Lead Generation - Your Top 5 Lead Generation Questions Answered


 

Lead generation is critical for all entrepreneurs. And once you master it, your business will thrive.

To help you with lead generation, below I have answered the most common questions entrepreneurs. However, let me start with some definitions.

Your "leads" are simply your pool of prospective buyers who might be interested in your product or service.

For physical stores, your lead list can be residents in a certain zip code or a list of shoppers with certain demographic characteristics. For online or virtual businesses, your lead list is often defined as the list of prospects that subscribe or "opt-in" to your email list or otherwise contact you so you have their contact information.

Whether online or in a physical store, communicating with your lead list is a primary marketing strategy for generating new and repeat customers.  A general rule in marketing is: the bigger your list of leads, the more opportunities you have to generate new clients and sales.  This is why lead generation is so important.  Sound lead generation tactics grow your lead list.  Great lead generation strategies grow your list with prospects that are most likely to buy.

Below are answers to the most common lead generation questions I get:

1. How Do I Create a Lead List?

There are many ways to start building your lead list. The easiest is to put an opt-in box on pages of your website where visitors can register their email addresses - typically in exchange for content or freebies. Most websites offer free guides, e-books, tools or a newsletter.

You can also offer free samples of a one-time discount coupon.  Make sure the freebies are enticing.  Once the website visitor opts-in to receive the freebie, he or she now becomes part of your email list.

2. Does My Target Audience Matter?

Yes.  Know your niche and determine the people you want to target. This important element should be clear to you from the beginning. You will likely fail if you do not understand what type of customer best appreciates your product or service.

Once you truly know your target audience, you can do a better job of "talking" to them on your website. For example, you will use different verbiage to convince a 20 year old, single, suburban woman to buy your product than you would to convince a 60 year old, married, rural man to buy it, since each has different wants and needs.

3. How Will My Audience Find Me?


In order for your prospective customers to find you, you should be promoting your website in places where your targeted audience already frequents. For example. Let's say your business sells electronic gadgets. If so, make sure customers find you on other websites that discuss electronic gadgets. You can advertise on these sites or submit guest blog posts and articles to them. You can do the same with social networking groups that discuss this topic. In many cases you can also pay the other websites to send an email promoting your company to all their subscribers.

Likewise there are other tactics to reach these customers such a direct mail, door hangers, radio spots of TV ads.  Naturally, you must align your strategy to your specific product or service, and to your budget.

4. What Should I Put On My Site To Attract Visitors To Opt-In Or Buy From Me?


Content is key. When your visitors find your site helpful and informative, it will be easier for you to get them to opt-in or buy. They will see you as the expert and be hungry for more information from you. The key is to provide quality content that gives solutions to your audience's problems.

Also, the more quality content you have on your website, the more other websites will link to you and thus drive new visitors. Likewise, these links will boost your search engine rankings, so you'll get more organic search traffic.

5. How Do I Maximize Social Media In Getting More Opt-Ins?


Most of your customers are using social networking sites (event if you're in the B2B space). Build your reputation as an expert in your niche when you are creating your social media presence. Become the "guru" of your circle of influence and continuously expand that sphere of influence. 

Even brick and mortar businesses have a huge opportunity to build genuine, trustworthy relationships with clients and prospects on social networking sites. Offer tips, publish sales offers, share today's menu, teach a skill, publish testimonials and so forth. These steps create opportunities to get followers and convert sales.

It's All About The Relationship

A growing email and/or lead list is crucial for business growth, especially for businesses that operate online.  You can publish a website or open an online store and HOPE that customers come.  Or you can build top-notch content and opt-in system that allow you to communicate and build relationships with your prospective customers. 

It's a common phrase that "people do business with people they know, like, and trust."  Using social networks and content generation strategies (like newsletters and quality emails) you can develop strong bonds with people who you will never meet in person.

The strategies detailed herein will deliver prospects to your business that are interested, ready, and able to buy your products and services. It will take some time to implement these strategies, so get started now!


 

4 Simple Strategies for Getting New Customers


 

Astute entrepreneurs and marketers understand that as much as 80% of their revenues come from repeat customers. Because once you transform a prospective customer into an actual customer and then give them a great experience, getting that customer to buy again is much easier. In fact, many times the next sale will be initiated by the customer; you won't have to do anything.

So the best way to get more sales from repeat customers is to get more first-time customers (and then really satisfy them of course).

