I don't believe anyone genuinely starts out to build a bad company or make a bad movie. Stuff happens and the end result is what it is. Sometimes the participants are not really on board or the vision is not well thought out.
Visions change and the route to getting there is often not straight forward. We are confronted with bumps in the road and team members can be disillusioned and even destructive.
If the leader (business owner/movie director) is not communicating well, the team does not have proper direction. Good or bad decisions/actions/results usually start from the top and flow down.
Mistakes, redirection and new ideas are all part of the process. Some work some don't, but you still have to try. If you don't push the envelope you'll never know what could have made the project better.
We start with a vision, be it a business plan, an idea or a script, and begin the process of building something. A product, company, charity, event, movie, tv series, app it doesn't matter the overall thinking is the same.
Some ideas work beyond our expectations while others fizzle out quickly or die a slow death. We can be suprised and watch a simple video go viral or work day and night and no one notices.
I've had blog posts that took me very little effort and received thousands of views while others are written and rewritten, sweated over and nurtured then somehow go unnoticed.
So when I see a movie or tv show that just doesn't cut it or a business that starts off with alot of fanfare and then closes its' doors quickly I wonder how the team behind the effort gauges their success or failure.
Was it really failure or was it the timing, the leadership, the vision, the team or any number of factors? Two teams/leaders could each take the same starting point and end up with completely different results. Their past experiences, specific skills, and objectives will dramatically influence results.
Was it the team or the leader? Was the business concept a bad idea or was the movie just a bad script, poor direction and bad acting?
Typically there are many people, factors and unknowns involved in the success or failure of companies or movies. We need to ask ourselves these questions on a regular basis. Are we managing a bad business or running our business badly? Is our company doomed to failure or ready for a sequel? Can we turn things around?
Do people look at your company and rate it like a movie? Is it big theatre viewing or just watch it at home? Tell your friends to watch it or pass? See it a second time because it was so good or walk out in the middle? Should you win an Oscar and be released worldwide or quickly disappear into online viewing?
Sometimes we seem to be as familiar or more so with the workings of the entertainment business than small business. Perhaps, as business owners, we have something to learn from them.
Essentially making a movie is the same as building a company to make a product or deliver a service. You gather a team, feed them the vision, encourage everyone's participation or discourage them, assign team members various responsibilities and manage the process until the finished product is presented to the marketplace.
You have a winner or you don't. You tinker to produce better results or leave it alone. Sometimes the idea works other times it does not. You move on and keep trying.
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Where Would We Be Without Customers
Customers are the most important component of your marketing program. You can have the best product or service and the most knowledgeable and impressive staff, but without a happy customer, you may have no one to make the sale to. No sales lead to fewer staff or at best, a less-qualified staff, leading to a downward spiral. This situation may sound like a doom and gloom prediction, but a solution is not far out of your reach.
In fact, there are many steps you can take to not only secure your relationship with existing customers but also attract and retain new ones. The old adage ‘‘Treat customers as you wish to be treated’’ has never been more relevant. Competition is fierce and small companies are stealing business from formidable competitors through solid, reliable customer service. The stigma of small companies being too small to handle customer needs is disappearing.
Large companies often hire people on contract (consultants, small suppliers, etc.) for many of the jobs that were salaried positions in the recent past. You have a better opportunity to compete with larger competitors and win new business than ever before. Great customer service can even the playing field and make all the difference in the world to your business.
Treat Customers As Well As You Like To Be Treated
Here are two very different experiences with customer service, a negative experience with a large company and a positive one with a small business.
A Negative Experience
A customer arrived at a bank about two minutes before it officially opened at 9:30 a.m. An older gentleman had been waiting for a few minutes and seemed somewhat agitated. Other people were waiting in their cars for the doors to open.
Time takes on new meaning when waiting and a few minutes can seem like hours; the bank had to keep the doors closed until 9:30 for security reasons. As 9:30 a.m. came and went, no one opened the doors.
An employee was spotted inside the bank and the growing crowd waved to bring him over. He thought this was amusing and waved back as he continued going about his business. The agitation among the customers increased. The waving employee finally let the customers in.
It seems he found the furious, waving exchange humorous and greeted them with a big smile as if it were a joke. The crowd did not laugh. As the customers approached the tellers, it became apparent that they would have to wait again. The customers were not happy.
