Business Finances, Goals, Leadership, Marketing, Personal Growth, Profits, Sales

A simple key to success is this.  Do something every day that moves you closer to your goal.  What are you doing today to move you toward your business goal?  What will you do tomorrow?  As long as you keep moving forward, you will eventually reach your goal.  One caveat here is that you must do something every day, not just the days you feel like doing something.

Here is an easy action plan to get you started:

Make a list of 5 goals you would like to accomplish over the next 90 days.  You must limit your goals to 5 and they must be SMART.  Specific – exactly what do you want?  More is not specific enough.  Measureable – how will you know you achieved the goal?  If you cannot assign a measure, the goal is not specific.  Achievable – this does not mean easy.  It does mean within reason.  Results – they must move you toward a result.  Time sensitive – give yourself a deadline

For each of your 5 goals list the actions you need to make them happen.  Determine the exact steps are necessary to reach the goal.  Be very specific; break each goal down into small actions.  Most things are much simpler when you break it down into the specific steps.  Be sure not to skip any steps.  Ideally each goal should have between 8 and 20 steps.

Now that you have a list of what needs to be done, schedule your steps on your calendar, 1 step for each day.  You can choose to do all the steps for each goal in a row or mix up the various steps and work on all 5 goals simultaneously.  Anything that is date sensitive needs to go into the calendar first.  Follow that with any repetitive steps and then fill in the blank days with the remaining steps in the proper order.

Now you have an easy 90 day action plan.  By doing one thing every single day you can insure success and reach those goals you have been thinking about but not yet made a reality.  You need to internally commit to do an action every day.  You will not fail once you commit to and execute this plan.

Once the quarter has passed and you have reached your five goals, rinse and repeat.  That is chose your next five goals and follow the same process for the next 90 days.  This is truly the key to success.

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Business Finances, Goals, Leadership, Marketing, Personal Growth, Profits, Sales

“It is easier for companies to come up with new ideas than to let go of old ones.” – Peter Drucker

Are there old ideas getting in the way of moving forward in your business?  Everyone thinks it is difficult to come up with new ideas to get your business moving forward.  But, most people have new ideas every day.  Take a look at your business and try to discover old ideas that need to go.  We all have them.

How can you find the old ideas that are holding you back? What should you look for?  You need to regularly look at your business practices and determine what needs updating.  The environment changes around us and we need to change with it.  Continuing to stick with the same old ideas will only hold you back.  You need be moving forward in your business at all times and holding onto old ideas will not move you forward.

Something you need to look for is continuing to do something that is not working because that’s the way you’ve always done it. A good example of this would be continuing to use a typewriter when a computer is a much more efficient method.   We can all find things like this in our business but we need to look for them.  What systems do you have in place that don’t really work?

Are you dismissing new ideas because you tried them before and they didn’t work them?  Do you just dismiss them instead of asking – why didn’t they work?  Could it have been the implementation, the timing, or the message?  Maybe it’s time to try them again.  Timing is everything in business and just because you’ve tried it once doesn’t mean your timing was right.  You need to listen to the signs around you and keep trying new ideas.  Most things come in cycles and you may be missing opportunities because you think you’ve already been there and done that.

Relying on an old method or system because it’s working just fine – when was the last time you looked at it?  Could you use it more efficiently?  Does it need updating?  I see this frequently with technology.  You get used to a program or system and don’t update it because you don’t want to learn the new features.  The truth is new features are generally improvements and by not adopting them you are missing out on these improvements.  With computer technology you will find that your current system becomes obsolete quickly if you don’t keep up with the changes.

These are just a few ideas on where to look.  Challenge yourselves this week to find an old idea that no longer works the way it used to and let it go.  It will only make room for new and improved ideas to take its place.  You can’t make room for the new without letting go of some of the old.

 

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Business Finances, Goals, Leadership, Marketing, Networking, Personal Growth, Profits, Sales

We have all seen this happen.   You work hard and bring in tons of business and before you know it, you are so busy you can hardly keep up with it all.  Then, all of a sudden it stops and you wonder where all the business went.  Why does this happen?  For most of us, the answer is very simple.  When we get busy, we slow down (or stop altogether) our marketing and prospecting.  This inevitably leads to no future business.

