How to Define Your Brand So You Can Attract Your Ideal Customers

How to Define Your Brand So You Can Attract Your Ideal Customers

Have you ever struggled to define your brand? Or even to define what a brand is or isn’t?

Or have you ever wrestled with how you could attract more and more of your ideal clients/customers vs. just anyone?

Well if you’ve ever wanted to solve those questions, you’ll want to watch this week’s video. Why? Because once you’re clear on what your brand is and then you start marketing the heck out of it, you can literally determine who you’ll be attracting to your business.

So, don’t waste any time. Go ahead and watch this week’s video on how to define your brand so you can attract your ideal clients/customers. Then set aside some time this week to implement what you’re about to learn.

 

Note: In trying to keep this video short I left something out that I should have mentioned. Part of defining the reputation you want should also be defining how you’re different than the other options in your market space. You don’t want your brand to sound like all the other options in your market space. That would be self-defeating.

To your accelerated success!

P.S. If you haven’t subscribed yet to my new YouTube channel, make sure you click on the subscribe button in the lower righthand corner of the video so you never miss an episode. You won’t be disappointed.

The Secret to Changing Virtually Anything You Want to Change In Your Life (or Others)

The Secret to Changing Virtually Anything You Want to Change In Your Life (or Others)

Is there anything in your life that you wish were different right now? How about in the life of any of your employees?

My guess is that the answer to both of those questions is, “Of course!” (or possibly, “Duh! 🙂 )

The challenge of course is, “How do you make that happen?”

On a professional level, as a business owner/entrepreneur, your job requires you to wear multiple hats—from HR professional to marketer to sales person to strategist to negotiator to accountant to manager to leader to cash flow analyst to copywriter to brand manager to PR spokesperson etc.—many of which you probably don’t feel that you’re great at but wish you were.

With your employees, you probably wish that some of them would work at a more effective or efficient level. Or maybe you wish they would raise their level of excellence or perseverance or collaboration. Or maybe you wish they would take more risks or less risks. Or maybe you wish they’d be more creative or show up for meetings on time or follow your SOPs or be more respectful or use less inappropriate language, etc.

And then there’s your personal life. Maybe you wish you were a little healthier or thinner or stronger. Or maybe you wish you were more focused and productive. Or maybe you wish you were more grateful and were able to live in a more peacefulness state of mind. Or maybe you wish you had more balance in your life (whatever that means for you) or that you spent more time with your family and weren’t so driven, etc.

Out of all of the above, what is one thing you’d like to see changed in your life right now?

I hope you’ve thought of at least one thing that you’d like to change so that as I walk through the following five levels, you can apply each level to your issue. Why five levels?

Because the secret to changing virtually anything you want to change in your life is to use ALL FIVE CHANGE LEVELS to create the greatest probability that the change you want to see will become the change you experience.

You see, the problem with most change efforts is that they focus on one of the five levels of change. For example, using the ubiquitous exercise metaphor, someone might think, “The key to finally developing an exercise habit is to schedule it, sign up for a gym membership and find an accountability partner.” Those are all good things. However, they only function at level four (the “how” level) and level five (the “environment” level). However, if the deepest levels of change haven’t taken place, a month later you won’t be exercising. Why? Because at level one (identity), you don’t see yourself as an exerciser. You see yourself as a “Fat Boy (or Fat Girl)” or using a negative, “Not an Exerciser” or “Not an Athlete.”

In other words, one of the primary reasons why you probably haven’t changed a lot of things in your life that you’d like to is because you haven’t attacked the problem at all five levels, just one or two. The moment you engage all five is the moment you’ve given yourself the best chance of actually seeing the change you want to make a reality in your life.

Which leaves us with only one question. What are the five levels of change? Glad you asked. Here they are.

Level One – The Identity Level (The Who)

This past weekend, my son-in-law, David and two of his teammates won a CrossFit competition. If you were to ask a CrossFitter how they identify themselves, most of them would make a statement at the identity level, “I’m a CrossFitter.”

The identity level is the most powerful of all five levels. Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy, these levels build from the bottom up. If the foundational level hasn’t been changed, everything on top of it is less important.

For example, a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs use language like the following.

  • I’m not a numbers person
  • I’m not a sales person
  • I’m a big picture person. I don’t do details.
  • I’m a sales person, not a marketer
  • I’m just a __________, not a ________ (fill in with any two words, I’m just a lawyer, not an HR expert)
  • I’m not a creative person, etc.

The problem with those statements is that if you fundamentally don’t believe you’re something, no matter how many new skills or practices you add, you’ll keep reverting to your identity belief (since we all like congruence). Therefore you have to work to change your underlying identity statement if your want change to last.

For example, by nature and training, I’m a strategist. If you were to ask me, “Who are you?” One of my comments would be, “I’m a strategist.” And like a lot of entrepreneurs and leaders, I started off my career years ago saying things like, “I don’t do details. I’m a big picture person. I focus on where we’re going and I let other people figure out how to get us there.”

However, there’s one huge gaping hole there. Strategy means absolutely nothing if it doesn’t get executed. So I had to retrain my brain to identify myself as “One of those rare people who functions equally well at the 50,000 foot level and the 5 foot level, as both a strategist and a tactician.” Once I began to change the identity as a detail person as well as a strategist, then my ability to make sure the strategies I developed were executed soared.

Note: this doesn’t mean that you have to become the tactician creating all of the detailed plans for your business (that would be a poor use of your time), it means you need to acquire the skill sets and beliefs of a tactician so you can function well when you’re reviewing someone else’s work or you can see the problems before others can or you know enough to ask the right kinds of questions to uncover a problem, etc. But the change starts at the identity level.

So, take the issue you’re wresting with right now and unpack the identity that you have surrounding that thing (for example, I’m not a sales person). Once you identify what the identity is, then come up with a game plan to change it (which is usually just changing the language from, “I’m not a sales person,” to “I am a sales person”). Then you need to work to reprogram your mind over and over again until you believe it.

Level Two – The Belief Level (The What)

Everything you or I do (i.e. our behaviors) is driven by our beliefs. If there’s something you don’t like in your life (the outcome/effect), then you have to rewind it to discover the belief that underlies it (the cause) and change that belief in order to get a different outcome.