This bank was a new, large branch that had amalgamated from several smaller ones. It was supposed to offer state-of-the-art service. This was not the first negative experience for any of these customers. As they waited for a teller, stories of prior bad experiences began to circulate among them, each story outdoing the previous one.
Occasional service problems can be tolerated. An ongoing disregard for your customers cannot. As the old expression goes, ‘‘The customer is always right.’’ Unfortunately, some businesses seem to ignore this advice and they drive customers away. The banks’ problems could be easily fixed with extended hours and more staff. Good service begets more business and more business pays for extended hours and increased staffing. The cycle continues and your business grows.
A Great Experience
A businessman set out to buy a new suit. A store had been recommended to him through word of mouth. He approached the front door and noticed a sign asking him to press the buzzer. Before he could count to three, a friendly salesman opened the door and welcomed him inside.
The first question the salesman asked was how had he heard about the store? After receiving the answer, the salesman dispensed with the formalities and asked the businessman how he could help him.
The customer described the occasion he needed a new suit for and the salesman took over. The next hour was probably the easiest and most enjoyable shopping experience the businessman ever had.
The salesman described the construction of various suits and explained the differences between manufacturers and styles. He made good recommendations and coordinated shirts and ties to make several outfits from one suit. He made the purchase very easy and an enjoyable experience for the customer.
It was obvious why the business had been built on word-of-mouth, and the businessman planned to pass its name on to other people. The salesman turned a new customer experience into a long-term relationship.
Successful businesses know how critical customer service is. In a highly competitive marketplace in which many companies offer similar products and services, a great way to distinguish yourself is by offering superb customer service. It is imperative to understand what your customer is really looking for.
Customers don’t think very differently than you do. When you are buying products or services for your business or home, you are a customer. Your thinking is probably like your customer’s. Next time you are purchasing something, keep the following points in mind and look at the purchase from a customer’s perspective. It’s not difficult to learn something from one industry and transfer the information to another. Try to relate what you learned to your own business.
“Confidence is key to successfully acquiring new business.” A2E
13 Tips for Outstanding Customer Service:
The past year has been an interesting time for me. Lots of changes, including how I work, who I work with and how much I enjoy my work. Yes it is true, if you really enjoy what you're doing it's not work.
This is not without the obligatory surprises, tests of will and oh crap did I just make a huge mistake lightning bolt. So how have I managed to soldier through the challenging times? Good question. While it's exhilarating enjoying the highs, it can be tough dealing with the lows.
Here is my mantra. "I don't know, I'll figure it out."
Next time you're faced with an overwhelming challenge, don't curl up in the fetal position and try to ride it out or yell at the innocent party who just asked you a simple question.
Embrace the situation, take a deep breath and say "I don't know, I'll/we'll figure it out."
Interesting, I just had an epiphany while writing this post. It's no longer always I, it's now we. As more great people join our company I have become part of the 'we'.
Something for both of us to think about.
Forget about selling your business and focus on increasing the value. If you do it right, the buyers will come to you.
It's a crowded market and lots of business owners would like to sell. Some started early and many have waited too long. No one can predict how long it will take to sell your company. You can try selling it as is or increasing the value first. With more value you're in a much stronger position to attract buyers and negotiate a better deal.
Finding buyers for a business can be more time consuming and often more difficult than you might think. Much like selling a house or a car you can fix it up just before you sell or do it in advance and enjoy the benefits as you go.
You may have some nibbles but likely one real shot at selling the business. If you do it right that's all you need.
9 Tips for Selling Successfully and Exiting Well
1. Not sure what to do, don't have a qualified team or just too tired. Engage experts in Operations, Finance, Sales & Marketing, Human Resources and Legal. Make sure they understand what is needed to sell a business.
2. Stop working in the business and start working on the business. Pull away from the day to day responsibilities and spend quality time looking at the present and future of your industry and your business.
3. Get back in touch with why you loved building this company. Re-energize yourself and enjoy the selling journey. You won't feel as pressured and wind up taking the wrong deal.
4. Recognize the imperfections and do something about them. People, systems, finance etc. Often it is the unwillingness of the owner to make the tough decisions that will be their downfall. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck it won't fix itself, or it would have already.
5. Get your sales and marketing updated and aligned. Make sure they're working in an integrated effort. Ideally this should happen before you start the selling process but good sales and marketing are always welcome.
6. It's not just about great sales numbers. Great operations and strong financial controls deliver profitability and desirability as well.