How can we prevent this from happening?  It is a multi-step process.  You must understand both the sales cycle and your ability to deliver your product or service.  Then you must create a plan to continually bring in the correct number of leads and prospects.  Develop a process for converting a large percentage of prospects so you don’t spend too much time on people who are not going to buy your product or service.  Finally, schedule your workflow accordingly so you can manage expectations and meet deadlines and commitments.

Always keep up your marketing and prospecting.  This is seems obvious, but it’s easy to lose sight of when we have more business than we can handle at the moment.  Be sure that parts of your marketing are automated.  Turn up or turn down the marketing, but never turn it off.  The valleys in your business are a result of turning of the marketing or turning the volume down too low.

Understand your sales cycle – if it takes six months from the time you identify a prospect until you get paid, not prospecting in May means no $$ in November.  This becomes more important as your sales cycle become longer.  When your sales cycle is long and your pipeline becomes empty you may not be able to survive the lull.  Be sure you know how long it takes to convert a prospect and keep enough moving through the pipeline so you have business close when you are ready to take on new clients.

Do the math – figure out how many people you need to contact, mailers you need to send, ads you need to run every week.  This is very simple math and it still surprises me how many business owners who do not take the time to discover these numbers.  At the beginning of every period you should determine the number of customers needed to reach your revenue goals.  Measure your conversion rate over time so you know who many prospects you need to reach the desired number of customers.  Measure the results of various types of marketing so you can understand what is needed to reach the appropriate amount of prospects and develop a marketing plan that will bring these results.

Once you know the minimums, schedule time in your calendar to keep up the activity – and stick to it.  If you have worked all the numbers and feel that you can’t keep up the marketing and prospecting necessary know that you won’t reach your revenue goals and adjust accordingly.  You must keep this up even during your busiest times.  You can always outsource activities to help you maintain the pace.

If you work on large projects where you can only manage a small number of customers at time but have a long sales cycle you also need to manage expectations with your prospects.  This can be done with appropriate scheduling and not promising more than you can deliver.

 

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Business Finances, Goals, Leadership, Marketing, Networking, Personal Growth, Profits, Sales

Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

I have a new definition of insanity.  Mine says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, in a new climate, and expecting the same results. The world around us changes continually and we need to understand and recognize that these changes occur.  Technology changes, products and services go in and out of style and new opportunities arise.   Are you staying current in your business and practices?

We all need to accept that the world around us changes and, it we don’t change with it, we will be left behind.  Don’t believe me?  What became of the typewriter repairman, Sony Beta-Max, or those photo booths in parking lots?  Imagine if you fell asleep 25 years ago and woke up today to find cell phones, the internet, iPods and social networking. Since 1982 these products are all new:  cell phones, laptop computers, Blackberries, debit cards, caller ID, DVD’s, lithium rechargeable batteries, iPods, pay at the pump, digital cameras, flat panel TV’s, electronic tolls, PowerPoint, microwaveable popcorn.  Can you imagine what will happen to your business if you don’t embrace the changes of the next 30 years?  How will you even function?

Here are 5 tips to keep your business, and yourself, current:

  1. Research and pay attention to market trends and react accordingly.  Don’t ignore signs that your business climate is changing.
  2. Embrace new technology, when it makes sense.  Are you using Facebook and Twitter or do you think it’s just for the young?
  3. Be willing to try new things.  What new thing have you tried this year?
  4. Keep up your education.  Are you involved in continual educations – reading books, taking classes, listening to CD’s and DVD’s?
  5. Don’t continue to do the things the way you have always done them.  Continually reevaluate your methods and find tune them.

Paying attention to market trends is growing in importance as the speed of business is rapidly increasing.  Technological changes have created new business opportunities but often those same changes make current business obsolete.  Don’t get left behind and continually update your business model.

New technology can make everyday tasks more efficient, provide new marketing opportunities and improve the way your business operates.  Be sure to keep abreast of new technologies and implement them in your business as soon as it is feasible.

Try new things.  These may be marketing ideas, product ideas, or other opportunities.  You don’t know what’s available until you try it.

