Category Archives: Business Owner

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Finally Have the Work-Life Balance You’ve Always Dreamed of!

So many of us are searching for a good work-life balance! Why is it that some people seem to be able to manage it all? They have a great career, spend lots of time vacationing with their family, seem to be in great physical condition, have strong long lasting relationships…. We all know them. What’s their secret? I’m going to venture a guess and say since you’ve opened this article that you’re thinking “they’ve mastered the art work-life balance”.

You couldn’t be more wrong. I want you to picture in your mind (or just refer to the featured picture for this article) to a justice scale. On the left, you have your work. On the right, you have your life. The truth is they will never balance.

Work-Life balance does not and will never exist.Stay with me. What I’m about to tell you may change your life!

Here’s why there will never be a work-life balance. Your work is a part of your life. It could never be equal to your life. Our lives consist of a many, many components. Many lives contain relationships with a significant other, relationships with children, siblings, parents, aunts uncles, grandparents, and friends. Life includes hobbies, extra circular activities with children, homework, physical fitness, entertainment, spiritual development, and mental wellness. Our lives should include self-care and caring for others.

When you think of all the facets of “life” the thought of work being equal to that of life is ludicrous. Yet, day in and day out we search for work-life balance.
So back to one of my original questions. What’s their secret? It’s a very simple one. It’s work-life integration. While it’s simple most people will never achieve it. Why? Because you must change your mindset. You must let go of the old “when I’m at work I’m only doing work”.

If you truly want to have a life filled with doing the things you enjoy most you must integrate your work into your life.

 

Let go of the 9-5 philosophy! Who said we must work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day? More and more people are demanding and searching for work that provides a quality of life, not just a paycheck. According to Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workforce, 61% of people are looking for an opportunity with a new organization to “do what they do best with a purpose”. It outranked pay by 4 times!

Seek out an employer or organization that promotes integrating life into work, one that encourages it’s team members to call during “work” hours to make appointments for their children, one that encourages taking time each day for physical fitness, one that encourages results based pay rather than hourly based pay, one that provides autonomy for you to create your “work” time, and one that allows you to access your natural strengths.

The choice is yours.

 Choose your priorities. Too often we want to be great at in everything. We want the best spouse, the best homemaker, the best parent, the best employee, the best looking. We want to sit on all the advisory boards, volunteer until the world is saved, be the free cab service for all the parents who aren’t there to tote the children to and from activities. The truth is it is your life. You only get one.

You have to choose what you do with the limited time you have here on earth. If you are always complaining “I work too much”. Maybe it’s time to look for a new employer. Maybe it’s time to make a trade. Is living in a house that requires you to spend 8 hours a week of your life commuting allow you to live your life? Does your employer offer an opportunity to telecommute? Would buying a new less expensive some give you more time with your family? If you don’t have enough time with your family what are you willing to trade? Your income for a less demanding job? Your position on the local nonprofit organization?

 Stop saying no!

I know what you’re thinking. “I need to LEARN to say no!” Trust me. You say no to countless things every day. You’re not even aware that you’re doing it. Every time you say yes to something you are saying no to another. For example, when your customer asks you to stay late and you agree. You’ve said yes to your customer while simultaneously saying no to something else. You may have just said no to time to cook and have dinner with your family. Maybe you said no to going to the gym. It may have been no to reading your favorite book. You may have said no to the balance you so desire for your life.

So, the next time someone asks for your time before you say yes ask yourself what that yes means saying no to. I guaranty you will immediately begin to feel more balanced when you chose what you are going to do with your time. If time management is a challenge for you The Top 6 Time Management Strategies That are Proven to work! is a must read to have a balanced life!

Therefore, if you want to live a meaningful purposeful balanced life you must decide what that means to you, prioritize, stop saying no, and then make any and every change to achieve it. And stop the work-life balance craziness!

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loyal customer

6 Must Do’s to Get and Keep Loyal Customers for Life!

In this day of abundant choices, instant access, and competition galore how do you get and create loyal customers?

1. Stop advertising and start innovating.

Too often the business owners spend countless hours and dollars on advertising and marketing with very little if any return. Very seldom does it result in a new client, and rarely does it result in creating loyal customers. In order to begin to dominate the market with your product or service, you must first become the innovator.

In the 1930’s a new brand of bread arrived. It was called Wonder. Wonder became the innovators in bread. Yes, innovators in bread. There are thousands of varieties of bread. How did they innovate something as simple as bread? They were the first to sell sliced bread. In today’s world it seems so simple but in the 1930’s it was innovative and changed how bread would be sold forever. How does your product or service compare to that of your competitors? What could you do to become the innovator in your market?

2. Create the Purple Cow.

If you haven’t already read Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow. Get a copy and read it today. Seth refers to creating a purple cow for your company. Americans see thousands of cows every day, black cows, brown cows, spotted cows, and don’t think anything of it. However, if we saw a purple cow we would immediately stop and take notice. We would take pictures, spread it to our friends and family, share it on social media, and probably even call a few reporters to get some pictures for the local paper. What about your product or service has a purple cow effect? What makes your customers want to talk about it, share it, or sneeze it all over everyone they know?

