Growthink Blog

Confronting Our Conventional Wisdoms…through Research


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Last week, I wrote about the peaks to valleys to peaks flow of a typical strategic planning session, and how without this Breakdowns leading to Breakthroughs flow it is difficult to attain truly actionable projects and to-do's from the discussion.

Now, planning sessions run like this are always good, but to make them great a critical ingredient needs to be stirred in.

That ingredient is research - into a business’ industry, market, and customers, and into and about the other businesses competing for those customers.

Research that goes beyond the "obvious” and digs in and gathers intelligence on what is important right now to customers and competitors.

And almost always, the only way to get it is through a primary research undertaking.

To be clear, secondary research involves surveying information, reports, and data that has already been collected - by professional research organizations like IBIS, Frost, IDC, and Euromonitor and as found in Trade and business publications like the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company, TechCrunch, et al.

A lot of it, especially as done by organizations like the above, is insightful, and given the choice between no research or secondary market research only, then of course we choose the latter.

Primary research, in contrast, involves directly surveying an industry, customer, and/or competitor contact list that we as the business principals design and determine.

This points to the first benefit of the primary approach: To do it we first need to develop a list of questions to be answered!

This need - to distill the business problem into questions that an anonymous third-party can (and will!) understand and answer - is beneficial even if no one answers the questions!

Now we do want and expect answers to our questions, which leads to the next benefit of the primary approach: creating the right Survey Contact List requires us to think hard about whose opinion is truly important to us as an individual business.

This then forces us to confront our Conventional Wisdom - those individual and group biases, prejudices and stuck thinking that so impede entrepreneurship and innovation.

Yes, research like this takes more time and effort than just basing decisions on one's gut or on a cursory Google search.

And because it is hard, most executives don’t do it and their strategic decisions are just okay as a result.

We, however, strive for much more than okay.

The precision of thought and hard work that primary research requires are both their own reward and far more often than not it pays for themselves immediately…

…in new market and customer ideas and contacts, in competitive intelligence, in strategic “aha” moments and breakthroughs that are the lifeblood of business growth.

I encourage you to try it for your best business challenges and opportunities.

And leave the “just okay” to your competitors.


5 Questions You Must Answer to Profit from Public Speaking


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If you want to generate new leads and sales, consider public speaking. Assuming you’re not deathly afraid of speaking in public, below are answers to the five most common questions about using public speaking to grow your business.


1. Where should I speak?


In determining where to speak, the goal is to speak in whatever venues will get you in front of the most target customers.

This could range from local organizations such as your local Chamber of Commerce to national trade associations. Simply brainstorm events in which your target customers attend.

Then, contact the event organizers and ask them to consider you as a speaker. For annual events, there is often a place on their website where you can apply to speak.


2. What should I talk about?


Figuring out what to talk about is fairly easy. Figure out the questions and problems your customers are having, and speak directly to that.

For example, let's assume your company provides outsourced customer service. To begin, you'd want an audience primarily comprised of business owners. Since you know they probably have questions about how to provide better customer service, a great topic would be “5 tips to improve customer service.” For each tip, you would include good and bad examples.

Importantly, in giving such a presentation, you will naturally promote your company's service (as the "good" examples will be ones that your organization has done) without directly pitching the audience.

As you can imagine, such a presentation would generate new leads and sales without you having to be "salesy."


3. Where do I get material for my presentation?


This part is easier than you think. Once you determine your topic, brainstorm everything you can think of that it entails. With the customer service example, you can discuss costs, delivery & fulfillment, billing, refunds, returns & exchanges, technical support, customer phone support, etc.

Since you are already an expert in your business, the information is probably already in your head.


4. How do I overcome my fears of public speaking?


Don’t create your presentation all at once. Rather, keep a journal for a couple of weeks in which you collect ideas and tips you’ll want to share. Then, assemble this information into an outline for your presentation. You don't have to write it out word for word. Rather, develop a slide presentation that guides you through your talk.