Education is a lifelong experience.  The fact that you are ready this indicates your openness to education.  Keep it up.  We can never learn too much.

Reevaluate your methods and routines on a regular basis.  Just because you have always done something in the same way does not mean it’s the best way.  Enlist your team in this as well.  Challenge them to always look for improvements.

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Leadership, Team Building

Creating the right team is a vital step in growing a successful business.  You hear business owners all the time bemoaning the fact that they can’t recruit, train and retain the right employees.  What are the secrets to creating a great team?  Great leaders build a great team around them.  To be successful in business, you must find the right people, give them the training they need and build a great team.

There are 6 key areas necessary to build a winning team – how many of them are you doing successfully and which do you need to work on?  Learn these keys and develop a plan to implement them and you will have a great team around you that can take you to new heights.

The 6 Keys are:

1. Strong Leadership – it starts at the top

2. Common Goal – everyone needs to be working toward the same end

3. Rules of the Game – make the expectations clear

4. Action Plan – what is everyone supposed to be doing?

5. Support Risk Taking – empower people to come up with new ideas

6. 100% Involvement/Inclusion – make sure everyone is on board

Strong leadership is about you.  A leader empowers and inspires the team.  It is their job to enroll others in the vision for the company.  They must also lead the business by making the right decisions to move things ahead.  Sometimes these are tough choices, but a strong leader will make them objectively and with compassion.

Does everyone on your team know about the goals for the company and your progress toward those goals?  You can’t expect your team to help you achieve your goals if they don’t know what they are.  Be sure to include them in the big picture goals and be sure they understand their role in achieving those goals.  Everyone perform better when they know what they are reaching for.

Have you set the rules of the game?  Be sure everyone knows what behaviors and actions are OK and not OK in your company.  What is the dress code, the hours of work, the expectations for behaviors?  Be sure they are clear and given to everyone.  You can’t expect your team to follow the rules if they are unsure of exactly what they are.

Does everyone on your team have an Action Plan?  Do they know what has to be done every week to insure success at the end?  Be sure everyone is the aware of what they need to be doing on a week by week basis.  Determine deadlines and plan out workflow progress on long projects.  Repetitive actions should be routinized and put on a regular calendar.  Review and update these action plans on a regular basis.

Supporting risk taking means empowering your employees to make decisions and allowing them to solve problems.  We cannot anticipate every situation in advance your team members should be taught to make decisions that solve problems.  Encourage them to present ideas and reward them when they find ways to improve productivity or earn more money for the company.

Finally, be sure you have 100% involvement and inclusion amongst all members of your team.  They need to be working together and supporting the business.  If you leave a few on the sidelines, they will not create the environment needed for success.

 

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Goals, Leadership, Marketing, Personal Growth, Team Building

Are you an effective communicator – with your employees, co-workers, clients, leads and prospects?  Do you sometimes feel that people aren’t listening to you when you have clearly communicated ideas, instructions, value, etc.?  What can you to get people to understand what you are trying to communicate?

At Action we have a saying “Communication is the response you get.”

What, exactly, does that mean?  Well, if people don’t seem to be listening to you and reacting the way you desire, it is you, not them, that are the issue.  You wonder why they can’t seem to hear you, but the reality is they don’t understand the language you are speaking.  In other words, it’s all Greek to them.

When communicating with people, make sure they understand what you are trying to say.  We don’t all think and process information in the same way.  What may be clear to one person may not be clear to another.  Be sure that you are clear and concise in your communication.  Make sure you listen to the responses and look for signs that they don’t understand what you are trying to say.  Talk to people in language they understand and then ask them questions to see if they are interpreting what you are saying the way you intended.

This is easy to do if you pay attention to the different ways that people process information.   Most people learn either visually, auditorally or kinesthetically.  You can learn which way people learn best by paying attention to a few factors.

Visual learners need to see the information.  They learn best when they are show information.  They like to see material that backs up the instruction.  You may notice that a visual learner looks up when listening as they are trying to visualize the information.  Be sure that you use visual language with them.  Do you see what I mean?

