The Devil’s in the Details

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Being a business owner is a multi leveled and sometimes multi personality, ongoing crazy train with mountain highs and valley lows intermixed.  Phew! 

“Never a dull moment.” they said. “Always an adventure”, they claimed.

Crazy train or not – this is your business.  Your life – YOUR adventure.  So buckle up!

Just as you need to visit the 50 ft view of your business  – you also need to drill down into your business on a regular basis.  Consider it a self inflicted business audit. Your business could have leaks you don’t know about. You could have potential issues you have let slide. And we all know that leaks – especially the unsuspecting ones are what can sink a ship.

A few things to consider …

If you have memberships and subscriptions for your business, yourself or your employees, you need to check on these from time to time. They could be memberships to online courses, subscriptions to software or access to platforms.  Some may be obsolete to your business but haven’t been canceled. Some you may have outgrown.  The more employees you have, the more you may find this internal audit pertinent to your business. If you are on the fence about keeping a service, reach out to the company and see if they have a lesser package or will discount your rate.  It’s amazing what some companies will do to save you as a customer.

If you sell products online, do you check for failed payments or abandoned carts? This is a huge area of leaking money.  If you have failed payments on subscriptions or on payment plans – they can easily get missed. You need to have these audited at least twice a month.  If you have an online store make sure you setup an automated abandoned cart sequence to reach out to your customers when they have left items unpurchased. 

If you change employees, do you have a procedure for offboarding?  Changing passwords, cleaning up files, transferring information. Many people think this isn’t necessary or perhaps they will get to it ‘later’.  We all know that ‘later’ is easily forgotten. Make sure you have a documented process for locking down information when employees leave the company.  This isn’t a process out of fear – this is a process out of necessity.

A profitable business isn’t just about making money.. It’s about finding the areas to save in.  A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Regardless if it’s new revenue through increased sales or found revenue in savings, it still increases your bottom line.  So don’t discount the ability to find savings for your business. 

Remember, just because it’s what has always been done, doesn’t mean it’s still relevant today.  Keep this in mind as you schedule quarterly audits of your business. 

Let’s Go Fly a Kite

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Let’s go fly a kite….Up to the highest heights….

It’s time to soar above your business and take a look at the big picture. Zoom out on your business and layout the schematics for your master plan.  Allow yourself to dream – big!

Building a business can be like a puzzle but if you’re not careful it can feel like – and look like – you are building it blindfolded.  Imagine if you were trying to put a puzzle together without the picture? The pieces wouldn’t make sense. They wouldn’t get put into the right places – and ultimately you would take it apart and put it back together over and over again.

You need to compile all the ‘what ifs’ and all the possibilities and create a mind map of your incredible journey.

Sometimes we get so busy with the day to day details of running our business that we forget to dream. We have a set pattern we follow, fires to put out and when it gets right down to it, a business to run. This is what business is about.  And if you are a business owner you are continually in the heart of it.

Yet having that big picture – the ultimate dream, is something you need to visit from time to time. Regardless of what type of business you have there are always different avenues you could be adding to your business.  You could become an author, you could create an online course, you could become a speaker, you could give seminars, you could develop a complimentary line of products to go with your services, you could have retreats, and the list goes on.

Have a big dream – and visit it from time to time. Soar up into the clouds and look down on the dream.  Give it the 50 ft view. And when you look close you will see the red pin: “You are here”

Marco? Polo!

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Have you every played the Marco Polo game? This can be the same game you play in locating your customers.

The truth of marketing lies in the ability to find your ideal customers. Sometimes it’s the biggest game of hide and seek, but research and due diligence will pay off.

How to find your customers.

Finding your customers actually starts before you have a service or a product and was probably partially started without you even thinking about it. For example, if you have a chiropractic business you know that your service is better health, pain relief and adjustments. But the depth of your service and clientele can go much deeper if you have a specialty or a need in your area. Maybe you deal with elderly or children. Maybe you deal in sports injuries or car related injuries. Maybe you are developing a health management around better overall health. Whatever it is you are offering finding the audience who will benefit from that offer is key. You need to start asking the questions as if you were in a consultation speaking directly to your future patients or customers. Be inside their mind as they go through dreams and ambitions, pain and suffering. You need to become the answer they seek – before they are even seeking.

