Tag Archives: Business planning

7 Steps to Becoming a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

successful-businessThis past weekend, I attended a personal development training led by a husband and wife team of multi-millionaires with multiple business assets constantly throwing off cash on their behalf.

I listened intently to what they had to share. One of their tips was to ‘release the breaks’. The supposition being that we’re actually doing things (or not doing things) that keeps the breaks on our business engaged.

I gleaned 7 steps from their talk on how to become a highly successful entrepreneur. Add these to your strategic planning and implementation activities and you’ll raise the revenue and profitability levels in your enterprise, even if it’s in its infancy. In fact, the sooner you apply these principles, the more easily you’ll reach your goals.

1. Zoom out
Take time to imagine the long-term vision of your company and your life. Really get in touch with your purpose on this planet and the impact you want to have. Think big. Think bigger than you think is possible. It’s hard to see all of your potential grandeur when you’re not yet there, but work at it and let your perspective expand to the greatest possible heights.

2. Zoom in
Once you’ve gotten clear about the big, bright future, reel yourself back to the present and identify what tiny (or not so tiny) steps you can take TODAY to start down the path toward your destination.

3. Organize
Identify the activities that seem to be generating the best results. Clarify which ones are working. Simplify your processes in order to minimize wasted efforts, resources and time.  Unclutter your life and business.  Focus on what matters most. Focus on what works the best.

Get rid of everything else that could distract you from reaching your goal

4. Actualize
Keep taking productive, consistent action. Keep moving forward. Things may not always turn out the way you expect. Learn along the way. Adjust and keep taking action

5. Monetize
Keep looking for revenue streams. Perhaps there are new markets to be tapped. New ways to deliver the products/services you already have. Partner with others to gain access to new prospects.

6. Can it and clone it
Once you have a business model that works, document it. Identify the processes (think McDonald’s). Keep them simple so it can be replicated. Replicate it.

7. Increase your reach
Visibility is critical for success. Look for ways to get in front of your ideal clients. Get referrals, advertise where they hang out, speak to them (individually or in groups) to demonstrate your expertise and value. Use marketing tools to carry the message farther.  Get your product or service sean, heard and read about by as many people as possible.

Follow up with them. You’ve probably heard this advice before but are you doing it? The fortune is in the follow up. Follow up!

Implement these 7 steps and watch your business soar.

5 Things You Must Focus on to Achieve Your Goals

focus-mattersGoal-setting is an important activity for those who yearn to live an accomplished life. Yet, many people do not set goals and others who do, don’t set them well.

There was a purported study inaccurately attributed to Harvard or Yale about about the impact of setting goals. The ‘study’ concluded that 83% of the population didn’t have identified goals.  It further showed that 14% had goals but only a mere 3% of the population had written theirs down. It went on to say that years later, the 3% with written goals had earned 10 times more than everyone else. (The statistics vary based on whose interpretation of the ‘study’ you read.) As it turns out, that study never happened.

‘Facts’ aside, it reinforces the concept of writing your goals down.

An actual study conducted later by Gail Matthews, PhD at Dominican University revealed 3 important conclusions:

1. Be clear on your goals and write them down.
2. Develop a plan on how you are going to achieve them.
3. Develop an accountability mechanism.

I haven’t conducted a study. However, I have been active in the performance improvement and performance enhancement field for a surprisingly long time (read, “decades”).

Here’s my take on the 5 critical components of what it takes to make magic happen.

1. Have a clear goal
OK, this is a pretty consistent first step across all platforms so I won’t spend a lot of time on it. Yet it is still one many people skip.  Don’t be one of them. ‘Nuf said?

Know where your end destination is, whether its later today or later in life. Pick a specific, measurable ‘what’ you will accomplish and a ‘by when’ it will be done.

2. Know your “Why”
Knowing why you want to achieve the goal is at least as important a motivating factor as knowing what it is you want. Accomplishing goals, especially big, hairy ones, will likely take an inordinate amount of effort. You’ll probably NOT have smooth sailing along the way, so having a deep urge, a deep longing, an important reason to continue in the face of all of the crap on the road is critical.

3. Feel your success
Imagine how you’ll feel once your end goal is reached. Will you feel fulfilled, safe, secure, happy, proud, satisfied, excited, peaceful, powerful, confident? What ever the emotion, start ‘practicing’ feeling it NOW, even before you have the ‘thing’. Don’t wait until you get there, feeling that ‘future’ emotion now will make life more enjoyable, help support your motivation factor and actually help draw in the resources, ideas and connections to help you get there.

Time will pass more easily if you’re not waiting for the future to feel good. Be that feeling now.