A local restaurant offered wine with every meal. They didn’t charge by the glass or by the bottle. They merely had a note with a bottle of wine at each table that said “Please enjoy the wine with your meal. Just let your server know how many glasses of wine you’ve enjoyed and he or she will add $3.50 per glass to your ticket accordingly.”

The reality is their customers may have never ordered wine with their meal. However, since it was right on the table it was easy to enjoy.

They also found that most customers, once opening the bottle wanted to take the entire bottle home and paid for it. In addition, an average bottle of wine cost the owner $7.00. With a $3.50 per glass charge, if the customer said they’d each only had one glass of wine the entire bottle of wine was paid for by the consumer. If they said they had 2 glasses of wine each the owner made a great profit. And their customers told everyone about it! One of the first questions customers asked when walking in the door was “is it true that we can tell you how much wine we have and you’ll only charge us for what we say”?

With a $3.50 per glass charge, if the customer said they’d each only had one glass of wine the entire bottle of wine was paid for by the consumer. If they said they had 2 glasses of wine each the owner made a great profit. And their customers told everyone about it! One of the first questions customers asked when walking in the door was “is it true that we can tell you how much wine we have and you’ll only charge us for what we say”?

What’s your purple cow? What will you customers want to share? What will turn every lead into a loyal customer?

3. Define your target market.

Americans are bombarded with over 30,000 advertisements and logos a day. Yes, a day! Think about it. Just driving down the interstate you often see thousands in a matter of an hour. Mercedes, Chevrolet, Ford, Nissan, Audi, McDonald’s, Wendys, Burger King, Shell, 7-11, Gas-Mart, Wal-Mart, Sony, Bose, XM Radio, Sirius Radio, Samsung, Apple, Mac, ….the list goes on and on. Turn on the radio, television, or laptop and it’s a blizzard of advertisements. Small business owners can’t compete by simply advertising. However, you can compete if you market directly to your target market. But you must first define who they are.

What is there gender? Women are most often the decision makers in child day care. Where do they live? Is your product or service available in a certain demographic? How old are they? The geriatric physician should market to a different target audience than a pediatric dentist. What form of media do they use? Does your target audience read the newspaper, use the phonebook, research information on google or bing, do they use social media to make buying decisions?

It all goes back to knowing who your potential customers are and then deciding how you will reach them.

Once you reach them, and they buy from you, give them a reason to come back, again, and again. Give them a reason to become loyal customers. If you’re unsure of how to design a marketing plan to reach your target audience we’ve got that too! Get 90 Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners with Little or No Budget.

4. Give your loyal customers a reason to come back.

Do you give your existing customers a reason to buy from you again? Something as simple as a loyalty program can be a game changer for your business. The average consumer will buy from you again if you’ve made them feel important. 68% of customers leave a business because they feel unimportant. How do you make your customers feel important? Do you send thank you cards? Other Special Occasion cards? Do you give them special treatment such as customer only private events? How often do you even ask them to buy from you again?

Chances are if you provide a good product or service, your customer feels they matter to you and they trust you, they will buy again.

Give them just one more reason to buy from you again and you’re sure to get their next purchase. They already know your product or service and like it. They’re already there buying. Give them a special “thank you” or “next visit” offer. They (and you) will be glad you did! Remember if you want loyal customers you must give them a way to show their loyalty!

How do you make your customers feel important? Do you send thank you cards? Other Special Occasion cards? Do you give them special treatment such as customer only private events? How often do you even ask them to buy from you again? Chances are if you provide a good product or service, your customer feels they matter to you and they trust you, they will buy again. Give them just one more reason to buy from you again and you’re sure to get their next purchase. They already know your product or service and like it. They’re already there buying. Give them a special “thank you” or “next visit” offer. They (and you) will be glad you did! Remember if you want loyal customers you must give them a way to show their loyalty!

5. Give them the Pickle… or the Coat.

In Bob Farrell’s book Give ‘Em the Pickle he discusses a letter a restaurant owner received from one of his lifelong customers who decided that he would no longer be a patron of his establishment. The reason? The customer asked for a pickle on the side. The server, who was new to the position, stated that he would have to charge him .25 for the pickle. After several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to explain to the argumentative server that he had never, in 25 years, been charged for a pickle he decided to leave. He also decided at that minute that he would write the owner and make him aware of his decision to not visit his restaurant again.He explained that it wasn’t the cost of the pickle.

It was the principal.

After 25 years of patronage, he was going to be charged for something that he had always perceived as an added value to his experience at the restaurant.Once the added value was taken away, in such a manner, he no longer felt a desire to visit the restaurant for lunch. As business owners, you must know when to give your customer the pickle. You must train your staff to add value to any experience your customers have. This may be an old concept. However, it still stands true today. Provide value and show your customers that they are valued and you will create loyal customers!

6. Empower your team.

Finally, if you truly want loyal customers you must empower your team to add value to any experience your customers have. A customer of Zappos received a phone call from a customer who wanted to return a winter coat. It was too large. The Zappos customer service representative asked that she not return the coat in exchange for a smaller size. He asked that she donate it to a local shelter because there were so many people in need, especially in the winter. He also explained that he would ship her a new coat in her size at no additional charge.
That’s an empowered team creating loyal customers for life!

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business owner

Be a Business Owner and Stop Letting Your Business Run You! 6 Keys to Owning a Successful Company!

