21 Şubat 2008 Perşembe

5 More Tips for Maximum Business Success

1. Expanding awareness is the master-key. A Business doesn't generate $1M, $5M, $10M, or whatever it generates because that's all they want to generate. It's all they are aware of how to generate. By expanding awareness within the business, revenue can be increased. As long as employees only know A, B, & C, they can only produce C-level results; they can only recognize C-level opportunities. But, the moment employee's awareness is expanded to understand D, E, & F, now they can produce F-level results; they can recognize F-level opportunities.

2. If a business is doing business the same way they were 5 years ago, they're going out of business. For some, the "going out of business" process may be only a few months while for others it may take years. But it's happening nevertheless. In simple and plain terms, business owners and executives must either maintain a constant drive to get better or they better figure out how to liquidate and get out before they and the other people in the business get hurt.

3. Mental laziness, paradigms, habit patterns, conditioning, the pull to be like others, the ego and arrogance of success - these are the enemies of every person and every business and they must be overcome on a continual basis. The determining factor for a business is whether or not the folks at the top of the business overcome in these areas. If the thinking and attitude of the folks at the top is "soured", then the really good employees will move on to a better environment while all the remaining employees simply conform to what they see at the top.

4. Customers will sell for you when you go the extra mile, when you give them more than they expect. Any business can just sell a product or service - and that's all that most of them do. But, that's not enough. Just selling a product or service leaves you in a vulnerable position - you're just another commodity item. What can your business do beyond the selling of your product or service? What can you do to make it an EXPERIENCE for your customers? Providing an experience is another way to differentiate yourself from the competition. If your customers are businesses, what can you do to expand their business or bring more customers to them? If your customers are consumers, what can you do to give them greater enjoyment and fulfillment in life? What else could you do for your customers that no one else is doing? What could you give them that no one else is giving them? How can you give them the recognition, the approval, the affirmation - or here's an idea, the convenience - that is way beyond what anyone else is giving them? A word of warning; before you go the extra mile or give customers more than they expect, make sure you have your order-takers ready...

5. Business is a game that requires different kinds of strengths and insights. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has things they see that others don't see and things they don't see that others do see. That's why we all need other people - so their strengths can cover our weaknesses - so they can see what we don't see. There's no shame in tapping into the strengths and insight of others. In fact, the business owner or executive who feels it's essential to be a part of a "mastermind group" and who frequently solicits "outside perspectives" is the one who ALWAYS wins in the game of business. In contrast, the business owner or executive who tries to know it all, do it all, be it all and closes out others - holding to a self-fabricated position of power - is the one who ALWAYS loses in the game of business.

Knowledge is Everywhere

As I eased into the chair at the shoe shine booth, I half-jokingly asked the man if he could make my tired shoes look like new again. To my surprise, he answered, "You have to do a lot of things for your shoes long before you get them shined if you want to keep them looking like new!"

What followed was a five-minute clinic on shoe maintenance. "First," he told me, "you have to get cedar shoe trees. Put them in immediately after taking your shoes off at night, and they will prevent your shoes from looking like Ali Baba's. In other words, your shoes will keep their shape. Secondly, buy some lanolin cream like the stuff I'm using right now and apply it every couple of weeks. That will keep the leather soft and moist, prevent cracking and prevent embedded creases from developing."

As the lesson continued, he performed what was easily the most efficient shoe polishing I had ever experienced. I was told to only buy shoes with thick soles, since thin soles don't look as "strong or confident." He recommended that I use a shoehorn in order to keep the backs of my shoes in good shape. He also said that I should only wear lace-up shoes for business. "Loafers are for loafing," he said. When it comes to tying the laces, he told me to start by taking the right lace over the left and then tie the bow. Done this way, the bow will ride across the shoe rather than sit at an angle. "They just look more finished that way."

So why am I sharing this with you? Because I want to remind you that knowledge is everywhere, and that you can use this fact to your advantage - if you are willing to look for knowledge in all sorts of places, to listen to it when you find it, and then to act upon it.

If you read one book a month on business development strategies, you would be in an elite group. And you can do even more to gain knowledge. Study your business. One thing you might want to consider is how you attracted your favorite clients. Many business owners expend considerable energy in time-consuming and labor intensive tactics designed to attract new clients. However, they rarely attract their favorite clients through these seminars, direct mail campaigns, trade shows and cold calls. Use your time and energy efficiently: replicate your best successes. Look at where your best clients came from. For example, if your favorite clients were referrals, then you should invest your time and money to elicit similar quality referrals.

