1. Determination When you’ve set your goal for a business that feeds you financial freedom (whether that’s from the sale of your business or the on-going semi-passive income it feeds you if built properly) you must be 110% determined to achieve it. Business is not easy. It’s a roller coaster of highs and lows. Your dream for financial freedom will keep you focused. Your determination will keep you going.
Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you. Denis Waitley
2. Drive I’ve yet to meet a wealthy entrepreneur who wasn’t driven. And believe me, I meet a lot. Without exception they are people who set out to be successful and were willing to drive themselves hard to ensure it happened. Drive makes you pick yourself up and keep going when it gets tough. Drive makes you put in the extra hours after everyone else has packed up and gone home. Drive makes the difference between ‘maybe’ and ‘no doubt’.
People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity. Andrew Carnegie
3. Discipline A definition of the word ‘discipline’ is ‘to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way’. Successful people in any field all have good habits. Athletes get up early every day to train, practice, exercise. Authors set regular times to write every day (I get up at 5am every morning to spend two hours writing). Musicians practice for hours every day. The success elite study with coaches and experts to learn the right technique, the winning strategies, the best formulas for their chosen field or profession.
Business is no exception. It’s a craft and it takes hard work, practice and constant learning to become good at it.
Confidence comes from discipline and training. Robert Kiyosaki
How do you think you would rate yourself on the three essential D’s?
Have a go now. Rate yourself out of 5 for each of the them with 1 being ‘nah’ and 5 being ‘nailed it’.
Determination 1 2 3 4 5
Drive 1 2 3 4 5
Discipline 1 2 3 4 5
How did you go?
My guess is that your rated yourself high on determination and drive but not so high on discpline. Correct? If so, you’re not alone. In my view one of the main reasons some people make it big in business and others stay small or medicore comes down to level of discipline they enforce on themselves.
So here’s a challenge for the week. What disciplines could you introduce that would speed up your success? These could be business related – such as set a regular time each week to get that blog written, or work on your business plan. Or they could be personal – to get up an hour early to go for a run or meditate, if these things will make you stronger and more able to tackle the rest of your life with drive and determination.
Let me know how you get on.
From the desk of Liber8me. Small business mentors and author of Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary planning technique that will set every small business owner free]]>
Then suddenly the work dries up.
You’ve got the team, but no income on the horizon. So you have to get OUT there and sell you butt off. Out, out, out, sell, sell, sell. The pressure is on, there are mouths to feed and everyone is relying on you to bring home the bacon. It’s a frightening and stressful time and the buck stops with you. Now you’ve got time to sleep but you can’t because you’re worried about money. So out you go. Pick up the phone, network like crazy, press the flesh and try to keep the desperation out of your voice when you talk to people.
Hopefully your efforts pay off. The orders pour in and back you go to the coalface. Doing it, doing it, doing it. Work, work, work. Late nights, no time to sleep, on and on until…
Suddenly the work dries up.
And out you go again.
You get the picture. It’s ‘The In-out Dance’ and very exhausting it is too. It can be really, really stressful – especially when you have to lay people off because you can’t afford to pay them in the quiet periods.
So what do you do to change this pattern?
You need to learn to dance better. You’ve got the steps all wrong. Instead of in, in, in then out, out, out, the dance needs to be more like in, out, in, out, in, out. A gentle rhythm set to an even beat. You must be out as much as you are in, or at least have a marketing system that allows for constant out focused activity.
Here are 5 pointers to Strictly Come Dancing In-Out Style:
There is a reason that marketing and sales make up the important pillars to business growth. You can’t grow without them. Life for a small business owner is a constant juggling act in the early years. Your job is to remember to keep both sales and delivery balls firmly in the air. And learn to be a champion ‘in-out dancer’!
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every business owner free
A client asked me this question why we were working together yesterday. I had to pause for a moment. But only for a moment mind you. The first word that popped out of my mind for me was ‘Vision’. I followed this up with a quick explanation. Liber8me helps people get clear what their vision for the future looks like, and then build a plan to get there. Which brings me back to one of my favourite sayings:
“If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?”
The other word I wanted to say was ‘freedom’. My purpose on the planet is to help people create a free and happy life. Which leads to another of my favourite sayings:
“The purpose of a business is to set the owner free”
So what is it for you? What one word describes the purpose you and your business fulfil on the planet?