Do you want to be a successful business owner? Are you tired of the business running you? Owning a business can be challenging. It can also be extremely rewarding. So why are some businesses so successful while others seem to struggle along until they finally close their doors?

Here are the top 5 things successful business owners do, and you can too!

1. Get a mentor.

A great athlete and successful business owner have many things in common. One of which is they both hire a professional to mentor them. Think about it. Tiger Woods has 5 coaches. Professional football teams have an offensive coach, a defensive coach, a special teams coach, a head coach, and a series of professional trainers. While you may not need to go to this extreme. It is imperative that you seek the guidance of other experts. If you’re considering hiring a Business Coach do your research. Here are 5 Things You Must Consider When Hiring a Business Coach.

2. Build your professional team.

While you are certainly the expert at your craft, I bet you’re not the expert at finance, insurance, business planning and projecting accounting, or human resources. Nor should you be. Ask for the referral of a successful business owner or business owners in your community. Ask for their business partners such as Business Bankers, CPA’s, Insurance Advisors, Business Coaches, and Human Resource Specialists. Meet with your team on a regular basis. I recommend meeting monthly in the beginning and then quarterly after you’re established.

Then meet annually at a bare minimum. Remember, it’s your business, your livelihood, and your life. You need to drive the bus and have the right people on the bus to help you reach your destination.

3. Systematize it.

Too often the business owners …. business…is dependent on the people it employees. Don’t be left hanging if a key employee leaves you. Build a system and workflow process for everything from how to open the business, close the business and everything in between. If you lose a key employee another employee can easily step in until you’ve hired a new employee. Systematizing everything also increases productivity, efficiency, and consistency. Want things done the right way every time? Building the systems is the key.

4. Train and retrain.

Business is an ever evolving machine. Technology, demand, competitors and market demographics (just to name a few) all play a part in the success of your business and your success as a business owner. As a business owner, it’s imperative that you stay ahead of the curve. Educate yourself, educate your team and then re-educate often. Build a training program for each area of your business. Make sure that it’s documented in either, or better yet all, written, audio, and video format. This allows for anyone who joins your team to get up and running very quickly, reducing the learning curve and ensuring consistency in every aspect of your business.

5. Know your numbers.

Your business can live or die by the numbers. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is if it’s not profitable. As a business owner, you should understand your fixed expenses, your variable expenses, and your profit margins per product and service. Budget each year. Always include room for “if this then that’s”. If equipment breaks down. If we get a blizzard. Trust me. Planning ahead for such incidents will allow you to budget for those events and be prepared in the event they happen.

If you have a product or service that is loss making you have two options. Stop offering it or make it profitable. Too often the business owner likes to make offers to get people in the door. Let me be very clear about this. If you offer it once. They will expect it every time.
Meet with your CPA on a very regular basis to review your numbers and plan for the future. They are the experts. Partner with them for the financial success of your business.

6. Acquire the right talent, assign the right roles and develop their talents. 

Too often the business owner will focus on the skill set required for a role in their organization. Skillset can be taught. However, natural strengths and abilities cannot. Gallup latest State of the American Workplace shows that 51% of the American workforce is actively looking for other opportunities. If you think employees are looking for opportunities for higher pay think again. They are leaving, actively looking for an opportunity to be able to do what they do best and do it in a way that fits their life. Discovering the natural talent, then developing the talent of your team is vital to the success of your organization.

So, are you ready to start running your business and become a true business owner? Contact Crystel at CrystelSmith1012@gmail.com to schedule a complimentary consultation!

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5 Signs That You Bought Yourself a Job…J-O-B…Just Over Broke and Just Overwhelmed by Business!

Job. That dirty 3 letter word! Do you really own a business or do you feel overwhelmed and underpaid for your efforts as a business owner? Did you buy yourself a job?

Too often people open a business with great dreams and then soon find themselves working longer days for less pay with far more headaches than when they worked for someone else. If this sounds familiar you may have just bought yourself a job.
Here are 5 signs that you bought yourself a job!

1. You though you could make more money than what your company was paying you.

I’ve found that more often than not the businesses were started because the owner once worked for a company. Yes, you were someone else’s employee. The company you worked for appeared to generate a much greater revenue than they were paying you. You were required to be in the office or on the job for a certain amount of time each week. You knew that you were great at your craft and could go into business yourself and make as much if not more money than the company you were working for. Voila! You started a business! AKA bought yourself a job.

2. You thought you could work less.

First of all, let me tell you that you’re not alone. I hear this from business owners almost every day. “I thought I could work less.” The reality is being a business owner, if not done properly, can result in the owner working far greater hours than their employees for much less money. In fact, I’ve calculated the value of many business owners’ hours. Mr. and Mrs. Smith were master plumbers, each making $65 per hour in their roles at ABC plumbing. They knew ABC plumbing charged their customers $150.00 per hour.

So, Mr. and Mrs. Smith thought if they had their own business they could charge $120.00 per hour, giving them more income in fewer hours each week. The reality? Mr. and Mrs. Smith were each working over 84 hours a week in and on their business. When it was all said and done they were earning $8.03 an hour. If you’re working more than 5-25 hours a week or making less than you could as an employee you’ve bought yourself a job.

If you’re working more than 5-25 hours a week or making less than you could as an employee you’ve bought yourself a job.