Using our sales example from above, if you keep avoiding making sales calls or avoid following up with customers/clients etc. there are some beliefs behind those behaviors.

For example,

  • I’m not good at sales
  • I don’t know how to close (or I’m not good at closing)
  • No one likes it when a sales person calls them or follows up with them
  • They’re probably going to say, “No” anyways
  • They’ll probably think I’m being a pest
  • I don’t like cold calls
  • Cold calls aren’t effective
  • I’m not good at negotiating, etc.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you think one of those thoughts, you’re going to have a hard time becoming a great sales person. If the language in your brain is, “They’ll think I’m a pest. They’re going to say, ‘No’ anyways. And I’m not very good at closing a deal,” what’s the probability that you’re going to follow up with them? Somewhere between zero and zilch.

In this case, the key to level two change is to take control over your self-talk and begin to reprogram your beliefs. Sometimes the change is an outright switch from, “No one likes it when a sales person calls them,” to “Everyone loves finding a solution to a problem they have. Since I have a solution that solves this type of problem, I can’t wait to talk to someone about it.” That belief changes everything.

However, sometimes the self-talk change is a partial change. No one goes from “not good at negotiating” to “being a great negotiator” in a day, let alone a minute. So, if you simply try the affirmation route from “I’m not” to “I am” in a matter of minutes, your brain won’t accept it.

In that case, I’d change the belief to something more believable. For example, instead of saying, “I’m a great negotiator,” you might say, “I’m committed to becoming a great negotiator so I’m able to close big deals week after week.” That’s far more believable

So, taking your issue, what are the beliefs you currently own that are keeping you stuck?

Once you identify them, you can begin to change them. That’s level two. Now, if you just attacked most of the issues you want to change at both levels one and two (the who and the what, identity and beliefs), you’d probably be shocked at how much more progress you’d be making. Why? Because the first two levels are the most important. Remember, you want to attack change from the bottom up.

Level Three – The Motivation Level (The Why)

You’ve probably heard someone say, “If you have a sufficient why you can handle any how.” But, why is that true? Why? Because motivation always trumps skill. Knowing how to do something seems like it should be enough, but it’s not.

For example, no one reading this post needs to read another book or blog post or article on eating healthy and exercising in order to eat healthier and exercise more. My guess is you could take out a blank piece of paper right now and write down a pretty decent plan for getting in shape that would take you less than five minutes to create. The problem isn’t a lack of knowledge. The problem is a lack of will. There isn’t a sufficient why to drive the change, which is why most people still struggle with something they already know how to solve.

Going back to our sales example, the reason a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs don’t become great at sales is because they don’t have a sufficient why attached to it. Some don’t want to engage in sales because it’s beneath them or because they don’t know how or because they have a negative association with sales, etc. But even if all of those reasons were eradicated, they’d probably still struggle with sales if they’d didn’t have a sufficient why attached to it.

So, what could be a compelling why? Well, here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • If I want to scale my business, I have to become great at sales
  • If I want to put food on the table of my family, as well as those of my employees, I have to become a great sales person
  • If I want to impact more peoples’ lives, then I’ve got to become a great sales person
  • If I want to stop living month-to-month and get rid of all my cash flow stress, then I need to become great at sales
  • If I want to be able to take a month of vacation with my spouse this year, then I need to become a great sales person, etc.

No one can motivate you. Only you can motivate you. So, what’s a sufficient enough why to get you out of bed in the morning and to start making the change you want to make in your life?

Once you know the why, you have to mentally tie that why to the problem you want to solve in your life.

At this point, you’ve attacked this change you want to see in your life at the who, what and why levels. Those should be sufficient but to ratchet it up a notch or two, you’ll want to attack your problem at levels four and five as well.

Level Four – The Skill Level (The How)

Of the five levels, this is the easiest and most obvious. It’s the one you read about all the time or hear people talking about all the time. It’s the how level, the “How do I make this change?” level.

Using our sales example, if you now identify yourself as a sales person (and everyone should, “I am a sales person”), and you’ve changed your beliefs about sales (for example, you now believe that sales isn’t about convincing people to buy something that they don’t need but rather helping people get a result they want better, faster, cheaper, etc. than they could on their own) and you’ve found a compelling why (let’s say, you want to be able to take your spouse on a month long trip through the wine country of Italy), the next step is to figure out how to become that great sales person.

In that case, you could

  • Take a course on sales
  • Buy and read several books on sales
  • Follow a great sales person around for several weeks and learn by observing
  • Find a sales mentor
  • Join a sales coaching group
  • Listen to sales mp3s on your way to work every day
  • Sign up for some daily or weekly sales newsletters, etc.

Or you could focus on a specific skill area (closing big deals, overcoming objections, negotiating terms, mastering cold calls, prospecting, etc.).

Regardless, the goal of level four is to say, “If there’s an area where I’m not performing at the level that I’d like to, chances are high that there’s a skill component to it that I need to learn and master in order to consistently achieve this result.”

So, what new skill do you need to acquire to master the issue that you’re currently dealing with? What’s your growth plan for it? And more importantly, what do you need to do over the next two weeks to make progress on it?

Level Five – The Environment (The Where and When)

Even though you’ve made progress on the first four levels, this fifth level is still critical because you and I both know the impact environment plays in our lives. For example, if you hang around a bunch of people who cuss all the time, you’ll probably cuss. If you don’t, you won’t. I watch this all the time when people hang around me (for some reason, most people tend to “clean up their language” when they know they’re around a former preacher 🙂 )

The same thing happens in every area of your life and mine. It’s why two of the classic self-help lines of all-time are, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and “If you want to know where you’ll be in five years, tell me what books you’re reading and who you’re spending time with.” Those are environmental issues.

In the entrepreneurial world, if you’re spending a lot of time with other entrepreneurs who all like to dump and run, chances are you’ll do the same (even though that’s not in your best interest). Or if you’re spending a lot of time around other business owners who really don’t want to invest the time and effort to scale their businesses, you’ll find it harder to scale your own.