Ask yourself the question and now… immediately… write down the first answer that pops into your head.
Take a good look at it. What did you say and why did you say it? How clear can you really get on the true purpose of your business? Clarity of purpose is one of the most empowering tools of business success. Take the challenge now… and let me know how you get on.
Love to hear what your one word is and why.
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and publisher of Liber8yourBusiness: The revolutionary planning technique that will set every business owners free.]]>
“What is your platform?”
This is the question I’ve been asking my small business clients recently. But what do I mean?
Here’s an imaginary scenario to help explain:
Imagine you are on a plane with 20 other business owners in the same industry as you, selling products or services in a similar genre to yours. Your destination is an airport in a country with a massive potential market for your product. Greeting you all at the airport is the CEO of the largest global company in your industry. His brief is to acquire a small company he believes has the most potential for growth. When you get off the plane you firstly have to make the short list by waving a placard that will make him pick you. Everyone else will be waving a placard too. He’s only allowed to pick five. What will your placard say? What is the message you have to take to the world? What are you and your business there to champion on a world stage?
If you are selected to the short list you will have five minutes to present your business and convince him to buy you. He wants to know why your product or service is better than the rest. He wants to know why he should pick your business. What are you going to tell him? Remember, your main competitors are also presenting their case. Why is yours so different? Why are you so passionate about this? What is it you really have to say to him?
Now bring yourself back to today and ask yourself the same questions. What is it that you are really about? What is your message to the world (or your Country) and why is your offering so important? Why? Why? Why?
Forget about what you are selling for a moment and focus on why it is needed. And what makes it better and different from all the others in your space.
This message to the world is your platform. This is the why behind your business…. the wind beneath your wings. (Sorry, but I do feel a Bette Midler moment coming on here because this is about emotion… being a hero, flying higher than an eagle, touching the sky…) With a business you have an opportunity to do something meaningful and to create change in the world around you. It doesn’t have to be what you sell that makes the difference, it can be the way you go about it. Whatever you are selling, you will sell a whole lot more if you are clear on your platform. You will have something meaningful to say and people will want to listen.
And on that note I’ll leave you with another lyric that’s bouncing round my head:
‘You’re the voice try and understand it, make the noise and make it clear…’
Make it happen
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 Your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free]]>
So how can you look after yourself and try to minimize that feeling of overwhelm that sometimes feels like it will consume you? Here are three strategies I’ve found useful…
It does help to know that you are not alone in the feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. Many before you have trodden that lonely and sometimes depressing path. Most survive and as your business grows and you build a good team around you, it improves I promise.
In the meantime, try my three steps and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear of any suggestions you have for managing the busy side of business too. Share them here and I’ll pass them on to other business owners out there.
Be kind to yourself
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every business owner free]]>
The reason for such a seeming train smash? They were late to market. By the time the BlackBerry 10 Series arrived, many once loyal users had already made the switch to a competitive smart phone and placed their loyalty with other brands. I know I did. Did you?
I loved my Blackberry. I was very happy with it. (Apart from those fiddly little key pad buttons – a disaster with acrylic nails darling!). But Apple was seducing me through peer group pressure. All my friends had an iPhone. My kids were begging me to get an iPhone. I had an iPod, I loved iTunes and was also feeling the lure of the iPad. The i’s were calling. Apple was just sexier.
Then I dropped my iPod down the toilet and someone told me an iPhone would double as a phone and play my songs from iTunes. And it was all over. Sold to the lady with the dripping iPod! I jumped into the Apple basket and have never looked back since.
Meanwhile as millions of others found their own reasons to switch to Apple or another smart phone brand, BlackBerry missed the boat. The $930 – $960 million write down in it’s fiscal second quarter is said to be due to a ballooning stockpile of unsold BlackBerry z10 devices.
And so the lesson?
Back to my blog post of a year ago. As I advised back then… keep a close eye on the trends. Yes set your long term goals. And yes, create a solid business plan every year to meet targets. But always include a review of industry trends, competitor analysis and build future proofing into your planning. Ask yourself constantly what is on the horizon and how can you be one step ahead?
