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5 Techniques to Grow Your Business

Small businesses are fueled by ambition. For most, that ambition lies in the pursuit of growth. There is no one-size-fits all strategy to grow your business, but there are a few different ways that you can try to spur it. Having a plan is the first step, and following these five suggestions can help you develop ideas to help drive growth.

1. Take a Risk

No business has ever grown by standing still. In order to change your growth rate, you must make a change yourself. Risk should be an area you’re familiar with if you’ve already started your own business. This risk can come in different forms; maybe it’s allocating more or less of your budget to different areas in an attempt to grow a specific aspect of your business, or it could be expanding, or adding a new product or service. What you take a chance on relies on your project’s needs.

2. Ask the Audience

Sometimes figuring out what to do differently can be difficult, especially when you’re not in the position of a customer. Find your regulars, and ask them what more they’d like to see from you in the future. It may seem like a simple idea, but several huge companies (Lego’s, Netflix, McDonalds…) have benefitted from this approach. The people who make use of your services are the ones who know where improvements can be made, and their opinions should be valued.

3. Engage With Your Audience in Creative Ways

Getting the opinions of your customers requires a few minutes of your time, but also establishes a relationship. Taking the comment box approach is as ineffective as it is impersonal. Initiating conversation with consumers should be personal, and continued. Maintaining conversation with customers gives a face to the company as well as a good reputation. You want to give them something to brag about. Going a little out of your way to talk to your customers is like a free form of PR. The manager asked us how our meal was and thanked us for coming. The owner of my gym offered to spot me. These are the kinds of things you want your consumers telling their friends.

4. Partner With Other Business

This is especially important on the local level. It not only can bring in a new group of potential customers, but gives your business a sense of community. Attend your community business meetings and try to source needs through the people you meet there and they’re likely to do the same. There’s also the possibility of joining forces on a project and engaging a much larger audience. Another benefit from partnering is referrals for customers needing things that you don’t offer. Just be sure to partner up with the right person, you don’t want someone who is all ‘take’ and no ‘give.’

5. Automate It

How much of your routine do you spend on mundane, administrative tasks? The answer is likely, “too much.” Search for ways that you can streamline these processes through technology. Finding ways to automate not only saves you the payroll, but frees up time for you to focus on the more important aspects of running your business. Whatever it is you need completed, there’s probably an app made just for it.

No one said that growing your business is easy, but it won’t happen if you aren’t looking for areas that you could further develop. Figuring out exactly what it is that you can do might be the most difficult part, but using these techniques could help give you an idea. Just make sure that whatever you decide is fully implemented. Don’t be afraid that a new idea will fail, while it may, the chances are much slimmer if you hedge it.


salesperson

Who is Your MVP Salesperson?

The Right Salesperson for the Right Approach

In the last post we talked about making first contact with your prospective big fish and how to make a positive first impression. Today we’re going to talk about feeling out the personality of your prospective big fish to match the right salesperson to the fish.

You need to do this in two steps:

  1. Profile your salespeople’s personalities.
  2. Match the right salesperson to your target fish.

There are essentially three different selling personalities:

  • Sage
  • Pal
  • Pit Bull

The Sage

This salesperson offers knowledge, experience, comfort and trust. They can make a concerned customer feel at ease. In order to be successful they need plenty of information, a demo of the product/service, references and case studies, if possible.

The Pal

Much like it sounds this is a salesperson that shines at building relationships. They can instantly relate to the prospective client and make them seem like old friends in no time. They work best with clients who are looking for friendship, information and in a similar peer group as the salesperson. This can include anything from age and culture to hobbies and nightlife. While, sharing experiences can be beneficial to creating a new relationship, your salesperson must always keep it professional and dignified. The resource’s this personality type needs is help pairing with the right client, entertainment (or schmoozing) budget and the right information to meet the client’s needs.

The Pit Bull

Obviously, this personality type is a little more aggressive than the others. They are all about business and the bottom line. While this may seem harsh to a lot of people, there is a set of business people out there that want the same thing and respect someone who can get down to business and the benefits of a partnership. This salesperson will need to be trusted with a little authority as they will likely be closing deals on the spot. They’ll need plenty of resources and access to products and services. They are best placed in environments where they can work independently, exercise their authorative discretion and seal deals quickly.