This is why most books on eating healthy state that step one is almost always, “Clean out your cupboards and fridge of all of the bad foods (list inserted) and stock your kitchen with all of these good foods (list inserted).” It’s all about environment. How can you create an environment that will support the change you want to make?

In the case of our sales example, your environmental plan could be

  • Putting up motivation statements about sales around your office or on your screen saver
  • Hanging a white board in your office and keeping track of your sales contacts in a very visual way
  • Relocating your desk to the middle of your sales department
  • Hanging an image of the wine country of Italy in front of your desk
  • Placing a call list on your desk, last thing every day, so it’s the first thing you see every morning when you walk in, etc.

So, as you look at the change you want to make in your life, what could you do to use your environment to help make that change?

Well, there you have it. The five levels of creating change in your life (or anyone else’s) that you need to use to make virtually any change a reality.

  1. The identity level (the who)
  2. The belief level (the what)
  3. The motivation level (the why)
  4. The skill level (the how)
  5. The environment level (the where and when)

And the secret is, USE ALL FIVE. If you want to change virtually anything in your life (or someone else’s) don’t sabotage yourself (or them) by focusing on just one or two levels. Use all five and you’ll be amazed at the results.

To your accelerated success!

P.S. What is the issue you want to solve? And how are you going to attack it on ALL FIVE levels?

5 Huge Mistakes Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Make When Scaling Their Businesses

5 Huge Mistakes Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Make When Scaling Their Businesses

The good news is that you want to scale your business. The bad news is that you’re going to make some mistakes along the way.

If you’d like to make the same mistakes that most business owners and/or entrepreneurs make don’t watch the following video.

However, if you’d like to avoid making some of the biggest and most common mistakes that business owners and entrepreneurs make when trying to scale their businesses, make sure you watch this week’s video on “5 Huge Mistakes That Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Make When Scaling Their Businesses.”

Why not learn from the dumb tax of others!

To your accelerated success!

P.S. And if you haven’t yet, make sure you click on the YouTube subscribe button on the following video so you never miss an episode of our new YouTube Channel designed specifically to help you scale your business

 

4 Keys to Building a Great Management Team That Actually Produces Results

4 Keys to Building a Great Management Team That Actually Produces Results

Have you ever dreamed of taking a two-week vacation (or being able to attend a conference) without having to check in on your business at all?

Or have you ever longed for the day when you didn’t feel like the whole weight of your business was only on your shoulders and instead you had a team of people who would help shoulder that burden?

Well, those dreams and longings don’t have to be fictional any longer. And, more critically for this blog, if your dreams include scaling your business, then this solution has to be in place. You have to have a great management team in place to scale.

However, as you’ve probably discovered, that’s easier said than done. There are plenty of bad and dysfunctional management teams around.

Now, clearly, getting the right people on the team is critical to building a great management team. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is going to assume you have the right people on the team. The problem is that they’re not functioning like a great team.

So, how do you turn that around? Well, here are four ideas that you have complete control over (i.e. they’re all about you) that can help you turn an average and occasionally dysfunctional management team into a great management team for your business.

I. Lead But Don’t Micromanage

One of the great challenges for any business owner and/or entrepreneur is that when they started their business, they were it. I’m sure you can relate. You made all of the decisions. You did most of the work. You developed a business that reflected you and your preferences. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The problem comes when your business grows and it needs more leaders to handle that growth. So you go out and hire a leader, someone who can join your management team. Unfortunately, the problem with leaders is that they … well, they want to lead. They want their boss to say, “There’s a hill, go take it.” And then they want that boss to leave them alone unless they ask for help or feedback.

Unfortunately for them, when their boss is used to making all of the decisions, they tend to want to keep making all the decisions—which is why so many business owners and/or entrepreneurs tend to be micromanagers.

  • “Don’t do it that way”
  • “I wouldn’t do it that way”
  • “Here’s what you need to do”
  • “Did you think about …?”
  • “Check with me before you …”
  • “You missed this little thing …”
  • Etc.

Listen, there’s nothing wrong with you, as an owner/CEO saying, “Here’s where we’re headed,” (even better if the “here” is developed with your team), that’s leadership. Leadership sets targets and goals. It also holds people responsible for the results they’re supposed to produce. And it sets boundaries for those people to operate within. But good leadership is never about micromanaging.

Which means that if you want to build a great management team, you want to focus your efforts on leading your team to new heights, not on micromanaging their decisions and actions. You want to hold them accountable but not micromanage them. And you want to set boundaries for them to act within, not micromanage every decision.

So how are you doing at leading but not micromanaging?

II. Empower But Don’t Abdicate

The second problem that a lot of business owners and/or entrepreneurs face when they start building a leadership team is the opposite of point one, they start to abdicate. In other words, they disengage too much.

Again, this makes complete sense. If you’ve been leading your business for a number of years and have been overwhelmed either because you had too much to do or you didn’t know how to do something, there’s a natural desire to want to alleviate that overwhelm by dumping and running.

For example, let’s say you don’t like sales or marketing or finance. You go out into the marketplace and find someone who can take that off your plate. You hire them and say, “This is now your area. Now, make it work.”

In your mind, you justify your dump and run style because “Well that’s what I hired them to do.” Or, “But they know that area better than I do.” However, that’s not leadership, that’s abdication.

Leaders don’t abdicate, they lead. And the way they lead is they stay engaged and empower that person they’re leading to accomplish the result they’re responsible for producing.

Whenever you hear someone like me say that “leadership is more art than science,” this is one of those times. How do you balance leadership and empowering without micromanaging or abdicating? It’s a tenuous line that you have to feel out. And the way you’ll learn is usually by blowing it. And that’s okay. Just own up to it and learn from it and you’ll be okay.

So, how are you doing at not running and dumping? How are you doing at empowering without abdicating?

III. Socialize But Don’t Try To Be Best Friends

Virtually every leader I’ve ever known has had to traverse this principle in their own experience. On paper, it sounds like a good idea, “Be friends with your employees,” or “Be great friends with your management team.” I mean, how do you argue with being in a good relationship with those you lead?

The problem is that the “boss hat” and the “friend hat” are often in conflict. As a boss, you have to dictate priorities and hold them accountable. As a friend, you don’t. Even worse, the more they perceive you as a friend, the less likely they are to respond to you when you critique them or hold them accountable, “But I thought we were friends.”