Of critical importance is to never add more than 30 or so words per slide. You want attendees focusing on you, not reading your text.

Practice giving your presentation by yourself so you can pause and think about how it sounded along the way. Then have someone else listen to you in order to give feedback.

When the day comes, relax and remember to talk as if you're on the phone with a friend. You don't have to hold eye contact with anyone in the audience, and they'll forgive you for any blunders as long as you're sincere and interesting. Remember that your audience is there to learn from you, not to critique you as a public speaker.


5. How do I get the most value from public speaking?


To get the most value from public speaking, do the following:

a) Get contact information from your prospects. The easiest way to do this is to tell the audience to email you if they want a copy of your slide presentation. This will result in a large email list of qualified prospects.

b) Invite prospective customers to hear you speak. Having them attend will give you great credibility (you actually gain great credibility even if they don’t attend) which will help close more sales.

c)  Have someone record a video of you speaking at the event. As appropriate post all or part of the video on your website and/or on social media sites. The video will give you more credibility and position you as an industry expert.

d) Make sure you bring lots of business cards to hand out and budget time after your presentation to speak with attendees. Typically, after you present, several attendees will come up to you with questions and you want to be prepared.

Public speaking is an excellent way to find and secure new customers, employees, partners, investors and so on. Follow the advice in the five answers above so you can reap these key benefits for your business.


Suggested Resource: Public speaking is a great way to increase your company's credibility and get new clients. For even more "publicity" methods to grow your business, check out Growthink's Publicity Playbook.


Breakdowns Leading to Breakthroughs!


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In my work I often get to lead strategic and business planning sessions and retreats with some amazingly dynamic and thoughtful entrepreneurs and executives.

These past seven days have been particularly rich in this regard.

Last week, I led a retreat day for the executive management team of one of California's and fastest - growing construction management firms, and on Monday did so for one of the oldest receivable management agencies in the world.

These sessions follow a common pattern: A company’s leaders set growth goals, for sales, profits, company value, and/or on a company, division, product/service basis…

…and then together they grapple with both their realism and the marketing, sales, operational, and financial challenges to be overcome to achieve them.

Through this process, the original goals are revisited, adjusted up or down (or completely rethought!), and almost always brought into plain daylight is the need for profound change - organizationally and at the individual level - for there to be any reasonable probability of their achievement.

There is a common energy dynamic to these sessions that was best described at a famous (or infamous!) empowerment seminar I attended many years ago:

Breakdowns Lead to Breakthroughs.

No matter the industry, the age or level of success or sophistication of the executive group, inevitably the course of a serious strategic discussion follows a “peak to valley to peak” flow like this:

The Opening. The session starts, the group is fresh, full of enthusiasm, energized by being together and by the yet to be discovered business possibilities.

The Breakdown. The first blush recedes, the discussion turns to considerations (of time, money, talent) and of obstacles - competition, market/customer apathy, operational inefficiencies.

Energy drains from the room, creases of doubt and worry spread.

The Breakthrough. When hope is about gone, someone suggests something…

…an idea, a strategy, a new way of approaching/defining/verbalizing the opportunity, the selling proposition, the competitive advantage.

The suggestion is taken up by the group, augmented, permutated, solidified. Heads nod, eyes lock, adrenaline surges.

The group arrives, miraculously, to another place. Different from what had been anticipated for sure but usually far more actionable.

Let me say it again: this emotional “roller coaster" is common to almost all strategic gatherings, and I would venture to say that without it the ability of a group to define and commit to the business action plans that flow from the discussion is limited.

A common question asked is, "How long must we be in breakdown until we get to breakthrough?"

The answer of course, is it depends. Sometimes the breakdown is only a matter of minutes, other times it lasts months.

However, a good measurement of an executive’s effectiveness is his or her ability to get to and move through breakdowns rapidly.