My favorite business philosopher, Jim Rohn, taught me that a formal education will help you earn a living and that on-going self-education can make you rich. It is true that income rarely exceeds self-development. Self-development shapes character and philosophy, and these will help you to build relationships with your clients. And while it is important to know your business, success also depends on your ability to develop chemistry with clients.

My best advice for improving your practice is to look around and pay attention. Look for approaches that you can adapt to your situation. And tap into the knowledge of others in your business, and to the ideas of experts. Always be aware, because you never know when the guy shining your shoes will offer you an idea that will improve your business. As Confucius said, "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear." But don't delay - after all, "when all is said and done, often more gets said than done." If you are committed to building your business, now is the perfect time to get busy.

Consistency, Referrals and Moving Day

A true parable that illustrates (yet again) the way people value consistency, and the way this information can help you enjoy a steady stream of qualified referrals,

My wife and I bought a new house last year, and one of my colleagues (let's call her Ann) referred me to a moving company she had used recently. She said that they had done a terrific job for her. My wife and I were looking forward to the same kind of treatment. Alas, in the moving business, apparently things are not always what they seem.

The Move

It's no secret that moving stinks at the best of times and my wife and I were grateful that we did not have to interview moving companies on top of everything else. Without looking at different options, I called the moving company and booked an estimate for a Saturday afternoon. After all, the company had been recommended to me by someone I trust.

The appointed hour for the estimate came and went, and yet no movers came. Finally, an hour and a half later, the head guy, "Brutus," called. "We are having a difficult day," he explained. "Could we rebook for Sunday?" he asked.

These things happen, of course, and I agreed. Sunday's appointment time in the early afternoon came and went, and yet no movers came. Six hours later (and without a courtesy phone call to explain the delay), Brutus showed up.

"A day to forget." Brutus muttered. "Our truck got stuck between two buildings."

"That is unfortunate," I said. "What I am having trouble understanding is why you couldn't find the time to make a 30-second phone call to let me know about the delay. Is this what I can expect down the road?"

"Maybe we should just forget about the job," Brutus said. That's when (and believe me, I do not need much of an invitation in this type of situation) Brutus got a "customer service tune-up"

Brutus Gets a Schooling He Didn't Request

In my front foyer, I explained to Brutus what I do for a living, and then I reminded him that my colleague had recommended him to me.

"Remember Ann?" I asked. "Have you ever stopped for a second and calculated how valuable Ann is to you?" I asked. Brutus really didn't answer that one, so I was happy to continue. "Right now in my office," I said, "is a lady who talks you guys up every time the conversation turns to moving or buying a new house. Let me translate that for you. I don't know how many moving companies there are in this town, but I didn't even bother to check the Yellow Pages. You were hired before I even called you. Isn't that neat?" Brutus grudgingly nodded a nod that seemed to indicate that, yes, that was neat.

The Best Business Call You Can Get

"Is there anything better than a phone call like that?" I inquired, "when the person calls your business and says, hi, you don't know me, but 'so and so' said that I should hire you." Brutus granted me another nod that seemed to indicate that yes, that was a pretty good deal. He was starting to come on-side.

"Well then, Brutus," I said, "Seeing as you seem to agree that you have a pretty sweet thing going here with this referral business, you should be warned that you are about to torpedo your own gravy boat." Brutus grimaced at my bad analogy.

"Here is the clincher, Brutus," I said, "You need to remember that the person who hires you based on a recommendation will probably being talking to the person who recommended you sometime in the next 30-60 days. This is as close as you can get to a sure thing. Sooner than later, Ann will be asking me how things went with my move and your company, and I will have one of two answers for her."

Here are the two possible answers:

1. "Ann, referring me to Brutus was the best thing you could have ever done for my move. I cannot thank-you enough. Brutus made me feel like a king. Have a piece of my Granny's homemade shortbread, Ann. Have two, in fact."
- or -

2. "Well Ann, things didn't go too well, actually. Brutus was late the first day and rescheduled, and then he was six hours late the second time. He didn't even call me to say he would be late. I guessed things have started to break down since you used Brutus' services. Thanks anyway, though, it's not your fault."

"Brutus," I continued, "I'm sure you realize that the first scenario is one where Ann feels just great because she was able to help out someone in her inner circle. It will probably inspire her to brag about you the next time someone talks to her about moving or buying a new house. If you treat me extremely well, I benefit, Ann benefits, and so do you!