And the ultimate problem arises if you need to fire them.

BTW, this is one of the reasons why I’m against hiring family members. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s just fraught with more problems than any other relationship. Turning on and off the boss/employee relationship is tough normally. But what if you need to fire your spouse or child or cousin or uncle or brother or sister? How do you think family gatherings are going to go every upcoming Christmas? Easter? Birthday? July 4th? Labor Day? Memorial Day? Wedding? Etc.

And if the person you hire on your management team is related to one of your other employees, you could lose two employees over firing one of them.

Bottomline, being best friends is not what leaders do. You want to be friendly. You want to socialize. You want to be friends. But you can’t cross over that line to being “great friends” or “best friends.” That’s a dumb tax lesson that can be avoided if you simply trust and apply this principle. Remember, not every lesson has to be learned the hard way :-).

Note: I’ve focused the content of this point on the fact that more owners/entrepreneurs try to be best friends than are aloof. However, if your issue is that you tend to be aloof with your team and employees, make sure you start doing more social things with your people, especially your top team because it’s hard to build a great management team if it’s all about business all of the time.

So, how are you doing at socializing without trying to be best friends?

IV. Trust But Don’t Forget to Verify

The final issue that typically hinders great management teams from forming is related to principle number two on abdicating. Trust is critical to every relationship. If you remove trust from any relationship, the relationship is effectually over. This is one of the reasons why micromanaging is so damaging, it communicates lack of trust.

However, trust doesn’t mean abdication. Just because you’ve hired someone to lead a division (even if you’re paying them well) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be inspecting their work or holding them accountable for results. So, how can you balance the two?

Well, in the world of systems (the essential building block of scalability), you build in systems that allow you to verify the work they and their team are doing. And your systems (in this case, controls), don’t have to be complicated. For example, you could use

  • Daily Meetings – Everyday they should be sharing what they did yesterday and what they’re going to be working on today. By listening, you should be able to verify their progress (or non-progress) without having to ask any questions.
  • Weekly Management Meetings – Every week they should be recounting where they are in process and how they’re doing on hitting their metrics
  • Project Management Software – You should have access to see how progress is being made on every project in your business. You can peek in anytime and ensure that progress is being made without them feeling like you’re “micromanaging.”
  • Dashboards – You could have key projects or key metrics fed into your dashboard so you can verify where they are without having to ask.
  • Monthly Summaries – You could have each of your management team members write up a monthly summary of what they accomplished and where they are on their key metrics

And, of course, you can always check in with them during your regularly scheduled meetings (whether they’re weekly, b-weekly or monthly). Just don’t tell them how to fix the problems if they’re running behind. You want to communicate, “I trust you’ll fix this.” If they ask you for some ideas, ask them back first, “So, what are your best ideas?” before you share any of your own. You want to make sure they’re doing their job and that they know you trust them to make it happen.

So, how are you doing at trusting but verifying?

Well, there you have it. Four keys to building a great management team that can actually produce results for your business.

  1. Lead but don’t micromanage
  2. Empower but don’t abdicate
  3. Socialize but don’t try to be best friends
  4. Trust but don’t forget to verify

In light of those four ideas, what’s the next step you need to take this week to build a better management team?

To your accelerated success!

How to Outthink Your Competition To Scale Your Business Faster

How to Outthink Your Competition To Scale Your Business Faster

Do you ever get frustrated that your business isn’t that differentiated from your competitors? Or that people in your target market don’t seem to understand why they ought to choose you and your business over every other option in your market?

If you do, you’re normal. Most business owners and/or entrepreneurs lead businesses that, if they’re honest, aren’t that differentiated from their competitors.

So, how can you turn that around? How can you begin to outthink and outmaneuver your competitors so that more and more people and businesses are lining up to buy from you over them?

Well to discover how, make sure you watch the following video on “How to Outthink Your Competition So You Can Scale Your Business Faster

You’ll be glad you did.

To your accelerated success!

 

How to Grow Your Business By 25% or More Year After Year

How to Grow Your Business By 25% or More Year After Year

What’s your growth goal for this year? How about next year? Is it above 25% or less than 25%?

If you’re like most of the business owners I know, chances are it’s below 25%. Why? Because 85% of small businesses are either plateaued or in decline. And of those that are growing, most are growing at under 5% per year. Interestingly, if you grow your business by just 13.3% per year over the course of three years, you could literally land in the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing privately-owned companies in the US.

In other words, 25% growth, year after year, isn’t a common occurrence. However, at 25% per year (technically, 26%, but what’s a percent point amongst friends) you can double your business in just three years (which is why I have all of my coaching club members shoot for at least 25% growth per year as their minimum growth number). Imagine that. You can literally double your business in just three years if you shoot for 25% growth, year after year.

Of course, that raises the question, “How?” How can you grow your business at 25% per year, year after year? That’s a great question. Here are a few meta strategies you can use to to do just that.

Note: there are hundreds of different ways to grow by over 25% per year, this is just a starting meta list.

I. Believe That 25% or More, Year After Year, is Possible

Now, before you run by this principle, hang with me for a moment because this is an honest legitimate principle. I’ve been working with business owners and entrepreneurs for more than a decade now and I can tell you that when we have the strategy conversation about their growth goals almost no one ever picks a number north of 20%. The vast majority either pick 10% or 15% as their stretch goal. Why? Because their experience, outlined above in paragraph two, is that either 10% or 15% would be a stretch goal or it would “fit” within what they’ve historically achieved.

When I suggest that they pick a number starting at 25% on up, I’m almost always met with resistance. Even when they do hit 25% or above in a given year, the next year they almost always think, “Well that was an unusual year. Let’s get back to reality.” Note: I’m not making any of this up. I’m reflecting on actual conversations.

If you haven’t been around my community for long, I’m a cognitive behavioralist. In other words, I believe that what we believe determines how we behave. So, if you don’t believe you can grow at 25% or more per year, you won’t act in ways that will allow you and your business to achieve that growth.