Is it better to have strategic sessions led by an outside facilitator or done in-house?

Well, just like all Olympic gold medalists that have great coaches, so do great business leaders have advisors that help them move through breakdowns and to breakthroughs faster.

So do strategic retreat and planning sessions often and right, more breakthroughs will be had and your business will soar.

Getting to all this is worth a breakdown every now and then, isn't it?


How to Protect Yourself from Bad Press


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Publicity is an extremely powerful form of marketing. If customers say positive things about you, particularly online, many new customers will learn about you and possibly buy your product or service.

Likewise, if the media covers your company, not only will more customers hear about you and possibly purchase your offerings, but it gives your company an implied endorsement and additional credibility.

However, the opposite can be true. That is, having customers and/or the media say negative things about you and your company could lead to its downfall. Below are 3 strategies to protect yourself from such negative publicity.

1. Take care of your customers

This first strategy is pretty obvious, but often overlooked. The challenge is that sometimes entrepreneurs get too focused on maximizing profits that they forget about the needs of their customers.

Customers are the lifeblood of any business, so take care of them. The more satisfied your customers are, the more likely they will be to spread positive messages about your company.

2. Respond to customer complaints


No matter how customer-centric you are and no matter how great your product or service, some customers won’t love it. Sometimes these customers are negative by nature or maybe they simply had a bad experience. For example, I’ve often looked at reviews for restaurants I love and have seen at least some negative reviews.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you need to respond to customer complaints wherever they appear, from in your inbox to social media sites, etc. Doing so allows you to solve the issue and satisfy the customer, and/or at least let other customers know that you stand by your offering and support your customers.

In many cases, for example, I’ve seen customers complain online with regards to products they wrongfully bought (they purchased the wrong item to suit their needs). By posting that information, in a nice way of course, online, your company explains the negative remark and gains credibility with prospective customers.

3. Create your own media


A final way to protect yourself from bad press, and in fact ensure positive press, is to write articles yourself.

Clearly, if you are the author of articles appearing in the media, they’re not going to say negative things about you. On the contrary, any articles you write give you and your company great credibility.

I’ve been using this strategy for years. Many years ago I started publishing articles on article submission sites like Ezine Articles. As I gained more expertise and a track record, I started contacting editors at bigger news sources requesting they publish my articles. Today, I regularly contribute to Forbes, Entrepreneur and AllBusiness. I also frequently contribute articles to smaller magazines and blogs.

Don’t like to write? Well, these days, that’s not really important. You can simply come up with a topic that customers want to know about, and dictate your expertise on the topic into a microphone or your mobile phone. You can then email your recording to a dictating service or to a freelancer who will transcribe and edit it into a great article.

Once you have the article (and/or beforehand), contact websites, blogs, newspapers, magazines, trade journals, etc. who might be interested in your article to convince them to publish it.

You might have heard the expression that there’s no such thing as bad press. This is true to the extent that it’s always great to have media spread the word about your company so new potential customers hear about you. But clearly, positive press is far superior to negative press, so start using these 3 strategies today to get positive press that yields new customers, more sales and improved profits. For further strategies and step-by-step guidance to getting tons of great publicity for your business, check out my Publicity Playbook course.


7 Habits of Highly Wealthy Entrepreneurs


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In writing his book, "Rich Habits - The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals," author Thomas C. Corley studied the daily habits of hundreds of wealthy and poor people.

He defined wealthy people as those earning at least $160,000 annually and owning assets of at least $3.2 million. Conversely, he defined poor people as having an annual income below $30,000 and less than $5,000 in assets.

Read below to see the stark differences between the two groups.


1) Maintain a to-do list

  • 81% of wealthy does this
  • 9% of poor does this


Answer for successful entrepreneurs: Maintain a To Do List


2) Wake up 3+ hours before work

  • 44% of wealthy does this
  • 3% of poor does this


Answer for successful entrepreneurs: Most entrepreneurs pretty much work all the time, and clearly work more than the general 9-5 work day. I prefer highly organized work to a ton of work. But either way, you need to put in the hours to succeed as an entrepreneur.


