8 Steps to Set Your Business on Fire

All too often I hear comments like “I’m tired of putting out business fires on a regular basis. There must be a better way.”

Well, of course, there is, and we want to convert the energy that’s being spent on putting out fires to a more constructive use. Let’s talk about setting your business on fire – on purpose – by being smart. Set those fires yourself and plan in advance how you will leverage the energy that’s released.

If the energy is organized and has a mission or target, the chances of hitting the target (goal) will be a lot greater. (Consider a bullet in the cylinder, awaiting the trigger to release its energy). We want to get you and your business organized and focused so the energy you release will propel your business forward in the direction you choose.

Following are the steps that seem to work best if done sequentially, all with the specific purpose of setting your business on fire. Literally translated that means bringing in more revenue, more customers, more brand recognition.

1 – Get your foundation in place
Without a sound business structure, you won’t be prepared to handle the surge in activity when your business takes off. Start by being really clear about what value you bring to the marketplace and making sure you are clearly communicating it in a variety of ways that put you in contact with your target market. Set measurable, realistic goals and create a strategy and plan to achieve them.

2 – Focus on Sales
What’s the most important part of your business? Sales, of course. How much of your time are you spending on Revenue Generating Activities? I find I need to spend at least 50% of my time on staying in touch with my market and interacting with clients and potential clients. A specific marketing plan with timeframes will keep you focused and allow you to assess the results of your actions.

3 – Commit to being responsible for and accountable for your business results
Set goals based on research and strategic decisions. Commit not only to yourself, but to a coach or a colleague. This adds fuel to your commitment. Communicate your goals and make sure your team and staff know their role and responsibility in achieving desired results. Get their commitment as well so everyone will be adding to the focused energy.

4 – Develop Strategic Alliances
You know you can’t build a business without help from others. Strategic alliances are how smart business people are leveraging their connections to reach beyond what can be done alone. I use my connections to add expertise beyond my own for many of my programs. This helps both of us reach new targeted connections where we can share our expertise. I also use marketing and technology alliances to open new networks. Every time you add an alliance you are expanding your network exponentially.

5 – Showcase Your Expertise
Every entrepreneur has expertise in something. The key is to identify and showcase yours. Your combination of training, experience, knowledge and resources makes you unique. Who cares about that expertise and how can you best share what you have to offer? Some people look for speaking opportunities in front of their target market; some who like to write will create articles, newsletters, books, CDs. Give freely of your knowledge; share your unique perspective, focus on helping others accomplish their goals. You will attract those who relate to what you say and do.

6 – Use the Web strategically
Most businesses today can benefit from using the web. This may or may not include a web site, but e-mail is definitely a prime means of communication for most businesses. It’s important to learn e-mail etiquette and to stay current on use of e-mail for marketing. Search Engine Optimization has become a key strategy for web sites. Changes happen so rapidly for anything that’s web related you’ll want to consult with a web marketing professional before undertaking any campaign.

7 – Support Yourself
You want to focus the majority of your time and energy doing what you do best in your business. That may mean product development, marketing and sales or overall management. Enlist the support of others whose expertise complements yours. Consider whether you’re better off doing that by adding to staff or through a strategic alliance. Sometimes bartering services can be a great way to get what you need and generate a client/customer at the same time. Keep adding to your team until you’ve covered all the gaps.

8. – Begin to act “as if” your goal (target) is already achieved
Thinking and acting “as if” magnetically pulls you to your goal. Success becomes easier when you’re operating in success mode. And success begets more success. Jill Ammon-Wexler’s article offers more on why acting “as if” is so powerful.

Focus, like a laser, can set your business on fire. Follow through with these steps and watch your business heat up.

Want More Sales! Create More Value!

If you’re feeling frustrated with the results of your sales efforts, don’t give up; try creating more value. Of course, value will be different for each type of business. Your job is to determine what it is and how you can provide it.

Adding free bonuses and extras is a common way to add value. Barnes & Noble built its online business quickly by offering free shipping when Amazon.com did not.

An accountant friend added the service of setting up and training on the client’s accounting software making it painless for the client and much easier to obtain needed information for taxes and reporting. It was a win-win and many clients saw the value.

Depending on your business, you might include free upgrades for your software. Maybe add a complimentary financial assessment for a new investment client. Or a free car wash with an oil change. Consider where you can add value at little or no cost to you. The objective is to get the commitment from the customer. Once a customer they are a prime candidate to buy more if you have provided value. [Read more…]

4 Ways to Boost Your Accountability and Productivity

Many clients come to me with the story of how they are struggling because they can’t get it all done, even though many of them have staff or subcontracted services in place. Not only isn’t the business moving forward as desired, but they are feeling overwhelmed, out of control and frustrated because their business isn’t performing; and neither are they. They feel stuck; up against a brick wall.

Sound familiar? Then listen up. There are actions you can take that will greatly improve your accountability and productivity, and consequently, that of your business. More importantly, there are simple tools you can use to help you provide structure and focus to your actions, so your efforts produce more of what you want.

Here are four ways you can boost your accountability and productivity.

1 – Have a Plan
If you have a plan in your head, it’s much too abstract to be of help when decisions need to be made. [Read more…]

Seven Keys to Giving and Receiving More Appreciation

Love, sex and money may make the world go round, but appreciation is what most of us are starving for, especially in the work environment. Appreciation is a strong motivator. It reinforces positive behavior and creates a bond between giver and receiver. Leaders who show appreciation for those who support and assist them will always have followers.

Appreciation is the balance between giving and receiving. People follow those who acknowledge value received and show their appreciation in some form. Today’s smart business leaders know that one of the best and least expensive ways to increase productivity is to offer appreciation for value received. And when you show appreciation for what others share, give or produce, it will be returned, even if not overtly stated.

When David, the owner of a sports equipment store, started showing appreciation for positive behavior instead of complaining about negative behavior from his retail sales staff, attendance improved and overall sales started to climb. One young man with a flair for style and design was given the opportunity to create an attractive display that increased sales of the displayed items. Personal and public appreciation for his contribution was enough encouragement for him to try other displays. He was eventually rewarded with a small override on promotional items for which he had created the display, but the real motivation came from the appreciation he received for a job well done and seeing the success of his efforts.

Customer loyalty, staff dedication and increased personal integrity are the result of [Read more…]