In a recent webinar, to help those attending get this principle, I took them to the Inc. 500 list and went to the top five companies. Note: the 2017 list recently came out so I’ve updated the names, but the principle is the same

  1. Skillz – 50,089%/3 = 16,696% per year
  2. EnviroSolar Power – 36,056%/3 = 12,019% per year
  3. Gametime – 34,021%/3 = 11,340% per year
  4. Club Pilates Franchise – 21,319%/3 = 7,106% per year
  5. Halo Top Creamery – 20,944%/3 = 6,981% per year

Now, if you’re like most of the business owners I know, if I were to ask you, “Can a business grow by 16,696% per year for three years?” your answer would be, “No way.” I totally get that. However one actually did.

If I were to then follow up and ask a second time, “Can a business grow by 12,019% per year for three years in a row?” your answer, once again, would be, “No way.” But you’d be wrong again.

So, why do you have such a hard time believing those numbers are possible? Chances are it’s because in your mind and experience, you’ve never seen anything like that. However, each of the above companies actually did hit those numbers. They had to submit them for review.

In other words, maybe your idea of what’s possible might not be as accurate as you think.

Now, you might say back to me, “But Bruce, I don’t want to grow my business by 16,000% for even one year, let alone year after year!” Fine. I’m not suggesting that you have to. I’m simply suggesting that you might want to dream a little bigger than 5% or 10% or even 15% growth year after year. It is possible.

Your ability to grow your business by 25% or more, year after year, always begins with you—and it always begins with your belief in what’s possible. Back in my old pastoral days, I led my church to grow by 30.5% per year, year after year, for a decade. I know it’s possible. The more important question is, “Do you?”

In light of the above, what growth rate do you want to adopt for the next 12 months?

II. Go All In on Your Growth Accelerators

If you’re unaware of what a growth accelerator is, you can read one of my blog posts about them by clicking here >> However, in summary, a growth accelerator is a growth strategy that can deliver a minimum revenue growth rate of 5% over the course of the next 12 months. In other words, if you’re leading a $1M company, it would be an idea that can generate at least an additional $50,000 worth of revenue. If you’re leading a $4M company, it would be an idea that could generate at least an additional $200,000 of new revenue over the next twelve months.

Why 5%? Because at 5%, if you pick five growth accelerators and they all deliver at least 5% NEW revenue growth, you will have grown your business by at least 25%. The math is pretty simple.

Note: you don’t want to limit your ideas to 5% growth. If you can come up with an idea that will grow your revenue by 30% or 50% or 100%, that’s even better. The math is simply designed to help you hit at least 25% growth per year, year after year.

So, what ideas do you have that will allow you and your team to grow your business by more than 5% over the next 12 months?

If you’re stuck, let me share just one strategy with you today—move upstream. In other words, go after a more affluent or larger transaction customer/client. For example, I once had someone in the VAR world who heard me discuss this idea who went back to his team and said, “We need to come up with a strategy to move upstream.” Over the next two years, they changed their whole marketing strategy etc. and moved their average client from $25,000 per year to $250,000 per year. In his words, “That advice you gave me completely changed me and my business.”

But here’s what’s so important about that story. He was in an audience of 150 people who all heard the same advice. So, what made the difference? He went all in on it.

One of the great frustrations of being a consultant is that you have no control over your clients. I’ve watched a lot of great strategic plans over the years never materialize because the team never fully committed. They never reached their potential because they never went all in.

So, if you want to grow by 25% or more, year after year, make sure you focus on a handful of strategies (which I call growth accelerators) and go all in on them. Totally commit to them. Work them EVERY DAY until they’re delivering 25% growth or more—and you’ll be, by definition, growing by 25% or more, year after year.

III. Work Your Five Growth Dials

Regardless of what business you’re in, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the software business or the marketing agency business, running a law firm or a dental practice, leading a retail establishment or an accountancy, there are always five dials that you can adjust to grow your business faster. Note: some of these are easier in one business vs. another but all five are in play for all businesses.

The five dials are

  1. The number of qualified leads you have
  2. The conversion rate of those leads into customers/clients
  3. The average transactional value (i.e. the value of each transaction/purchase)
  4. The frequency of repurchase (i.e. how often they buy)
  5. The retention rate (what percentage are still with you twelve months later)

Note: Over time, you could include other dials like how many years they remain a customer and/or how many referrals they give but let’s keep it to the five big dials for today’s discussion.

The reason why you always want to focus on the five dials is similar to the growth accelerators idea above. If you grow five items by 5%, you can grow by more than 25%, in this case, because the dials actually multiply off of one another.

To help you see this play out, let’s take an example of 10% growth. Do you think, if you really worked at it, that you and your team could grow your number of qualified leads over the next 12 months by at least 10% over last year? In other words, if you had 50 leads, could you generate 55 leads? Or if you had 500 leads, could you generate 550?

Likewise, if you converted 30% of your leads last year, do you think, that if you and your team worked really hard at it, you could increase your conversion rate 10% so that you’ll be converting 33% of your qualified leads over 30% last year? You get the idea. Ten percent doesn’t seem that outrageous, does it? So let me show you how the numbers of something as simple as a 10% increase on each of the five dials can make a huge difference for you and your business.

First, as our baseline, let’s take a look at a typical non-optimized business

  • Leads generated = 200
  • Conversion rate = 30%
  • New customers = 60 (plus 300 current customers)
  • Total customers = 360
  • Average transactional value = $2,000
  • Frequency of purchase = 2
  • Retention rate = 80%
  • Revenue = $1.15M

Now, let’s take that same business and observe how a simple 10% increase on each of those dials works out.

  • Leads generated = 220
  • Conversion rate = 33%
  • New customers = 73 (plus 300 current customers)
  • Total customers = 373
  • Average transactional value = $2,200
  • Frequency of purchase = 2.2
  • Retention rate = 88%
  • Revenue = $1.59M

Did you catch the impact? By simply increasing each of the five dials by 10% (which doesn’t seem like much), you end up with not 25% growth, but 38% growth. How cool is that? Plus, you end up with $440,000 in additional revenue.