Better still, be the Apple. Be the innovator and the one to change the paradigm in the first place. Can you spot a trend coming and pioneer the way? Keep thinking…
Good luck out there!
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 Your Business: The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free. ]]>
On my ride from Nadi airport to my hotel I met a lovely Fijian called Junior. We got chatting about business. Junior is about to start a new venture with an Australian business partner. It’s a tour guide business. They plan to have a fleet of vans to take tourists around the island, visiting the sights. When he heard that I was a business mentor and soon to be author, he asked me what I thought of his business idea. So naturally I asked him some questions.
Firstly, how many other tour guides are doing this? The answer was ‘many, many’.
And then, what will make your business different? What will make you special? The answer was a long pause. Followed by a question back to me: ’what do you mean?’
I re-worded my question for him. Why would someone want to choose your business over all the other choices they have?
And that, my friends, is the single most important question every business owner should ask.
Junior had identified the need. Tourists want to see the island and they need a guide. He recognized it was a crowded market. But had he considered how he’d get people to choose his business over his competition? When pressed to think about it Junior told me he would offer the best service at the most affordable price. This would be his point of difference.
At this stage we pulled up outside my hotel, so I didn’t get to question Junior further. We exchanged business cards and I wished him well. I walked away full of admiration for Junior’s entrepreneurial spirit and courage, as I always am when I meet someone about to embark on a new business venture.
But I do hope he thinks more about the critical question I asked him. In the answer to it can be found the difference between an average business and an exceptional one, which will blow the others out of the water.
Have you asked yourself this question lately? If not, do it now. Grab your team, grab a white board or a big pad of paper and start that all important quest for the singular point of difference that will stand you out from the crowd.
I’ll write more on this soon, it’s that important. In the meantime, if you are up for more challenging questions, download my business health check - it will get you thinking!
And don’t forget my book Liber8 Your Business will be out soon… find out more here.
Bula for now!
From the desk of Liber8me. Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 your Business. The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free.
I love the story about IBM from the 1960s. A manager made a decision that lost the company $10 million. He was summoned to the office of the CEO, Tom Watson. When asked why he’d been called there, the manager said, ‘So you can fire me.’ Watson replied, ‘Fire you? Of course I’m not going to fire you. I’ve just spent $10 million educating you!’
All business people fail at something at some stage. The smart ones learn and use the experience to their advantage next time.
So next time you think you won’t do something important in case you fail… remember Michael Jordan’s famous quote: ”I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying”. And get out there… do it!
This was an excerpt from Liber8 Your Business – The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free. Pre-order your copy here.]]>
So here are five of my doozies. Read, weep and learn!
1. I wrote my own employment contract
My first business was an advertising agency. I’d prepared a business plan whilst at a business school in Hawaii. I’d started my career as a secretary and then became an advertising copywriter. I was a creative person with zero business skills. When it came to employing my first staff member it never occurred to me that I needed a proper legal document written in accordance with the employment laws. No, I just thought I should write down what I expected and get us both to sign it. This actually worked fine with my first employee who was a young student fresh out of university and even more naïve than I was. He just wanted a job in advertising and was willing to work his butt off to make it. He was also very talented and happy to do whatever it took to make the place successful. Lucky me!
My second employee proved not so lucky. A young designer on his second job -not quite so talented, not willing to work so hard and with a huge drama hook waiting to explode. I worked him very hard, demanded a lot of him, was fairly intolerant of his mood swings and plunked my high expectations fairly on his resentful shoulders. One day (after using the f word many times in a shrieking voice) he walked out and didn’t come back. Instead a personal grievance claim arrived from his lawyer. In the letter his lawyer called my employment contract ‘a joke’. He was right. It was… but I wasn’t laughing!
Lesson: Do not do your own HR. Get your employment contracts approved by an employment lawyer. Get help recruiting people and be sure to be clear on your expectations from the outset. Make sure you hire people for their cultural fit as well as their technical skills.