Auditory learners need to hear the information.  They learn best when they are presented information via sound.  They learn well from tapes and CD’s and prefers that to reading a book.  You may notice that a visual learner turns their ear slightly toward you or looks toward their ear when listening.  Be sure to use auditory language when communicating with them.  How does that sound to you?

Kinesthetic learners learn by determining how things feel.  They like to feel and touch things and things on to learn best.  They learn well from interactive activities.  It matters greatly the feeling they get when learning information and will question things when they don’t feel right.  Be sure to use kinesthic language with communicating with them.  How does that feel to you?

When its seems that no one is paying attention and your instructions are not being followed, you need to accept the problem is with you not the listener.  Try rephrasing what you are communicating or find other ways to present the information.  When you view the issue in this light in gives you the ability to make it work instead if repeating the same misunderstood information.

 

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Leadership, Personal Growth, Systems, Time Management

Time is the one resource we cannot get more of.  Thank you for taking the time to read this book, I do hope it is a valuable use of your time.  If we lose money, we can always make more, but if we waste time we cannot get it back.  The lesson being; spend your time more wisely than you spend your money.

Targeting our time effectively is the key to maximizing our productivity.  Most of our time is broken down into 4 zones – one of which is where we want to be:

Distraction – doing things that are not urgent and not important.  How much time do you spend here?  Cleaning your desk, surfing the net, watching TV, etc.

Delusion – doing things that we think are urgent and not important.  What time are you spending answering email that could wait, answering the phone in the middle of more urgent tasks?

Demand – doing things that are urgent and important.  On April 14 taxes that haven’t been done are urgent and important, when did you file yours?

The Zone – doing things that are not urgent and important.  This is where planning and time management comes in.  If you had done those taxes on March 1 they would have been important and not urgent.

How much time are you spending intentionally or unintentionally in distraction?  Often when we need to do a task we aren’t thrilled about doing we will purposefully distract ourselves.  It is an easy way to avoid the tough challenges.  Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like are currently the biggest distractions out there.  How much time are you spending with these distractions?

Delusion is often less obvious than distraction but no less insidious.  We think these things are important and need to be done, but they are actually just distracting us from the important task.  Responding to every email immediately is a good example, but there are many other tasks that fall into this category as well.

Demand is often the most difficult place to move from.  These tasks need to be done.  They are urgent, have deadlines and due.  They have reached this level because we didn’t manage our time effectively but now we have no choice but to get them done.  The key here is to put in the time to get caught up and then work to balance your tasks more effectively in the future.

When you reach the zone everything works well.  You are spending your time doing the important tasks before they become urgent and you are truly the master of your time.  You don’t get thrown off track due to unexpected circumstances because you have plenty of time to stay on track.  If you can spend the majority of your time in the zone you will find that everything works more easily.

Challenge yourselves to manage your time and spend as much time in The Zone as you can.

 

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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth, Sales, Systems

“Faith is the refusal to panic.” D. martyn Lloyd-Jones

One of my clients shared this quote with me and I think it really sums up the way you should be running your business.

How much time are you spending in panic mode vs. time spend working the plan that you have for your business?

If you had faith in your plan and your business, you really would not be spending very much time in panic mode.  The occasional miscue, unexpected event or bump in the road would not send you panicing because you would have a plan for what to do when those things occur.

How do you have faith and avoid panic?

  1. Have faith – believe in your product, service and business overall.  You cannot be effective if you don’t feel you have the right concept at the right time.  If you can’t find faith here, you better seriously consider what you are doing in business.
  2. Have faith in your plan – develop a strong, implementable plan.  I am not talking about the business plan you wrote for the bank loan, although that’s a start.  I am referring your overall business strategy that you are writing each year and refining each quarter.  This should include production, marketing, sales, operations and growth projections as well as contingency plans for emergencies.  A well written plan inspires a lot of faith.
  3. Have faith in your people – if you don’t believe they can do their jobs well, why are you surrounded by them.  Hire the right people, train them properly and then let them do their jobs.
  4. Have faith in yourself – I left this one for last, because it is most important.  Stop the self-sabbotaging and believe you can do whatever it is you have set out today.

