Category Archives: Business

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Large group of people with relationships

You Can Build Wealth – But You Must First Build Relationships

Relationships are the key to a fulfilled, successful, and yes even wealthy life.  Life is 100% relationships. Think about the people you come in contact with every day. Each one of those people plays an important role in your life. Whether it’s your spouse, children, customer, business partner or even the casual acquaintance. Build the right relationships and you will ultimately build your wealth.

1. Participate in a relationship-based referral group such as Core Dynamics

The key word in that statement is “participate”. You must get actively involved. Just showing up to the weekly or monthly meetings isn’t enough. Will you get some business by just your attendance? Yes. However, if you want to truly grow your business based solely on your referral partners you must get to know them and allow them to get to know you, the real you. People never, and I mean never, like to be sold on product or service. People want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. They want to know how you can help them. Schedule at least 2 lunches or coffee meetings every week before you leave the group meeting. Otherwise, life happens and you’ll be sure to be meeting-less that week.

2. Know, like, & Trust.

Zig Ziglar said it best “If people like you, they will listen to you. If they trust you they will do business with you”. People have to trust you. When was the last time you went to a car dealership to purchase a new car? Did you feel a little uneasy about the process or did you work with someone who you ultimately trusted to help you through the process? Building trust can take months or even years. But I can assure you once people trust you they will refer you to their family, friends, colleagues, and other business owners.

3. Keep it to coffee.

Just about everyone drinks coffee. Meeting for coffee requires less commitment than meeting for an hour over lunch. Within 20 minutes or so you can begin to build the relationship. Schedule your next coffee meeting before you leave. Remember, this is relationship building, not a one and done stop to spew your product or service all over them.

4. Always ask.

Too often I’ve witnessed meetings where the 2 parties involved talk over each other to talk about themselves and their products or services. It becomes a series of bad commercials and no one is listening. Ask them how they got into the business. Find our what their challenges and successes have been as a business owner. Inquire about their family. Get to know them. While it may sound simple refraining from sharing everything we can offer and asking about the other person can be a real challenge.

5. Listen and listen again.

Now that you’ve asked the questions clear your thoughts. Don’t try to think about what you’ll ask them next. Do not think about how your product or service could help them. Just listen. Listen intently. People love to share their stories. Let them share. Building relationships takes effort on your part. Listening and truly hearing what the other person is saying is key.

 

6. Take notes.

Yes, take notes. Let’s face it. The average person only remembers 50% of what they hear after 3 hours and only about 50% of that after 24 hours. If you really want to build the relationship take notes and study them as if you were studying for an exam. People have a genuine need to know people care. Remembering their birthday, their favorite restaurant, their pets name goes a long way. I always ask permission to take notes and share that I can remember things much better if I write it down. Most people consider it a compliment that you would actually want to remember what they’ve told you.

 

7. Keep your word.

Maybe this one is so simple people undervalue the power of doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. Remember, if people trust you they will do business with you. Miss a scheduled meeting, forget to send information you promised you would send or fail to meet a deadline that you assured them would be easy to meet and you’ve probably lost their trust. You may gain it back eventually. However, the process of building the relationship and the trust starts all over again.

 

8. Understand the power.

Many business owners don’t understand the power of relationships. Everything you do in life can be successful or fail because of a relationship. Marry the wrong person and end up divorced. Chose the wrong CPA and end up with a drowning business. Chose and build the right relationships with the right people and it will change your life. Business is an ever evolving target and so are your clients. If you are a small business that relies on local shoppers your time is better-served building relationships than your marketing campaign. Yes, it’s that serious. Small businesses can live and die by a referral. Do a great job for someone who knows, likes, and trust you and you’ll get more business from them. Break their trust and you will lose more business than you will ever know.

See the power.

Here’s a simple example of the power of relationships. Ms. Jones purchased a house. Mr. Ross was her realtor. Mr. Ross recommended Mrs. Davis to provide the financing for the home. Mrs. Davis recommended Miss Scott to provide the home inspection. Miss Scott recommended Mrs. Wright to close the loan. Mrs. Wright recommended Bob Green to help the Jones move. Bob Green recommended Mr. Smith to provide the homeowner’s insurance. Mr. Smith recommended Ms. White to provide the move in and move out cleaning. The Jones family was taken care of through the entire process. Each business gained a client and new business…with zero marketing. All they did was build the right relationships with the right people.