"Or, there is that second scenario, Brutus," I said. "If you continue on your current path and continue treating your referrals in an inconsistent way like this, your referrals will dry up in a heartbeat. In that scenario, I recommend a name change to AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Moving and praying that potential clients travel alphabetically through the Movers section in the Yellow Pages." Brutus was beginning to see the light.

At Your Office

Although the preceding story of inconsistency is a little on the extreme end, one of the classic missteps we see in our work with professionals is that they start a decent customer service activity and then stops it after a while to try something else. However well intentioned, this is borderline insanity (to put it mildly). There are a variety of reasons for this bizarre behavior: Some want to 'mix it up' a little and try something new, some do not have the patience to see the first initiative through and some do not get the instant gratification they were hoping for.

Consistent and Steady Wins the Race

Once you begin a solid customer service activity you must never stop. Repetition is not dull; it is wonderful. More than ever, people crave consistency in their lives.

Being inconsistent, regardless of how well meaning your intentions are, will erode trust and will limit the recommendations that you receive. It can also cause the client to wonder, perhaps aloud, why your professionalism is slipping, and to perhaps question your competence in other areas.

Consistency is one of the primary reasons that the best in this business have replaced the element of 'chance' within their businesses with the element of 'certainty.' You would be hard-pressed to find another business-development characteristic that provides as big a payoff; the practice of consistency produces better results than any other discipline.

By the way, my moving saga ended on a high note. Brutus apologized and promised to henceforth 'treat me like a king.' My wife and I went ahead and had Brutus move us. I even got the deal of a lifetime on three days storage. To summarize, Brutus made amends, and then proceeded to exceed my expectations. I also told the entire story to Ann, and I encourage her to recommend Brutus and his team to absolutely everyone she can. I know I will.

Building From Your Core: The Secret To Exponential Business Growth

Why have only 7% of all businesses hit double digit growth
during the past 10 years, while 93% have plateaued or are

Why are 3 out of every 4 business growth strategies failing today?

These startling statistics drive home the same message for both
large and small businesses. The “old-style” growth strategy
-- ie., launch ... sell as rapidly as possible ... diversify ... go
international ... pursue the next hot opportunity ... repeat as
necessary -- no longer works.

What do the handful of today’s high growth businesses know
that the others don’t? What’s their secret to creating
impressive profit gains -- even in no or slow growth times?

“Growing your business BEYOND your core ... not FROM your core.”

In order to experience double digit growth in today's economy, you must learn and master the following 2 principles:

HIGH GROWTH PRINCIPLE #1: To start, you must KNOW what your
core is. Your “core” consists of 2 elements:

** Knowing what business you are ** really ** in

** Knowing your core business strengths, competencies, assets (also known as your competitive edge)

As basic as the above sounds, it is amazing how many companies
have never taken the time to define their “core.”

HIGH GROWTH PRINCIPLE #2 : For strong sustainable business
growth, focus *only* on opportunities ADJACENT to your core.
Ideal adjacent opportunities are 1 step away from your core.

You can move adjacent to your core in such ways as: new
related customer segments, geographies, products/services,
value chain steps (forward or backward) and channels.

The difference between an “adjacency move” from other growth opportunities
is the extent to which it draws on your customer relationships, technologies, skills or core competencies.

its direct sales model -- successful with computers -- to
market hand held computers and printers. Nike applied its
core success formula with athletic shoes to one sport after
another - from basketball to tennis to soccer to golf.

THE BOTTOM-LINE: Those businesses who grow FROM their core
experience *exponential growth.* Such growth is systematic,
high leverage, high return. Those businesses who grow BEYOND
their core are at high risk of *failure* and 3 out of every 4
expansion efforts will misfire.

Acquisition binge can cause indigestion

Over-eating or bingeing is detrimental to one's health. Similarly, over-acquisition can cause corporate indigestion such as over-leveraging, integration difficulties, cultural misfits etc. You are what you eat.

While fast growth through acquisition is a thrilling experience in running businesses, it also holds much more risks than meets the eye. When the company is in trouble, some CEOs also go on a shopping spree - acquisition. It is more glamorous and exciting than trying to fix mundane turnaround issues back in the office. It takes shareholders' attention away from the domestic problems and impressed them with expansionary programs. Rapid acquisition done in haste with inadequate homework, wrong timing, egoistic reasons and impatience for success can result in calamity.

Harvard don, Michael Porter studied the success rate of 33 highly regarded companies over a 36-year period of acquisition. His data revealed that over half of the 'unrelated' acquisitions were later divested. Research by McKinsey & Company found a failure rate of 61% in acquisition programmes, with failure defined as not earning a sufficient return on the funds invested. Sometimes these failures are due to the fact that the acquisition was a mismatch in the first place, with small odds for success.

