business-stand-out2

Make Your Business Stand Out

Your customers are exposed to over 5,000 messages every day. So how do you get through the clutter and make your business stand out – without doubling your marketing budget? The key is a strong USP or unique selling proposition. When you nail it, marketing is a lot more effective so you can spend less and get more.

The latest, innovative product or service – something that nobody else offers – is one way to create uniqueness. But it’s not the only way.  Service delivery, processes, people, technology, performance and other factors can help your small business stand out in the crowd. If you do it consistently well and tell people over and over again.

Determine What Makes you Unique

The best way to discover your uniqueness is to look at your business from the outside. When working through this with my clients, we start by answering the following questions.

What do you actually sell?  Think benefits, not features.

What are your core products or services? Think beyond highest sales volumes or those that are common for your type of business. Your products or services can differentiate you, so look at them closely.

Related: How to Diversify Your Products to Maximize Profit

Who are your key competitors?  Based on the benefits you deliver, consider actual competitors who do the same thing AND those who potentially deliver the same benefits with different products or services.  Since you compete for a share of the budget, this can be helpful.  

What are the perceived standards in your industry and other industries? Consider customer service, technology, product quality, sales and marketing. Your customers’ expectations are built from experiences with a lot of industries – not just yours.

What are some ‘claims’ about your products, services or business that you take for granted – and assume customers know about? Coors built their USP around their cold brewing process. While not unique in the industry, Coors was the first to actually tell people about it. And they still benefit from that message today.

Narrow Your Options

As you go through the process of brainstorming and answering these questions, ideas will pop into your head.  Write them down, no matter how silly they may appear at first glance. Use all the information to come up with a few options to consider.

Next do a little research with your customers. Bounce some options off them. Did they know this about you or your business?  Do they care?  Why or why not?  What does this claim say about your products, service or overall business?

Find something you do so well that you can guarantee it, especially if your industry has a reputation for doing this poorly.  Look for a process in your business that links your products or services to quality or performance or reduces risk.

Sometimes simple things, such as custom scheduling blocks to eliminate long wait times, can make you stand out.  You only need ONE.   Identify your claim to fame and make it the focal point in your communication to customers and prospects.

Related: Is Your USP Compelling to Those Who Matter?

Need another set of eyes to help you define your claim to fame? Let’s do it together. Call me at (856) 533-2344 to learn more or get started.
Break down barriers

Break Down the Profit Barriers

Marketing alone won’t solve your revenue or profit woes. It can actually erode profit further if done in a vacuum. Profit comes from a combination of factors working well together. If you want better business results, you need to break down the profit barriers between marketing, sales and operations.

Avoid Operating in a Vacuum

Marketing simply provides an opportunity to generate additional revenue. The key word here is opportunity. Regardless of what marketing tools you choose, most marketers evaluate their effectiveness based on activities or engagement metrics such as likes, clicks, calls, requests for quotes, appointments or visits.

But as the owner, actual sales generated and the associated profitability are far more important to your bottom line. Metrics like sales conversion rates, dollar amount of sale, and gross profit margins are vital measures for sales and marketing.

So how does your operations fit into marketing and sales discussions? Think about service levels and the impact they have on your reputation (future sales) and repeat business. The best marketing and sales efforts will be wasted if you don’t deliver what you promise customers in terms of quality and service. Customer satisfaction, on-time delivery, quality (rejects/reworks) and customer retention metrics can help you determine how well you perform in this critical area.

When you want to grow both revenue and profit, where should you apply your resources – time and money? The metrics above can be useful uncovering opportunities and weaknesses. So, it’s a good starting point. But here are a few other things I find helpful with clients.

Connect the Dots – and the People

Growing a business requires a full team effort. You need all your employees to provide creativity and commitment. It’s difficult to be successful when your marketing, sales and operations teams operate in silos. While they all have their roles, they can accomplish more when they work together with one common goal – to acquire and retain quality customers.

Bring down the barriers that tend to exist in many businesses – big and small. Connect the dots and leverage everyone’s knowledge and experience. Whether you are building a plan or solving a problem, tap into all the people resources in your business. Different perspectives can often bring better solutions or ideas.

Fix the Weaknesses

Before you invest more money in marketing, make sure your team is ready to convert the sales and deliver what you promise. There’s no point in getting leads – and then disappointing prospects or customers along the way.