For instance, if your initial sale to a customer is $40, but the average customer will purchase four more times within the first year, then a new customer is actually worth $200 in the first year. Much more than the initial $40! So, clearly, you want to attract as many new customers as possible (and take care of them so they keep purchasing from you).

To help you achieve this I have detailed below three key tips for attracting new customers.

New Customer Strategy #1: Give Them a Deal


Some companies go as far as to lose money on their first sale (known as a loss-leader), knowing they'll make it back with an immediate upsell, monthly service plan, or future sales. Your goal is NOT to make as much money as you can on the first sale. It's to make a first sale!

But of course, it's better if the first sale naturally leads to selling your next item or service. For example, I know a pressure washing company who will clean your house's exterior at cost the first time. But then it upsells 80% of these customers to their "twice yearly" plan -- this is where it derives massive profits.

Restaurants offer specials, phone companies offer you deals if you switch providers, etc. - I'm sure you've seen this. You need to give customers a powerful offer either in the form of a low price or incredible value for their money. When you do, they'll be much more likely to buy from you.

You've also probably seen coupon offers and deal-of-the-day sites like Groupon offering $20 massages and other great deals all the time. This works in getting tons of new customers. However, be careful. A lot of businesses have reported "The Groupon Effect," in which they will post a special, get a herd of penny-pinchers in the door that take advantage of the offer and then disappear to find the next deal at whoever's cheapest tomorrow. In other words, it can attract the wrong crowd and may not produce repeat business-which is the whole point of making a first sale.

So use these special offers carefully. One idea is to use direct mail. Doing so allows you to target the specific customers you want with your special offer; the ones who are most likely to keep buying from you.

New Customer Strategy #2: Incentivize Your Sales Force

If you have a sales force, give them great incentives to close new sales. Particularly in the case where you know you have significant lifetime customer value (i.e., customers will purchase from you many more times in the future), be more generous with your commissions.

In fact, I've heard of companies giving 100% commissions to salespeople who secure new customers. While the company clearly loses money in the short term, such a strategy really motivates the sales team to get new customers. And over time, the company's revenues and profits grow much faster since they have so many new customers that keep buying from it.

New Customer Strategy #3: Give Them an Experience


Think about how much money people spend on vacations, sports, dining, and entertainment. What do these all have in common? They're experiences that people want and for which they are willing to pay.

Try positioning your service as a personal experience. It's one thing to offer a massage, it's another to offer a "spa experience" with music, lights, nails, and a free facial.

You can also plan and offer group experiences like luncheons, parties, open houses, or tours. Or find a way to piggyback on existing events going on in your community, like parades, festivals, expos, etc.

These will take a little creativity, but remember that people are naturally drawn to fun times. Make it memorable and do it a few times per year.

Look to Zappos.com for inspiration. Even though it sells a commodity (shoes), the company provides a great experience through exceptional customer service. For many other businesses, providing a great experience is much easier than this.

New Customer Strategy #4: Give Them Information

Every business needs to educate its customers, whether you charge for that education or not. I love it when my mechanic, Vinny, explains to me my car's problem, what caused it, how to fix it, and what it will cost. Sometimes we even go through options together, and I couldn't make a decision on the right one without getting the facts first.

Providing education demonstrates that you're an expert, increases your trust, and gives you higher credibility in the customers' mind. It also gives you an easy segue into showing the benefits of what you're offering and how it will help.

Some lead generation methods tie in very well with education. For example, if you're trying to get blog posts ranked in the search engines, you'll need to write articles on topics of interest to your readers; like how to do something, the pros and cons of different products or services, etc. These posts will show your expertise and educate the reader.

You can do the same with videos. Simple, informative videos can get the attention and interest of prospective customers. End each video with a special offer or a "call to action" that encourages the prospect to contact you.

To summarize, figure out how you can give new customers a great deal, an experience, and the information they need. And consider giving better incentives to your sales team. Use these 4 tips to get new customers. And then once you secure them, deliver high quality products and/or services. When you do, you'll start building a strong book of repeat business that helps your sales and profits soar!

 

Suggested Resource: Download Growthink's Ultimate Marketing Plan Template today in order to quickly and expertly complete your marketing plan. Among other things, your marketing plan will give you multiple strategies for gaining new customers.


 

Funding Your Business Using Social Media


 

In the United States, there are many laws that protect investors. One of them prohibits entrepreneurs from mass-marketing investments in their businesses. For example, you can't solicit investors on your website nor via social media sites like Facebook.