7. Add at least 4 years on to your exit strategy. Count on 1 year to do the deal and 3 more to ease your way out. The new owners will likely require your participation to provide experience, industry introductions, continuity with staff, vendors, and customers.
8. Not sure if you really want to sell? Run improvement efforts parallel to selling, as you don't know how long it will take and you just may change your mind.
9. Attend our next workshop. We'll discuss all of the above and more at our half day event on 'identifying weaknesses and increasing the value' of your company. The cost is $250 and includes a full report on what your company could be worth in it's current state or with improvements. This is a private by invitation only event for owners of established businesses with annual sales in excess of $2,000,000.
If any part of this post speaks to you or to someone you know please feel free to email my Assistant Cheryl firstname.lastname@example.org. Schedule a telephone call with me or we can talk in person over a cup of coffee and figure out your next move.
Are you attracting Takers or Buyers?
Free samples has several meanings and offering stuff for free can often result in different outcomes.
You can get a free sample at the deli counter before you buy. Usually you're there to buy so it makes sense to offer free samples. Sure someone might take advantage but typically the ratio of buying vs taking is low.
Free on the other hand, as in download this stuff free, take this free pen at the trade show, come to this free event or take an hour of my time for free has less attraction to real Buyers and usually appeals to Takers.
Takers go for anything free or close to free and place little value on what they're receiving. It's appropriate to lower your expectations and anticipate a lesser quality of response.
Rarely do they buy as the free stuff satisfies the need for acquisition. If I have all these free downloads to read I don't have to buy books. If I go to free events I don't have to attend paid ones. I've done my duty.
On the other hand if I'm considering purchasing a tool or buying a ticket for a paid event I'll gather information, evaulate the purchase and determine if it is the best choice for me. Will it fulfill my requirements, how does it compare with other similar offers and is it a good value? I expect to pay for value and free is not a choice.
So next time you're pricing and promoting a product or service or even considering doing someone a favour, you have to decide if this is a free offer or a paid one. We've all done favours where you know there was little real appreciation for your efforts. Kind of an empty feeling.
Ask yourself, what message are you sending about who you are and how you value yourself or your product. Is this a charge situation or a free sample?
Eric Gilboord, A2E
If you follow my blog regularly you'll know I've been through some significant changes or perhaps better said an evolution over the past couple of years. My dream, WarrenBDC has opened, our events are starting to flow, Clients are signing up and if I said I knew what would happen from the beginning I would be lying.
Things really started moving when I adopted the mantra "I don't know, I'll figure it out." We are often our own biggest stumbling block and self-defeat is an enormous beast that will likely never be completely tamed. The day I admitted and accepted that no I don't have all the answers is the moment when everything started to fall into place.
Yes, I gave myself permission to not know, to screw up and move forward.
Believe in yourself, start and don't quit, as you go you will figure it out.
If you agree with my thinking, please pass this blog along to friends, family or business associates. One small action could change another persons life.
Eric Gilboord, A2E
Sell Your Business On Your Terms
When it comes to selling your business you have 2 choices. Sell it as is or fix it up and put yourself in a much stronger position to negotiate a better deal. Remember it's not just about the money, often the terms on which you agree are equally as important.
Finding buyers for a business can be more time consuming and often more difficult than you think. Much like selling a house or a car you can fix it up just before you sell or do it in advance and enjoy the benefits for a while. You don't know how long it will take to sell. Count on selling being more difficult, more time consuming and more expensive.
Like many things in life it comes down to doing the work, identifying the weaknesses, making the changes and improving the value. Be careful, you might just improve your company to the point where it makes a better business decision to keep it.
5 Tips for Selling On Your Terms
3 Ideas for Finding Another Way to Solve Problems
Unfortunately, our lives are not filled with perfect days and businesses that run effortlessly and challenge free. Or at least I haven't had the experience.
Like most business owners, you likely find yourself with new challenges on a daily basis and the need to solve them quickly and efficiently. But how do you find the next possible solution?
The Dumb Entrepreneur keeps trying to do the same thing in the same way and expects different results. The definition of crazy.
The Smart Entrepreneur takes a more active tact. It starts with the chant - 'There must be another way. There must be another way. There must be another way.'
Once you appreciate the answer is out there, you need to find it. But how?
1. Look at the problem from a different perspective. Could it really be an opportunity? Run it from back to front. Stand on the other side i.e. look at it from the perspective of the operator, customer, vendor or ???