A high percentage of merger difficulties and failures are the result of defective management. Target companies are strategically sought and stalked, but then the follow-up acts are poorly orchestrated. Often people in both firms will be seriously troubled about how the acquisition may affect their personal careers. A good part of the merger/acquisition planning should be aimed at deciding how these concerns will be addressed. For instance, Novell's merger with WordPerfect caused people in both organizations to experience dismay and the combined company teetered subsequently on the brink of disaster.

After buying WordPerfect for US$855 million, Novell sold it to Corel less than two years later for only US$115 million. Media companies faced similar problems of acquisition binge. The conventional wisdom in the industry that spur such manoeuvre was to grow the business by acquisition. Sony Corporation (Japan) was a case in point of being one of the first to venture aggressively into music and films. The same course of action was adopted by Vivendi Universal (French), Bertelsmann (German) and AOL Time Warner (US). It was believed that a product could be developed, then marketed through a wide range of in-house channels, from compact disks, DVDs, Web sites and even theme parks. This led to a proliferation of businesses requiring different skills and expertise, resulting in the failures of these acquisition ventures.

In their haste to capitalize on the boom years, many companies reckoned that the fastest way to beat the competition was to join in. After all, if you cannot beat it, join it. Thus goes the acquisition spiral. With each new acquisition, it is assumed that revenues automatically jumped up, while margins presumably stayed within acceptable ranges, especially if the deal is accomplished through stock swaps. The growing company acquires not just the market share but the expertise as well. Everything seems to augur well especially from the stock market as long as the company grows and numbers are good. However, therein lies the fundamental flaw with the growth-by-acquisition strategy.

This is what Herb Greenberg of Fortune magazine commented of the US corporate scene: "As with any addiction, the growth-by-bulk acquisition approach necessitates increasing doses of the drug to preserve the high. The only way to keep revenues growing fast enough for Wall Street is to buy ever more companies." Once the growth curve halts and the stock price plummets to an extent that initiates a vicious downward spiral. The company loses its leveraging ability when capitalization decreases and interest expense increases to service the loan financing for acquisition. In the bid to reduce costs, the company starts trimming corners at the expense of quality, customers, and employees.

Therefore, the adage still holds true, "Do not bite more than you can chew". It can become toxic for the company if they go into acquisition binge.

6 Steps to Making Centres of Influence Work

A Centre of Influence is a fancy way of identifying people that have a hugely positive impact on your business. They often refer people and business to you, and are actively glowing about what you provide and how you provide it. Every business needs a couple of these gems, and once you have them, you should bend over backwards to make sure they continue to think positively about you.

But how do you find and connect with these people? Here's an Action Plan that will help make things move faster.

1. Let them know they are special Tell them they are a top client, and let them know about any special treatment or offers that entitles them to.

2. Keep them updated about your business If you want them to continue to refer ideal business to you then you need to let them know what a perfect client or opportunity looks like. If you take on a new direction, or change your products and services, why not take them out for coffee and update them on what's happening.

3. Surprise them regularly Always give them a reason to love your business. Find ways to add value to their business at no or low cost. Send relevant articles or information. Identify web sites of interest. Send them some free product for no reason.

4. Expand their networks Arrange for them to meet others in your network, or invite them to a workshop, seminar or function where they can make valuable new contacts themselves.

5. Design a 'Stay in Touch' system Once you've established the foundations with a Center of Influence, you need to keep your ideas and value in front of them. How will you do that? An eZine, personal mailings, telephone calls or in-person get-togethers?

6. Reward them for referrals When a Center of Influence sends you a lead to a new potential client, make sure you show your appreciation. A phone call, a hand written note and even an appropriate gift lets them know you that you don't take their assistance for granted. Also, keep them in the loop with your progress with this lead.

If you don't think you have any Centres of Influence, why not identify a couple from your existing clients. Use these 6 steps to build on your relationship and cultivate them as future Infleuncers. I have worked with clients who have developed relationships with just two or three good Centers of Influence who have brought them hundreds of thousands in new business. With a focused, intentional plan you could be doing the same.

10 Strategies for Avoiding Overwhelm in your Business

How many of us have been in a position where we have more to do than can realistically fit into one day, or week. So we spend all of our time feeling rushed, being rushed, and wondering how on earth we are going to manage. If you are having that feeling of overwhelm in your business, it's time to take stock of what's going on.