3) Listen to audio books during commute

  • 63% of wealthy does this
  • 5% of poor does this


Answer for successful entrepreneurs: Educate yourself during your commute. EVERY single one of the video training products I offer has an audio download component so you can listen to them during your commute. Yes, I did this on purpose.


4)  Network 5+ hours or more each month

  • 79% of wealthy does this
  • 16% of poor does this


Answer for successful entrepreneurs: Network more. Networking is a great way to meet great people who can become: investors, mentors, advisors, customers, employees, partners, etc. If you need more of any of these things, then network more.


5)  Read 30+ minutes or more each day

  • 88% of wealthy does this
  • 2% of poor does this

Answer for successful entrepreneurs: Read at least 30 minutes each day. Here I’m probably preaching to the choir, since you’re reading this essay of mine - good job!


6) Live a healthy lifestyle

Eat less than 300 junk food calories per day

  • 70% of wealthy does this
  • 3% of poor does this


Exercise aerobically four days a week

  • 76% of wealthy does this
  • 23% of poor does this


Answer for successful entrepreneurs:
Treat your body well. You need the physical and mental energy to succeed.


7) Use television smartly

Watch one hour or less of TV every day

  • 67% of wealthy does this
  • 23% of poor does this


Watch reality TV

  •  6% of wealthy does this
  •  78% of poor does this

Answer for successful entrepreneurs: Don’t watch too much television and when you do, don’t watch garbage.


The final, and most important habit for the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs is that they have built and sold their companies. Of Americans with a net worth of $5 million or more, an overwhelming 80% of them are entrepreneurs who have sold their businesses.

So, in summary (and feel free to print this out):
   1. Maintain a To Do list
   2. Wake up early/work hard
   3. Listen to audio books during your commute
   4. Network more
   5. Read 30+ minutes each day
   6. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
   7. Don’t watch too much (or garbage) television
   8. Build a sellable business


When you think about it, none of this is really that hard. Yes, YOU can do it!


Is 80% Good Enough?


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This weekend, I read The 80% Solution – a great e-book by famed business coach Dan Sullivan in which he makes the case that “perfectionism” is a misunderstood and under-reported “enemy” of successful entrepreneurship.

Per the title of his book, Sullivan's suggestion to combat this is simple yet profound - just work to get a task / a project / an idea to “80% done and out” and far more often than not that will be more than good enough.

Now, of course, the author makes the necessary disclaimers.

Like an “80% done right” heart surgery or an “80% safe” airplane, or products with 20% defect rates are obviously recipes for disaster.

But for the vast majority of us, cultivating this 80% mindset will do us a world of entrepreneurial good.

Because…

1. Most Stuff Doesn't Work. The sad reality is that most business initiatives - no matter how good our intentions or how brilliant we might think they are, and whether they be new products, new marketing strategies, new hires, process improvements - don't work.

The market greets new products with apathy (big yawns).

Process improvements don’t move the bottom line. The most likely return on a new hire…is exactly what you pay him or her.

For sure, some ideas are revolutionary and transformative, but everyone has to cycle through a lot of duds.

So the more we are able to increase our throughput - to throw spaghetti against the wall as fast and furiously as possible - far more often than not, we are the better for it.

2. Energy. Modern knowledge work, with its infinite distractions and always-on nature, is exhausting.

Maybe not so obviously as exhausting as hard physical labor, but exhausting nonetheless.

And, given that so much of it involves a series of virtual interactions with other knowledge workers facing similarly exhausting electronic loads, accelerating our “personal supply chain” via an “80% and out” mindset reduces insidious energy drains like long e-mail back-and-forths, projects extending beyond timelines and conference calls that just drone on and on.

Taking the “80% is Enough” mindset to all of it can free our energy and re-create a lightness and fluidity to our work like when it was fresh and new.