In other words, growing by 25% per year, year after year, doesn’t have to be that difficult. All it requires is that you focus on the right things. And the three right things that I suggest you start with are …

  1. Believe that 25% growth, year after year, is possible
  2. Go all in on your growth accelerators
  3. Work your five growth dials

The only question left is, “What are you going to do in response to what you just read?” Most people will move on to their next task. But a few will stop and implement what they just read and change their business for years to come. Which one do you prefer to be?

To your accelerated success!

How to Increase Customer Retention By Creating More Remarkable Experiences

How to Increase Customer Retention By Creating More Remarkable Experiences

Have you ever been frustrated that, after doing everything you can to win a new customer, it seems that far too often, far too many of them don’t stick around long enough for them to be really profitable?

Or have you ever been frustrated watching long-time customers slowly use you and your company less and less?

Well, if you have, then you’re going to enjoy watching the following video on “How to Increase Customer Retention By Creating More Remarkable Experiences.”

Once you own the framework and the quarterly/semi-annual practice that I lay out in this video, you should clearly see a significant increase in your retention and utilization rates.

To your accelerated success!

 

5 Keys to Ensuring Your Employees Get Their Projects Done on Time

5 Keys to Ensuring Your Employees Get Their Projects Done on Time

How frequently do you get frustrated with one or more members of your staff team because they just don’t get their work done when you want them to get that work done? Rounding to the nearest 50, what’s your best answer?

If you answered “frequently” or “weekly” or “daily” or “200 times” or “500 times” don’t worry, you’re normal. The vast majority of business owners and entrepreneurs get frustrated with their staff on a daily/weekly basis.

The more important question is, “How can you turn that around?” How can you change the systems in your business so that you’re decreasing the frequency of your feelings of frustration, while increasing your staff members’ level of execution?

Well, here are five ideas that can help ensure that the people you’ve already hired actually get their work projects done on time.

I. Remove All Assumptions From Your Delegation

I was talking with a client recently who was frustrated with an employee who regularly didn’t get things done on time (like I said, you’re not unusual). After listening to him I simply asked, “When you delegate a project to this person, do you clearly define your expectation about when that task should be completed, as in, “I want this completed by the close of business today or by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow?” I already knew the answer before asking. You do as well.

Most leaders when they delegate, don’t delegate, they dump. “Mary, take care of this.” Nothing is explained. Why? Because of the problem of knowledge (i.e once you know something it’s difficult to remember what it’s like to not know that thing). In your mind, everything is clear.

In your mind, you already know, “I want this project done by the close of business today. I want it to look like this. I want it to cost this much. I want it to take this long. I want it done at this level of excellence. Etc.” Why? Because all of that is in your head. The problem with your dumpee, is that they’re not in your head. You assume they know what you know because you already know what you know … unfortunately, they don’t.

That’s why from this moment forward, instead of assuming that someone knows what’s in your head, you need to make sure you delegate, with clarity, what’s actually in your head (i.e. what your expectations are). And the #1 rule for ensuring that your employees will get their projects done on time is simply this …

Never delegate a task without a date attached to it

II. Create a Culture of Accountability

One of the first lessons of counseling is that dysfunction can’t exist unless there’s an enabler. If you see someone who consistently does something wrong, there’s almost always someone else who is enabling that problem behavior to exist.

In the case of your business, that’s usually you. If someone on your team can consistently get away with not getting their work done on time, and still be employed, you have to accept some of the blame—you are enabling that behavior to exist.

So, how do you turn that around? By choosing to no longer be an enabler.

For example, let’s say you’ve delegated a task to Joe that you wanted completed by this Thursday. It’s Thursday afternoon and the project isn’t completed. What do you normally do?

If you’re like most business owners and entrepreneurs, you do nothing. In your head you’re calculating, “If I give Joe a hard time about this, he’s going to be pissed for the next week. If I fire him, we don’t have anyone to take his place which means I’ll probably end up doing his work and I don’t have time for that, let alone time to find a replacement. So, I’ll just let it slide.” And we wonder why employees think they can get away with not getting their work done on time.

A better option would be …

“Joe, it’s 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, COB is in 30 minutes. Will I see the final version by then?” “I’m sorry, I’m running a little behind …” “Joe, was I clear on Monday when I assigned you this task that I needed it completed no later than COB on Thursday?” “Yes.” “Does no later than COB suggest that it could have been completed sooner than Thursday at 5:00 p.m.?” “Yes.” “Does it suggest that it could be completed later than 5:00 p.m. Thursday?” “No.” “So, why isn’t it completed?” List of excuses.

“Joe, those sound like a lot of excuses. The one thing you haven’t owned up to is your responsibility. This is your responsibility. So, how are you going to fix this?” If Joe doesn’t come up with a good game plan or is being defensive, you ratchet it up. “Joe, I’m not trying to be a jerk here but you have a history of doing this. When I assign you a task and say to you ‘I need this completed by X date and time,’ it needs to be completed by X date and time. These aren’t suggestions, these are orders. So, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to write up a 60-day performance plan for you. We’re going to both sign it on Monday. And 60 days from now you’re either going to be one of the most productive people here on staff or you’re going to be looking for a job. But I will no longer tolerate you not getting your work done on time. I own that I’ve been an enabler for you over the past three years but those days are over. I haven’t been doing what’s best for you or our company but now I am. So, I would highly suggest that you start taking seriously any work deadlines you’re assigned from this point moving forward.”

Do you think Joe would know how serious you are about accountability from that conversation?

So, how are you doing at creating a culture of accountability?

III. Run Daily Meetings

If you haven’t read my blog post on daily meetings, make sure you do so now by clicking here >> But the reason why daily meetings are so critical (note a daily meeting is a 10-15 minute meeting each day, often done standing up, with three questions), is because they reduce cycle time. For example, if you have a monthly staff meeting and Angela doesn’t get her project done before this month’s staff meeting on the second Wednesday of the month, no one will ask her about that project for another thirty days until the second Wednesday of next month (which is a very long cycle).

If you have a weekly meeting and Angela doesn’t get her project done, when is the next time she’ll be asked about that project? Exactly. Seven days from now (which is obviously better than 30 days). However, if you’re running a daily meeting and Angela says she hasn’t made any progress on that project, what’s the next time she’ll be asked about it? Exactly, 24 hours later. In other words, you’ve shrunk the cycle time from 30 days to 24 hours when you run a daily meeting.