The reality? Mr. and Mrs. Smith were each working over 84 hours a week in and on their business. As a result, they were earning $8.03 an hour. If you’re working more than 5-25 hours a week or making less than you could as an employee you’ve bought yourself a job.

3. You thought you could operate the business the way you wanted to.

Many business owners truly believe that they can do it better. While many actually can, many don’t understand what it takes to do it better. They get so focused on selling their product or service that they lose sight of what is truly important to run a successful business. They wake up each day looking for the next sale rather than projecting, planning, and strategizing for the future of their company. If you spend more time acting as an employee you’ve bought yourself a job.

4. You wanted to be your own boss.

Well, how’s that going for you? Is your new boss (you) demanding? Does he or she make you work long hours? Do you get the pay you deserve on a consistent basis? Are you able to truly do what you do best or are you responsible for too many areas of the business like sales, marketing, finance, technology, product and service development, and operations? Are you able to take vacations with your family or does your boss convince you that you can’t leave the business because you have too much work to do? If this is your new boss you’ve bought yourself a job.

5. You wanted freedom.

Maybe, just maybe, you were tired of being tied to a desk or business location. Are you truly free now? Can you take long vacations while your business still runs and continues to grow without your presence…completely without you? I don’t mean you go on vacation with your laptop and work here and there. I mean the business truly runs and grows without any contact with you for an extended period of time. If you can’t take extended vacations you’ve bought yourself a job.

So, if you’re like many businesses I’ve coached over the last several years you can relate to all 5.

However, you can become a true business owner.

Finally, you can have a successful business that runs and continues to grow without you. There are 6 key elements to creating your new future as a business owner. If you’re tired of the rat-race, ready to make a change and committed to success find out what it takes to Start Owning Your Business and Stop Letting it Run You!  Or contact me today at CrystelSmith1012@gmail.com for a complimentary business success consultation!

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Business Coach

Choose Your Business Coach Wisely — They Can Make or Break Your Business. 5 Things You Must Consider When Hiring a Business Coach.

So you’re considering hiring a business coach?

A business coach will lead you, guide you, direct you, and mentor you toward the success of your business… or run it into the ground. I’ve seen many instances of both.

So, for the run it into the ground business coaches or as I prefer to call them…

The Expensive Bad Advice Coach

I met with a gentleman who owned a retail store. As business coaching is not just my job it’s my way of life, naturally, the conversation led to questions about his business challenges and successes. When I asked what his greatest challenge was he replied, “trusting people”. I asked what he meant by that. His reply was “I hired a business coach about a year ago ran up an $18,000 line of credit to pay the coach and almost lost my business taking his advice. And if you can’t trust a business coach, who can you trust?”

The Nickle and Dime Coach

I spoke to another business owner who had just established her business. Her business coach charged her $500 to form her LLC. She asked him for a copy of the certificate. In addition to charging $500.00 for forming the LLC, her coach charged her for a copy. Finally, when I recommended that she retrieve the username and password from him to log on to the State Corporation Commission website, he refused to give it to her. Which meant he had total control over the renewal of her business status forever – or at least until she took measures to remove him as the registered agent. Without the account information that can be a long tough road.

I should mention that in our state the cost of forming an LLC is $100. And there’s nothing wrong with having a registered agent. I often recommend it. However, the business owner should always be in total control of the SCC account.

The Pay Me More Than Your Business Net’s Coach

Another business owner hired a business coach who offered to take a portion of her sales as payment. She asked me to review the contract. I must admit. I was shocked and angry. The contract stated that the coach would receive 25% of all GROSS sales. We quickly ran a few numbers and saw that she was headed straight out of business. Her profit margin per product was only about 6%. Her net income after expenses was approximately 3%. 25% of her gross sales immediately made every sale greatly loss making.

The What The Heck Happened Coach

Another remarkably successful business closed its door after 7 years in business coaching. When I inquired as to why they closed. The coach stated that “it wasn’t his fault. They just didn’t expect so much competition in the market.” WHAT?! First, this was a unique business. This was a long-standing, highly profitable business. People flew from all over the world to become a client of this business, paying tens of thousands of dollars to participate in their program… for dozens of years. I still don’t know what truly happened. I just know that competition should NEVER be the reason for a strong, reputable, profitable business to close – especially after 7 years of working with a business coach!

The Rookie Coach

I took on one of my very first clients as a coach years ago. While I was proud to win ActionCoach Rookie of the year, I was truly a rookie. Sure, I had a background in cash flow projections, financial and business analysis, management, and a whole host of skills too long to mention. However, what I did not know at the time was that this particular client didn’t understand how to calculate profit margins. I assumed, and we all know what happens when you do that, that since she was a business owner she had priced her services with the profit margin she stated. Boy, was I wrong!

We systematized the entire business and began marketing. This client gained about 1 – 2 new clients per month before coaching. Very quickly (with the strategic marketing we put in place) they began to average 3 – 7 new clients a DAY! Sounds great! Who would want to grow their client base by 5,000%? Everyone right? Well, everyone except the business that is loss-making for every new client.

The client did not understand how to price her services. She did not understand how to include an overhead percentage. This business owner did not understand the effective labor rate of an employee. So every time she gained a new client she was losing money. As a result of my assumption and her lack of business knowledge, the business was bleeding! Rookie move coach! I learned very quickly to first check the financial health and profitability of a business BEFORE creating a marketing machine.

