The First Thing I Learned In My Marketing Class


 

Marketing-Class

I took my first marketing course 20 years ago. And I absolutely loved it. I was in my third year at the University of Virginia, and my professor, Sandra Schmidt, was simply awesome.

She was one of those professors who loved what she did. She was always smiling, spoke with great emotion, and truly loved marketing and teaching. And on the very first day of class, I still remember to this day, she asked us two questions to test our knowledge.

The first question was whether the following statements represented good news or bad news to the companies associated with them. She then read off a few lines. The one statement that I remember was someone famous (maybe a President) asking someone else to Xerox something for them.

I immediately thought that this would have been good news for Xerox Corporation. Free PR...what could be better. But, buzzzzz...I got this one WRONG. She explained that brand names lose their registered trademark protection if they became so successful that they become commonly used.

She told us that names such as the following were all originally trademarked brand names that lost their protection: trampoline, nylon, escalator, thermos, kerosene, laser, linoleum and Frisbee (interestingly other brands such as Band-Aid and Kleenex have been able to fight this off).

The second question she asked was what business discipline most CEOs started in. This one was easy. Marketing, of course, was the answer (she had to be promoting her own course I thought). Buzzzz...wrong again. Sales was the answer.

So, I got both questions wrong. But they stayed with me. For a long time. And this second question has really helped me. It has taught me that to be an entrepreneur or CEO (which an entrepreneur is), you must be well versed in sales.

You are always selling. Selling to employees, to customers, to investors, to partner, etc.  And if you're great at it, you have a major competitive advantage.

To ensure that you are as effective as possible in your sales efforts, I want to convey to you two key points that I took away from my recent interview of Adam Shaivitz, co-author of the best-selling book called "Selling is Everyone's Business: What it Takes to Create a Great Salesperson."

1. Make sure that you are properly motivating and solving the problems of your buyers.

The best salespeople are problem solvers who are able to sell the benefits of their offerings tailored to one or more of the six basic fundamentals that all of us as humans want:

1. Desire for gain
2. Fear of loss
3. Security and protection
4. Comfort and convenience
5. Pride of ownership
6. Satisfaction of some emotion like love or hate or ego

Great sales people understand which of these six motivators are most important to their prospects, and sell into them.

2. Spend time with your best sales performers. Adam told us that too many business owners neglect their top sales performers. Rather, they tend to focus on improving their lowest performers.

There are two problems with this approach. First, working with and improving the performance of your best sales performers by only 10% may be easier and more beneficial than improving the performance of your lower sales performers by 25%. Secondly, your top sales performers are the ones that will be targeted by headhunters and other firms, and you can't afford to lose them.

------------------------------------------------------------

Get Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Bundle
for 80%-OFF

For a limited time, you can get ALL of our BEST marketing secrets for an incredible 80%-OFF discount.

On this page, you'll see everything that's included.

Right now is a GREAT time to kick your marketing into high gear, so you hit your goals for the rest of the year.

But hurry, this sale ends soon.

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Categories:
 

7 Interesting Marketing Lessons from My Broken Dishwasher


 

Interesting-Marketing-Lessons

Not too long ago, I was unloading the dishwasher.

I'm about half-way through and came to a dish that just wasn't very clean. Then another one. And so on.

Not good.

Since then, my wife and I have taken a bunch of steps to fix the problem (I'll tell you about those in a moment).

Then, this morning, I started thinking about all these steps, and noticed some interesting marketing lessons.  I figured you'd find them valuable, so I wanted to share them with you.

Step 1: The first thing I did was go to the Internet to try to solve the problem myself. I Googled "dishwasher top rack not cleaning" since the dishes on the bottom seemed fine.

I read a couple forum posts on this, and realized I didn't have the technical skills to solve this on my own.

Lesson:
Expect your customers to have some knowledge about your products or services. Note that this knowledge may not be accurate based on where they learned it (e.g., from a web forum post from Joey in Idaho).

Step 2: So, my wife called an appliance repair guy who she found by doing some local searches online.

Lesson: Make sure you (and not your competitors) are easily found online.

Step 3: The repair guy came, gave us a bill for $95.07 for showing up and diagnosing the problem. He said that it would cost about $300 to fix it, but that the dishwasher was installed in 1994 (16 year ago; well before we bought the house) and that it was probably a better bet to just buy a new one.