2. Ask someone new for help. If you've tried all the usual suspects try someone different. Not connected to the challenge and with nothing to gain or lose. Could be a forest and the trees situation or maybe they have a solution from an unrelated industry that translates to your business.
3. Go online and find the answer. I know this sounds lame but I have found more answers, more quickly and with fuller explanations just by Googling it. Remember, it is likely that someone, somewhere has experienced the same challenge as you. And nowadays they have probably posted the solution online.
Now go solve your challenges and move your business forward.
And feel free to forward this email to your team.
Working daily to inform you, Eric
Eric Gilboord, A2E
Work on your business NOT in your business.
By Anonymous (with a little editing from Eric Gilboord)
At an International lumberjack competition two finalists were chosen, a Canadian and a Norwegian. As a final task they were each given an equal sized parcel of forest to clear in eight hours, armed only with their axe.
Whoever cleared the greatest amount of forest would be declared the winner. At 8 AM sharp the horn sounded and the two lumberjacks began chopping. They seemed equally matched, going stroke for stroke, until at 8:50 the Canadian heard the Norwegian stop. So he kept going, eager to gain an advantage.
At 9 AM the Norwegian resumed and again they were matched stroke for stroke, until at 9:50 the Norwegian stopped. Seizing the opportunity, the Canadian kept going, until the Norwegian began again at 10 AM. This happened throughout the day, with the Norwegian stopping at ten minutes 'til the hour until resuming on the hour.
When the horn sounded to end the competition, the Canadian was brimming with confidence, certain that he had won, only to be devastated when he heard the Norwegian had beaten him.
"How is that possible," he asked the Norwegian. "Every hour you stopped for ten minutes. It's not possible that you could have chopped more wood than I did."
The Norwegian looked at the puzzled Canadian, smiled and responded, "every time I stopped, I was simply sharpening my axe. And you kept making yours duller" Every stroke he took was deeper and he needed less strokes to knock the trees down.
So Eric what does this have to do with me?
You should ask yourself - Are you so busy cutting the forest (working in your business) that you don't stop regularly to breathe, take a rest and sharpen your blade (work on your business). Now if you're like many entrepreneurs who need permission to stop working here you go. Stop working in your business.
Erasing Failure to Find Success
by Eric Gilboord
Let's start with understanding that much of our power, direction and success comes from within us. We can blame outside forces, but in the end it's up to us. Can you eliminate failure, wipe it off the board? Of course not and in fact why would you?
Paralysis by analysis is a common reason for not succeeding. Fear of failure is often stronger than the anticipation of success. You over think a move, an idea, a deal, a call, a sale, an email etc. and under try. You don't do anything because it's too much work, too difficult, might not work (excuse goes here ______________).
Failure is part of the process so don't let it freeze you. Failure comes when something doesn't work the way you thought it might. You learn a bit more, make some changes and try again. The three rules of success are Pivot Pivot Pivot.
Over the past year I've visited with many business owners who are inches away from the success they desire. This is not limited to business success but easily crosses over to their personal lives as well. The problem is not some external force. It's the fight they have within themselves. So what is standing in the way of our success and what can we do about it?
Here are 7 common problems and my solutions:
If you believe this post has been helpful please send me an email or call and share your thoughts. I try to balance my posts between business and personal development, while some naturally cross over. Please take a few seconds and click one or both of the links below to let me know where your preference is.
I like improving my life with Eric's PERSONAL growth messages.
I like growing my company with Eric's BUSINESS oriented messages.
Eric Gilboord, A2E
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1. Look For Trade Shows To Exhibit At Or Just Attend. Sometimes, walking through a show and searching for distributors or customers can be just as beneficial as exhibiting at it. Meeting with customers at the shows can be an opportunity to spend quality time with them out of the office. This is also a great opportunity to research your industry, identify new innovations or coming trends.
2. Plan A Sales Meeting(s) With Your Agents And Sales Reps. Hold the meetings at the show. They will likely be attending the same events as you. A sales meeting is a cost-effective method for keeping in touch with and educating your associates on the many new activities and opportunities you have planned for them.
3. Develop An Internal Incentive Program. Make the prize a trip to the show. If the all the reps go to the show anyway then offer something special for the winners to be enjoyed in the city where the show is being held. New employees can also use these events to accelerate their learning curve.