 

9. Block time.

We all have the same amount of time. So, why are some people so successful and others are not? The difference is simple. Successful people block the time to do what’s important. Building relationships is important. Even if you only block a couple of hours a week, block it. Make a half of one day a week your meeting or relationship building day. If you block every Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. to build relationships you could meet 4 people every week. That’s 16 new or a combination of new and existing relationships every month.

 

10. Go give!

We live in a society of go-getters. Be a go-giver. Look for opportunities to help others achieve their goals or just meet their needs. Ask who they would like to meet. Make the introduction for them. Ask what you can do to help them and then do it. Another favorite Zig Ziglar quote of mine is “you can get everything you want out of life if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want”.

 

So, the next time someone invites you to a networking group, get excited for the opportunity to create and build a new relationship!

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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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business woman multitasking

5 reasons Why Multitasking is Inefficient, Ineffective, and Ultimately a Terrible Way to Work!

Let’s start with a challenge. You must participate exactly as instructed. Ready to start multitasking?

Here’s the challenge. Get a pen or pencil, a sheet of paper, and stopwatch. Your phone will do if it has a stopwatch feature. Do not read any further if you do not have all of these in hand.

Now that you have all three, hit start on your timer or stopwatch and write the word multitasking. Stop the timer as soon as you’ve finished. Do not read any further until you’ve finished this challenge.

How long did it take you? I’m going to venture a guess and say it took you between 5 and 7 seconds. Am I right? Yes, I’ve done this a few times.

Again, get your pen, paper, and stopwatch. Write the numbers 1 through 12 in order. Begin the timer when you start and hit stop when you’ve finished.  I bet it took you between 5 and 7 seconds. I’m right again, aren’t I?

Once again, get your pen, paper, and stopwatch. This time interchange the letters of the word multitasking with the numbers 1 through 12. Like this M 1 U 2 L 3 T 4….until you’ve written the whole word and all the numbers 1  through 12. Go! Did it take you about 30 to 35 seconds?

I’ve just debunked the theory of multitasking being a productive way to work.

While you were focused on one single task, whether it be writing the word or series of numbers, you were focused. On the other hand, while you were trying to accomplish two things at once, you were challenged to stay on track, to remember the next step. As a result, you probably even missed a letter or number. Didn’t you? So much for accuracy.

It actually took you 3 times the amount of time to accomplish the same two tasks when you tried to do them at the same time! Now that’s inefficiency! That’s multitasking!

Multitasking is the opportunity to mess multiple things up at once and take longer to do it!

Still unsure if I’m right? Try the next challenge.

Get your timer out again. Hit start and recite Mary Had a Little Lamb. Ready….go!

How long did it take you? About 4 to 5 seconds?

Again, reset your timer and hit start and recite Jack and Jill. It probably took you 4 to 6 seconds. Right? No, I’m not watching you. I’ve just trained organizations for years on how to be efficient, effective, and productive with their time.

Reset your timer. Hit start and recite Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jack and Jill, interchanging the works. Like this…Mary Jack Had And A Jill Little Went ….. Ready? Go!

How long did that take you? Could you even get half way through? Did you laugh? Were you frustrated? You probably just gave up. I’m willing to guess that you did all the above. I’m also certain that you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do.

Why? Because you were multitasking! How many mistakes did you make? And how many times did you hesitate? How did it make you feel? A little overwhelmed? Unsuccessful?

That’s exactly what multitasking does. Yet we are proud of our multitasking ability. We announce it on our resumes as if it were some great expertise that we’ve mastered. “Great at multitasking!”We make it a requirement in job postings. “Must be able to multitask.”

Requiring multitasking to be a skill for a job requirement is like demanding that someone throw their time and your money out the window as quickly as possible, and then, and only then, will you hire them.

If someone says they are great at multitasking, challenge them to these two examples. Or have them type up a 2-paragraph description of why they want to work for you…while you continue to talk to them.

Here are your top 5 reasons that multitasking is a waste of time and money.

It takes the average person approximately 5 minutes to refocus once they’ve been distracted.