Lesson: The repair guy gave us advice that was good for us (don't do the repair, buy a new dishwasher) and bad for him (him losing out on the $300 charge). We decided to buy a new dishwasher. But, since he was honest and gave us good advice, we will use this repair guy again and definitely recommend him to others if ever asked. So, do the right thing now, even if you have to forego short-term profits, and you will get rewards later.

Step 4: I looked online for dishwashers. What I cared about in the purchase were the following: price, cleans well, time savings (i.e., don't need to rinse dishes before loading), looks nice (we wanted a stainless steel front), and is relatively quiet.

Lesson: not every customer cares about every feature. Many of the dishwashers promoted 9 different programs and cycles (like special cycles for glassware). My wife nor I have ever used these, so we didn't care too much about them.

Another lesson: I looked at customer reviews online to see what others said about the different dishwasher models. If you sell someone a product or service, you should follow-up with them to make sure they are satisfied (or to satisfy them if they are not satisfied). Because your customers may post their comments online (or offline) which will influence your future sales.

Step 5: I bought the dishwasher. I paid extra for installation and haul-away of my old dishwasher and bought a 3-year warranty.

Lesson: These add-on sales increased the total sales price by 24% and must have increased their profits by a lot too. And these upsells were things that I wanted. The lesson is that you must upsell your customers by offering them items that will better satisfy them.

Final lesson: My wife and I don't represent every shopper. Not every shopper goes online to try to solve a problem themselves or to compare products. Not every shopper doesn't care about certain product features. And not ever shopper is going to take your upsells.

But, make sure you figure out your main customer segments, think about how they will buy and make decisions, and create sales and marketing strategies that are in line with this.

------------------------------------------------------------

Get Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Bundle
for 80%-OFF

For a limited time, you can get ALL of our BEST marketing secrets for an incredible 80%-OFF discount.

On this page, you'll see everything that's included.

Right now is a GREAT time to kick your marketing into high gear, so you hit your goals for the rest of the year.

But hurry, this sale ends soon.

------------------------------------------------------------

Categories:
 

Improve Your Business with The Improvement Matrix


 

The Improvement Matrix

I hate to admit it, but I'm a bit of a dork.

You see, I did really well in school, so I guess I could have been considered a dork back then. But I was also a really good athlete, so that made me "cooler" and so I never got a dork label.

But I did something many years ago that clearly classifies me as a dork. What did I do? I had one of my articles published in Quirk's Market Research Review. Quirk's is a trade journal for market research professionals that mostly talks about new market research techniques and ways to tabulate data. Pretty exciting stuff, I know :-)

I think many of the other authors at Quirk's are like the guys from Revenge of the Nerds, complete with pocket protectors. But, when I submitted my article, I didn't care, because I had something important to share.

What I shared with Quirk's readers (this was way back in 1994 so they don't even have an archive of the article on their website), was what I call "The Improvement Matrix." I originally created these matrices for bigger businesses who paid big bucks for them.

But over the years, I realized they could be created much less expensively, and have HUGE value to entrepreneurs like you.

So what is the "The Improvement Matrix?"

It's simply a way of looking at your products and services and figuring out what you should improve and in what order.

Let me walk you through it. As an example, let's assume that I'm Sal. Sal's my landscaper. He frustrates me to no end since he's such a bad marketer [in fact he makes me think about getting into the landscaping business since I know I'd clean up....but I'll stop digressing].

OK. The first step is to identify what it is that your customers find most important.

So, as a landscaping customer, Sal should survey me and his other customers on the 8-12 attributes of his business that I find most important.

Maybe Sal would have chosen these attributes to survey:

1. Quality of lawn mowing
2. Quality of plant trimming
3. Offers to do additional work (e.g., clean leaves from gutters)
4. Price
5. Value (fairness of price based on quality of service)
6. Ease of billing
7. Ease of communications with company
8. Professionalism of workers

For each attribute, he should ask customers, "How important are these attributes to you in your landscaping company?"

He could have used a 4 point scale as follows:

1 - Not important
2 - Somewhat Important
3 - Very Important
4 - Extremely important

The results may have looked as follows:





As you can see, Sal's customers considered "quality of lawn mowing" and "ease of billing" to be the most important attributes. Conversely, the least important attributes were "professionalism of workers" and "offers to do additional work."

The next question on Sal's survey should have been: "How do you rate my performance on these attributes?"