2. I got creative with my book keeping
A copywriter with no business experience… yup… that was me! I realized I needed to keep track of the money stuff so I bought an MYOB accounting package. I then merrily set about inputting all the data myself. And when I was too busy I got my young copywriter apprentice to do it. Two creative copywriters doing the books – brilliant! Before long we realized we didn’t know what we were doing (really?) so I put an ad on Student Job Search and got an accounting student to do it for me. Turns out he didn’t know what he was doing either. By the end of two years in I had no way of knowing how we were going financially, no way of reporting. It was more like BFM (Big Fat Mess) than MYOB. Thankfully at this point I hired the most amazing person who not only tidied up my books, she became my right hand person and taught me how to run a business the right way – with an annual budget and monthly reporting.
Lesson: Do not do your own books. Even if you do know what you are doing, as the business owner you should be spending your time on income generating activities… not on book keeping! Learn how to manage your business using an annual budget, sit down every month with someone (ideally outside your business) and explain your results to them.
3. I hired someone to do my selling
In year 3 things were gunning along famously. We’d trebled in size and moved offices three times to keep up with growth. We’d won our first major contracts with blue chip clients and put our name on the map. I thought it would be good not to be the one to go out there doing all the selling. So I hired a business development manager. He was very expensive and impressed me hugely in his interview with his sales stories. Within six months it was obvious he couldn’t sell advertising, even if he could sell other stuff. Rumors came back that potential clients were not impressed with him… he didn’t know the industry well enough to think on his feet or wax lyrical about why our agency was better than any of the others. He was damaging our reputation and I had to get rid of him. It wasn’t his fault. It was mine. It was too soon to hire someone to do my job for me…. I was still the best person to sell our agency. I had the experience and the passion. I went back to hiring other internal roles to free up more of my time elsewhere and threw myself 100% into business growth.
Lesson: In the early years of business, the owner is the best person to do the selling. No one else will have quite your domain knowledge, experience or passion. Even if you don’t think you are very good at sales – find a way to make it enjoyable, get some training and focus on being passionate about what you do.
4. I burnt myself to a frazzle
In about year 4 I was the queen of burning the candle at both ends. The business was getting bigger and bigger and with every stage of growth my worry seem to grow to meet it. I was working long hours and not sleeping well. I developed what a dear friend called ‘my purple people eaters’ – the imaginary monsters that were going to bring my business down – the employees who were not performing, the clients who were not happy and about to leave, the bills we wouldn’t be able to pay, the suppliers who were bound to let us down – I was living in the world of imaginary enemies and it began to play havoc with my health. I began to have panic attacks to the point where I feared giving presentations (not good for the head of a leading advertising agency). I would burst into tears for no real reason. I was picking fights with my husband and neglecting my friends. My life was seriously out of balance. I felt so bad I wanted out. I wanted to leave my business and go get a job where someone else would take all the stress. But even that didn’t seem a viable option with a new overdraft and a growing team of people depending on me for their livelihoods. Something had to change. Some regular visits to a hypnotist showed that I was suffering from severe stress and I needed a break. I had no choice but to take a month off and go to Europe. With a clear head I realized it was time to trust my team and hand over some of the worry. My life was more important than my business.
Lesson: You cannot do it alone. As soon as you start growing your team you need to find a way to share the load. Focus your energy early on the processes and systems that will enable others to take over big chunks of the work. Share your problems with your team, encourage them to step up and find solutions to these problems. Reward those who shine for you. Introduce bonus schemes for clearly met objectives and teach your team to enjoy the game of business alongside you.
5. I tried to control the big guns
When my business had grown big enough to afford the really senior people, I came face to face with my own ego. And she wasn’t pretty, I can tell you! Instead of trusting them to get on with their jobs, I tried to control them the same way I had more junior folk. I stamped my foot when they wouldn’t do it my way, I threw my toys out and then apologized many times before I finally got the lesson.
Lesson: When you are ready to hire senior people, make sure your culture and processes are firmly in place. Have a very clear induction programme that shows how things are to be done in your company. Get their agreement to your values and vision. Hire for their cultural fit as much as their talent. And then… let go. Once you have given them the context, let them do things their way.
So there you have it. Five of my blunders… many more where they came from! I hope you enjoyed hearing about my downs. As I’ve said many times, business is a roller coaster and for every great high there’s a screaming low waiting to snaffle you up. The trick is to become resilient and build a well systemized business with a great team to help your ride out the storms. Easier said than done huh?