If Angela shows up for the daily meeting and hasn’t completed her project and has to say, every day for the next three or four or five days, that she hasn’t completed that project, don’t you think that group peer pressure and Angela’s desire for self-preservation will inspire her to get her project done? Absolutely.

I know that most business owners cringe at the idea of having a daily meeting (you probably feel you’re already in too many meetings). So, here’s my challenge to you. Don’t start off by making an organizational change for the rest of eternity, start off with a test. Tell you team, “For the next 30 (or 60 or 90) days, we’re going to try an experiment that a lot of other businesses have tried and have found success with.”

I’ve helped tons of companies implement a daily meeting and no one has ever come back and said, “That was a waste.” Instead, they usually embrace it and often say, “That was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.”

If you want to speed up the process of getting “stuff” done, look no further than running a daily meeting.

IV. Run 30-Day Challenges

This is the practice that really accelerates the power of a daily meeting. If you haven’t downloaded a copy of my 30 Day Challenge guide, you can do so by clicking here >>

Since I’ve written extensively about 30-Day Challenges, I won’t belabor the idea here other than to say, similar to speeding up the cycle time in point three above, creating 30-Day Challenges does the same at a macro level.

If every day that you’re meeting with your team for your 30-Day Challenge, you’re standing in front of your 30-Day Challenge board and moving tasks from the left to the right (from the “Hopper” to “On Deck,” and from “On Deck” to “Doing” and from “Doing” to “Done”), you’ll notice that your people will be more focused on getting their projects done. For example, if Mohammed is supposed to finish a key code project and day after day it sits in the “Doing” column, “everyone” will be asking, “Mohammed, why is that code project not done yet? Barb can’t get started on her project until you get yours done.”

Note: if your team is distributed, you might want to use an online tool like Trello and have that open while you’re on a GoToMeeting or Zoom or group call so everyone can see the board and what’s supposed to be done when (and who’s getting what done).

As you can well imagine, there’s something very powerful that happens when “everyone” can see your project list and who is responsible for completing that project ensures more of your staff members will get their stuff done. The very visible nature of the list adds a wonderful sense of accountability that an individual to do list or project list never can or will.

V. Automate Your Accountability

Why should you, the owner/CEO, have to do all the work? If you want to build a business where you’re the business owner, not a business employee or operator, then you should always be looking for ways to create controls that don’t involve you doing the work. So, here are a few options.

1. The low tech way to automate – have them do it. For example, you could have them send you a daily email at the end of the day, detailing what progress they’ve made on the project (or on larger, bigger projects, a weekly digest).

2. Use project software – there are plenty of platforms available to you. Pick one and start using it. You’ll know exactly what George has done and how much he’s done by simply logging in once a day and seeing progress (even better if the system automatically color codes what’s behind schedule in red).

3. Use triggers. Some workflow and project management solutions offer the option of triggering emails or texts based on due dates. In this case, if George is supposed to get X done by tomorrow, he would receive a text or email today stating, “You have a milestone due tomorrow for X project”. You could also have a text or email go out for missed milestones to George (as well as a daily recap to you for anyone or any project that’s running behind).

There are plenty of options here, but the main idea is to remove the mental energy you have to invest in remembering who has to get what done by what date. Instead, automate that process and then set up systems that will ensure your people get their work done before their deadlines.

So, what and how can you automate accountability in your business?

Well, there you have it. Five keys to ensuring that your employees get their projects done on time.

  1. Remove all assumptions from your delegation
  2. Create a culture of accountability
  3. Run daily meetings
  4. Run 30-Day Challenges
  5. Automate your accountability

You now know what to do. The only question left is, “So, what’s the next action you need to take to ensure your people get their stuff done on time from this point moving forward?”

To your accelerated success!

How to Overcome Disappointment in Business

How to Overcome Disappointment in Business

As a business owner/entrepreneur there are few experiences more common than disappointment. We get disappointed by employees. We get disappointed by outsourcers. We get disappointed by vendors. We get disappointed by customers and prospects (especially those we thought were going to buy our product/service and then didn’t). We get disappointed by politicians and bureaucrats (and regulations that make it difficult to do our job), etc. Basically, disappointment is just a way of life for us (not a great career slogan :-).

However, what we often don’t do is we don’t talk about how to deal with it. Over the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of conversations with business owners and entrepreneurs and one of the major themes that’s come up is that a number of them are dealing with some form of disappointment, in many cases, in a significant way.

What I always find interesting about us is that most of us like to focus on hard skills. How can I learn how to grow my business faster with some new technique or marketing tactic. Or how can I become better at developing strategy or hiring and then leading better talent. Or how can we scale up our online advertising with the newest greatest social media platform. Or how can I become a better negotiator so I can close more deals, etc.

But the reality is that our biggest hindrances/obstacles to our success are usually on the soft skill side, not the hard skill side. It’s what takes place between our two ears that usually has the greatest impact and leverage on our success.

So, in light of that, I thought I’d shoot a video sharing with you what I think is one of the best ways to deal with and overcome disappointment in business and it has to do with learning to be a room person vs. a wall person. And to understand what that means, you’ll have to watch this week’s video, simply entitled, “How to Overcome Disappointment in Business.”

 

 

To your accelerated success!

In Hiring to Scale, Culture Always Trumps Competency

In Hiring to Scale, Culture Always Trumps Competency

When you look back on all the people you’ve hired, who have been some of your biggest problem people? Or, when you look back at any of the organizations you’ve worked for or been a part of, who have been some of the biggest pains?

My guess is that in virtually every case, the biggest problem wasn’t a lack of skill set or competency, it was a misfit of culture. Why? Because it’s relatively easy to improve someone’s skill set, but their character and values—those are hard to change. Once they’re ingrained it’s hard to change them. Not impossible, just rare.

For example, one of the classic mistakes a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs make is that when they’re looking for, let’s say,  a “top producer” to ratchet up sales they’ll often overlook some of the values and behaviors of that “top producer” because, well, they believe they’ll produce big numbers.