He could have used a 4 point scale again as follows:

1 - Poor
2 - Fair
3 - Very Good
4 - Excellent

Importantly, Sal should judge responses to this performance question against how important the attributes are. The results may have looked as follows:




As you can see from the chart, on attributes like "value," Sal's performance is in line with importance. But, on the key attribute of "ease of billing," Sal is vastly underperforming. And, on the non- or less-important attribute of "professionalism of workers" (maybe Sal has his workers dress in formal uniforms), he is over-performing.

So, what should Sal do? Well he should clearly focus on improving his "ease of billing" since this will improve customer satisfaction. Also, if he is investing too much money and time in "professionalism of workers," he should consider re-allocating those resources to improving "ease of billing."

As you can see, the beauty of the chart, based on simply 2 sets of questions asked to customers, is that it identifies the most important areas of your product or service to fix to better satisfy customers and gain competitive advantage.

Now, a final way to look at the performance chart is as a matrix, which I call the "Improvement Matrix."  You can see the matrix below.




The Improvement Matrix is simply a different way of looking at importance vs. performance data. It plots the data and classifies each attribute into 4 quadrants:

1. Underperforming (but OK): you are underperforming in this area, but customers don't care much about it, so that's ok.

2. Overperforming: you are doing well in this area; but customers don't value it. Keep doing what you're doing, or consider allocating resources away from this area into a more important area.

3. Keep it up: these are areas that your customers care about and that you are doing well in. Keep it up.

4. Improvement Quadrant: this quadrant is the key. It shows those areas that customers find important, but for which your performance is not up to speed. You MUST get better in these areas ASAP.

As you can see, the Improvement Matrix will alert you to the key areas of your product and service that you must improve. All it requires is a simple customer survey and plotting of the data. And the results can revolutionize your business. So do it!

Suggested Resource: Would you like to know more ways to improve your business; and turn it into one worth $10 million or more? Then check out Growthink's 8 Figure Formula below.

------------------------------------------------------------

The Secret Formula to
Building a $10 Million Company

If you want to build a $10 million+ company, you must focus on building Value. And to build Value, you need to follow a specific formula.

In this video, I layout the precise formula for you.

As you watch the video, you’ll see the important schematic below:

Don’t be overwhelmed by its complexity, by the time you see it, it’ll make perfect sense. And you’ll be able to follow it to dramatically grow your business.

Click here to watch the video now

------------------------------------------------------------

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How to Add Value to Your Business


 

Add Value to your Business

If you're like me and passionately roll up your sleeves and get to work on something great for several years or more (your business), you owe it to yourself to have a final result for your efforts that is truly a masterpiece.

I'm talking about your business, once it's complete...Done...Ready to sell for as much as you can reasonably expect, often for several times its yearly earnings.

If and when it does come time to sell, you want to be selling from a position of strength-to sell it when it is at its most valuable point and not when you're burned out, in ill health, or in some other situation where you are rushed or won't make nearly as much from the sale.

Like any great work, you have to start with the end in mind, and to that end I'll be writing this to clarify just what a "sellable" business looks like.  This will give you an ideal to work towards and guide your plans and work.

Below are several things to be aware of in increasing the value of your business to yourself and potential acquirers.

Positioned in its clearly-defined niche

Your business must be the best it can be at what it does, without trying to be everything to everyone. A business that knows its customer segments, their needs and language, and how to solicit a response from them is a lot more valuable than one that is a mixture of everything, or an unknown in its market.

Coach your team to run the business without you

Could other people ever run your business without you? They'll have to, if you're selling! So why not make this your goal from Day One?

Make an organizational chart of how your business will look when it's time to sell it. List all the various workers in marketing, operations, and those they report to.  It's okay if it's just you or a handful of people currently filling all those roles. Doing this will help you organize who is going to do what in your business before you hire a new person.

Then, over time, you can find other people to fill those positions one by one until you're out of the picture.

Build relationships with customers

Goodwill, such as your reputation and brand in the minds of your current and prospective customers, is considered an asset on your company's balance sheet. You build this over time by treating people right and maintaining good relationships.

If you intend to sell your business someday, or if you just want to have the option, this is something you have to make a priority throughout the business's life. You can't just start doing it well suddenly in the final year. Relationships and recognition take time.

Make sure you're stable

Make sure you're not overly dependent on any one customer, vendor, employee, or anything else. Diversify your strengths. If you have any "whale" customers that make up a large portion of your business, try to get at least 80% of your business from other people.

The new owner does not want to take the reins and have revenues drop in half in the event your biggest customer leaves.

Maximize your revenues

This one's self-evident, but deserves to be repeated. In my last essay, I shared 4 proven ways to increase your revenues-getting more customers, increasing your average order size, get customers to buy more frequently, and finding new ways to monetize your customers and visitors.