While you’re responding to an email the phone rings. Rather than continuing to finish the task at hand, email,  you answer it, still distracted by the email. The caller needs something from you. Whether it’s to schedule an appointment, check the availability of a product, or just answer a basic question. Your mind must shift to fill their need. Once you’ve ended the conversation you now must shift your mind back to the email at hand….if you can remember what you were doing before the phone rang. How many times have you thought “now what was I doing?” It takes several minutes for your brain to adjust back to the previous task.

Multitasking is the opportunity to mess two things up at once.

Maybe you’re the person who continues to type while you have a phone conversation. How many times have you typed what you or the other person was saying? We’ve all done it. How about the last time you were talking on the phone and putting groceries away? Have you ever found something where it didn’t belong? That’s because you were multitasking.

It’s a complete waste of time.

Time is the most precious thing we have. We have no control over time, only control over our use of it. Why would you spend twice the amount of time or three times the amount of time to accomplish something? I challenge you to spend your day as you usually do, “multitasking”. Then, spend the next day doing things in blocks of time. Not possible? Sure it is. You can read more about The Top 6 Time Management Strategies That are Proven to work! here.

People will feel like you just don’t care.

I worked for a multitasker for two years. Every day it was the same routine. “How was your day Crystel?” As he looked through his phone, responded to texts and emails while responding to “my day” with mm hm’s and uh huh’s…..never looking up. Inevitably he would have to ask the same questions over and over again. Because he was multitasking. I certainly didn’t feel like he cared. It was as if I didn’t matter at all. Have you ever walked into a business and while waiting on you, the customer service person answered the phone and suddenly you were having a conversation through sign as they point to the card reader? How did that make you feel? Have you ever been in the middle of checking out of a doctors office and the receptionist answered the phone? You just became less important didn’t you?

Finally, there is no sense of accomplishment.

How often do you leave work thinking “I was so busy today but I didn’t get anything done!”? Well, you were right. You were busy alright, busy multitasking, not accomplishing. Have you ever left work feeling overwhelmed and you had nothing to show for all your efforts for the day? That’s because multitasking didn’t allow you to finish any one thing successfully.

So, the next time you pride yourself on multitasking or require multitasking as part of a role in your organization, think again, refocus on what the outcome should truly be and then focus until you’ve accomplished it, one thing at a time. If you truly want to be productive, efficient and feel accomplished. Stop multitasking and start managing your time with these Top 6 Time Management Strategies!

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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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Time Management

The Top 7 Time Management Strategies….That are Proven to Work!

I’ll get right to the point. You cannot manage time. Go ahead. Give it your best shot. It will never happen. It is unmanageable. Like it or not, we are all given the same 24 hours in a day. It comes and goes no matter what we choose to do during that 24 hours. So, if we cannot manage time how do we get more accomplished in less time or in the time allotted to make our accomplishments?

Therefore, you, my friend, must manage YOU! It may be tough to hear but I don’t share to make people feel better. I share to make people BE better.

Here are the facts. The average American lives to be 77 years old. That’s 4004 weeks. Yes, let that sink in. You may be blessed with many more years. However, since this is an average you may have less. By the age of 30 if you live to be 77 you have about 1924 weeks left.  Are you in your mid 40’s? You may have about 1664 weeks left. In your mid 50’s 1144 weeks. By age 65 (when most people retire) we have approximately 624 weeks of life left…if we live until we are 77.

Furthermore, subtract a number of hours you sleep, if you sleep 8 hours a day, and that only leaves about 417 weeks of living….of time. Once again, you can’t manage time. You must manage you and what you do with your time.

First of all, determine the value of your hour. If you’re a business owner and spending an hour gaining a new client would generate $1,000.00 in revenue why would you spend an hour driving to the bank, making a deposit and then driving back? What value is there to an hour of time with your family?

If you only had one hour to spend with them what would that be worth? Priceless right? Yet we spend countless hours on tasks that generate no true value. Sure, we can provide reason after reason for doing all the things we do throughout the day. “Someone has to to do it.” The reality is someone may have to do it but it may not HAVE TO be you.