When you are operating in panic mode you continually make bad decisions.  Nobody wants to business with someone who doesn’t believe in the viability of their business and is operating from a place of panic.  Would you?  You must have faith in what you are doing in order to be successful and sell it to others.  Believe in your business, your plan, your people and, most importantly, yourself.

I learned a long time ago that no matter what you think you are selling – goods, services, solutions, etc, – what you are actually selling is faith.  It is the faith that the product will work and the services will solve their problems.  Faith is at the heart of all commerce.  So find your own faith first and then you can sell it to others.  You will only panic when you have lost the faith.

In closing, have a great week and stay out of panic mode.  It is a waste of your time and energy.

 

 

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Leadership, Marketing, Networking, Personal Growth, Sales

One of the keys to great sales, and great leadership, is the quality of the relationships you build with others – prospective clients, co-workers, partners, employees.  How do you build these relationships?  What if you only have a few minutes to make an impression?

Listening to people when they speak goes a long way in forging a bond.   I know we all think we are listening when we are having a conversation, but are you really?

Here are some tips for being an effective listener

  • Pay attention – don’t be formulating a response or thinking about what you will say next.
  • Get rid of “I know” – I know shuts down a conversation
  • Don’t use the words “no”, “but”, or “however” – these are terms of disagreement
  • Ask intelligent questions that let the other person know you have been paying attention and give them the opportunity to talk more while you listen.
  • Don’t be distracted – you should be looking at them, not around the room.

Active listening is a learned art and one that would be well worth your time to practice.  It can be exhausting to pay close attention all day and most of us are not paying as much attention as we think we are.

Here is an easy example that you can try right away.  One of my current talents is my ability to remember people’s names.  People ask me all the time to share my secret for remembering names.  The truth is when I first got into coaching, I knew that I was not very good at remembering names and thought this was something I should develop.  I looked within myself to find the answer and concluded that I wasn’t really paying attention when people introduced themselves.  I decided I would pay attention when people were being introduced or introducing themselves.  From that day forward, I became very good at remembering names.

Try this yourself.  The next time you are out, decide to pay attention and then watch how many new names you remember.

Be open to what people are saying and don’t block them out just because you don’t agree with what they are saying.  You might learn something.

Ask questions and let the other person know you are listening to them.  Ask to clarify points you are not clear about.  Restate facts you want to confirm.  These are all keys to clear communication.  You may be surprised by what you hear when you really listen.

This is one of the greatest secrets to successful leadership and successful sales.  The best listeners have the best results.  When you pay attention to others, you will be able to present the best solution for them and be way ahead of your competition.

 

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Goals, Leadership, Personal Growth, Time Management

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

Are your habits (the things you repeatedly do) holding you back or pushing you forward?  In order to reach our goals in business, and in life, we must become the person it takes to do the things we need to do in order to reach our goals.  This means creating good habits.

To create a habit of excellence you must first ask yourself these questions:

1. What things are you doing, that you should do LESS of?

2. What things are you doing, that you should STOP?

3. What things are you doing, that you should do MORE of?

4. What things are you NOT doing, that you need to start?

If you can look at all four of these questions, and answer them honestly, it’s easy to create good habits.  You don’t need more time, you just need to stop, or do less of, the things that are creating bad habits.  I am sure all of us have a few and this will create time to start some new habits.  Those that will define us in the way we want to be seen.

What are the habits of the type of person you would like to be?  Ask a few highly productive people and you will find some consistency in their answers.  These are the types of habits you need to develop.  Things like planning their time, focusing on the positive, seizing opportunities and not wasting time are habits of the highly effective.

You need to rid yourself of the bad habits that have inadvertently made their way into to your routine over time.  Wasting time watching television, surfing online and other distractions are not leading to on a path of excellence.  Many of these habits need to be replaced with more effective habits.

The best way I have found to instill a new habit is to commit to doing something every day for 30 days.  Want to get in better shape?  Go to the gym every day for 30 days.  Want to expand your mind?  Read a book every day for 30 days.  Want to start a journal?  Write down your thoughts every day for 30 days.  Once you have done something for 30 straight days, it will become a habit.  You will have found the time to fit it into your routine and will find it easy to keep going.

 

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