So when I say a business coach can make or break your business. I mean they can make or break your business and you.


 

That’s just a few examples of the “breaks” – now for the makes.

Loss Making to Profit Making

My very next client was in for a treat. First things first! We run all of the numbers! Sure enough, almost every project they did was loss making. Their gross revenue was in the millions. However, they were broke. They were losing about 19% per job.

I recommended that the client immediately (based on our calculations) begin job costing and increase his prices to include overhead, effective labor rate, variable expenses, a 20% profit margin, etc. I thought he was going to fire me. He said if he raised his prices he’d never get another job. I said “Good! Then we can stop losing money!” That drove the point home. He did, in fact, take my advice and is now a very profitable business.

From Overwhelmed to Super Successful

After coaching for about 6 months I was approached by a woman who owned a small home based company. She had approximately 14 employees. Their revenue and profits were pretty substantial for a small home base business. This woman had her Masters. She was a former executive. Needless to say, she was one smart cookie. So why would she hire a business coach? She was overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to quit. She was so overwhelmed with the day to day of running a business that she was at the point she was willing to take a reduction in her income to just work for someone else. But she had a passion for what her company provided.

We met and I’m ecstatic to say that today she employs over 100 people, works about 20 hours a week, now has 4 businesses (that run without her), several means of passive income, and spends more time traveling and with her family than she ever imagined she could.

Changes in REG’s Created a Questionable Future – Changes In Coaching Recreated The Future of Success

I received a call from a business owner one day who was worried about a few changes she made in her business based on recent regulation changes in her industry. She called to ask if she could just hire me to help her figure out if she had made the right changes and if her company was going to survive. For 2 years this company had been very successful. Now, since the changes in regulations, which changed the model of her business, she was seeing a decline in her net income month-over-month… not a good sign.

I told Betty that she could not hire me to review her new model and finances and offer her advice. However, I would gladly do that for free. A good coach, an honest coach, a compassionate coach, doesn’t nickel and dime business owners. A good coach will offer their time as a way to give back for that one and done situation. Betty and I met for about an hour. By the end of the conversation, Betty and I realized that there would need to be many adjustments to her once successful company in order to survive. We realized that the majority of all of the clients were now loss making after the change.

Betty had never calculated overhead or profit margins.

Within 90 days, yes it took that long to uncover where the issues truly lied and to make all of the adjustments, I’m happy to say that Betty’s business is profitable with positive cash flow once again! Betty is excited and has even started another business that will provide her with additional passive income. She often reminds me as we look back at how things were when we started working together that her company would have had to close it’s doors in November if we had not made the proper adjustments.

Trading Time For Money To Passive Income

Another local client was trading his time for hours. His rate was $95.00 per hour. Which means if he wasn’t working then he wasn’t generating income. We all know that’s no way to live. Although, that is exactly how most people live. Money is just an idea backed by an action. There is always a way to generate income that provides a means of passive income (income that continues to be generated without you physically being there, such as rental income). Passive income should be a large part of your conversations with your business coach. Life is too short to spend your life, your time, in exchange for money.

This client has projected approximately $106,000.00 in net passive income for the end of 2017. This company’s net income, trading his time for money, prior to coaching was about $8,000.00 per year and zero passive income. This is a life changer for this gentleman.

That is exactly what the best business coach does.

They will lead you, guide you, direct you, support you, motivate you, encourage you, empathize with you, push you, activate and ensure that your achieve your dreams.


 

So, what should you consider when hiring a business coach?

EXPERIENCE

While there are many certification programs for coaching, my experience has been that the majority of the programs focus on teaching the participants how to sell coaching, and a few basic coaching skills, not business skills. Don’t be fooled by fancy certifications. Because a coach is certified does not mean he or she is qualified.  Interview several coaches before hiring. Here are the top 7 questions you must ask a coach during your interview.

    1. How do you analyze the financial health of a business? Insist that they be specific. Keep asking questions until you see their level of expertise.
    2. What is the average profit margin in my industry? To be honest there is no right answer from a good coach on this one. A good coach doesn’t care what the averages are. A good coach will blow average profit margins out of the water.
    3. How many passive income avenues do your current clients have?
    4. Who are your past and current clients and may I meet with them to discuss their experience with you? Trust me, you’ll want to talk to their past clients. There’s a reason that they’re no longer clients. Yes, they may have achieved what they set out to OR they may be out of business. Or they may have had a poor experience.
    5. Who are some other coaches in the area that I should interview? Again, a good coach will share the names of other coaches. I encourage anyone who is interested in coaching to interview the other coaches in the area. There are two reasons for this. We all have different styles, expertise, and engagement levels. Reason one… you need to find the right coach for you. Reason two… As a confident coach who is more than a coach to her clients, I am certain that after given an informed choice of coaches their choice will be me.
    6. How long have you been coaching? Years in business doesn’t equate to a good business coach. However, if you can gauge the time he or she has been coaching, with their number of past and current clients, you will have a pretty good idea how successful he or she is.
    7. What is your retention rate? Good business coaches build long-term relationships with their clients.