How to reach your customers.

There is not one answer that blankets all services and all customers. This comes back to meeting your customer where they live. If you have an active group who is always on the go you need to find out where they are going. Business owners can get so fixated on one option that they forget there are so many others ways to reach customers. Many people have been fixated on Facebook advertising. But this is not always the best avenue for your customer. Remember to think as the customer. And never fail to think out of the box. Developing marketing campaigns around your customer. If you are that chiropractor and you are looking to reach the active set, maybe you consider billboards that are along the route to popular hiking or biking destinations. You may also consider sponsoring a 5k run. If you are targeting an active customer who is always on the go, consider reaching them via direct mail.

You need to spend time thinking about who your customer is and where to find them, allow someone to help you think like a business owner can be a crucial step. Find a strategist or consultant who will help you drill down and define who your customer is and ingenious ways to get in front of them.

Tour Guide for Your Business

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Congratulations! – You’re a business owner.  

You’ve put thought, sweat, tears and many late nights into your business and here you sit. … thinking about the future. At least I hope you have looked to the future.

All business needs to be prepared for growth and by preparing for growth your business needs to be scalable. This means processes need to have the ability to be automated and systems have to be formidable.

Once you have customers into your fold you need to be able to lead them by the hand and they need to follow you through the growing of your business without too much turbulence. As long as you have set forth a solid guide ( read up on brand manuals here) (link to post) – you will be able to make changes to your business in a way that allows your customers to grow with you.

Think of Starbucks.  A huge chain that has grown massively over the years. When looking at the evolution of their logo – it’s a perfect example of guiding the customer.

 

In over 40 years just their logo evolved to what it is today.  Throughout it all they kept their branding consistent yet managed to now have a representation of their company which is recognizable by only an image. If you notice, the business name doesn’t appear anywhere on their logo any more. They are image only.  The power in the following that allows their brand to be equated to just an image is immense. They took their customers by the proverbial coffee cup- in baby steps – and didn’t miss a beat.

No one knows if Starbucks has reached their full growth potential or if there will be more changes on the horizon, but you can rest assured their tribe will have no trouble following the aroma… and logo, wherever it may lead.

 

Branding – It’s all in the Manual

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Admittedly with the many journeys we take in life there are no manuals given out. Just considering parenting – case and point!

But in business your brand manual is your bible of truth.  You will never underestimate the complexity of design along with the simplicity once it’s complete. Your brand manual becomes your “go-to” reference for everything to do with the look and feel of your business. It can contain information about your avatar, your mission statement, your colors, fonts, and styles. Plus so much more.

What is the purpose of a brand manual?  

Consistency.

It’s a base layer and foundation of trust with your community.  A very simple example is this:  Jim gets a postcard in the mail offering him a $50 discount on a purchase at a new company. The elaborate postcard is tastefully presented in black, orange and white with a website to visit and a code for the discount.  The name of the company is SuppliesRUs. Interested in the discount Jim visits the website to see a site filled with supplies, but the logo states Supplies4U and the website is red, white and blue. Already Jim’s trust has faltered. As he clicks through the pages of products he notices that some have bold flashing headlines while others are lower case and in a script style font. Jim continues adding to his cart, easily adding $200 worth of supplies but when he clicks on the order button he is taken to a nondescript page without a logo or information. The page shows his total – a place for his coupon code and “Pay Now” in big letters.  

Poking around the site a bit more Jim can find no information on the company, it’s holdings or a common “About Page”.  Being fully aware of scams, Jim leaves the page and deletes all his information. The risk isn’t worth the $50 reward. Consistency would have given Jim more peace of mind thus allowing him to continue with is $200 purchase.

Think of how many times when shopping online that you click on an advertisement inadvertently or click on something that opens in a new tab or window.  Sometimes it’s hard to know where you started – besides the basic distraction factor – it can be difficult enough to stay on task for some people. 