2.Delegate, delegate, and then delegate some more. Make a list of all of your daily responsibilities. List them in order of most challenging to least challenging. Then drill down even further. Note the responsibilities that you enjoy doing, that come naturally to you. Finally, write the name of the person who has the talent and ability to do the least challenging and least enjoyable things. Then, let them do it! Remember, if your hour is worth $1,000.00 then paying someone $10.00 or even $20.00 an hour to accomplish some of your responsibilities is a great investment!

Schedule your success. This was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever accomplished in my career. A schedule? How could I? I had to generate new prospects, complete call logs, attend company meetings, collect financial data (tax returns, personal financial statements, Profit & Loss, Balance Sheets) analyze all of that data for every customer, for every business, write credit memos, complete applications, service loans, close loans, attend closings, converse with underwriters, attend networking meetings, review appraisals, support my administrative assistant,…the list went on and on.

As a result, I was overwhelmed on a daily basis. UNTIL I created my own schedule and I made the best use of my time. Beginning with blocking  time on a Google calendar (a recurring schedule that I would stick to every week) I scheduled blocks of time for email, blocks for making calls and returning messages. Also, I scheduled time for networking and time for financial analysis, and any other “paperwork”. Finally, I scheduled time for meeting clients. Then,  I stuck to the schedule.

Position your customers, clients, and anyone else who needs your time. Remember, it’s YOUR time.If someone wants to meet with you. Look at your calendar and schedule them during one of your “meeting time slots”. Most people relinquish their time to accommodate everyone else’s demands of their time. How often have you said “Sure, we can meet. What works for you?”

Consequently, you are giving them control over choosing what time you will give them and when. On the next occasion that someone wants to meet with you check your calendar and say “Sure, I have this day at this time or that day at that time. Which one works best for you?” Continue to offer them what YOU have available on YOUR schedule until something works for them.

Only check email 2 to 3 times per day. Do not check your email first thing in the morning or as the last thing before you leave. Sounds crazy huh? It did for me too. But this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Look, email is just a filing cabinet for other peoples’ agendas. And your time is valuable.

Position your clients, customers, and anyone else who emails or calls you. Set up auto responses on your email and change your voicemail today! An auto-response sets the expectations for your customers. “Thank you for your email. I will be checking and responding to email at 10:00 am and 3:00 pm daily.” Now your customers know not to worry. They know precisely when, and that you will get back to them. I can assure you this will stop the “did you get my email?” “did you get my message?”

It will also provide time for you to focus on the task at hand rather than trying to multitask. Multitasking is Inefficient, Ineffective, and Ultimately a Terrible Way to Work!

Learn to say “YES”. You’re probably thinking “I need to learn to say no.” The reality is if you are thinking that you’re already great at saying no. Because every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else. Here’s what I mean by that. When a customer asks if you can stay late or and just can’t say no, you have just said no. By saying yes to your customer, you may have said no to going home to your family on time. Maybe you said no to having time to cook dinner. You may have said no to being able to help your children with homework. Learning to say yes is a must! You must learn to say yes.

When someone wants your time you must consider if you say yes to them what you are truly saying no to.

Be conscious. Be aware of what the “no” will be if you say yes to someone. There’s always a no. When I’m asked to give someone time I always ask myself if I say yes to them, what am I saying no to? If the answer is family I will choose to say yes to my family and thus no to that person. If it means saying no to doing laundry….then it’s a yes I’ll be there!

I’ve applied all 6 of these in my personal and business life. I’ve coached countless business owners and teams to manage themselves….not time. This takes practice and a lot of it. But I can assure you if you continue to practice these 6 steps until they become your lifestyle, your life, your business, and your days will be much more productive, profitable, and fulfilled.

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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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Finally, an Easy Way to Project Cash Flow and the Sustainability of Your Business!

How many times have you been asked for cash flow projections only to throw something together based on what you think the banker or CPA needs? One time is too many!

If you’re ready to see the future of your business, verify that it’s sustainable, this article is a must read!

While most business owners see cash flow as a daunting process it doesn’t have to be. As a matter of fact, it can be very exciting to see the financial future of your business! Projecting cash flow allows you to see the financial picture, allows you to create a budget, and arrange your ebbs and flows of cash in order to sustain a profitable business. Sounds more exciting now doesn’t it?