However, if you set up a crowdfunding campaign, you can (and should) market that campaign and drive traffic to it using social media.

This article will help you do just that.

A Little Knowledge Will Strengthen Your Efforts


You can't use social media websites without understanding how the different ones work. Here are four of the biggest:

  • Twitter. This platform offers short broadcasts or tweets, and members actively seek the latest news in real-time. The network has more than 500 million users.
  •  
  • Facebook. This forum reaches 995 million active users, making it the largest social network. Members have vested interests in making connections with family members, people with similar interests, high school or college classmates, or people committed to certain social or environmental issues.
  •  
  • Pinterest. This rapidly growing network features pinboards where members can organize recipes, tips, photographs and other materials such as blogs and how-to videos.
  •  
  • LinkedIn. This network concentrates on business and professional people, and businesses need to maintain active profiles on this network to demonstrate to investors and donors that you're legitimate.


Benefits of Building Network Connections

You should try to build a group of supporters before starting your crowdfunding campaign. Support need not always be financial because favorably disposed members could recommend your project to their friends and associates. Fans love to take part, so you should listen to what they say and adopt suggestions to foster loyalty. Basically, you're looking for your advocates and cheerleaders. Find them and connect with them on the social networks.

Set up Your Crowdfunding Project


There are many crowdfunding platforms (e.g., Kickstarter, IndieGogo, etc.) where you can set up your crowdfunding project.

Importantly, when you do, make your project pitch clear and concise, so people "get" it right away. Also, in the ideal case, you pull on people emotionally, so they really want to see you succeed. The key is to try to bond with people, which you can effectively do via a video you create showing why people should fund you and your venture.

But also keep it real. Show funders how you will spend the money and over what period of time.

Start the Conversation About Your Project

Once your crowdfunding project is set up, use your social media presence to promote it. Post out to your network to tell them to visit your crowdfunding page and to tell others about it.

Also, feel free to go beyond social media. You can use email, creative Youtube videos, a blog, and/or discussion forums to boost your efforts.

Crowdfunding is a great new way to raise funding for your business. However, once you set up your crowdfunding page, don't expect people to just show up and fund you. Rather, you need to market your crowdfunding project. And social media is a great way to do just that!


 

Stanford Doctor's Business Plan Diagnosis


 

Doctor Business Plan

Donald C. Harrison is no typical doctor.    

He's perhaps the most financially successful cardiologist ever.    

You may think his success is the result of his serving as the Chief of Cardiology at Stanford University for 20 years. But Harrison didn't achieve financial success by performing medical evaluations, operations or teaching.   

Rather, Harrison achieved enormous success as an entrepreneur. I'm talking about some serious success. The first company he founded, EP Technology, grew quickly had an IPO, and was later acquired by Boston Scientific. And later he founded AtriCure, which he also grew rapidly and took public (NASD: ATRC).

Founding and taking two companies public is a massive feat, which very few entrepreneurs have achieved. So, anything that Harrison says is worth listening to; and listening to closely.

Recently, Harrison was interviewed by author Robert Jordan for his book, "How They Did It."  My favorite answer from the interview is Harrison's dead-on response to the question, "What are the biggest mistakes that company founders make?"

Harrison's answer: "A poorly written business plan is a mistake, and so is a poorly organized presentation. When you're making a presentation, if you can't convince the potential investor within 10 minutes that you've got something novel or a solution to a problem and you're dedicated to doing it, you're not going to succeed. Most venture investors are looking at hundreds of opportunities, so you've got to clearly have an edge."

Now Harrison attributes his serial success not only to always having a solid business plan, but to other key points that we entrepreneurs should always keep in mind:

  • Hang out with other entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial people. Harrison trained at the National Institute of Health with what he felt was a very entrepreneurial team. Without this exposure and entrepreneurial attitude he gained from it, he probably would have just been another cardiologist.

  • Always search for a better mousetrap. Harrison says his mother used to say, "If you want to find a worm, you gotta look under many rocks." In business, that means you need to realize your first choices and/or solutions may not always work and you must be willing to try a lot of things to find the better solution.

  • Find an unmet need and a problem, and fix it. When asked what the common element was for each of his startups, Harrison replied that for each, he found an unmet need and problem, and worked with others to solve the problem. I know this sounds simple; because it is. Even if you're a great entrepreneur (e.g., you know how to manage and motivate people, you have great marketing and sales tactics, etc.), if you have a me-too product or offer a product/service that doesn't solve a real need or problem, you're going to have a really tough time achieving the success you desire.