3. 80% is Fun. A great read in this same vein is Happy Brain Chemicals by Lorreta Breuning. Among its eye-opening findings as to the nature of our “mammalian brains,” Breuning talks about the power of the neurochemical dopamine and its influence on our wants and decision-making.

Dopamine can best be described as the neurochemical of anticipation and excitement.

It is that feeling one has right before one takes a bite of a chocolate cake, or the moment right before the kickoff of the Super Bowl (or for those Patriots fans of ours, the moment right when Malcolm Butler makes that interception!).

We all crave dopamine, and as such, we all crave excitement.

And excitement, because of dopamine, is dependent on “new stuff” - new projects, tasks, relationships, and the like.

“80% is Good Enough” frees up bandwidth for more new stuff to be anticipated and experienced.

And thus more fun.

So think “80% is Good Enough” and be more productive, and have more energy and more fun each and every day.

What beats that?


What CEOs Want


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This week, Axial came out with a great report on the challenges and opportunities facing small and middle market businesses in 2015.

Compiled from interviews with over 100 CEOs, it is chalk full of great nuggets like:

The #1 Thing keeping CEOs up at night is "finding capital to grow their businesses." This challenge has many dimensions - from receivables and cash flow, to commercial banks (in spite of the strong economy) still mostly on the sidelines, to the availability of private equity and other forms of risk capital to fund growth initiatives.

Also ranked high on the list was properly "training, educating, and rewarding" employees.

A great white paper by AGC Partners sheds modern light on this challenge, specifically how technology innovations are “incentivizing and enabling individuals to monetize their skills, time, and possessions like never before.”

Companies like Odesk, 99Designs, and Guru are empowering skilled designers, coders, consultants, and marketers to offer their services to buyers directly, on an as needed, per project basis.

How does this relate to the talent challenges of small businesses?

First, by the simple fact that a lot of talented people - who 10 to 15 years ago would have been available for / interested in traditional W-2 employment - are now effectively out of the traditional work force.

Second, the ease with which buyers (business & consumer) can contract for services with providers and cut out “middlemen” companies that "hire and mark up" creates a whole other level of pricing and other competitive pressures.

Luckily, far outweighing these two challenges is the massive opportunity created by this “collaborative economy” for smaller businesses to access types and qualities of talent like never before.

As I have talked about previously, entrepreneurs and executives that master the art of finding and utilizing outsourced, "shared talent" from around the world - and that let go of fixed ideas of what a company is / should be - will have business model and market opportunities open to them like never before.

Finally, the Axial report shares the startling fact, even though the overall economic prognosis for 2015 is about as good as it can get, that 66% of the CEO’s surveyed rank "market forces” and the overall buoyancies of the US and abroad economies as a top worry.

To this, I would suggest a reading of Nobel Laureate psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s seminal work on negativity bias, where he found “that people regret mistakes twice as keenly as they relish successes.”

When it comes to growth planning, Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, summed it up best when he noted that "When you point out what can go wrong, you sound smart and sophisticated, and when you emphasize what might go right, you sound naive."

It all kind of fits together: exude and embody optimism (and fight the natural propensity we all have to the opposite), conceptualize and take chances on new business models, and the money will follow.

And this is what CEOs really want, isn't it?


Entrepreneurs Should Do It Anyway


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The other day, my wife came home from a meditation class with a sheet of paper. On it was a verse written by Mother Teresa. Supposedly, these same words were written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. They were as follows:
 

    Do It Anyway
    By Mother Teresa
     
    People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
    Forgive them anyway.
     
    If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
    Be kind anyway.
     
    If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.
     
    If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
    Be honest and frank anyway.
     
    What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
    Build anyway.
     
    If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous.
    Be happy anyway.
     
    The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.
     
    Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
    Give the world the best you've got anyway.

    You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
    It was never between you and them anyway.
     