These can all be successful when each is used in the right selling environment. You can easily see how matching the right salesperson for the client can secure more big fish and for a longer period of time.

If you need help figuring out which of your salespeople fit into these three areas, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.


support staff

Gathering Your Support Staff

Today I’d like to chat about the different types of support staff you need and what makes them so important.

There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:

  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur

All of these roles need to be played simultaneously by different people with the right talents. It’s all about balance.

The Technician

This person represents the present and all that needs to be done for the physical aspects of the business building process. They are the “doer”. This is usually the most visible person of the entire operation.

The Manager

This person represents the past and works to fix problems through learning from past mistakes. They are the practical side of the business and is in charge of putting together the business and overseeing the planning.

The Entrepreneur

This person represents the future and the vision for the business. They are responsible for the creative side of the business and are always considering ways to enhance products/service, business image, branding and more.

All three of these characters are essential in the success of any business and to build a solid foundation from the start, you need to work harder to find the right people to put in these roles. Obviously, you need to be one of these key people, but ensure you find the role that fits your skills and talents, not necessarily what you THINK you should be doing.

This may be a hard process for you as you will need to relinquish some control over the business and instill trust in people to allow them to do their jobs.

Remember, our business coaches can help you through the entire process of building a support staff, and teach you how to avoid falling victim to e-myths.


Do it Like the Kings of the Industry

Today we’ll take a look at how the kings of the industry wine, dine and otherwise cajole prospects.

Most of successful professionals use a series of information based ads that build emotion and a call to action. These are much more effective than a standard company branding advertisements. The same principles that go into putting together a high impact (and, often, high priced) ad campaign can be adapted to fit your needs with similar results.

Here are some ways to put together and execute a professional, effective ad campaign:

  1. Put together a short report that’ll you’ll automatically send to prospects when they contact you. This should include a short description of your business and what you specialize in. Don’t forget to include case studies, samples or other proof of your success.
  2. Develop value-oriented yellow page ads.
  3. Consider newsletters as a way of educating and informing customers about your industry and services offered.
  4. Offer a free seminar, webinar or other lecture to build awareness of your business, but make sure you make the information pertinent to your target market and find speakers who are respected and known in the industry.
  5. Buy an existing business, introduce better marketing and grow this new business faster than a “from scratch” business.
  6. Always test different versions of your ads to find the most effective ones.
  7. Use direct mail marketing to grow your business.
  8. Put together a database of previous customers and send them new information.
  9. Offer incentives such as frequent purchasing benefits, loyalty programs, referral programs or others.
  10. Approach large firms who may need your services and negotiate a deal to be their exclusive expert in your field.
  11. Offer a 24-hour information line with a regularly updated recorded message. Make this available to all past and future customers/clients.
  12. Donate time or materials to local charities to show support in your area.
  13. Offer public clinics for the general public to come along and discuss what they need that’s free and approachable.
  14. Organize seminars your customers/clients can pay to attend by putting together a high-perception value package.
  15. Approach local newspaper by offering to write a weekly column       about your area of expertise. Don’t ask for money, just a byline and bio.
  16. Develop a weekend or other destination seminar for customers/clients, not only does this give you an action-packed weekend with the most important people, it gives them a tax-deductible business adventure.
  17. Take a good seminar and turn it into written form as a home study, member site program, audio or video program.
  18. Approach large companies and offer to give seminars to their employees, investors or management.
  19. Be proactive with your marketing plan.
  20. Barter for your marketing. Offer products or services in lieu of payment.
  21. Be willing to bring in new clients, even if at an initial loss because it will likely pay off later.
  22. Regulate your marketing budget to maximize the potential income from them to hit the next year and try to push back advertising costs for the next year to offset your expenses.
  23. Make offers to target markets or target market businesses to pay them for referrals or shared databases.
  24. Offer loaner products to replace equipment that’s be repaired or refurbished.
  25. Give away something free to everyone who brings in a print version of your advertisement. This is a great way to see which ads are giving you the most bang for your buck.
  26. Continually consider what new products/services you can offer to current customers/clients.
  27. Develop a mail order division of your company.
  28. Offer a proposition to your competitors to trade customers/clients you were both unsuccessful in selling to.
  29. Use different marketing tactics as an excuse to attract new customers/clients with new offers and goodies.
  30. Offer a “you-choose-the-price” program. This is especially good for product you just can’t seem to sell.