  • Find multiple forms of funding early. One of Harrison's companies received early funding from a strategic investor (a large corporation). But when that corporation experienced an internal shake-up, it stopped funding Harrison's startup. As a result, Harrison's company nearly failed. Fortunately, he was able to scramble to find funding to keep his company afloat. That was the last time Harrison relied on only one source of funding.

  • Get compatible partners and employees. As a successful serial entrepreneur, Harrison understands that he can only succeed if he can find, train and motivate others to do great work. In one venture he took on a partner, and in doing so realized quickly that your partner must be completely compatible with you if it's going to work. (Most of you know that I have a partner at Growthink and if we weren't highly compatible, there's no way we would have lasted the past 12 years together). Likewise, you need to find great employees that have skills that you don't.


Donald C. Harrison's success should serve as an inspiration to us all. Few cardiologists have the entrepreneurial bug, and even fewer have succeeded as an entrepreneur.

Harrison did it twice. And both times he did it big time. His words of advice are simple as outlined above. Following them is a bit harder and require perseverance and determination; which I know YOU have by the fact that you just read this!

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The 10 Million Dollar Mindset


 

If I say to you, "Hey, you can grow your business into a 10 million dollar company and be very wealthy" would you believe me?

Would you think it's possible? Likely? Easy? Hard? A pipe dream?

You don't have to tell anyone your answer, so be really honest with yourself. Can you envision becoming a multi-millionaire by growing your business?

If you can't see it, first congratulate yourself for that bit of honesty. Next, get to work on your mindset. You will never be a millionaire if you don't think like a millionaire.

Have you read biographies of multi-millionaires in the United States? It is rare to find a millionaire who says "I am so surprised I reached this level of success and wealth."

Except for lottery winners, most wealthy individuals are not surprised by their success. Their wealth is intentional. They set out to create that success, they visualized it, they believed it, and they passionately pursued it.

Hope Floats, Action Flies


You can hope to make the front page of Forbes Magazine by wishing that your business goes well. You can create excellent products then sit by the phone and hope that clients order them. You can launch a gorgeous website and hope that internet searchers just happen to find it.

In the course of your daily operations, do you hope for things to happen, or do you work at making them happen?

During your work day you likely create products, provide services, contact clients, process orders, send invoices, order supplies...and hundreds of other actions that generate income. Now let me ask you: would you be willing to stop doing these things and then to simply hope you can still make a living?

Obviously not. So, if you are not willing to give up your income by relying on hope and wishful thinking, why do so many entrepreneurs consider becoming a multi-millionaire a fantasy?

If your actions make you $200 dollars a day, don't you think that over time different actions can bring you $2000 a day, $20,000 a day?

My point? Stop hoping and wishing for abundant wealth and start planning on it.

1. Get The Mind Aligned


What you believe about money, wealth, and success will form the limitations of what you achieve in those areas. If you are comfortable with a 6 figure income, but feel guilty or overwhelmed when considering an 8 figure income, then you have set limits on your income potential.

If you think money is the root of all evil or that rich people are bad, then you have disqualified yourself from wealth. The relationship you have with money in your mind becomes the relationship you have with money in your life. That's why step one is to get the mind aligned.

You can't achieve dreams with lip service. You have to really believe.

2. Find Your Gurus

Ok, so you believe fiercely that you have what it takes to break into the 8 figure income stream. You believe it, you want it, you are seeking it.

Good! Seeking is powerful. You've heard it before, when the student is ready, the master appears. Even reading this newsletter is positive action in the right direction. Now surround yourself with likeminded people who reinforce your beliefs and support your goals. And spend time meeting with and/or studying those with more knowledge or experience that you.

Do not allow yourself to be frozen by fear or intimidated by those who have achieved great success. Find them, interact with them, learn from them, and model them.

3. Be Really Clear


We've mentioned becoming a millionaire or multi-millionaire a few times in this article. That is a great general idea, but it isn't a powerful enough of a goal to ignite action and feed passion.

You need to set very specific goals. Maybe you start with an annual income goal. Maybe you start with targeting a certain number of clients each month. Maybe you do both.

The more specific your goals, the more they will motivate and sustain you. Also, the ability to measure progress is key. If your goal is vague, how do you know if you are achieving it? Let's say your goal is to become a millionaire in your lifetime. You are now 30 and you have $60,000 in the bank - are you on track? Are you encouraged or discouraged? Will you be happy if you reach one million dollars in your bank account on your 90th birthday?