RELATIONSHIPS

Because birds of a feather truly do flock together… Who does the coach associate themselves with? A good coach will have relationships with pillars of the community, with admirable people. Look at all of the coaches social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, just to name a few. See who they are connected to, read their conversations. Take the reviews with a grain of salt. Most business coaches ask for reviews. If a client isn’t happy or goes out of business chances are there won’t be a review. Because the business coach didn’t ask for one.

INTEGRITY

While in every industry, there are many honest and ethical people — and many dishonest and self-serving people. Business Coaching is no different. There are business coaches that will sell you coaching just to make a sale. Some will offer advice just to give advice. There are some who will take advantage of business owners who don’t fully understand agreements. Many will keep adding lists of to-do’s just to keep you paying month over month. They will make guarantees that hold no merit.

DON’T BE FOOLED BY GIMMICKS

A good coach will be transparent with you. They will put your best interests first. Your success will be their report card. My success is gauged based on these areas of my clients success: Increase in net profit, Increase in passive income, decrease in number of hours worked, increase in family time (or the leisure of my clients choice) number of new jobs created, goals achieved, dreams achieved, and the happiness of my clients and their teams. Read the fine print about their “guaranty”.

YOUR EXPECTATIONS, GOALS, and DREAMS.

In addition to interviewing a business coach. Write down what your expectations are, what your goals are, (You can begin setting smarter goals here.) what your dreams are, and how hiring a coach would bring value to your business and your life. Be very clear with the business coach when you meet. Ask him or her directly how they will meet your expectations, how they will ensure your success, and what immediate steps you could take even if you didn’t hire them. Remember good business coaches love to give back even if you decide not to work with them. 

CONNECTION

Finally, each of us has different values, morals, and ethics. We all have unique talents, strengths, challenges. Every one of us communicates with a different style. Look for a connection with your coach. Do you share the same values, morals, and ethics? Those things should never be compromised. Your business coaches talents should compliment yours. If you’re great at marketing, but challenged when it comes to numbers. A business coach who is talented with numbers but not strong in marketing may work for you. If you are a naturally reserved person, an outgoing business coach who will push you out of your comfort zone may be a great fit for you.

If I were to hire a coach today. I would expect what I provide to my clients – friendship, encouragement, excitement, motivation, skill set, ability, expertise, drive, and commitment!

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pay vs purpose and talent

Think your employees are leaving for more pay? Think again!

More than half of the American workforce is actively seeking employment!

And they aren’t seeking an extra dollar on the hour or even a 20% pay increase. I spoke to a young adult, Kimberly, about 3 weeks ago. She worked for a company that proclaims to be “client service” driven. This organization has thousands of employees. While they pride themselves on “customer service”. Their idea of customer service is answering as many calls per minute as possible. Their idea of great customer service is answering calls and ending calls as quickly as possible so the customer doesn’t have to sit on hold.

To provide this “great customer service” the managers cancel team meetings. And they often miss employee evaluations. So the employees would  “have more time to drive the numbers up”. While Kimberly’s numbers were in the top 20 (of 40,000) employees, she like most of the American workforce, knew what is important to her. While she was a top producer, with top pay, she was not given the opportunity to do what she does best. Her strength was serving people.In this fast-paced number driven call center environment, she could not serve her customers as she knew they needed to be served. And as she had the natural ability to do.

Her title, after all, was Customer Service Representative.

She had specifically sought employment with this company because the job posting stated that this company was driven by serving their customers. During her interview, Kimberly was only asked several brief questions about her skills. She was never asked what here strengths were. Kimberly was never asked why she chose this company. Had the manager taken the time to ask just those 2 simple questions. Had she explained the talents required for the job, not just Kimberly’s phone skills, this organization could have saved everyone’s time. Kimberly never had the opportunity to share her concerns with her manager.  He had missed her last two scheduled reviews. Furthermore, he spent most his time locked in his office watching the call time log. He was clearly focused on driving numbers, not his employees.

The other employees couldn’t discuss other potential solutions as a team. The manager canceled their team meetings repeatedly. Again, so the employees could have more time to answer…and end calls…and drive the numbers higher per day. Oh,  and provide this great customer service. Kimberly actively searched for a new employer. She quickly found one. She also took a $10,400.00 reduction in pay. Why?  Just to do what she does best for a company who IS service driven and where she can have meaning in her work.

The competition for skilled and talented workers is intense.

Yes, employers, you, can use social media to find talent within minutes. However, employees are super savvy and highly connected through social media. They can spot a good, bad, or exceptional company in seconds. Potential candidates can read about your company, see social media reviews. Talented candidates can decide if your organization is a good fit for them in less time than it would take you to pick up the phone to call them.

If they don’t see an organization that offers them the opportunity to access their talents and fits around their life, they will make one for themselves. They’ll be an Uber driver for 20 hours a week. They will wait tables for 10 hours a week and contract to do assistant work for another 10.

So, your employees are NOT leaving for more money.

They are leaving for an employment opportunity that offers them the ability to do what they do best and work they find meaning in. In fact, they are willing to leave you for a reduction in pay to do so.

Do you want to be the organization that provides your employees that opportunity to access and develop their strengths, to be fully engaged, to drive the four key business outcomes? Optimum Impact is the Elite Team and Leadership Development Organization, Changing the Face of the Business World! 

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Confused business owner employee expense

The 2 Largest Employee Expenses in Business that CEO’s, CFO’s and Even Business Owners Don’t Consider!