While I believe these words to be true for all people, I find them especially relevant for entrepreneurs.
 
As entrepreneurs, we have elected to take on a challenging life, and a business life that is clearly harder than that of the average worker. We must constantly take risks, and success is never guaranteed.
 
As a result, to succeed as an entrepreneur takes a special mindset and commitment. Thinking and acting like an ordinary individual will get you ordinary results. And ordinary results just don’t cut it as an entrepreneur. Unless you act extraordinary, you can’t possibly achieve the success you desire.
 
This being said, below are my entrepreneurial comments and thoughts to Mother Teresa’s writings.
 
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
 
These people may be your customers, your employees, your investors and/or your family (who I will hereafter call your “constituents”). Forgive such actions when you come across them. And try to surround yourself with people who don’t do them.

 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
 
Be kind to your constituents. If not, they will not follow you.

 
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
 
Some of your current constituents will not want to see you succeed. Succeed anyway. And create a new group of constituents as needed (perhaps a peer group or Board of Advisors) of successful people you want to emulate and who DO want you to succeed.

 
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
 
Be honest in all your dealings with your constituents. Entrepreneurs who cheat never win; it always catches up with them. If someone does cheat you, learn from it and don’t let it happen again (yet still be frank and honest).

 
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.
 
As an entrepreneur, your job is to build, build, build. Build a great company. But while building, think about ways that others will NOT be able to “destroy” you. For example, a business model in which you have customers on a subscription plan (think mobile phone service providers) is very hard to destroy. Always think about ways in which you can “lock up” customers, employees and other constituents. How can you make it so that they’ll never want to leave you?

 
If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
 
Yes, when you achieve success as an entrepreneur, many others will be jealous. And many will call you “lucky.” Yes, you’re “lucky” because you have the right attitude and mindset that allowed you to work hard and persevere. And you’re “lucky” because you invested your time reading articles (like this one) and learning the skills you needed to become a successful entrepreneur.

 
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
 
Keep doing good to your constituents. Doing good once is not enough. Continue to astound your customers, employees and others so they follow you to the finish line.
 
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
 
To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to give 100%, and keep giving it. Never surrender. Never back down. Rather, persevere and make it happen. And if the best you have isn’t enough, then get others (advisors, peers, employees) who can give alongside you so collectively you ARE able to give enough.

 
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
 
Succeeding as an entrepreneur is more about you succeeding within yourself and less about you beating out a competitor. If you are thinking and acting the right way, you will naturally surpass your competition and achieve great success.

 
Right now is the time for you to “do it anyway” and become the successful entrepreneur you’re capable of becoming!


Doing Financial Projections Right (A Five Step Process)


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Especially this time of year - when so many of us are assembling and committing to our professional resolutions and goals, questions arise as how to best develop financial (growth, revenues, and profits) projections for our businesses.

Questions including:

Should projections be “realistic” – i.e. feel “doable” and in line with past results or…

…should they be “aspirational,” not hot air by any means but also representative of goals that make us feel more than a little anxious as to our ability to attain them?

What is the actual “projections-making” process? Is Microsoft Excel my only “tool” option? How much research into customers and competitors should I do?

And perhaps most poignantly, if there is not a regulatory or shareholder requirement, why even put them together in the first place?

A great way to think about the process and purpose of financial projections is via what I call the “HMCBW” approach, i.e. examining the Historical data, then the Market conditions, then the Competition, then the “Bottoms-Up” assumptions, and finally and most importantly what management Wants.

It looks like this:

5. Let History Be Our Guide. The first thing to do in assembling projections is to evaluate what was, and was not, financially accomplished by the business in the past.

While the previous period (most usually the previous year) is usually most indicative, there is also great wisdom to be had in looking back to more chronologically distant periods as well.

This is especially important in good economic conditions like we have currently (see here and here), where the more relevant historical period might be say - the 2006/2007 period – i.e. one of similarly “frothy” macro-economic conditions.