This is where a brand manual will come into play.  Your colors, styles, fonts and message will be set. Everyone who builds or designs anything for your business will be given the brand manual to follow.  It’s up to you and your team to use the concepts consistently on materials, handouts, business cards, order forms, websites and promo materials.  

Don’t run the risk of losing the hundreds of Jim’s who visit your website because you haven’t taken the time to define your business.

Branding and Consistency

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Who am I? I’m not referring to Shakespeare’s Soliloquy but more specifically referring to who are you in your business and how is that portrayed.

This is an aspect of every business that requires some deep thought and some difficult questions. As with any important decision it’s good to have a sounding board to help you sort through to find the answers.  Whether that is a partner or consultant, having one in your corner is always a good thing.

Thinking about your business, you may just be starting out or you may be established with years under your belt, regardless of where you fall it’s important to know your role. Business owner, founder, CEO, etc are only titles so let’s take this a step further and discuss image. When asking ‘Who am I?” refer to it as your business.

First step is defining if you are a B2B or B2C company and then diving deeper into are you a service or product based business. B2B is products or services that are sold from one business to another and B2C is products or services which are sold directly to customers. For example you may be a parts manufacturer who sells to auto stores or car dealers. This qualifies you as a B2B. The auto store is considered B2C because they sell to the everyday customer.

Maybe you ARE the business. Authors or public speakers can be ‘the business’ even though they have products or services sold under their name. Radio or Talk Show personalities can also be labeled as ‘the business’.

Once you’ve determined your type of business you can start looking at and developing the image of your business. Too many times businesses don’t think past the logo or their saying. But branding and consistency go so much further. For example, a logo needs to be created in both a picture and text only image. There needs to be a stacked and un-stacked logo. The logo needs to be in black/white – plus the reverse as well as color.

This same consistency needs to carry over into every page, every pdf, every mailing, every header. It must be on everything you use or send out.

Stayed tuned to hear about fonts. Style, size, and variants all have a very important role

Building Your Empire – Secret Sauce

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The grand champion of business is your ability to continually grow and monetize your following.

Call it your tribe, if you will. These people who have found their way to your table need to be nurtured and fed. You will give them education, communication, tips, treasures and they will think of you as a friend.

A tribe that is attentive and engaging is gold. Not only does this improve your business today, but a well nurtured following increases the value of a business when it is sold. It’s a built in legacy feature.

The problem is that many businesses forget to take care of their tribe. They think that once you have them in your fold they will stay and remain happy. But everyone needs attention and special treatment. We live in the land of chaos and shiny objects that can fill our mind and blind our vision, ultimately leading us off course. By nurturing you have the ability to elevate you and your business to expert or authority status.

This continual nurturing also helps to ensure that they won’t forget who you are. For example, Susan owns a local bakery. She’s built quite the following and is known for her scrumptious creations that melt in your mouth. By reminding her customers of her weekly specials she is staying in the forefront of their mind. Then when she has a new menu item or specialty it is easily announced and received with grand reviews as people flock to her bakery to try the delicacy.  If she hadn’t been nurturing her following and suddenly sends an email announcing her latest temptation it may be greeted with “Who’s Susan? Do we have a new bakery?”

By continually speaking to your tribe you have eliminated the need to re-introduce yourself time and time again. It is now an automatic “Susan has a new specialty we have to stop by this week”.

This is also another way you solidify your branding. By keeping your brand in front of your followers they begin brand association.  Stay tuned as we discuss this in detail in the coming weeks.

For now know this:  build a following, nurture your following, success is eminent.

Building Your Empire – Second Course Served with Napkins

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If you are building your empire, no matter how long you’ve been in business, you need to advertise.

Let’s take marketing.