For that reason, my work with clients on marketing always starts with an analysis of sales and operations. And yours should too. In addition to the metrics I mentioned earlier, here are a few additional things to consider as you look to improve these three areas:

Sales
  • Do our sales people have the training and skills to nurture leads, sustain relationships and close sales?
  • Are we prospecting for our own leads or do we rely heavily on inbound leads from other sources?
  • Is there too much emphasis on sales – and too little on profit or long-term value?
  • Do we track activities and results so discussions with others, including the owner, are based on data – along with customer feedback and gut.
Operations
  • Do our people have the training and appropriate levels of authority to do what is needed to solve customer issues or problems?
  • Is there too much focus on the quantity of work done – and too little on the quality?
  • Are we using technology to continuously improve efficiency, response time, scheduling and communication?
  • Do we have a consistent method to get feedback from our customers?
  • Do we track complaints and metrics that are important – and work as a whole team to correct issues we uncover.

Related: How to Turn a Quick Fix into a Permanent Solution

Marketing
  • Are we opening the right doors for sales – and reaching the right prospects?
  • Is our message compelling and clear so it sets the right customer expectations?
  • Does our pricing align with our brand and value proposition – while providing the margins we need or want?
  • Is our marketing diversified to reach prospects through various methods?
  • Are we consistent and timely but flexible enough to take advantage of unique opportunities that may arise?

If you want a business that consistently delivers sustainable growth and profitability, break down the profit barriers and leverage your business for success.

Ready to work with a coach to solve your frustrations and leverage your business? Schedule your free session today. Learn More

nurture prospects

5 Steps to Nurture Prospects and Grow Sales

When your business spends precious time and money on marketing, you expect to generate leads that convert to sales – now or in the future. So how you respond to leads is critical, especially the ones who aren’t ready to buy now.

Prospects buy when they are ready, willing and able. So you need a process to move them along – to follow up on leads and convert them into customers.  Whether you call it lead nurturing or sales management, how well you do this makes a difference in your sales results.

RelatedAre Your Customers Ready, Willing and Able to Buy?

Millions of small businesses waste time and money and regularly lose sales because they lack proper follow-up and a method to nurture prospects into customers.

5 Steps To More Sales Conversions

Have a System.  The best approach is a consistent one that details the steps from initial interest (lead) to conversion (sale) – in a logical, practical way.  Your process should incorporate three things:

  • How many touches are required to go from lead to sale. Depending on your business this will vary — but it is likely more than one or two!
  • What are the best methods to connect? Don’t rely on one thing. Combining calls, emails, ads, print and social media allows you to reach people in a variety of ways without being too intrusive.
  • How often should you connect? Don’t wear out your welcome by over-communicating. Seek balance in your communication.

Act Quickly. The best system won’t matter if you don’t respond to leads quickly.  Often the one who gets the business is the one who got there first.  Speed matters – so make it a priority.

Know the Source – and Do It Anyway.  Leads come from a variety of sources such as networking, referrals, website, search engines, direct mail and social media.  While it’s helpful to know the source, don’t take shortcuts based on the information or assumptions.  I see this often with referrals. Yes, they may be warmer leads but use your system to nurture them into customers. Be consistent.

Cultivate the Not-Quite-Ready.  This is where a lot of leads are lost.  A ‘no’ today doesn’t mean forever. If the prospect is a viable candidate in the future, have a plan to build on these relationships — so they think of you when the need is there. You already invested time and money to create sales opportunities. Why waste them? Here are a few things to make it work:

  • Capture leads. You can’t stay connected if you don’t have the contact information. Whether you use CRM software applications or contacts within your email system, a database for prospects is a must. The amount of detail you want to capture will vary based on the type of business and planned marketing efforts.
  • Educate in small chunks. Nurturing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Give potential buyers relevant information in small pieces. Think education, not selling – but do include a call to action for when they are ready.
  • Vary the formats.  People respond differently to communications. Don’t rely on one method – think diverse.  Use a combination of emails, newsletters, personal notes, articles and other content to move them through the sales funnel.
  • Plan your re-marketing.  These are not new prospects, so improve conversion with a series of communications that are designed to nurture and build relationships. Include them in your marketing activities. If you tap into technology for email campaigns, auto responder services, greeting cards and thank you messages – it’s easy and allows you to use various methods to stay connected.  Decide on the method, message, frequency, and timing then schedule it.  How else will it get done?