4. How Big is My Market? Undertaking a formal and comprehensive study of a business’ industry, market, and competition usually leads to one of two results - either the target market is much smaller and less lucrative than surmised or…

…it is defined so imprecisely and broadly as to uncover faulty strategic thinking / an unsound business model.

Either outcome, both painful, naturally lead to the kind of hard introspection and business model re-positioning upon which solid financial projections (and yes ultimate business success!) depend.

3. How is the Competition Doing? We live in this most amazing time where our competitors - as part and parcel of their sales and marketing strategies - just post to the Net their business models for all to see.

Additionally, amazing tools like CapIQ, Hoovers, IBIS World, LexusNexis, Statista, and Follow.net give us inexpensive access to often shockingly accurate financial data (even profits!) on even the smallest and most secretive of private companies.

Utilizing this data as benchmarks for our projections is incredibly powerful. We do not need to be wed to how our competitors do it, but we would be foolhardy to not study and learn from them.

2. Bottoms-up! The business analytics revolution - as represented by the dozens of SaaS business process applications and productivity tools (with their incredible reporting functionality) - allows for the assembly of Bottoms-Up financial projections with an “actual data” specificity like never before.

This might look like building revenue projections based on the conversion ratios of web traffic to inquiries (phone, e-mail, text, etc.) to proposals, to sales, to retention, to ongoing revenue.

These bottoms-up models, in addition to being powerfully predictive, are also highly insightful as to the performance of various aspects of an enterprise - its marketing, its salespeople, the quality and efficacy of its products and services, etc.

1. What Does Management Want? The fuzziest - but also by far the most important factor when developing projections is just asking what management and ownership want to see happen.

What kind of revenue and profit projections will inspire and embolden? Will force to the forefront the need for breakthrough business model thinking and doing?

Answering these “inspirational” questions is massively important in assembling projections that serve the objectives of managers and owners, and not the other way around.

Historicals. Market size. Comparables. Bottoms Up. Want.

Follow this five step model in building your growth, revenue, and profit projections and watch the Manna from Heaven flow!


Who’s Your Daddy? 5 Lessons from GoDaddy


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The technology age has brought with it a long list of business related success stories.  There are plenty of cases where a small startup has managed to grow into a billion-dollar company.
 
While most people will think of companies such as Facebook and Amazon, GoDaddy.com is actually one of the greatest successes in recent history.  What started as a small company has since grown into an easily recognizable brand which owns a significant portion of its own market.
 
GoDaddy was created in 1997 as Jomax Technologies by Bob Parsons who had recently sold his other company, Parsons Technology Inc., to Intuit.
 
At the time, a company called Network Solutions was essentially the only place from which people could register domain names.  That changed in 2001, however, and GoDaddy.com quickly grew.
 
In 2005, GoDaddy.com became the world’s largest ICANN-accredited registrar on the internet.  In addition to being one of the most popular domain registrars in the world, it also offers website hosting and a whole range of business related technology solutions.
 
In 2011, 65% of the company was sold to a group of private equity firms for approximately $2.25 billion.  GoDaddy’s rapid rise to prominence and continued success are due to a few key factors.  Studying what they did right can help business owners of any type discover new ways to grow their own companies.
 
Lesson #1: User Friendly Innovation

 
Innovation has been at the heart of everything GoDaddy has done since its creation.  What it has managed to do is take something which is ordinarily very technical, in this case domain registrations, and make it appeal to a wide range of customers.
 
It was not very long ago that most people were unfamiliar with the Internet.  The idea of marketing domain registration and web hosting to everyday people was unheard of at the time.  This is part of what has made them so successful.  Their effort to bring these services to the average person effectively opened up a vast new market.
 
Lesson #2: Cutting Edge Branding

 
Part of what has made GoDaddy so successful is its ability to create a readily identifiable brand.  Nearly every person on the Internet has heard of GoDaddy and a majority of sites are registered with the company.
 