Marketing has been around since the beginning of time.  Even the crazy inventions, like the wheel, had to be marketed. So to say that there aren’t any ‘new’ ideas out there is pretty true. I’m not saying what you serve your marketing on, hasn’t changed but the same ideas and concepts, philosophy and psychology remain the same.  (If you haven’t caught our light bulb moment on Aristotle check out our Facebook page)

At the same time Marketing is the part of business that can get a little messy. (Hence, the napkins) Because even though marketing has been around… and around, it still requires specific knowledge about your products and your clientele as well as the best ways to reach them.  You will be providing solutions for your customers.

This then becomes testing.

Marketing is about finding the best way to reach your audience where they are. Whether that’s at their dinner table, at their gym or at the soccer game, you need to know where to find them. There isn’t a “Build it and they will come” exact science to marketing.” It’s like leading a horse to water….  You have to have the right water, in the right location and the horse has to be thirsty. The right marketing will make sure your product reaches your potential clients when they are thirsty.

Through marketing you will appeal to their dreams, their frustrations and give them solutions to their anguish.  You will be the answer they may not have even known they were searching for. You do this through direct mail, email, social media, video, etc.  Once you’ve discovered the medium and method that works you can begin re-targeting and reverse marketing.

Make sure to check back to see how these can work for you.

Building Your Empire – First Course Served With a Fork

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Does the thought of growing your business seem a bit overwhelming?

We all know the proper way to eat an elephant is one bite at time, but if you aren’t given an eating utensil or don’t know what utensil to use, you can never even begin to enjoy the delicacy.

Growth in business is dictated by solutions and action. Debating the answer or developing excuses is a sure fire way to make sure your business is in the same exact place this time next year.  And at that moment, a year from now, you will be asking yourself the same questions. Do I use a spoon or a fork? Do I need a knife? What sauce is best served with elephant?

Action is what gets it done. Of course you have a choice. You can say you don’t like elephant and you don’t want to eat it.  In turn, accepting where you are right now. But if you’re not profiting, not building, not growing your business the way you at one time thought was an option then it’s time to take action.   

You may want to consider the fact you may need help along the way. Trust goes a long way in business as it relates to your customers. You need to also consider trust in finding answers to building your empire. You spend time to build a relationship with your customers so you need to build a relationship with your business consultant, coach or marketing team in the same fashion.

Many times we forget what we already know. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve worked with clients that say, “We used to do that and it worked really well.” and of course the reply is, “Then why did you stop?”   Having someone work with you who can step back, look at your business and see it with energized eyes is one of the most beneficial tools available. It’s a way to help you start eating your elephant.

Systems and Measures

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Systems and Measures

At the end of the year it’s inevitable that someone will approach you and ask, “How did your business end up for the year?”  Your answer, flippant and narrow for the conversation, is usually a simple, “Great.  We ended on a high note.”  or “There’s always room for improvement”. But, do you really know?  

Before you can talk about or understand what ‘success’ is for your company you need to define how you measure success.  Profit and loss are an easy way to look at it but there is a time in your business when you need to go deeper.  

  • How many leads did you get per month?
  • What is your conversion rate on those leads?
  • What was the cost per lead?
  • What is the longevity of a customer?

Once you decide what defines success you need to put systems in place that help you collect the data needed so you can measure. Data is your friend.  The more you have and understand the intricacies of it, the more you will be able to adapt and make changes for greater growth going forward.

Compiling and collecting data is a great tool.  But you need to be able to read the data and use it to strategize a plan. For example, let’s say your efforts are bringing in 50 leads per month and you are spending $1000 to get those leads. But of those 50 leads only 5 are becoming customers. Your cost per lead may be $20 but your cost per conversion is $200. Then of those 5 new customers none of them purchased again.

This information says the leads you are getting aren’t the right people. Either your target audience or your messaging may not be connecting.  The fact that the new customers didn’t become repeat customers says that your nurturing process needs developed.

The next question you will ask is ‘how’? You may find that having someone to consult with on your data and help you develop a strategy is the life line you need for your business. Getting a new perspective or another set of eyes to help you see the growth you want in your business is a necessity that should not be denied.

Having a goal without a plan – is just a dream.  And dreams don’t pay the bills.