A company with higher revenues and which shows growing revenues will be more valuable and attractive to buyers.

Hold expenses accountable

You boost your net profit (and therefore the value) by reducing your expenses. However, no one ever shrank themselves into wealth. You're not going to grow your business by keeping expenses lower-but the numbers will increase as it grows.

Your goal is to keep the percentages the same, such as keeping advertising at 20% of your revenues whether earnings are $100,000 or $1,000,000 per year. 

Basically, you'll want to make sure that budgets are made and followed, to keep spending within projected limits and to avoid costs creeping up that don't generate more revenue in return.

Keep great records for the next owner

Keep excellent records of everything for the new owner-your files, databases, customer communications, marketing materials, financial records, employee agreements-everything.

Committing to do this now will make your life so much easier between now and the time you sell. Keep good records for your own efficiency, protection, and to make your business look a lot more attractive to buyers than one where all the records are filed away in the old owner's head.

Develop a plan for when it's "done" and ready to sell

I don't want you to have plans on top of plans, but each of these will take certain actions to make them happen.  So here's what to do:  Add these end results into your existing business plan, and use your best judgment when choosing how to make each of them happen in your company.

When it's all said and done, the next few years are going to go by whether you maximize your business's value or not. At the end of, say, 5 years, would you rather have a stable, attractive, polished business ready to sell for top dollar, or be left taking what you can get for what you have?

If it seems like a lot, remember you have until the time you sell to take care of these things. You don't have to do it all now! Just add these elements I described to your vision of what you want your company to be, and keep your eye on it until the big day finally comes.

------------------------------------------------------------

The Secret Formula to
Building a $10 Million Company

If you want to build a $10 million+ company, you must focus on building Value. And to build Value, you need to follow a specific formula.

In this video, I layout the precise formula for you.

As you watch the video, you’ll see the important schematic below:

Don’t be overwhelmed by its complexity, by the time you see it, it’ll make perfect sense. And you’ll be able to follow it to dramatically grow your business.

Click here to watch the video now

------------------------------------------------------------

Categories:
 

Using Systems to Grow Your Business


 



In many franchise businesses you can see the same hamburger or service turn out the same carefully-designed way, regardless of location or the employees doing the work.

The reason why these often big businesses are able to perform an operation consistently and at a massive scale is because they use and follow systems and work processes. This means that they do the right things, in the right way.

Why Small Companies Can't Handle Growth

Unfortunately, most small businesses and entrepreneurs do the opposite. That is, they fail to create systems and business processes that coordinate routine work in a standardized way. Their style of small business management pretty much boils down to just asking their employees to come on time, and then to watch them and hope their products and services are promoted and fulfilled correctly.

Well, what does "correctly" even mean?

This is a mistake that happens all the time; most entrepreneurs think they don't need to set systems and work processes, or that it has to be done all at once in some monumental undertaking to make an employee handbook as thick as McDonald's.

Because the average small business operates with less than a few dozen employees, their managers generally believe (incorrectly) that since the business only has few people, creating and applying business systems would be a waste of time and money.

It's like saying that you don't need a system to organize your CD collection because you only have a few CDs at present. This might work in the beginning, but the problem comes when it's time for the business to grow. Then you may have 10 times the work going on, and things get chaotic. Quality goes down, morale goes down...it's a confusing mess!

Same goes for when your business has to change employees (even satisfied employees change jobs, move, or otherwise stop working for you). With no systems in place, the new employee will have a tough time doing the task correctly because "correctly" has not been defined for them or demonstrated.

The Process Determines the Results

Another reason why small businesses often lack proper processes is because their management only cares about results, rather than the processes that created them. They don't care how their employees get the job done, as long as the finished burger meets the standards.

Of course we should all be results-oriented. But sometimes having your team do something a specific way will lead to better results, higher quality, faster work, less waste, etc. In these cases, you definitely want to spell out the process for them.

When buying hamburgers from a franchise, for example, people expect it to be perfect or to at least be identical to the previous ones that the burger joint sold. If you didn't have a system or a process for making burgers (how long to freeze, how long to cook, what the toppings are and in what order to stack them, etc.) then keeping the quality up to your standards would be tough. One employee would do it one way; another employee would do it another. You would not get consistent results.

How a Systems-Run Business Looks

We've covered the disadvantages of not having small business management systems and processes, but now let's delve into what may actually happen when you do have them.