Now let's look at a specific goal. Let's just say that in 2013 your goal was to add 10 new clients per month and end the year with $570,000 in revenue. And now let's say it's December 31 2013 and you look at your results. You total clients for the year were 108 and you're final revenue totaled $563,000. You achieved 90% of your client goal and 99% of your revenue goal. Now how do you feel? You probably feel pretty good because you came very close to achieving your goals. And your results are probably far superior than if you didn't set the goals in the first place.

4. Tell Everyone

I am not talking about strutting around town bragging on how you are going to have gobs of money. I am talking about freely sharing your objectives in socially appropriate ways. For example, if while visiting family over the holidays old Uncle Jim yells across the room "Hey Chris, what are you doing with your life".

This may be an opportunity to say "Well Uncle Jim, this year I am focused on growing my company to $230,000 in revenues and I am on track to produce $5.5M in revenues by the year 2018".

I bet that will quiet the room.

Maybe you are willing to share that with family, maybe you'd rather not. Definitely be upfront about your goals with your staff, partners, and mentors. Go ahead and create accountability. If you really believe in what you can accomplish, you won't be afraid to "put it out there".

While you want passion, not ego to be your main motivator, a little pride can go a long way sometimes.

5. Live the Life

If you want to be a millionaire, you need to live like a millionaire. No, I am not saying you need to buy a car you can't afford or otherwise live beyond your means. On the contrary, there are hundreds of stories of self-made millionaire that got there by living conservatively.

What I mean is that you need to monitor your way of thinking. Do you look at a Bentley and automatically think "I will never afford that." How serious can you be about becoming a multi-millionaire if that is your knee-jerk reaction?

A person planning their success will instead think "In approximately six years, when my annual revenue reaches X, I will be able to buy that car cash."

What is your life plan? If you are a parent, are you optimistic about sending your kids to any college they want to attend? Are you learning about different places in the world you want to visit?

Are you learning a language to support your international business launch? Are you looking forward to and learning about things that are a normal part of the lifestyle you are working to achieve?

Is there something you can do now that will give you taste of your future? Maybe you can buy a pair of expensive sunglasses to remind you to look at the world through the eyes of a millionaire. Perhaps you can start a basic investment account at a firm that is known for high wealth clients.

Identify one thing you can do now that will make you feel like a millionaire, and go do it.

10 Million or Bust

Jack Canfield, one of the creators of the "Chicken Soup" series of books shares a story about setting bold goals. One year, he decided that he was going to sell a mini version of his book for twenty-five cents and wanted to reach $100,000 in sales that year. At the time, that was a huge amount of money for his family.

Well, he didn't make it. He only made $92,000 that year.

Was he disappointed? Of course not! By setting such a huge goal he created a situation in which an "almost made it" was still a raving success. If today, you make $75,000 a year and decide to make $10 Million in ten years, you will still be living a vastly different life if you only make $8 Million.

Now consider this. If in X years, you have 1, 2, 15, or 30 million dollars, are you still you? You may have different characteristic brought on by time and wealth, but you are still the same person, right?

If you are going to be a millionaire in the future, then what is stopping you from having that millionaire mindset now? Don't wait for things to define you. Rather, be defined by the passion, skill, and determination that will ultimately get you the life you want. Get your 10 million dollar mindset going today.


 

Why Systems are the Key to Business Growth


 

Business systems, business systems, business systems....why is everyone always going on and on about systems in your business? 

Well, it's simple really. If you don't have a business system, and your entire operation relies on you personally performing certain actions, then you really don't have a business. You may be a really busy and even profitable self-employed, independent contractor, but you do not have a business.

A true business may require your leadership, strategy, vision, and even daily performance of work. But importantly, it will also continue to operate and make money even if you take a day off, go on vacation for a month, and be prepared for this, even if you die. 

What is a Business System?


In its simplest form, a business system is a process or collection or processes that dictate the way your business operates.  You may have a system for client acquisition, product delivery, customer loyalty, invoicing, supply chain, etc. 

The more automated and error-proof your system, the more you are able to dedicate your time and energy to growing your business rather than simply running the day-to-day operations.

If more time and greater revenue is not reason enough to have solid systems in place, let's consider these other factors that influence why you can't live, or die, without a business system.

Funding

Try walking into a bank or a venture capital firm and telling them what a talented widget maker you are and that they should give you money to build your company. 