I’ll cut right to the chase. #1 Disengaged employees and #2 Employee Turnover

Give me four minutes of your time to explain and possibly change the face of your business and it’s bottom line!

First of all, you must know the answers to these questions.

  1. What is your employee retention rate? If you don’t know, find out, today. If you’re tracking turnover stop today. Rather, track retention, to ensure retention. If the focus is on retaining employees, you are much more likely to retain them!
  2. What do you do to ensure your employees are accessing their strengths, doing what they do best every day, and are completely engaged? If you can’t answer this question immediately, with certainty and excitement start asking yourself this today and every day going forward.

Why?

Because, how long an employee stays and how productive they are while they are there is a direct result of their relationship with their leader.

If you’re like most businesses that I’ve worked with during my 20 plus year career, talent acquisition and employee (talent) retention is a huge challenge. If you think employees are leaving for pay think again.

Have you had an employee leave you recently or do you continuously have employees that leave while you’re caught in the continuous daunting process of filling roles in your business?

Here’s your challenge. It’s easy to see. Grab a mirror. What do you see? You will see the challenge or the real issue. It’s you, or the person responsible for hiring, acquiring talent for your organization. Remember, how long a person stays at a company and how productive they are while they are there is a direct reflection of their relationship with their leader.

I’d be willing to bet, having never even met you, that I know what you’re thinking. “That’s not true.” “They left because………”
“The other company offered them more money.”  “They just didn’t have the skills required for the job.”
“They weren’t a good team player.” “Good help is hard to find in my business.” “People don’t want to work these days.” “People just don’t like change.” Trust me. I’ve heard them all. So, sure, you can come up with a million excuses. Or you can make a change. Right now, today, realize that you are completely responsible for finding the right talent for the roles within your organization. Decide that you are responsible for matching talent with roles, for developing the strengths of your team, for managing them to outstanding performance.

Therefore, if you are the manager or organization with a high turnover the truth is you, (or the person responsible for hiring)  didn’t select the right person with the right strengths for the role. Again, although I’ve never met you, I’d venture a guess and say that you/they focused on skill set. The average employer and employee gorge themselves on skill set while never truly uncovering or even understanding what their natural abilities are.

So, in this war for talent, how do you find the right person with the natural talents required for the role and keep them?

 

  1. First of all, commit to transformation across your entire organization.

  2. Most of all, dig deep. Be all in. What do you have to lose? What you’re doing now isn’t working anyway.

  3. Create a culture of coaching, not  a culture“employee benefits”.

  4. Also, focus on a purpose driven workplace, rather than a paycheck driven workplace.

  5. Foster an environment of engagement champions and leaders. Coach them, develop them, engage them in their work, their purpose.

  6. Uncover, allow every employee to access and help them develop their strengths.

  7. Set excellence as the bar.

  8. Be willing to recast. If your employee doesn’t have the talent to be successful in their role, recast them in a new role that aligns with their talents. That new role may be within your organization or it may be with a different organization.

  9. Let the actively disengaged employees go. You are doing a disservice to them, your business, and your customers by continuing to allow them to be miserable.

Look, you, your organization, all organizations have to adapt to the needs of today’s workforce or you, they will quickly find themselves struggling to attract and keep talent and ultimately customers.

So how do disengaged employees and employee turnover so drastically impact your bottom line?

Per Gallup Polls, 51% of employees are not engaged.

Therefore, they are just there. 16% of all employees are actively disengaged. They are miserable. One actively disengaged employee costs YOUR organization four times the salary of a fully engaged employee. Think of one of your greatest employees, the one who’s job seems to come naturally to them. They love their job! Multiply their salary by four, then multiply that number by 16% of the number of employees in your business. I’d venture another guess and say that number may be higher for your business. In my experience about 35% of the employees we’ve polled have been actively disengaged. Do the math.

Multiply their salary by four, then multiply that number by 16% of the number of employees in your business. I’d venture another guess and say that number may be higher for your business. In my experience about 35% of the employees we’ve polled have been actively disengaged. What it costing you? Thousands? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?

The competitor wins.

You’ve spent time training this employee. Your employee has spent time developing relationships with your clients. They’ve been at your organization long enough to hone their skills. However, their strengths were not accessed. They were not encouraged to do what they do best. They were disengaged and looking for an opportunity elsewhere. Trust me again when I say they were looking while working for you.

71% of the American workforce is actively looking for other opportunities. Now that they’ve honed their skills, developed relationships with your customers, they are ready to leave. Where are they going to go? Directly to your competitor. They are going to take their skills and talents with them. Your competitor may have embraced the new workforce demands. Look out if they have! That’s not all. People quit people. People also work with people, not institutions. You better count on your customers, at least a portion of them, going along with your employee to the competitor.

Turnover is budget killer.

In my experience, the average time frame for an employee to provide a return on your investment is about 18 months. Don’t believe me? Think about your hiring process. Countless hours and dollars are spent by your internal team. While they are marketing for the position, interviewing people, reviewing resumes, and piling through those lists of skills the clock is ticking.  How many hours are spent in the on-boarding process for a new employee? And how many hours are spent training your new employee?