4. Think about how you’ll make it happen
I was listening to Brian Tracy speak at the Arizona Chapter of the National Speakers Association earlier this month. He had conducted a study of high achievers. He said there were two factors that distinguished top performers from everyone else.  First, they had big, clear goals. And, secondly, they thought constantly about how they could achieve them.

I would veer away from the idea of constantly thinking about ‘how’.  I would say, constantly focus on the ‘what’ and the ‘feeling’, but allow for the creative process, for divine intervention, coincidence, providence, unexpected inspirations to light the path forward for you.

5. Be happy now
This is related, but slightly different that point 3. The tip here is to focus on things that RIGHT NOW are going well: things your grateful for, things you’re happy about TODAY.

I was listening to Marshall Sylver, host of the Million Dollar Television Network. He was also talking about focus and achieving goals.  He said  “You get what you focus on.” So instead of focusing on all of your problems, focus on what you want more of in your life.

Pharrel Williams also was definitely on to something with his inspired song, Happy. The words, energy and message resonated with people around the world. The song extols the virtues of being happy.

In one verse, he describes the feeling of letting things roll off his back. “…Here come bad news, talkin’ this and that. Give me all you got, don’t hold it back. I  should probably warn you, I’ll be just fine. No offense to you, don’t waste your time. Because I’m happy!”

So, to quote another song from way back, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Focus on what matters. Your goals, your dreams, your happy, grateful, positive feelings and what you want are what really matters.

5 Critical Concepts for Business Growth & Profitability

People often go in business for themselves because they have a special knack or interest in something. They soon realize however, that that knack is not the only thing they need to be a success.

There are many internal factors that influence how fast or how big a company will grow. If the owner doesn’t acknowledge and attend to those critical factors, they are setting their burgeoning enterprise up for potential failure or enduring mediocrity

The most critical factors often aren’t always obvious but I’m ready to share them with you right now to help you navigate the perils and enjoy the benefits of business ownership.

Here are 5 simple, yet critical concepts you MUST master if you are to experience the growth and profitability you desire.

1. Know your strengths and deficits – intimately
When you’re crystal clear about your skills, you can leverage them to move mountains. You can also use them to counterbalance your weaknesses. When you’re working in your blind spots, you’ll struggle to accomplish goals. You’ll try to do things you shouldn’t and fail to delegate profitably.

2. Work within your value system
The whole point of being in business for yourself is to more closely control your own destiny. Without a thorough assessment of what’s important to you, day-to-day and for the long haul, you rob yourself of bringing in experiences that will create the fulfillment you need. Once they’re clearly articulated, your chance for fulfillment increases dramatically.

3. Understand the marketspace you operate in
When you target the highest possible level of clientele for your product or service, your fees have room to expand. When you clearly distinguish yourself from the competition, people will seek YOU out.  If you go to market blindly, you run the risk of stepping into a crowded space, missing out on opportunities to leverage your company’s unique advantages and not being prepared internally for growth.

4. Have a variety of sources of revenue
You’ve probably heard about the importance of diversifying your investments. Well, your business is one of the most important investments you own.  While you can make a great living selling just one product or service, with more options, you’re likely to improve your revenue stream.  During the recent recession, many businesses had to expand their offerings to appeal to additional markets. Even as the economy recovers, having various offers for various kinds of customers can help maintain your revenue stream. Just remember to not diversify to far afield. If that happens, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and becoming ineffective in your efforts.

5. Utilize your time in the most effective manner possible
It’s tempting to work on that which is easy, comfortable and familiar. Unfortunately, those kinds of activities rarely lead to outstanding results. “Magic occurs outside our comfort zone.” Work in your personal ‘sweet spots’, delegate the rest and focus on the highest profit potential activities possible.

These concepts are critical for your success. Implement them and practice them consistently. They will pave the road to profitability for your business

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7 Requirements to Turn a Dream into a Business

One of the things I hear over and over again when I work with my clients is “Wow!” I never thought of that!”

There’s something about the process of talking out loud with another person skilled in thought facilitation that generates insight, creativity and innovation that simply isn’t possible on one’s own.

A recent new client spent an afternoon with me sorting out the ideas in her head about the business she dreamed of launching.

To quote her, “We’re caught in our own heads and world and thoughts. We need an outside agent to pull the ideas out.

As I evaluate what it is I consistently do that evokes the sparking of new ideas that provoke committed and inspired action, I’ve boiled it down to seven things.

1) A proven process
Depending on the client’s goal, one or more of several processes are employed to guide the client toward the desired end result. Whether it’s defining the perfect market, evaluating your readiness for the venture or surveying the competitive landscape, you can’t just have a random, meandering conversation that goes nowhere.

Surely there must be flexibility in the system, but having a definitive track to start on, helps the process flow smoothly.

2) Mirrored thought
Ideas when articulated become more clear. Even faulty thinking is identified more rapidly when expressed out loud.