But is that wise? Let’s say you’ve worked hard to build a culture of service and collaboration. Everyone else on your team pitches in and helps everyone else … except Mr. Top Producer. Everyone else thinks that everyone else is just as valuable to the team as anyone else … except Mr. Top Producer. Everyone else volunteers to serve on committees or to serve in a local non-profit once a month … except Mr. Top Producer.

What do you think happens to your culture. Exactly. Everyone quickly realizes that the culture you’ve been trying to build is bogus. It’s a nice slogan on a wall but what really matters to you is money. All of a sudden other people stop volunteering and helping other people out. Other people on the team get jealous of the two tiers. Politics rears its ugly head. People start choosing sides. You end up having to be the referee and results go down across your company.

Why? Because of a mismatch in culture.

On the other hand, when you hire and recruit based on culture fit, that’s when everything gets easier. Why? Because culture is a 24/7 manager. If you hire someone who already believes and bleeds service and collaboration (or whatever your cultural values are), you don’t have to waste a moment of time training them to be of service and to work in a collaborative way. It’s already hard-wired in to them.

All you have to do now is fit them into your system and train them in the skill sets or competencies that they’re currently missing—all of which are very doable. That’s why culture fit matters so much. It’s hard to change someone’s wiring. Not impossible. Just difficult. Which is why I say that culture trumps competency all day long.

So, when you’re getting ready to hire someone, do you focus more on culture or competency?

If you’re like most of the  business owners and entrepreneurs I know, chances are you focus on the competency (“Can you complete the tasks that I want to hire you for?”) vs. the culture (“Do you fit the culture of our company?”).

To help you turn that around, here are three key reasons why you need to reverse your current practice.

I. Culture Makes Managing Your Business Infinitely Easier

When I say that culture is a 24/7 manager, that’s exactly what I mean. It’s there even when you’re not. It’s the way you beat the old maxim, “When the cat is away, the mice do play.” The only way you can avoid that is by making sure the culture is so strong that even when you’re not present, people will do what you want them to do.

For example, back in my former career, when we would send a missions team to a foreign country we’d always get back the same report. “Your people were amazing. We’ve never seen a group of people work that hard and that long. They’d show up before our people got there. They’d stay when our people were ready to go home. Most missions teams want to go sight seeing. Your team didn’t. They wanted to work the whole time. We’ve never seen a team like this.”

I love that story because these weren’t people who were paid. And they weren’t even in the country. They simply caught the culture of hard work, of service, of excellence, of staying until the job was done, etc. They caught the culture of we’re not here for us, we’re here for others. And they lived that out. Oh, and one other piece of information I left out … I never went on a missions trip. I didn’t have to.

The same thing applies to your business. If you hire people who value excellence, you don’t have to stand over their shoulders and inspect their work all the time. If you hire people who are respectful, you don’t have to wonder what they’re doing on a service call with an irate customer. If you hire someone who owns personal responsibility you don’t have to wonder if they’re going to get their work done.

Culture trumps competency. When someone owns the culture that you want to create ahead of time, then you know exactly the kinds of choices and decisions they’ll make even when you’re not present.

II. Culture Avoids Creating Tiers

As I alluded to above, when you have a stated culture and someone or a group of someones are allowed to act differently, it creates a two or three-tier system that undercuts everything.

I remember years ago consulting for a company where I was interviewing their top team. In the boardroom, on the conference table there was a glass pyramid with the company’s values on it. During those interviews, three of the top team members literally grabbed the pyramid and said, “This is bunk!” When I asked why, they each said, “Because we don’t believe it.” I asked why. They said, “Because we treat different people differently around here. There are those who have to abide by the ‘rules’ and others who, because of their revenue numbers, don’t.” And you thought I was making up that example in my introduction 🙂

This really happens. When you have a set of people (or a person) who can get away with not living in congruence with your culture, it automatically sets up a two-tier (or more) system—whether you want it to happen or not. And once a tier system enters a business, it begins to create factions, politics and all kinds of conflict.

On the other hand, when you focus on hiring people who fit your culture, you, by definition, avoid creating tiers (and tears).

III. When You Get Your Systems Right, Competency Is Less Critical

If you’ve been reading me for any length of time, you know I’m a systems guy and that every business needs to be systematized in order to scale.

However, I disagree with the assessment that when you create systems, you can hire anyone to work the system. I think you should always hire the best talent you can at a good value for you and them.

That said, the beauty of systems is that competency becomes even less critical than in an “unsystematized” business which depends on the skill set/competency of the person hired to know how to do the job. This leads to having to pay more for more skilled labor and, at the same time, creating more risk for your business if they leave.

When you systematize your business it’s infinitely easier to get someone up to speed to make a greater impact even if they have less competency than someone in an “unsystematized” business.

This is where culture fit shows itself proud. If you hire someone who has a set of values around issues like personal responsibility, excellence, hard work, resourcefulness, perseverance, etc, you can take and put them into a great system and they’ll flourish fast.

On the other hand, if you hire someone who is an excuse maker, or someone with a negative attitude, or someone who is critical, or someone who is egotistical, or someone with a poor work ethic, it doesn’t matter how skilled they are, they’re going to fight with your system and want to do it, “their way.”

Trust me, I’ve watched this with clients for decades. Avoid it at your own peril.

So are you sold?  Do you believe that culture always trumps competency? If so, your next question ought to be, “What should I do now?” Well, here are five simple suggestions for today.

  1. If you haven’t already, create a list of core values that will drive the kind of culture you want (try to limit to five or less)
  2. Once you have that list, expand each value with some practical examples. For example, excellence could mean doing a spelling and grammar check before sending anything out, paying attention to current design trends, doing the best you can with what you have in the amount of time you have to do it, etc.
  3. Add culture to your hiring ads (e.g. “We’re looking for someone who loves working with a team, who’s open to new ideas, who has a positive mental attitude …”)
  4. Develop a list of questions that will help you discern if someone owns your core values (e.g. “Can you give me an example of when you persevered on a project you were working on when everyone else had given up?”)
  5. Never ever hire someone just because they’re “good” at a task IF they’re not a good fit for your culture

Why? Because culture always trumps competency!

To your accelerated success!

P.S. If you like topics like this and want to scale your team and business, make sure you check out the Wired To Grow Coaching Club today.

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