When talking about the advantages, we just have to reverse the scenarios we talked about earlier.

Imagine a business with only a handful of employees. But also imagine them following a system and doing what they were supposed to do, and doing it the right way. Costs would go down. Product and service quality would go up. Profits would soar. And your business would be simple to run. As a result, you would spend your time growing vs. simply operating your business. And tons of other businesses would want to purchase yours for a big premium.

Now imagine one employee quitting for whatever reason. The new employee wouldn't have a problem taking the old employee's place; because there would be a process to follow that everyone knows. It would have become the way you do it here.

Now that you know that systems and business processes are important, how do actually create them?

Make A Few Simple Systems Of Your Own

To create systems, it is best that you start looking at the business processes that take place in your business. Make a quick list of everything your business does, from accounting to sales.

Once you have a list, take one at a time (in order of impact to your business; the most potential impact first) and start writing down a simple checklist of actions that make it happen. Start with the beginning of the process (e.g., customer places order), then imagine the ideal outcome (customer receives perfect result), and then write down each step that should occur in between. Then write in who is responsible to do what, and estimate the costs of each step in hours and dollars. You should then have in one hand a brief write-up of how to perform the system and what it will take to do so.

Once you've designed your system, test it out once or twice before officially implementing it. Make sure your systems and processes do what they are supposed to do and nothing short of that. Perform the work yourself or watch someone closely, and pay attention to every step.

Whether it's from not knowing about systems or not making the time for it, most small business managers do not make and improve their business processes over time. But that's manager's main job -- to keep the right people running the right systems, so the company's desired results can be achieved.

If the system doesn't work...change it. If an employee will not or cannot work the system...change employees. Because once you systematize your business, it will run smoothly and it will run itself. You can then focus your efforts on growing the business, and reap the rewards of a fully systematized company.

If you want to learn more about systematizing your business, read below.

------------------------------------------------------------

The Secret Formula to
Building a $10 Million Company

If you want to build a $10 million+ company, you must focus on building Value. And to build Value, you need to follow a specific formula.

In this video, I layout the precise formula for you.

As you watch the video, you’ll see the important schematic below:

Don’t be overwhelmed by its complexity, by the time you see it, it’ll make perfect sense. And you’ll be able to follow it to dramatically grow your business.

Click here to watch the video now

------------------------------------------------------------

Categories:
 

The Luckiest People On Earth


 

The Luckiest People On Earth

This two-and-a-half-minute video has had nearly 8 million views on YouTube so far.

My sister had to stop watching it half way; it made her anxious.

I looked at it VERY differently -- from the perspective of an entrepreneur.

Here it is:

As an entrepreneur, watching this video made me think of the great quote from Samuel Goldwyn: "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

You see, that's what frustrates me about the video. I'm not a big fan of luck that's not predicated by hard work.

Because it sends the wrong message. It sends the message that you can attain success via luck. Which is sometimes, but rarely, true.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to create your own luck like Goldwyn did (Goldwyn was born in Warsaw, Poland without a penny to his name). 

You need to work hard and try lots of things. Importantly, you must realize that MOST of the things you try will fail. But with persistence, success will come. Funny enough, a lot of people consider this "luck." 

Was Edison "lucky" when he created the light bulb? Sure he was. In each of his experiments, I'm sure he hoped that he would get "lucky" and invent one which worked. If his first try would have worked, it clearly would have been at least a little lucky. But what about his second, his tenth, or his hundredth tries? Clearly, when he experimented over 1,000 times, it was hard work and not luck that prevailed.

I think that a simple timeline is one of an entrepreneur's greatest tools, and one that helps ensure that you will get "lucky" from good planning and hard work.

This timeline should start with where your business is right now. And it should end with where you want your business to be in 5 years. In creating your timeline, you should provide much more detail for the next 12 months, as you have more control over this time period. What do you hope to accomplish? What dates should you set to accomplish each goal? And so on.

By going through this exercise, you start to realize the numerous steps you'll need to take to achieve your goals. You'll start to better understand the things that might go wrong, or that might be more challenging than you initially thought. And you will have a roadmap to follow. But importantly, remember that many of your attempts will fail or take longer than planned. So build this into your timeline.

And when time passes and you attain your goals at the end of the timeline, many people will call you lucky. But you and I will know that luck had nothing to do with it!

(To improve your "luck" dramatically, have a written plan. See our featured resource below to easily make this a reality for you.)

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Do You Have A “Killer” Plan?