How well you manage yourself and the time you have, is crucial to your success. Wasted time equals lost opportunities. Lost opportunities equal lost business and profits.

Time can't be "saved" - it's an impossibility. You can't find more of it - it's a fixed commodity. You can only manage your activities as time passes. So how are you spending the 60 seconds in each minute - the 60 minutes in each hour - the 1,440 minutes in each day?

What you need is to achieve is working on your top priorities in the most effective way. Here are 10 great strategies for doing just that.

Lesson 1: Prioritize Aside from just listing what needs to be done, rank them from most important to least important. And then complete them in that order. Too often we start with the easy stuff or the quick stuff, regardless of how important it is. Look at the list of things that need to be done. Hi-light the activities that you could put on hold if you had to. How much time could you free up if you put some of those activities on hold?

Be realistic about the number of priorities you have. Most of the activities we are involved in are things we want to do. The problem with overwhelm is that there are many more things we want to do, than we physically have time for. So create some space by telling yourself that you are just putting some activities on hold for now. You are not giving them up forever, but you are giving yourself permission to put some activities on hold - so you can focus on the most important priorities. This may force you to make some tough choices - but it's a pretty empowering thing to do.|

Lesson 2: Be ruthless with e-mail. What a productivity killer email can be if misused. Use a private email address for clients and customers. Get everything else sent to a generic or alternate email address. That way you can deal with your client issues first, and the rest when you have time.

Only respond to your emails at set times during the day. I personally do emails first thing in the morning, and between 2 and 3pm each day. There's no need to respond the instant that you receive an email. This approach simply means you get interrupted all the time, and your productivity remains low.

Lesson 3: Restrict your use of the telephone. Try to devote a certain time of the day to both return and originate phone calls. Carrying a mobile telephone makes us feel as though we've got to be "connected" at all times - but this is just plain crazy. And just because someone calls us doesn't mean we have to answer immediately. Some people I now work extremely effectively by restricting calls to two periods during the day - one period in the morning to make all their calls, and another in the afternoon to return calls and to followup. At all other times, voicemail takes any messages. This may not work for your business, but the idea of not answering the telephone unless it is at a good time for you can really help you with the continuity of your work

Lesson 4: If you don't have time for something, just say so. There is no need to listen politely if you've already decided the conversation is not of interest. Simply say - "I am sorry to interrupt you, but I don't have time for this right now." Yes it's direct, but then you are not sitting there feeling frustrated about the time you are wasting.

Lesson 5: Limit your availability: This is one of the keys to beating overwork. Unexpected and unplanned interruptions and distractions can "steal" your day. An "open door" policy is fine, but not if it has a negative impact on productivity and profitability. Actually schedule time when you can't be interrupted, and let everyone know about it. During that time you don't answer emails, you don't answer the phone and you don't talk to others - you just do whatever it is you've got to do - no interruptions.

Lesson 6: Protect your productive time Each of us knows if we are a morning person or a night owl. We know if our peak productivity times are at 7 am or at 11pm. So make sure you are free and uninterrupted at those times. Try and make this time just for you and devote the activities that need your brain the most at the times you are most productive.

Lesson 7: Plan your day the night before I know - you've heard it before. But spending 5 minutes at the end of the day preparing for the next day helps to orient you in advance and mentally sets you up. So when you get up in the morning, you're ready to go! Do whatever works for you - make lists of activities, check your calendar, enter tasks into your electronic task list, schedule a couple of uninterrupted hours in your diary, tidy away your papers and get tomorrow's ones ready to go. Do whatever you need to to feel comfortable about the next day's work.

Lesson 8: Don't get buried by paper When possible, try to "touch" each piece of paper only once. File it, act on it or toss it! (Periodically, every quarter, purge your files. If you haven't touched it in 3 months, you probably never will...so toss it!). As the saying goes: "Do it, ditch it, or delegate it!"

Lesson 9: Group your appointments If you have several appointments or errands, try to group them all in the same day so that all of your external travel and time is scheduled for one or two days in the week. That leaves you 3 full days in the office without the need to go out for meetings.

Lesson 10: Confirm appointments: Never assume that your 1 o'clock is on! The realization that you've been "stood up" is both frustrating and irritating. A simple phone call or e-mail message, saves time, energy and anxiety.

Management expert Peter Drucker, once declared, "Time is the scarcest resource." Time really isn't scarce, it's uniform and constant. However, your ability to manage it is crucial to your success. If you can't get this part right, you may not need to not worry about cash management!