Often just repeating what someone says makes them come to grips with it’s truth or fallacy.

3) Shared observations and recommendations
Years of experience in banking, technology, marketing and management have generated a practical perspective and literally thousands of opinions :-)  on a variety of topics that can be invaluable to someone who isn’t quite sure how to proceed on their quest. Well-informed counsel can make life easier.

4) Appropriate doubt
“Are you sure about that?”. Another client was about to take action that was fundamentally a good idea, but about to be implemented without appropriate research and advice. Questioning her encouraged her to seek other professional advice that equipped her with the proper strategies and approach to protect her investment in her business.

We are enamored with our own ideas. The intent here is not to rain on anyone’s parade, but to help avoid the pitfalls of certain decisions. By identifying potential risks in advance, plans can be made to minimize them or avert certain situations altogether.

5) Support that evokes commitment
By the same token, we sometimes doubt our abilities. Belief in an idea and the person holding it will go a long way to building their confidence for making it happen. Think about it. When some has believed in you, didn’t you feel you could conquer the world?

6) Action planning
All of the brilliant insights are of little use if not applied in the real world. Goals are accomplished one step at a time. Knowing what those steps are keeps you from procrastinating or wasting time flailing around on non-productive activities.

7) Follow up and follow through
Most people are more likely to get something done if they’ve told someone else they will do a thing. When commitments are made and kept privately, there is too much temptation to let them slip or to replace them with some other activity.

Going public with your goals and reporting on your journey will help ensure that the journey actually happens. Getting support and coaching along the way, empowers the experience of accomplishment.

I believe accountability makes magic happen. When we’re held accountable for making progress on our dreams, it opens the door to a life of purpose, fulfillment and prosperity.” -Loretta Love Huff

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How to Know If Your Business Loves YOU

There are several prerequisites for having a business that loves you as much as you love being a business owner.

It’s tempting to delude yourself into accepting less than you deserve because you’re so enamored with the concept of being a business owner.

The reality of it can be a much different story.

When we live in a state of delusion, we’ll accept less than we deserve. We put up with and tolerate behavior that is not conducive to our well-being.

So how do you know if your business is being true to you? How do you know if it’s putting you above all else? How do you know if it would take a bullet for you?

“What’s a body to do?”, you ask.

Establish criteria and expectations that will allow you to lead a lifestyle that inspires you.

1. Schedule vacations

Without proper planning, you could end up working throughout the entire year. When you do your business planning (you DO do that don’t you?), decide how much time you want to take off and then block it out on your calendar. You don’t have to know where you’re going to go (although that helps), you just need to commit to when.

2. Work in your sweet spot

Most people go into business because of a passion or area of expertise thinking that’s how they’ll spend most of there time. Then they realize there is so much more that’s required in running a business. When you’re new you may not be able to afford all of the help you need, but before you think you CAN afford it, start outsourcing tasks you hate or aren’t good at. Doing so will actually free you up to be more creative and thus afford you the time to work on things that will generate more sales.

3. Value your time an expertise

You deserve to be paid what you’re worth. Focus on sharing your gifts with others for recompense in addition to the pure joy of it. Don’t undervalue your knowledge and passion. People need your unique perspective and want help from someone who knows more than they do.

4. Work with people you adore

This is definitely one of the big perks of being in business. You get to choose your ideal clients. This is particularly true if you’re in a service business. You target the kind of folk you want to work with. You don’t have to make an ‘offer’ to everyone if you’re not interested. Or, you could add a premium to the price so it feels more palatable to you. I don’t strongly recommend that option. It’s one thing to charge more for work you enjoy less. It seems almost mean to do it for such personal reasons as not liking someone. Just say ‘no’ and move on.

5. It pays you well

I remember talking with a graphic designer 20 years ago when I first started my jewelry design business. I sold hand-crafted earrings and necklaces at Art & Wine festivals in northern California. As we were chatting about my new business (I was very excited), I revealed how much I paid in entrance (booth) fees for the more popular shows. Her reaction was “Oh. I guess you’re happy to just break even.”

I looked at her in dismay. “No”, I said. “I almost always make a substantial profit. And on those occasions when I don’t, I know it’s an aberration and I don’t do that particular show again (unless it was just rained out which was a rare occurrence).

Pristine Beach East Zanzibar
Image via Wikipedia

That jewelry business paid for a 3 1/2 week trip to Tanzania for a safari, a week in Zanzibar and a week in the ‘bush’ with the Masai. It was a great way to start off in the business world. And even today, my pricing reflects the value I provide to my clients not just the minimum to ‘break even’ and cover the bills.

So, if your business loves you, you’ll enjoy your work and your clients. You’ll have time to relax and enjoy live.

You’ll be valued by your clients and you’ll be paid what you’re worth.

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