This simple tool gets your whole team pulling in the same direction, so you overcome your biggest business challenges.

The best part? You can get it done in 1 day.

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Entrepreneurs Don't Plan To Fail, They Fail To Plan


 

Entrepreneurs Don't Plan To Fail They Fail To Plan

I periodically read research reports about business failures. I always find them interesting, although often they are depressing.

Such as what I recently read. Which was research from Bradley University in Peoria, IL.  This research found that 70% to 80% of new businesses fail within their first year.

And while this was frustrating enough to read, the research further stated that half of those companies which do survive the first year will fail within the next four years.

Now, let's turn to the cause of this failure. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the number one cause of this failure is lack of business planning.

What this essentially means is this: entrepreneurs and business owners don't plan to fail; rather, they fail to plan (which causes them to fail).

In my view, there are two types of business plans. The first is the business plan you must create when you start your company. The purpose of this plan is to ensure you have fully thought through your venture.

Among other things, this plan includes significant market research. It assesses your market size to ensure the opportunity is big enough. It analyzes customer segments to confirm that customer needs match your company's proposed product and/or service offerings. And it analyzes the competition to determine how your company will position itself and how you will most effectively compete.

From a strategic standpoint, the business plan must document your marketing plan (how you will secure customers), your human resources plan (who you will hire) and your operations plan (what key milestones you will accomplish and when).

When you're done, your business plan will confirm your market opportunity and give you a roadmap to follow. It will also be required should you wish to gain funding from investors and lenders.

Now, once your business is up-and-running, you still need a business plan in order to succeed. I refer to this type of business plan as a "strategic plan." I term it as such because this type of plan requires much less research (since you already know who your customers are, the market fundamentals, and lots of information about your competitors). Rather, the focus of this plan is strategy.

Specifically, this plan needs to identify precisely:

1. Where you want your company to be in five years

2. What you need to accomplish within the next year to progress you to that point, and

3. What your strategy is to complete your key milestones in the next 12 months

In determining the optimal strategies, you need to consider your company's strengths, and opportunities that can best leverage them. If you don't take time to do this, you become too tactical. That is, you continue to use the same tactics that have gotten you to the point you are at. And oftentimes, the strategy and tactics that got you where you are today are NOT the strategy and tactics that will get you to the next level.

So, spend time figuring out the best strategies to follow. The good news is that you've already proven you can execute on strategies (which is what got you to where you are now).

After you figure out the big picture opportunities to go after (which often fall into the categories of further penetrating your existing market, going after a new market, or creating new products/services for existing and/or new markets), you need to revisit the three core strategies you developed in your initial business plan.

To start, you need to modify your marketing plan. Importantly, your marketing plan should always be adding new marketing channels (e.g., direct mail, print, radio, search engine optimization, etc.) as the more channels you have, the more customers you will get and the less risk you have of one channel losing effectiveness (think about businesses who used to get all their customers from the yellow pages).

Next, consider your human resources strategy. What new people will you need to hire to accomplish your key goals in the coming years? And finally, you need to develop your operations strategy. Figure out what key tasks and milestones you need to accomplish over the next year and break them down into smaller projects that you and your team must accomplish. And then create a master schedule showing who, how and when these projects will be completed (I like using a Gantt chart to do this).

To achieve maximum success in your business, create a business plan when you start your company, and annually create a strategic plan to grow your company.

The planning process will force you to focus on accomplishing the right things in your business. Since even if you execute flawlessly, if you are executing on the wrong strategies and opportunities, success will elude you.

------------------------------------------------------------

Do You Have A “Killer” Plan?

This simple tool gets your whole team pulling in the same direction, so you overcome your biggest business challenges.

The best part? You can get it done in 1 day.

Click here to create a "killer" plan today.

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7 Ways to Terrorize Your Competition


 

7 Ways to Terrorize Your Competition

One of my favorite movie lines, which I think about often, comes from the 1993 movie Rudy. In his pre-game inspirational talk in the film, Notre Dame football coach Dan Devine says, "No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around."

Yet, this happens all the time in our businesses.

We let competitors push us around. We let them steal our customers. We let them push our prices and margins down. And we let them dictate how we run our businesses.
 
So how do we stop this? How do we dictate how competitors need to act? And to go even further, how can we terrorize our competition so they don't even want to compete with us?

Here are 7 of my favorite ways:

1. Know More Than Them

By investing in the latest education, you will always have an edge on your competitors (assuming they don't also do this). Learning the best new techniques in sales, marketing, operations, finance, HR, etc. will allow you to outperform your competition on multiple fronts.