When they ask for your business plan (a first step in building a business system), tell them you don't need any of that mumbo jumbo, you are Joe Blow, Great Widget Maker EVER!  What do you think is most likely?  That they will hand you a check or that they will laugh you out of the building? 99.99% will laugh hysterically (the other 0.01% are your parents and they are biased).

They will laugh because they recognize that a person is not a business.  Yes, one person can create a business, and one person can be the vision and soul behind a company, but no one person is the company.  

Apple has moved on without their visionary Steve Jobs, KFC is still selling chicken just fine without the Colonel, and Microsoft is still a giant while Bill Gates focuses on philanthropy.   You may be central to your business, but to have real value, the business needs to be sustainable without you.

You Can't Sell Yourself Into Slavery


Let's say you have worked for your business for a few years, developed a good customer following, revenues are high, but you do everything yourself and nothing is documented.

If so, think about your exit plan.  Will you someday just close up shop and let all those clients just melt away?   Will you pass the business onto your children or chosen successor?  Will you sell the business?

If you have a thriving business, selling may be an excellent idea and may significantly contribute to the funds you have to support your twilight years.   But how will you sell a business that doesn't have clearly defined systems?  How do you sell the business if you are the business?

Ok, so maybe the sale's agreement stipulates you will stay on as a consultant for a few months or years to show the new owners "the ropes" and transition the client base.  Guess what you will be doing in those months? That's right, creating systems! 

The fact is that you will sell your business for a lot more money and to a wider base of potential buyers if you have clearly defined systems in place.  When you are the business, new owners have to hope they can either replicate your actions or have a plan to do it better.  When you can show them proven business systems they can easily adapt, they will clamor to buy you.

What Will You Bestow?


Perhaps your dream is not to sell your business, but instead to pass it on as a legacy to your children or a chosen successor.  There are many strong family businesses in the United States that have been passed on through generations.  Is it your goal to be one of them?

The argument here is the same as in the previous section.  How do you bestow a business if you are the business?  How will you enjoy your retirement in Tahiti if Johnny Grandson is calling every two hours because he needs to know how you did this and that?

You Can't Die in Peace

Is the income from your business a necessary part of your household income?  If you die, and that income stops, how does your family survive?

If you need a solid reason for building business systems, perhaps this is it.  A business that can continue running without you, even if not running 100%, but can survive even without you, has value to your family.  It can be operated by relatives, it can be passed on to heirs, and it can even be sold.

But if your business evaporates into thin air then minute you stop breathing said air, you are doing your family a disservice.

A business with a solid foundation of systems will survive you.  It may even become your legacy.  Your brand, when attached to proven processes and workflows, can endure.   

Feeling Squeamish?

Have you felt the tingle of cold sweat as you read this article?  Are you wondering how you will ever sell your business when it primarily exists in your head?   In many ways, a business is collection of abstract concepts.  It's your reputation, your relationships with clients and suppliers, it's the quality of your product and service, and it's the word of mouth on the street.

To solidify your business, you need to give it form by building systems that can be documented, followed, and replicated by others. 

Depending on the nature of your business these systems may require a strong team, wise delegation, trustworthy partners, and reliable vendors. Maybe all you need is clever automation that can be passed on to others.

If this article made you feel at risk, then take the time to carefully analyze your business. What can you automate?  What can you document? What can you delegate?  What can you reliably outsource? 

Find ways to truly evolve from a self-employed worker to a smart owner of successful business systems.  Build it right and you can live (and die) in peace.

Suggested Resource: Would you like to know how to build business systems that dramatically improve your business, and turn it into one worth $10 million or more? If so, check out Growthink's 8 Figure Formula. This video explains more.

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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.

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Growthink Launches New Business Plan Informational Website


 

We are really excited to announce we have launched a new business plan website, BusinessPlanTemplate.com.

As the name indicates, the site will include business plan templates for all types of businesses. Currently, we have forty templates on the site. Templates are organized into 3 categories: Food & Retail, Service, & “Other” business plan templates.


 

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


 

Most businesses fail. I hate to be so blunt, but this is the truth. The only thing that varies is just how many businesses fail.

According to research from the University of Tennessee, 44% of businesses fail within the first three years. And within certain sectors, like information (which includes most technology companies), 63% fail within 3 years, or in Retail, 53% fail within 36 months.

On the other hand, according to research from Bradley University, 70% to 80% of new businesses fail within their first year. Bradley University also found that half of those who survive the first year will fail within the next four years.