4. Coordinate Special Offers. Coordinate offers for your distributors to promote your products or services to their customers. Or offer specials to your customers if you sell direct to end users.
5. Identify Publications To Advertise In. Contact both print and online vehicles to find out about special promotional issues and their editorial calendars. You could tie your advertisement in with a special issue that is focused on a specific topic. Ask if you can contribute an article or be the subject of an interview.
6. Plan Your Advertising. Give customers sufficient time to collect information from you and your competitors before making their final decisions. Incorporate seasonality of sales and be aware of customer sales cycles. Be clear on closing times for booking space and providing advertising material.
7. Announce Publicity Opportunities. Include new product launches and events of interest to industry publications and their readers.
8. List All Seasonal Sales Events. Use them selectively to package promotional offers. Seasonal themes can work in many industries.
9. Coordinate Multiple Activities. News about store and office openings, expansions, new product or services and booth information can be tied into your other marketing efforts. Add a tag line about a sale or show and booth number to an ad or a flyer; it’s a cost-effective method for increasing their success.
10. Plan And Execute Direct Marketing Programs. Planning enables you to boost sales, increase show booth or store attendance and to make customers aware of special offers. Savings can be enjoyed by purchasing materials for multiple shows or sales at one time. Instead of running around the day before each event. Don’t even think about denying it!
11. Attend Seminars And Workshops Throughout The Season. Plan for them in advance. If you don’t plan to attend these events, you probably will not have time for them when they come up.
12. Assess Results Of Your Efforts. Identify a specific time to learn from your mistakes and make sure that you continue to take advantage of your successes.
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Here are a few pointers to guide you through the initial anxiety-filled period when most new entrepreneurs are in a mental and physical transition prior to, and for a while after, the actual move. Emotions tend to be higher, and your mind is somewhat distracted by changes you are going through and the many new issues needing your attention.
1. Talk to other entrepreneurs about leaping from a job to being your own boss. You are not the first person to make this move. Others have gone before you and are usually willing to share their experiences. Lessons can be learned and costly mistakes avoided.
2. Get a basic understanding of marketing to help reduce the sense of fear, anxiety and overwhelm that occurs when you enter an area of unfamiliarity. Read books on marketing and take marketing courses. Become familiar with marketing terminology and activities.
3. Take advantage of up front time before you leap. Start the thinking process early, before you jump. Waiting until you leave to start your planning can be too late. Do as much advance work as possible. Research your target group, competition, the potential of your idea, and the services you'll offer. Start the marketing process by working to determine who you are and what you are selling.
4. Ask yourself if your expectations are realistic? Discuss these issues with your family and get their agreement. A reasonable initial financial goal should be to at least replace your current income. Be prepared as this goal may take longer to reach than expected.
5. Consider approaching your present employer and offer your services on a contract basis. They could be your first customer, serving as a stepping stone until you develop a larger customer base.
6. Go out and see prospects. Be objective, honest, realistic, about what you can do, who you are, don't over promise. I recommend making your early mistakes with smaller less important potential customers. Don't take it personally if you are rejected. They may be reacting to the way you have presented your company or they may genuinely not have a need for your services. Either way there is valuable learning to be had.
7. Qualify leads carefully, hear what a prospect is saying not what you want them to say and be very realistic about their intentions. Many promising businesses have failed in infancy because a new entrepreneur thought a positive response to their idea meant money in the
Here's 7 more.
8. Join up with other small businesses who complement your products or services. They could provide much needed leads and act as part of your support system.
9. Look for a mentor or group of advisors to provide guidance. Preferably those familiar with the business you are entering. They may have been there before you and hopefully can help to avoid some of the pitfalls of running your own business.
10. If you are planning on a career change try working for a company in the same business you are entering learning what and what not to do.
11. Make sure your voicemail is businesslike and professional before you leave the job, while going through the initial research stages. It is not necessary to use a company name, but leave a professional message and don't have the kids answering the telephone. Train them early, when to answer and what to say or get an extra telephone line for your computer (internet/fax) and business voicemail.
12. Purchase computer equipment early and learn to use it. You don't want to be scrambling at the last minute learning new software when you're trying to produce a letter or proposal.
13. Prepare marketing tools with the understanding that you will likely need to revise them as you go. Get business cards and letterhead produced in small quantities. Do not produce homemade cards. The negative message you are sending out is a lack of commitment to the idea you are attempting to base a business on.