2. Create a Vision and Stick to It

Spend the time to create a solid vision of the company you want to create. For example, my vision at Growthink is to become the number one place where entrepreneurs go for assistance starting and growing their companies.

When you have a solid vision, you will not make knee-jerk reactions to your competitors' actions. Rather they will react to you. Also, while competitors' actions may cause you to shift your strategies, if you have a set vision, you will spend less time strategizing and more time executing.

3. Really Listen to Your Customers

One of my favorite quotes is from marketing expert Jay Abraham which goes, "Your customers are geniuses; they know exactly what they want."

By spending more time listening to the needs of your customers, you will create better products and services than your competitors.

4. Focus on Customer Retention

Focus more on retaining your customers than getting new ones. Studies have shown that it costs up to 7 times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. The profit is in retaining customers and selling them more things (that they need) over time.

Let your competitors fail to make profits, burn out, and go out of business by exclusively focusing on acquiring new customers.

5. Hire Right

As you grow your business, the less "doing" (e.g., building the product or providing the service to the customer) you will do and the more "managing" you will do. So your success will be put into the hands of those you hire. Spend the time to hire right and to train them well. And if you ever have the concern, "what happens if I train them and they leave?" then think the opposite, "What happens if you don't train them and they stay."

6. Create Systems

I heard the following acronym definition of "system" at a conference last week (yes, I am practicing what I preach and constantly invest in my own education).

The definition is:

Save
Your
Self
Time
Energy &
Money

Yes, systems may take time to develop. But once you've developed them, you will save time, energy and money on an ongoing basis.

7. Do Something Your Competition Would Have a Hard Time Duplicating

I know of one business that has an extremely rigorous client development process. Among other things, it consists of 6 months of pre-written emails sent to prospects twice per week, and weekly letters and packages sent to them in the mail. The process works extremely well, and not only would it take competitors 6 months to learn their systems, but creating a similar program would be a significant undertaking.

Other companies create a host of niche products that make it harder for a new competitor to enter their market. For example, if someone wanted to compete against Growthink with a capital raising product, it would be hard for them as we offer a product for raising angel capital, a product for raising venture capital, a product to get loans, a product to get grants, etc.

So, think about how you could create a company that your competitors can't replicate. In doing so, your competitors will be at a huge disadvantage. Also in doing so, you will become a great acquisition candidate for larger companies who realize it's easier to buy what you've developed than try to recreate it themselves.

8. (Bonus) Document Your Strategy in a Written Plan

There is countless research showing that those with written plans achieve significantly more success than those who don't.

See the featured resource below for help in quickly and easily creating a killer plan.

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Boost Accountability & Boost Results


 

Boost Accountability & Boost Results

Accountability has been a buzzword in the business world for some time. Unfortunately, most of us have a negative association with the word. We often use it as if it means blame and punishment, as in "Who is accountable for this mistake?" So we unconsciously try to avoid it.

The truth is that accountability is unavoidable. In the workplace, everyone is accountable to someone. As an entrepreneur or business owner, you are accountable to your business' success, and to your customers, investors, and employees.

Now, what if being accountable was empowering for you and your employees? Research indicates that rather than a negative force, holding people accountable for their actions and results has very positive effects on morale and performance.

For your employees, an environment of accountability produces vigilant problem-solving, better decision-making, and greater job satisfaction. With an environment of accountability, employees can develop their skills and be their best. It means a higher likelihood of reaching goals, which we all want.

For yourself, accountability is also key. Most of us worked for someone else in the past to whom we were accountable. But when we struck out on our own, and became the boss, we lost that. While many entrepreneurs and business owners are able to be accountable to themselves, it's often challenging. And for tasks that take a lot of discipline (e.g., calling 25 prospective investors every day), sometimes more accountability is needed to make sure they get done.

Here are some ways to boost accountability in your company:

  • Create accountability standards for yourself. What happens if you don't complete a task? Do you force yourself to stay late to do it? Or are there no immediate consequences? Figure out how to reward yourself for being fully accountable, and likewise give yourself some sort of penalty when you are not.

  • Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability; so your first step as the manager of your employees is to make sure they have very clearly defined roles, job descriptions, and duties.

  • Accountability is an attitude, so look at yourself as the role model. Are you being accountable to your employees, clients, and yourself? You as the leader will want to model this attitude, so focus on being accountable in addition to holding others accountable.