And the number one cause of this failure? According to Dun & Bradstreet, the primary cause is lack of business planning.

Yes, 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; (1) the one you develop when you start your business, and (2) the one you develop to grow your business.

When you start your company, the purpose of your business 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. This is the second type of business plan, and I refer to this type of 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 venues or 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. For example, think about businesses who used to get all or the majority of their customers from the yellow pages; many of these companies have perished.

Next, consider your human resources strategy. What new people will you need to hire to accomplish your key goals in the coming years? In what areas will you need people, and what skill sets must they have?

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).

Creating a business plan when you start your company, and annually creating strategic plans to grow your company is absolutely essential to your success. Research proves it. So, if you want to avoid failure, and achieve maximum success, make sure you are continuously creating, updating and following your business and strategic plans.

 

Suggested Resource: You just learned the importance of choosing the right strategies to build your company. Including this information in your strategic plan is critical to growing an ultra-successful business. What else should you include in your current growth or strategic plan? Click here to find out.


 

The Five Most Common Objections & How to Overcome Them


 

Whether you are trying to sell a prospective customer on buying your product, a prospective investor in funding you, or a prospective partner in doing business together, you will encounter and will have to overcome objections.

Importantly, you should plan for these objections beforehand. How? By expecting them, and trying to preempt them.

Here are the five universal objections for which you should be prepared.

Objection #1: I'm too busy


This makes it hard to even get your foot in the door in the first place. At the advertisement level, people will skim over your ad and never commit to focusing on and reading it. You've got to show prospects fast that what you're offering is worth their time.

The solution is to get their attention. Tease them with something, promise something, use memorable messages, and/or give prospects value up front.

Importantly, the better you understand who your customer is and can speak to their specific needs, the better you will do in getting their attention and getting them to spend time considering your offer.

Objection #2: Why do I need you?


Particularly if prospects are not actively seeking the product or service you offer, you must show them why they need it. Show them what life can be like with your solution - how it solves a key need or pain.

Sometimes you even need to put them in pain, if they don't know or think they are in pain. For example, while your prospects may be happy with their CPA firm, a message that stated "learn the 3 ways your CPA firm is probably costing you thousands of dollars each year" will make them think they do have a pain/problem and get their attention.

Objection #3: I don't have the money/the price is too high


This objection comes up earlier than you'd think. It's partly because people and companies are both more cost-conscious these days, and partly from people's aversion to spending more money on something at all. So "I don't have the money" is their excuse to bail before getting too invested in the decision-making process.

The solution here is to show prospects the value of what they are getting. Will your product or service enhance their lives, save them money in the future, position them to be more successful, etc.? Let them know the answer to this question!

Likewise, if the prospect is considering an alternative solution to your company which is less expensive, you need to show why the best decision is to go with you.

Objection #4: I'm not sure I believe you

People are skeptical, and don't believe everything you advertise or say. They want to know you're for real and they want to see proof that your product or service does what you say.

Show them you're legitimate by letting them know your credentials, seeing your work, knowing your clientele or how long you've been in business, and also that you're honest, have integrity, and really care.

One of the best ways to prove you can get results is showing testimonials from other customers. This is why "before and after" pictures are used in most weight loss commercials. This can be done with many products.

Other things you can do to overcome skepticism include offering money back guarantees and simple return policies.

Objection #5: Let me think about it/I need to speak with my partner/manager/etc.

Sometimes prospects legitimately need to think about a decision. Or they need to discuss it with someone else. With regards to the latter, ask questions from the beginning to determine if there's another decision-maker. And if so, bring that other decision-maker into the conversation earlier so you can "sell" both decision-makers at once (rather than having to do it twice).

With regards to the prospect requiring time to consider the decision, make sure to follow-up with them while their making that decision. That doesn't mean calling or emailing every hour. But rather periodically checking in on them. Importantly, find reasons to check in. For example, maybe you read about something in the news that you think they'd find interesting. If so, call or email them with the piece of news. When you do, there's no need to even bring up the sale you want to close. Rather, focus on helping them and staying in touch, and each time you do, you'll move closer to securing the sale.

Getting new customers is one of the hardest things a business must do. By considering the objections prospective customer have, and preparing for them (via adjusting your marketing materials and training your sales team), you will more successfully attract new customers. This can and will give you a competitive advantage, and allow you to grow a successful company.