The power of this brand has come from its extensive advertising.  Buying up expensive advertising space during events like The Super Bowl, GoDaddy made a name for itself with racy and often controversial marketing efforts.  Its commercials, utilizing seductive women and star athletes, brought a sexy and exciting feeling to what could otherwise be a dry and technical company.
 
Lesson #3: Soups-to-Nuts Offering
 

GoDaddy is far from just a domain registrar.  It offers a number of services including website hosting and ecommerce solutions.  This has helped make it successful because it essentially offers everything someone might need when starting a website.
 
The domain can be registered, the site hosted, the platform installed, and upgrades can be added as needed.  When a customer comes to GoDaddy for domain registration they immediately have access to everything else.  This allows the company to offer upsells and products with recurring payment options that are relevant to what customers have already purchased.
 
Lesson #4: Customer Service in Layman’s Terms

 
GoDaddy’s customers may not always be experts at information technology.  There are a number of different problems that a customer might run into.  GoDaddy has made a point of offering outstanding customer service that explains complex technology solutions in layman’s terms.
 
Due to its high level of customer service, in a way customers understand, GoDaddy.com has become one of the most trusted hosts and registrars around.
 
Lesson #5: Upfront, Competitive Pricing

 
Unlike make technology service providers who bury prices in obscure parts of their website or require a call for a quote, GoDaddy publishes its prices very visibly.
 
Furthermore, its pricing is competitive, and it has prepared numerous product bundles to make it easy for customers to find what they need.
 
Rather than demanding money for a number of different services, almost everything is optional and customers can spend as little or as much as they want.  This competitive pricing, coupled with constant discounts and coupons, has made it difficult for other companies to compete.
 
What to Take from This

 
Owners of businesses of any type can learn a lot from the GoDaddy.  Its rapid rise to the top is something which is enviable in any industry and implementing a few of its key strategies can help any business.  While not every company will have a budget as large as GoDaddy, there are still several concepts, discussed below, which can be useful.
 
A. Challenge Accepted Notions
 

At a time when many people were still unfamiliar with the Internet, GoDaddy targeted their advertising towards regular, every day people.  This was a risky move, at the time, but actually showed incredible foresight.
 
Look at your business model – where have you been playing safe?  Are there bolder strategies you can test?
 
B. Invest in Marketing

 
Many of GoDaddy’s biggest critics claim they bought their market dominance through expensive advertising.  While this is not entirely true, marketing has been a major source of success for it.  GoDaddy advertised mainly through inexpensive online banners for years before it was big enough to implement sexy and eye-catching ads during The Super Bowl.
 
Dust off your branding and marketing plan and review it.  Is it relevant in today’s market?  Are you getting the results you want? If not, it may time to go back to the drawing board and perhaps invest in expert guidance.
 
C. Offer Everything You Can Do Well

 
Specialization can often be a good thing in business, but the possibility of branching out into related products and services should never be ignored.  GoDaddy started as a domain registrar but soon included a variety of other services as well.
 
Offering related services can boost profits and avoid losing customers to competitors with a full-service solution.  For example, a car repair shop that doesn’t replace tires can lose their regular oil change customers when those customers need new tires and find a full-service provider.  
 
The caution is to only branch out if you can provide excellent service in all categories.  Adding more services, but doing it poorly, will hurt rather than help you grow.
 
Father Knows Best

 
GoDaddy is a familiar name on the Internet and with good reason.  Growing from a small start up to a multi-billion dollar company, it has proven it is expert at predicting future trends, understanding its intended audience, and delivering on what it promises.
 
Your job is to learn from GoDaddy.  Take the time to review your business model using the concepts in this article.  Outline steps you can take to promote your own growth, then take actions.  Carefully track your results to learn what works best in your market.
 
Over time, you will have a proven recipe for strategies that generate growth for your business.  How long before I write an article about you and your stellar success?


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