  • Do you have written expectations of your employees? Starting at the time of hire, if possible, create written expectations and standards of performance for each employee. You cannot expect something from someone who has not had the opportunity to buy into the expectation.

  • Do your employees have a working plan - a project timeline, an economic model etc? This will help keep them accountable.

  • Do your employees have training? You cannot hold someone accountable to something they are not been trained to do!

  • Have you created a learning based environment? Is it okay to make a mistake or say, "I don't know?" Creating a safe environment for mistakes encourages accountability. Employees will be less afraid to share mistakes and other negative feedback with you that can be used to correct the root of the problem. The opposite of this would be a culture of "yes men" (which you clearly don't want).

  • Are there real consequences for lack of accountability in your organization? Consequences work best when spelled out before actually needed, in expectations for example.

  • Do your employees have the talent and ability needed for the task? Some people will not have the ability to do the job you are asking them to do regardless of having a well-defined role, a great manager and excellent training. Try to find this out when hiring, but keep an eye on employees throughout their working time with you to confirm it.

Without accountability, no one knows the goal or who is supposed to do what. There's no way of knowing what's going on, so things don't get done (surprise, surprise). Without the right accountability, you will create an environment of low productivity and high turnover.

Conversely, setting up the right accountability structures, as discussed above, will create a culture in which goals are constantly attained. So make a plan today to implement the tips above. After all, if you don't emphasize and demonstrate the important of reaching the goals you set, who will?

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What’s my best secret for accelerating your business growth?

It’s simple, actually: Get other people to build your business for you.

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Most entrepreneurs are making a big mistake: they’re trying to do everything themselves.

But that’s not a recipe for business success -- it’s a recipe for burnout, frustration and failure.

To build a truly successful business, you need a “Dream Team” to help you turn your vision into reality.

And I created this training to show you how to do it right.

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How Reverse Logic Doubled Profits


 

How Reverse Logic Doubled Profits

I find it amazing how many entrepreneurs and business owners get burned by thinking about things incorrectly.
 
Here’s an example from a recent conversation I had with an entrepreneur who sells professional services. His sales were strong, but his profits were weak. In trying to figure out a solution, he started by suggesting he layoff part of his staff. If he cut his staff, costs would go down and profits would go up.
 
However, he then realized that if he had less staff members, he couldn’t close as many sales nor complete as many projects. So, sales would go down about the same as costs, and profits would remain flat.
 
The solution I gave him was to cut costs by reducing his staff (either through layoffs or natural attrition) and to boost employee productivity. Because if he were able to serve the same number of clients with a smaller staff, then profits would rise. In fact, if the staff were pared down enough, he could even afford to pay each staff member more than they currently make.

There are several great example of this “reverse logic” of paying employees more to increase profits.
 
One example is The Container Store. The Container Store has just one employee for every three their competitors have. But, they pay their employees double the industry average and spend 160 hours training them.
 
What is the result of this strategy? The Container Store employees are better trained and happier, and thus provide superior service. All this at a 33% lower cost than competitors.

Interestingly, when The Container Store opened in New York City, it had 100 times more applications than available positions. With numbers like that, they can hire the best of the best each time.

Similarly, Harry Seifert, CEO of Winter Garden Salads gives employees bonuses just before Memorial Day, when demand for its products peak. The bonuses boost morale and cause the company's productivity to jump 50% during the busy period.

Paying employees more to improve performance and boost company-wide profits is a historically proven tactic. In fact, back in 1913, Henry Ford doubled employee wages from $2.50 to $5.00 per day. The move boosted employee morale and productivity and caused thousands of potential new workers to move to Detroit.

Your employees can and should be a source of your competitive advantage. Recruit them slowly and wisely. Train them well. Give them a voice in your company and respect them. And pay them well. When you do this, you’ll have employees that perform at three times the level of your competition. And even if you pay them double the industry average, you’ll still have huge profits and outperform your competitors.

------------------------------------------------------------

My #1 Tip for Super Fast Business Growth

What’s my best secret for accelerating your business growth?

It’s simple, actually: Get other people to build your business for you.

In other words, Build Your Dream Team <-- Click Here

Most entrepreneurs are making a big mistake: they’re trying to do everything themselves.

But that’s not a recipe for business success -- it’s a recipe for burnout, frustration and failure.

To build a truly successful business, you need a “Dream Team” to help you turn your vision into reality.

And I created this training to show you how to do it right.

------------------------------------------------------------

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