 

4 Step System for Rapidly Training New Hires


 

In my last essay, I discussed the three benefits of using outsourced workers (cost savings, reducing overhead, getting work done while you sleep). And then I gave you tips for finding and selecting the right outsourced provides.

In this essay, I'll lay out my system for rapidly training these new hires (it also works for new in-house and/or full-time hires).

Before you start the training


Before you begin their training, take a few minutes to break down the work to be completed into a list of steps, or even a process map (a simple, visual flow chart of how the process will go). As a manager, your job is to create these processes and coach your team to implement them and report the results back to you.

If something goes wrong, it's either because they did not follow the process correctly as you spelled it out -- or there is something less effective about your process to correct. Listing all the steps and putting them in the right order will also clarify your thoughts and give you a guide or agenda to follow when training them.

The simple system for rapid training

Step #1: Explain


This is where you take the time to describe the work to your virtual assistant or outsourced person. Show them the list of action items or an overview of the process. A written summary coupled with a verbal explanation is usually the most thorough way to do this.

Tell them what the task is called (for easy reference later on), what it accomplishes, why it is
important, who will need to do it and when, and how it is to be done, step by step. The
more details you can give, the better, because they will grow to understand you and
your company goals and will be able to handle more things for you later on without
having to ask a ton of questions.

Also, understanding your business model, your customers, and your purpose will help them make more informed decisions along the way -- subtle differences that can turn good work into greatness.

Step #2: Demonstrate


People learn better by seeing an example of how something is supposed to be done. This will teach them better than the longest explanation. Demonstrations can be done in different ways:

1. In person. Example: Demonstrating how to fold and stuff envelopes.

2. On the phone, via webinar. Via phone or webinar you can tell or show a virtual person how to do something.

3. Via video. if you show someone something via a webinar, record the webinar. That way, the next time you need to train someone, they can simply watch the video rather than requiring your time to train them.

4. Hypotheticals. In this case, you would give a few "if-then" scenarios to your hire and tell them what to do or say depending on what happens.

For example, you might write in an email to your hire, "Call Joe Contractor and ask him if the work is about 2/3rds of the way done. If it is, ask him for a range of days and times for me to meet him to do a walkthrough. If not, ask him when he expects it to be and call him back that day."

Step #3: Practice


After learning how to do a task, the hire must then attempt it on their own under your supervision. It's important that you monitor their work for a while until you are certain that it is being done correctly. Otherwise, neither of you will know if it needs improvement.

Find a way to watch them in action or to see the results of their actions. This might be hard for some of you, but let them fail. It is least distracting and demotivating for you to observe the entire process and save your comments for the end.

The whole point of training is for them to get used to the whole process on their own. NOW is the time for them to make mistakes. Hopefully you budgeted enough time for them to practice things a few times and get it right before crunch time.

The way to monitor them could be watching them in person, listening on the phone, or reviewing a finished product of some sort, like a design or written work.

Step #4: Feedback (Positive and Negative)

This is the part of training where you help them to improve at their job by pointing out things that could be done differently or better. I prefer to use the "Feedback Sandwich" approach, in which you tell them what they could do better in between two compliments so it's not harsh or overly negative.

For example, you could say:

    (Compliment) "Julie, this mail looks really good. You somehow found a way to fold the
    letters in just the right places so that they fit inside an envelope perfectly."

    (Critique) "You know, I read once that the better lined up the stamp is on the front of the envelope, the more people respond. Would you mind making sure they are all put on
    straight from now on?"

    (Compliment) "Thank you so much. That, plus the handwritten address, which looks so
    personalized I'd think it was coming from my mother, makes these mailers perfect."


Once you have given your feedback, the training cycle begins all over again. Your feedback
is their new explanation (Step #1). You may demonstrate it again if you feel you need to (Step #2), and have them practice it again (Step #3), until you decide that the results are good enough.

A Trained Assassin

When you have decided that your hire is capable of performing the task consistently on their own, they are now officially trained. Be sure to congratulate them on learning the task, and thank them for making your life easier.

And lastly, this rapid training system is not just something to use when they are first hired.

If at any time their performance falls behind, or you want to help them take one of their skill sets to the next level, or you think of something new for them to do, just follow these 4 simple steps again.

 

Suggested Resource: If you don't outsource, you can't compete. The math is simple...if your competitors are outsourcing and only pay $X to complete a task, and you pay $3X, $5X or $10X, your competitors will eat your lunch. You simply must outsource to stay competitive. Outsource the right way using Growthink's Outsourcing Formula. Learn more by clicking here.


 
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