Here are a few simple steps to successfully projecting cash flow.

  1. Create an easy to use template. Something as simple as excel can be a very useful tool for projecting. You will need tabs/pages for the following. You may also download a cash flow projection sheet if you’re not the expert in excel.

    1. Cash In (All of your revenue broken into weekly columns)
      1. This will be a weekly forecast of all expected income
        1. Columns
          1. Sources of income such as retail sales
        2. Rows
          1. The week ending date for 3 consecutive months
        3. Cash Out (All of your expenses broken into weekly columns)
          1. This will be a weekly forecast of all expenses
            1. Columns
              1. Sources of expenses such as rent
            2. Rows
              1. The week ending date for 3 consecutive months
            3. Cash Flow Summary (This is the page that calculates a combination of your cash in and cash out tabs.)
              1. Columns
                1. Beginning Cash
                2. Cash In
                3. Cash Out
                4. Available Credit
                5. Available Cash
              2. Rows
                1. Corresponding weeks
  • Let excel do the calculating for you.
    1. Sum each column on the cash in and cash out pages
    2. Connect the corresponding total to the cash flow summary columns
  1. List all of your reoccurring expenses with monthly amounts and due dates. Such as…

    1. Rent
    2. Insurance
    3. Payroll
    4. Marketing
    5. Professional Fees
    6. Dues
    7. Subscriptions
    8. Auto Expense
    9. Loan payments
    10. Owners Draw
  2. List all of your expected revenue with expected amounts and dates of receipts. This can usually be easily found in your accounts receivables.

  3. Enter the data into your template weekly. For example, if your rent is due on the first of every month, enter the total rent due in the first week of every month on your template. In the same manner, enter all of your expenses on their corresponding due dates. Likewise, enter all of your projected income on the dates you expect to receive them.

Viola! You’ve successfully projected cash flow and the sustainability of your business. Well, for the next 90 days. You must continue the process every 90 days. Review, update and manage your cash flow on a weekly basis. Schedule recurring time weekly to do this.  Do you want to take the fast track? Email me at crystelsmith1012@gmail.com for a complimentary cash flow projection workbook!

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generating and closing leads

9 Must-Do’s to Generate and Close More Leads in Today’s World!

9 Must do’s to generate more leads in today’s world!

Marketing in it’s simplest form is buying customers. As a business owner you must know what you’re willing to spend to gain a new customer, create a budget, set goals, market, track, adjust, and market again.

  1. Determine the lifetime value of your client.

    1. Average Dollar Sale
    2. Number of times your client buys from you
    3. Average number of years your client buys from you
Average Dollar Sale $100.00
Average Number of Purchases in One Year 6
Average Number of Years We Retain Our Clients 3
Lifetime Value $1,800.00

 

  1. Determine what you are willing to spend per client.

    1. If the average lifetime value of your client is $1,800.00 would you be willing to spend $100.00 to get them in the door? Would you be willing to spend $300.00? You must determine what you’re willing to spend for a new customer.
  2. Create a budget with an allowable acquisition cost per client and set a target goal.

    1. If a marketing strategy requires a $300.00 investment and your allowable acquisition cost per client is $100.00 then your goal should be to gain a minimum of three clients. Any less than three clients and your acquisition cost just went up.
  3. Target your client.

    1. Since you know your target market, use mediums that they actively use. If you are unsure of who your target market is, stop and DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET!
  4. Create the offer.

    1. Be clear and specific in your strategy. Tell your client what the specific offer is.
  5. Give them a call to action.

    1. So often advertisements lack a call to action. Customers are left with basic information about a company with either no offer or instruction to get the offer.
  6. Track your leads.

    1. If your strategy isn’t generating any leads you may want to change your medium,  your offer, or your call to action. If it’s generating leads as you expected you may want to boost your marketing with the medium.
  7. Track your conversion rate.

    1. What good are leads if you don’t close them. They are absolutely no good. As a matter of fact. They are costing you time and money. If you’re not converting leads you may not have set clear expectations. Or you may just need to just get better at closing the sale. If your prospect decides not to buy ask them why. Be sure to explain that you’re collecting this information to improve your message in the future.
  8. Wash-Rinse-Repeat

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