business planning — Liber8me

Very successful business people practice the 3 ‘D’s’ of business. Find out what they are and rate yourself here…

Determination.stoneEvery day I work with small business owners who dream of making it big. And every month I interview successful entrepreneurs who have made it big. The big guys all started small. And they all (without exception) practiced the three D’s of business. I’ll outline them here and then ask you to rate yourself on each.

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.

Go well

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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

Which is more important… delivery or sales? Should you be in doing or out selling? Learn the 5 steps to the ‘The In-Out Dance” here…

sync swimmingAs a small business owner you’ll be familiar with ‘The In-out Dance’ I’m sure.  It goes like this.  You are busy in the business, delivering your service or product, working hard, working hard.  There’s too much to do and you need help.  So you hire some people and now you have to spend more time training them and managing them as well as doing all the work you already have on your plate.  There’s no time to think about getting out there and selling your wares.   Busy in, bum down, doing it, doing it, doing it.  You’re working hard, putting in the hours, no time to sleep, worrying about dropping balls and hoping your delivery meets client expectations.

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:

  1. Understand the in/out balance.  Business is a balance of sales and delivery – you cannot have one without the other.  If you put all your focus on sales but not delivery you will disappoint customers, damage reputation and lose business.  If you put all your focus on delivery and not sales, you will run out of business and the best delivery in the world won’t matter.  So you must ensure you dedicate time to both no matter how busy you are.
  2. NEVER take your eye off sales.  When you are too busy to think about sales, this is the time to think about sales.  Ensure sales and marketing activities are in your weekly work in progress and given equal priority. Try not to bump the sales activity off the to do list because you and your team are too busy.
  3. Keep the pipeline full.  You should always have a number of hot prospects waiting for conversion, a number of proposals in progress, a number of leads to follow up, a database to make irresistible offers to.  This can only happen if you keep the pressure on your sales and marketing at all times.
  4. Have a marketing system.  Create a marketing process that happens every week.  Make sure you have a hot list of potential clients you are targeting and a regular campaign underway.  With a system in place you can get other team members to help with the logistics.
  5. Hire people out of cash flow. Don’t hire new people on the basis of today’s busy period alone.  This can lead to disaster down track if the work dries up.  Try to use contractors to start with if you can until the workflow is more certain.  Ideally you’d be hiring people you know the business can afford, or at least ensure you have money in the bank to cover salaries should there be a quiet period on the horizon.

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’!

Dance on!

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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

 

Tired of being tired? Here are 3 steps to overcome business fatigue.

tiredI talk with small business owners every day and there are two words I hear all the time:  “busy” and “exhausted”.   It’s a common ailment of the business owner operator.  I’m sure you know how it feels.

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…

 

  1. Schedule ‘time out days’ in advance. Make sure you keep a calendar that shows a month at a glance.  Look at your calendar for the next 6 months and see where you can find two whole days that you could take off each month.  They don’t have to be consecutive.  If you can’t see two days, then juggle things around.  Shift appointments onto other days.  This is a discipline and a habit.  I schedule the first week of every month ‘off’. I have no appointments during this week and I won’t allow any to be scheduled for me.  If this means I have some pretty crazy days during the rest of the month, so be it.   Once you have these days scheduled let your team, clients and suppliers (or anyone else who might want a piece of you) that you will not be available on these days.
  2. Plan how you will use your time out days.  Remember the purpose of these days is to help you with those feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion.  However, if you are anything like me then you won’t be able to just lie down for the day.  Your brain will be too busy thinking and worrying and going over every little thing that you should be doing.  The guilt will get the better of you and you will be on the phone or answering emails before you know it! So rather than take the time ‘off’, take the time ‘out’ and use it to work on your long term planning and strategies.  Or to write that blog you’ve been meaning to write.  Or to catch up on some important reading that you never have time for.  Use the time constructively but with relish and gusto.  Enjoy being productive rather than busy.  Believe me, it will re-energize you as much as a day at the beach!
  3. Plan your to do’s a week in advance.  A business owner’s to do list is a scary thing and more likely to keep you awake at night than any monster under the bed.  The overwhelm you often feel comes from a sense of being out of control. This happens when the to do list gets longer than the hours in the day and starts to encroach into your personal space in an unhealthy way (you know what I mean don’t you?).   My personal discipline to help combat this involves getting up extra early on a Monday morning (I can’t bring myself to sacrifice my Sunday evening) to map out my to do’s across the week.  I use a paper diary (shock horror!) to do this.  Once I’ve put my appointments in for the week (taken from my online diary) I then spread my to dos across each day, taking into account what else I have on that day.  On days that are quite full I give myself less other items to do and on quiet days I make the to do list longer.  Of course I prioritize them by importance and urgency as I go too.  If my to do list is looking particularly ominous for the week then I won’t allow any other appointments to be booked in.  I make a conscious decision to put my health and well being first at this point.  And note:  my running and yoga times are already scheduled in the diary for the week and are not to be moved.

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

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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 

What is the single most important question every business owner should ask? Find out here…

bula fiji macBula from Fiji!  I’m enjoying a quick solo break, just to re-charge my batteries (which by the way is something every business owner should do on a regular basis… even if you don’t have time – no wait, especially if you don’t have time).

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!

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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.