If you’d like to share your journey with other like minded business owners you might love our Acceler8me Programme. Click here to apply for more information.
Bought to you by Liber8me. Small business mentors and publisher of Liber8 Your Business. The revolutionary business planning technique that will set every small business owner free]]>
Critical success factors of the build-to-sell model
1. Set your end goal. Decide how much you want to sell it for and by when, and work backwards. In my book, Liber8 Your Business, I show a simple formula for working out your potential end value, with a link to the online calculator.
2. Name your buyer. It’s important to have a good idea who might want to buy your business in your early planning. Imagine spending 10 years building a business you intend to sell only to realize you have created something nobody wants to buy. If you build a business with a buyer in mind, you have a much better chance of building something they really want.
A potential buyer could be a larger player in your industry looking to grow through acquisition. This growth might be regional – they want a presence in your city or town and it’s easier to buy you than start from scratch. It might be strategic – you have a smart product or service they could add to their existing infrastructure to create additional revenue streams. An example of this might be a large accounting firm buying a small book-keeping firm to add value to their client base. Your service or product could become a ‘nuisance’ to a competitor (read more on a strategy called ‘kicking sand in the gorilla’s face in the Liber8 Your Business book) and they buy your company to prevent it competing or to regain lost revenues. It could be a management buy-out, when senior employees raise the funds to buy you out. It could be a competitor of a similar size wanting to grow and willing to invest to gain rapid growth through acquisition. I’ve sold businesses to two types of buyer. A multinational bought my advertising agency and a local competitor bought my pet care company. My father’s photocopier business sold to his senior management team. A good friend has built three recruitment agencies. The first sold to one of the original partners, who bought out the other partners. The second sold to a multinational looking for regional representation in her city. The third is in its early days of growth and I’ll watch with interest who buys it (I have no doubt it will sell because I know the founders expect this and will build with this in mind). Another type of buyer could be a private equity group or even an individual who sees great potential in what you’ve built.
So who might want to buy your business? What are you building that could add huge value to someone’s offering? Now is the time to start thinking about these things.
3. Remove the dependence on you. To make your business attractive to your future buyer, it cannot be dependent on you. That’s a key message I want you to learn from this book: No one will outright buy a business that’s dependent on its owner.
If the buyer takes you out of the picture and no business remains, they will either insist you stay in the business or they will walk away. So whatever your strategy is, whatever your end goal, whatever that picture is of your shed or your man on the moon … it needs to not have you in it. I did that at my agency by making sure the clients loved the business but weren’t dependent on me. In the last few years, I hired two senior guys and put them in charge of our biggest clients, so my buyer could see the clients were not reliant on me.
4. Start building a team as soon as you can. I couldn’t afford to bring in those big guns until later in my business growth. I started by hiring people I could afford, with a couple of youngsters straight from college. I trained them to do things exactly the way I wanted. I call it ‘training your clones’ (learn more of this strategy in the bonus chapter called The Acceler8or Approach to business development at the end of the book). I kept building my team that way until we could afford to hire more senior people. And then we had to make sure we had a really strong culture to manage senior people.
5. Secure future earnings. Getting all our key clients on fixed-term contracts was another critical strategy that worked. They all had two or three year contracts so when the buyer looked at my business they saw a high level of spend committed for the next three years. This was an important lesson I learned from my businessman father. Remember I told you about his photocopier business and how he sold it and retired soon after his fiftieth birthday? One of the best secrets to success he shared with me was, ‘you’ve got to have a back end.’ To explain, he gave the example of his own business. While the sale or lease of each copier was worth a lot of money (especially in the 1970s when these huge machines were a relatively new addition to business productivity) the real value came from the additional contract that went with each machine. This locked the customer into buying all their ink, toner and paper for the life of the machine, as well as regular paid servicing – which meant that, for every machine sold, my father had income guaranteed for the next 10 years, enabling him to predict with complete accuracy his future income. You can see why this made by father’s business attractive for a buyer. They could see a guaranteed return on their investment. It made sense to me when I started my own business, and I hope it does to you too. It will get you a higher price when you come to sell!
And what it all boils down to is this:
A business with committed future revenue that is not dependent on its owner to deliver that revenue is a business worth investing in.