14. Have fun but don't let the new business venture consume your life. Make time for family and friends. You will be amazed at how much more energy and clarity you will have if a balance is maintained.
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Does your daily battle with your competition resemble a David and Goliath fight, with you being the David in the story? Our marketing guru Eric Gilboord says it doesn't need to seem that way and has 7 sure fire ways to beat large business competitors.
1. Outmanoeuvre Them. A small business is like a speedboat that can manoeuvre quickly, slow down or speed up as needed, and turn around completely in a much smaller space than a battleship (a larger business) can. A new strategy may take a large business three months to develop and implement. You could execute it in three days.
2. Offer Genuine Personal Attention. Small businesses can offer real personal attention, greeting customers by name and having a brief conversation with them when they enter their establishments. Customer service is more than screaming, ''Hello!'' indiscriminately when someone walks into a store. I find this particular activity, conducted mostly by the larger U.S.- based chain stores, to be somewhat unsettling and in many cases, quite insincere.
3. Choose Between Help And Help Yourself. I prefer to buy from small businesses because they're usually more ready, willing, and able to help me. It seems that customers must choose between getting help and helping themselves. The staffs at some larger organizations tend to be busy stocking shelves. They may point out where something is but they don't always have the time or the expertise to help customers make a purchase.
4. Educate Yourself. Education can be an important part of the purchasing process. When many products deliver the same benefits, it is not always easy to make the right choice. In order to select the best product or service for your needs, you may require education. Small businesses tend to be better suited at offering assistance and are the best choice for one-time requests or requests for unusual or rare products and services.
5. Tailor Your Products. A small business has the ability to tailor its product or service selection to its specific customers. The most popular products your specific customer desires can be stocked in depth. This feature can be a disadvantage to large businesses as they carry a wide range of products offering little choice within a specific product group. Don't forget to promote this advantage. Your business may represent one section of one aisle in a big box store. You don't need to worry about the rest as you are not in those businesses.
6. Train Your Staff. Make sure you don't make the same mistakes that some large businesses make. Don't fall into the trap of being too busy to provide good service. Unfortunately, several large businesses seem to have staff to stock shelves but not to help customers and in some cases, not even to take your money. I can't imagine any small business allowing a customer to stand in the middle of the floor with his or her money and no one to give it to.
This unfortunate experience happened to me in one of the well-established department stores. I couldn't even pay for the one item that I came in to buy. But small businesses don't always have good service. You must train your staff. Your larger competitors probably have training programs. Your advantage is the ability to have an informal, on the spot training session for your staff. Augment any formal group training with small amounts of input when needed. If you notice something wrong or there's a situation where you can improve your service, the changes can be made almost immediately, unlike your larger competitors, who may have to take months to develop a more formal, structured training program.
7. Don't Compete On Price Alone. Some small businesses charge a little more than a larger competitor but that's OK. Some segments of your target group are willing to pay a little more in order to receive better service. It's up to you to provide it and to make sure that customers know they are receiving added value. Some customers will always look for the lowest price. They will shop around, use your time and expertise, then go to your larger competitors to make the purchase. It's your job to recognize these people and to educate them about the advantages of doing business with you. Customers are not mind readers. These ideas apply to many business categories such as retail, manufacturing, and industrial or professional services. No matter what business you are in, act like a speedboat and outmanoeuvre the battleship. Go out and run circles around big businesses.
It seems that much of the advice, government programs and general interest with small business is about start-ups. But what about Owners of established businesses getting ready to Start-Down. Ready to SELL their business and move on to the next exciting challenge in their life. Remember, 60 is the new 40 and you have many new adventures ahead of you.
Often we find boomer age business owners lack the team to SELL their business successfully. To better assist my Clients and Prospects I'm organizing a Silver Mastermind Group - specifically for owners of established businesses thinking about or already at some stage in the process of selling their company.
If you're interested contact me directly at email@example.com
This week's email is on Start-Down the Opposite of Start-Up
Go on give it a read you have everything to gain. As well, you might like to pass this post along to someone you know who fits the Start-Down profile. A2E
Eric Gilboord, CEO
Warren Business Development Center Inc.
Sell Or Don't Sell -The New Retirement Question
Reap The Best of Both Generations
7 Essentials to Sell Your Company at a Premium
Looking At Your Customers, Through An Angel Investors’ Eyes
by Eric Gilboord
Angel Investors often invest money and time. As a business owner you’re investing your time, resources and money in acquiring or keeping customers. The wrong customer can be costly and disruptive to your company. Your customer base is like an investors’ portfolio. Smart Angels review their investments to adjust for performance and economic changes. Wise business owners do the same with their customer base.