Furthermore, what about your current team? How many of your current teams’ hours are spent showing the new guy or girl the law of the land? What about the learning curve? How long is the learning curve for the new employee to become the expert in his or her role? All, only to have them leave you. So, the next time you hire based on skill set alone be prepared to budget, or spend, one and a half times your employee’s annual income and benefits for naught, or for your competition.

Here’s the bottom line about your bottom line.

Consequently, the greatest determining factor in the four major business outcomes is your team. Let’s face it. If you have a great product or service with large profit margins and low overhead but if your employees are miserable, spreading the word, undermining your purpose, searching for other work while you pay them, being actively disengaged, you may not be around to offer your product or service. Pay attention to margins, cash-flow, and projections, but if you really want to increase your bottom line pay attention to and develop your employees! Are you ready to develop your team? Optimum Impact is changing the face of the business world with innovative, engaging, and results oriented TEL training!

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shocked at competitors

Who your greatest competitors are may shock you!

Before we begin, take one minute and write down all of your competitors that comes to mind.

Do you now have a list of companies that offer similar products and services? Do you have about 10 of your local obvious competitors?

My guess is that you’ve missed your largest competition and who they are may shock you.

Most business owners only consider the obvious direct competitors, missing their potentially largest competitors.

Ask any salon owner who their competitors are. They quickly rattled off 25 other salons. While the other salons are competition, they are not their greatest competitors.

Ask any attorney. I can assure you they will provide a list of other attorneys. Again, not their greatest competition.

What most businesses overlook when it comes to their competition is the educated consumer.

A salon owner would never consider Walmart to be their competitor. The salon owner would argue that Walmart is not their competitor. Why? Because the salon provides at atmosphere, quality products, services, and a level of expertise that the box color on the shelf of Walmart could never provide.

They may be right. However, the consumer, who wants to change the color of their hair has access to thousands of options within seconds. One search using the keywords hair color and 10 different box color options appear on the first page. Try it for yourself. Unless there’s a salon in your area who understands the power of and how to optimizing their site based on consumer searches, you’ll find box color options for pages.

Attorneys seldom, if ever, consider their greatest competition. Again, it’s the consumer. Every legal document known to man is available, accessible, and downloadable in seconds, usually at no cost. Even the large box stores carry a vast variety of legal documents.  Let’s not forget the Legal Zoom and Legal Shield. For about $19.99 a month the consumer has legal access at their fingertips.

Sure, there is a vast difference in the value of the advice, guidance, direction, and experience of an attorney vs the downloadable document. Salons provide an experience that box colors can’t.

However, unless you educate your consumer, they will continue to be your greatest competitor!

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hot air balloon marketing

90 Marketing Strategies for Small Business Owners with No or Little Budget!

Marketing on little or no budget? Yes is it possible!

How many marketing strategies do you have actively working to drive business to your door? 100 or more? If it’s any less than 100 you’re missing countless opportunities!

I know what you’re thinking.

That’s impossible for any small business!

What if I told you it was possible and on a very minimal…almost zero budget?!

Visualize your business. Think of it as a porch with pillars. If you only have two pillars (marketing strategies) and one pillar collapses your roof (business) is sure to fall. However, if you have ten columns, each with 10 different support systems built in, your roof will have continuous support!

Before building your 10 x 10 marketing plan you should first DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET, and Follow this 9 Must-Do’s to GENERATE AND CLOSE LEADS IN TODAY”S MARKET!

Take a moment and list all the general marketing avenues you are currently using. Now, within each one of those avenues how could you utilize that avenue for more potential? If you’re using social media as an avenue what other social media platforms are available. I can think of 10 free social media platforms. The pillar (Marketing Avenue) is social media. The supports (Strategies) are the 10 platforms. That’s 10!

If you have a website what are the 10 things that you could do to generate and potentially close leads on your site? That’s 20!

If you have a referral program, what are the 10 ways you could generate referrals? That’s 30!

The list goes on and on!

Check back or email me at crystelsmith1012@gmail.com for a 10 x 10 downloadable marketing strategy list with over 90 strategies with zero or minimal investment required!

Marketing doesn’t require a hefty investment that’s tied to guess work. If done strategically, efficiently, and effectively it can generate and close more leads than you ever thought possible!

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confused about vision and mission

Is There Really a Difference Between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement?

First of all, if either of these is just a statement to you don’t bother writing them. Too often companies write lengthy meaningless vision and mission statements merely because they’ve heard they need one, for marketing, a business plan, or just because they “should”.

Yes, there’s a difference.

Your company’s vision is exactly that.

The overall purpose, of your company. The big picture that drives every aspect of your business. The why in what you do every day.

Every product, service, system, team member, action in your business should be to achieve the vision of your company.
It should be simply stated, making it easy for consumers and your team to understand, remember, and recognize.

A local company with a clear vision states this “Simplify Life”.

Talk about clear, direct, and easy to understand, and identify! Every decision made in the company for a new product or service should “simplify life”.

Your mission is how you will achieve your vision.

Your mission should be clear, direct, and briefly stated.

The above company’s mission? “Taking care, custody, and control of our customer’s belongings.”

This company provides storage for local residents.

Their why is to simplify life. Their how? By taking care, custody, and control of their customer’s belongings.

As you put your vision and mission into writing, remember this.

Know your why. Make it clear to all those who know or may need to know you. Live it every day. Be very specific about your mission, your how. Act on it every day.

 

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