So, there are 30 great ways to market to other professional and businesses. Some other great ways to get your name out there for little or no cost are:

  • Get involved you in your community-volunteer, donate to local events, etc.
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend the networking and other activities throughout the year.
  • Join a local, state or regional professional associates for further networking opportunities.
  • Become a board member of a local organization.

Advertising should never be your only method of marketing, there are a myriad of ways to get your name out there in a way that feels personal to potential customers/clients.

“Effective advertising…must be used to get your name out to the public. If your name is not familiar to people, they will not come to you.” Jay Abraham


Marketing as a small business owners.

Marketing as a Small Business Owner

Today I’d like to teach you about the three most important tools you’ll need when marketing as a small business owner to get and keep new customers.

  1. In person: It’s essential you meet with customers/clients in person whenever possible. This shows you respect them and take the time to work with your clients to give personal attention to each of them.
  2. Follow up letter: Always take a moment to send a follow up letter about what you talked about, new agreements or partnerships made and to thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Likewise, you should always send thank you letters or small gifts to partners you find success with.
  3. Phone call: Use a telephone call to follow up with them to talk again about the matters you talked about in your meeting and offer any assistance you can to help their business run smoothly and more successfully.

None of these will work if you don’t have a quality product/service to back you up!

Here are the key steps for putting together your start-up marketing tools:

  1. Research potential customers, buyers, competitors and their preferred methods of distribution.
  2. Talk to potential customers. Take a hard look at your product from a customer’s perspective and see what it needs to be successful.
  3. Follow up with your 3-step process from above.
  4. Develop systems for contact follow through, quality control standards and customer service.
  5. Develop post-sale follow up system to keep lines of communication open is customers and build on your current relationship which increases future purchases.

“Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs” Peter Drucker, management consultant

Here’s another one I love from an icon:

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company


5 ways your small business loses money

Owning a small business isn’t for the faint of heart.

With all the ins and outs of running your enterprise, small operational costs can often go untracked. When added together, these costs can make up an unusually large percentage of lost revenue. And for small-scale businesses, it’s important to make sure that every dollar is accounted for.

Here are five little-known ways that your company loses money, coupled with suggestions to keep it in your coffers.

1. Incongruity between departments

When different components of a business do not work harmoniously, the owner pays for it. Ensuring communication between different departments of a company is key to running a business from the top down. Departmental tasks and responsibilities need to be clearly defined and information about projects and updates needs to be accessible for all employees. By eliminating company disorganization, you can preemptively avoid many organizational hazards, such as unfinished assignments and unnecessary allocations of time and money.

2. Overlooking the little things

In a typical business day, it can be hard to give everything its necessary amount of attention But a lack of focus on minor details could cost not only your business, but also your clients.. When dealing with client requests, it is important to focus on the task at hand. Read, reread and clarify what they require.

3. Keeping up with scope creep

Sure, it may sound like a Radiohead song, but it’s a real business term, which simply means going over budget on a client project, or facing uncontrollable changes or continuous, unplanned growth in its scope. To prevent this, be sure to distinctly define and document exactly what is requested and outline a process with the client for how to proceed if it happens..

4. Not calculating soft costs into ROI

ROI (return on investment) is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment, or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. When calculating an ROI, it’s important to include your time as a “soft cost” – a cost that is not directly related to hard goods or construction – so that you can ensure a benefit for your investment in a project.

5. Failure to make calculated decisions

When running a small business, it’s important to plan for the future, and not just make day-to-day decisions on tasks. By developing a business strategy, you can lay out your desired long-term achievements — and hopefully avoid meaningless tasks. Growth takes planning, and if you’re only spending money on short-term tactics, it’s tougher to get ahead.

Now it’s time to put that cash back in your pocket and look forward to the future of taking your business to the next level.


The Number One Reason A Business Fails In It’s First Year: Cash Flow

One of the largest and most important challenges in Small Business is Cash Flow. Greg explains their coaching approach on overcoming this obstacle.

Greg A. Lee & Associates focuses on coaching business leaders by improving their performance and boosting effectiveness.


7 Common Efficiency Wasters In Businesses

Greg takes a look at 7 common categories of waste in business. He discusses the problem of over-production in detail.

Greg A. Lee & Associates focuses on coaching business leaders by improving their performance and boosting effectiveness.


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