Typically 20% of the customers contribute 80% of your income. An experienced Angel may invest in 10 companies hoping to score a hit with one or two. It may be time to review your customer list and fire the bottom 10% as an investor might do while cutting their losing investments. Then focus your resources on finding better customers with larger opportunities. Or simply spend more time on some of the good customers you already have.
Finding good customers and keeping them is hard enough without spending a disproportionate amount of your time and resources on generating more new ones. Before you accept a new customer, consider using the indicators below to determine whether or not they are a good fit for your company. Various criteria may be utilized. Here are 7 to get you started.
7 Things to Consider About Current or New Customers
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Marketing goes well beyond advertising, website and brochures. It also includes many intangible ideas the small business owner/operator needs to understand, observe, and respond to, including the following:
1. Customers' Needs. A clear understanding of your customers' needs and a strong commitment to satisfy them should be at the heart of your marketing program. You do not have a business without customers. The survival and growth of your business will come from providing great customer service. Happy customers will be loyal and bring you new customers.
2. Competition. Many businesses are aware of their competitors but do not possess intimate knowledge of them. If you know what things they are doing right and what things they may be doing wrong, you can learn from their experiences and apply the good to your organization and avoid the bad. Understanding your competitors will often give you the opportunity to anticipate how they may respond to your tactics. You can then anticipate their marketing activities and be prepared.
3. True Value Of An Opportunity. Look under the surface. Not every opportunity is as it may seem. You need a strategy to assess new opportunities and to allow yourself the choice to walk away from what could be a damaging experience to your company. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
4. Times Are Changing. This is a time of rapid and constant change. Traditional ways of thinking will either produce traditional results or prove to be fatal in this non-traditional business climate.
5. Get Progressive. Think about your marketing in an aggressive manner. Break away from the old reliable ways and begin new traditions. If you apply new thinking to new problems and new opportunities, you will see new results. New traditions will have much shorter life spans and will be quickly replaced by more new ideas. Thinking about your business is much like hitting a moving target.
6. Know What You Don't Know. The awareness that there are many things you do not know is also important to the constant updating of information on customers, competitors, and the industry you are in. A wise business owner knows what he or she doesn't know, employs a strategy, and finds the answers.
7. Develop New Business. Business owners would like to believe that customers will just come to them, but this is not the reality. New business development is just as important to a marketing program as satisfying existing customers. If you wish to grow your business or even to keep it at a certain level (customers can leave for various reasons and you often do not have control over their decisions), you will need new customers. You will require a formal, well-thought-out new business development strategy.
8. Customer Contact. In order to meet the sometimes enormous challenge of monitoring and interacting with large numbers of customers and new prospects, you will need a contact management strategy. How you keep in touch with customers and the ease with which you or your staff are able to reach them will dramatically affect the level of customer service you can offer.
"Demonstrate, you know your business and a clear understanding of their needs." A2E
Allies and Acquaintances: Two Key Types of Professional Relationships
By Reid Hoffman (The man behind LinkedIn)
Professional Allies: People Who Have Your Back.
What makes someone an ally in your job and career? First, it's someone you consult regularly for advice. You trust his or her judgment. Second, you proactively share and collaborate on opportunities together. You keep your antennae especially attuned to an ally’s interests, and when it makes sense to pursue something jointly, you do so. Third, you talk up an ally to other friends. You promote his or her brand. When an ally comes into conflict, you defend him, and stand up for his reputation. And he does the same for you when times get tough. Finally, you are explicit about your bond. You might say to each other, “Hey, we’re allies, right? How can we best help each other?”
4 Minute Video with Eric Gilboord
1. Know What You Want. Know what information you are looking for. Much of what you are seeking is readily available. Talk to your staff, customers, and suppliers. Equip yourself with a list of the specific information you require. Look at competitors' price plans, additional services, and staff capabilities. Review their product lines and determine how much they overlap with yours.
2. Get to Know Your Competitors. Make sure you balance older established businesses with new ones. Talk to competitors at trade shows when they are more inclined to be chatty. But be cautious: sharp competitors may feed you misinformation or embellish sales figures to make themselves look good. Or they could just be seeing what you know. It goes both ways. Print this post out for your staff.