Track Results.  As I often remind clients — what we measure, we can improve. Know the numbers that drive your sales such as leads, conversion rates, click rates, etc. Establish goals for your sales-related metrics. Monitor how you are doing and take appropriate action.

While we all love prospects who are ready to buy now, many are not.  But with a little nurturing they will be in the future. Apply these principles and watch your sales soar.

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.

marketing plan

8 Question Marketing Plan

Is revenue and profit growth a key objective for your business this year? Then a marketing plan is an essential tool. It provides the blueprint of what you will do and how you will do it.  And it’s not difficult. It’s simply a matter of answering these eight questions.   

Who are you trying to reach?

Whether you call it your target market or ideal customers, it’s the group of people who want or need your products or services – with the capacity to pay for them. Those you want to reach with your marketing efforts. Think small groups or niches, not the masses. Be specific. The more you know, the easier it is to speak to them – in a way that is compelling and effective.

Can you create a profile of your best customers? Whether you serve consumers or other businesses, think beyond basic demographics. What is important to them? What do they value or worry about? Why do they like doing business with you? If you are unsure, do a little research. Talk to some of your best customers – and see what patterns emerge.

How do you compare with competition?

Today’s buyers have a lot of choices and access to information. They also have personal experiences with a wide range of companies – inside and outside of your industry. As a result, customer expectations on quality, service, convenience and more are higher. How do you measure up in areas that are important to your customers?

If you are not sure, a simple SWOT analysis may help. What do they do well and not so well? Talk to customers, employees and suppliers to determine your strengths and weaknesses. Then you have some information to answer the next question.

Related: How to Use SWOT to Uncover Opportunities

What makes you unique? 

What do you do so well that you could potentially guarantee it? Do you do it better than others? Is it something your customers truly value? If so, turn this into your unique selling or value proposition. It’s the reason why your customers should choose to do business with you.

Remember, you only need one differentiation to stand out.  Here’s an example. When it comes to customer service, Chick-fil-A has consistently ranked high. Their claim to fame: their employees were rated among the most polite in their industry category. In other words, please and thank you, done consistently well, made them stand out – and their customers noticed.

What should you charge and why? 

Your marketing message should work with your pricing strategy. It relates directly to perceived value and is a factor in purchase decisions.  Don’t ignore this when developing your marketing plan.

Related: Pricing – Six Common Mistakes to Avoid

How will you reach potential customers? 

This is the substance of your plan – and often where most small businesses start.  Your promotional plan covers all your communications and dictates how you get the word out to prospects and customers. Ideally, it should combine a variety of tools – digital and print. Advertising, publicity, direct mail, social media, email marketing, promotional products and direct sales work well together.

In addition to integrating a variety of tools, consistency matters too. Whatever tools you select, determine the frequency and stick with it. It is better to do fewer tactics on a more consistent basis – than periodically doing a lot of different things. Looking for some ideas? Check out my 155+ profit building ideas.

How much will you spend and on what? 

A marketing budget serves two purposes.  It helps you determine what you can or cannot afford – and prioritize what you spend it on.  Since many small businesses have limited marketing budgets, this is vital.  And with technology today, some activities are more affordable than they were in the past.  Do a little research, don’t assume everything is out of reach.

What tasks do you need to complete to execute? 

Most marketing requires a series of tasks to complete. For each tool or tactic, list the critical tasks you need to do to get it done. Don’t forget to give yourself some due dates to keep you on track.

Here is an example. If you plan to do a direct mail campaign, you will likely include some of the following tasks: set objectives, budget and drop date, hire designer to create piece, write copy (or hire copywriter), develop mailing list, etc.

How will you track results?

When you invest your time and money on marketing, you will want to know how those efforts pay off. So, tracking results is important. Tracking will also help you determine what you can improve upon as you move forward.

The metrics you choose will depend on the marketing tools you use and the call-to-action response you are trying to achieve. Here are some common ones to consider: new leads, website visits, social media likes, new social media connections, CTA response rates, requests for quotes, sales appointments or calls, new customers and sales conversion rates.

Surprised that I included some sales metrics? You shouldn’t be. Good marketing should create leads, calls and traffic.  But it should also smooth the way for sales – which is the ultimate goal right? So, make sure your sales process is also up to the task. Because leads that go unconverted are simply a waste of time and money.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would another set of eyes, ongoing support and accountability from an expert help you take your business to a new 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.

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

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 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!

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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.