ignore. It forces business owners to create REAL changes or go out of business.

Choose a Different Path

Instead of blaming others or the economy when things get tough, do what entrepreneurs do.  Put on your creative hat and make the decision to rethink, restructure, refocus and rebuild. In doing so, you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

So if you are looking to turn things around, recognize that it’s time to stop putting band-aids on your business and commit to real change. Often the problems you have, like eroding sales and profits, long hours with little pay, or poor cash flow, are symptoms of bigger issues in your business. Get to the root cause and fix the real problems.

Where to Start Rebuilding

Get Rid of the Dead Wood. Employees are an asset, but only if they produce results. You need to be willing to let go of the people in your company who don’t. You know who they are. They show up late, collect a paycheck and add little or no value for your customers, team or business. They zap your energy and kill morale. So why do we settle and hang onto under-performers?

Sometimes it’s fear of the unknown.  Johnny may be lazy, but at least he shows up. Sometimes it’s a sense of obligation.  How can I fire my cousin or brother and still face my family? Sometimes we feel we can’t. because we never communicated our expectations or dissatisfaction. And sometimes we just feel too overwhelmed and don’t have the time to hire and train someone new. Whatever your reasons, you have a choice. You can fix the problem – help Johnny become an asset to the team — or make him go away.

Fire Deadbeat Customers. Again, you know who they are. They only buy with discounts or purchase low-margin products, pay late or after numerous collection requests, complain often and treat your team poorly. What you earn from your ideal customers subsidizes your less than perfect ones. Why let them hang around to zap your profits and team morale? Fire them and replace them with customers who value what you do or sell.

Apply Innovation in All Areas of Your Business. Many owners associate innovation with new products or inventions. Innovation, by definition, is the introduction of new things or methods and it’s important if you want to achieve sustainable growth and profit.

The key is to apply it to all areas of your business.  From marketing and sales to customer support, delivery and team building. It’s simply a matter of continuously looking for better ways to do what you do.

RELATED ARTICLEIs Creativity Required for Success?

Make Productivity Matter. Busy is not the same as productive. Productivity is about producing effective results or outcomes, in the most efficient way, with the least amount of time and effort. Now who wouldn’t want that?

So do you measure and look for ways to eliminate waste, increase outputs or reduce hours associated with daily tasks or service delivery within your company? Do you have systems for the critical activities and consistently look for ways to streamline or improve them?

If you want to increase your margins, without raising your prices, take a hard look at your productivity levels and the waste in your business. It’s a goldmine for many small businesses.

Plan, Measure and Systematize Your Marketing. A lot of small business owners view marketing as a necessary evil. They know they need it, but often struggle to get it right. So when money gets tight or owners get busy, marketing takes the hit. Unfortunately, it comes at a big cost — sustainable growth and profit. So why is that?

First, some lack a strong marketing foundation with clear targets, the right products and services for them, and compelling messages to get them to act. As a result, it makes marketing harder to do. An integrated and consistent marketing effort produces a better ROI, but it does require a little planning.

Second, some fail to measure results so they don’t actually know if their investment (time and money) is delivering a return. It’s easy to cut marketing expenses when you can’t tie the cost to specific results such as new customers or increased revenue.  Unfortunately, it’s not always the right decision.

Third, most marketing for small businesses is not systematized. There is no efficiency and most important, no consistency. Therefore, it costs more and is far less effective – an obvious frustration.

Focus More On Profit Than Sales. It may make you feel good to hit that target sales plateau or be able to tell others you do $1 million or more in sales. But if those sales are not providing you with the profit to sustain growth, increase your personal income and deliver the lifestyle you want – why bother?

As a business owner, you take all the risks. Your business must make a profit to stay in business. Your family, customers, employees and vendors are depending on it. Remember, sales growth is important, but profit and cash flow is king!

Kill the Paradigms. What beliefs do you hold to be true that really aren’t? We all have some. Those little self-sabotaging thoughts that act as constraints in our business and life. Here are a few examples: It’s impossible to earn a profit in this economy, I can’t get good help, customers are never satisfied, customers only care about price, marketing doesn’t work, I can’t get my people to do anything unless I’m there watching over them.

Any sound familiar? The problem with paradigms is they give you an excuse to settle for less, accept mediocrity or give up completely. Don’t let the attitudes held by others, but not supported with fact, hold you back.

Ready to Create Your Own Success Story? 

If you are ready to move your business in a better direction, I invite you to experience the power of business coaching with a complimentary session.  Click here to learn more or call (856) 533-2344 to schedule your session today.