Celebrate any wins lately?

Well done!! Way to go!!!! You’re a rockstar!!!!!!!!

When was the last time you sat down and reflected on a win you had in the past week?  How do you acknowledge your business accomplishments?  Do you recognize and praise your team on a regular basis? How do you celebrate your victories, however big or small?

I don’t know about you, but if you’re like most people it doesn’t occur to us (including me) as a natural act to reflect on our performance.  We just keep on going to the next thing and the next thing.  It takes courage and commitment to look back on the things you did well, the things you didn’t do so well, the things you succeeded at, where you fell short of your mark.  Maybe that’s why so few people do it. 

When individuals routinely operate at such high levels, it can sometimes seem like the norm; these people say things like “it’s no big deal, that’s just what I do”. Instituting a ritual of weekly reflections that are grounded in what went right go a long way toward building confidence as individuals and as a team.  Completing what didn’t go the way we’d hoped and identifying what was missing allows us to do better next time and serve as a training opportunities that turn into wins. 

Success breeds success!  Be sure to build on your successes by stopping to smell the roses and bask in the sunlight of your accomplishments.  Start your weekly reflections and watch your successes take off.

Learning the art of questioning and listening

Being the expert in your business means that you have all the advice to give about your product, so selling should be easy, right? Selling is a tricky thing. Knowing about the product isn’t enough anymore, you need to know the right questions to ask.

Have you ever answered a question with a question? Would that be making a difference to your conversion rate? The answer to the latter is most definitely yes! Asking questions not only increases your conversion rate, but builds rapport with your customer and ensures that the sale becomes their idea and not yours.

Asking questions also means active listening. You can ask questions about your customers work, business, kids or hobbies but make sure that you are listening with sincere interest. It may even be helpful to note down some of the answers – such as the names of their kids, interests etc for future communication. By asking questions and listening, you are building rapport and attaching importance to their conversation.

Also, by asking questions you are remaining in control of the conversation. Once you find yourself doing all the talking you are no longer in control. Just remember that the person asking questions sets the direction for the conversation. If the customer is dominating the conversation by asking you questions make sure you answer the question with a question. However, try to vary the questions that you ask. You may remember from looking after your own children or babysitting that being asked “but why?” over and over again tends to get a little monotonous.

Questions can guide consumer interest, discover a need and give accurate information. There are two commonly known types of questioning – open ended and closed questions.

Building Rapport and Qualifying
Open-ended questions are an excellent way to ensure customer involvement in the conversation and are key to identifying not only what they need but a lot about themselves. You can use open-ended questions to build rapport, to find a need, to discover a customer problem and find the right solution. In journalism there are six key questions used in the interviewing process which is as equally useful in sales – who, what, where, when, why and how.

Here are a few example of open-ended questions which are very useful:

  • Who are you buying the product/service for?
  • How often would you use the product/service?
  • What features were you looking for in this product/service?

This type of questioning yields a lot of great information from your customer and helps you determine which product/service is uniquely suited to them.

Closed questions tend to get one word answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They can be used to gather information quickly – not unlike a check-list. Using closed questions can also confirm a buying detail and help confirm the sale.

By using questions you are encouraging the customer to communicate, building rapport, establishing their needs, directing the conversation, diffusing tension and inviting discussion.

Learning the art of questioning and listening is the key to increasing your conversion rate and well on the way to creating a continuing customer relationship.

10 Tips For The First Time Business Owner

Whenever possible, we encourage up-and-comers and established entrepreneurs to mentor the next generation of dream-seekers; for it is this insight and insider education that will provide the foundation for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. With that, here are 10 pieces of advice:

  1. Focus. Focus. Focus.
    Many first-time entrepreneurs feel the need to jump at every “opportunity” they come across. Opportunities are often wolves in sheep’s clothing. Avoid getting side-tracked. Juggling multiple ventures will spread you thin and limit both your effectiveness and productivity. Do one thing perfectly, not 10 things poorly. If you feel the need to jump onto another project, that might mean something about your original concept.
  2. Know what you do. Do what you know.
    Don’t start a business simply because it seems sexy or boasts large hypothetical profit margins and returns. Do what you love. Businesses built around your strengths and talents will have a greater chance of success. It’s not only important to create a profitable business, it’s also important that you’re happy managing and growing it day in and day out. If your heart isn’t in it, you will not be successful.
  3. Say it in 30 seconds or don’t say it at all.
    From a chance encounter with an investor to a curious customer, always be ready to pitch your business. State your mission, service and goals in a clear and concise manner. Fit the pitch to the person. Less is always more.
  4. Know what you know, what you don’t know and who knows what you don’t.
    No one knows everything, so don’t come off as a know-it-all. Surround yourself with advisors and mentors who will nurture you to become a better leader and businessman. Find successful, knowledgeable individuals with whom you share common interests and mutual business goals that see value in working with you for the long-term.
  5. Act like a startup.
    Forget about fancy offices, fast cars and fat expense accounts. Your wallet is your company’s life-blood. Practice and perfect the art of being frugal. Watch every dollar and triple-check every expense. Maintain a low overhead and manage your cash flow effectively.
  6. Learn under fire.
    No business book or business plan can predict the future or fully prepare you to become a successful entrepreneur. There is no such thing as the perfect plan. There is no perfect road or one less traveled. Never jump right into a new business without any thought or planning, but don’t spend months or years waiting to execute. You will become a well-rounded entrepreneur when tested under fire. The most important thing you can do is learn from your mistakes–and never make the same mistake twice.
  7. No one will give you money.
    There, I said it. No one will invest in you. If you need large sums of capital to launch your venture, go back to the drawing board. Find a starting point instead of an end point. Scale down pricey plans and grandiose expenditures. Simplify the idea until it’s manageable as an early stage venture. Find ways to prove your business model on a shoestring budget. Demonstrate your worth before seeking investment. If your concept is successful, your chances of raising capital from investors will dramatically improve.
  8. Be healthy.
    No, I’m not your mother. However, I promise that you will be much more productive when you take better care of yourself. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a 9-to-5 profession. Working to the point of exhaustion will burn you out and make you less productive. Don’t make excuses. Eat right, exercise and find time for yourself.
  9. Don’t fall victim to your own B.S.
    Don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk. Impress with action not conversation. Endorse your business enthusiastically, yet tastefully. Avoid exaggerating truths and touting far reaching goals as certainties. In short, put up or shut up.
  10. Know when to call it quits.
    Contrary to popular belief, a smart captain does not go down with the ship. Don’t go on a fool’s errand for the sake of ego. Know when it’s time to walk away. If your idea doesn’t pan out, reflect on what went wrong and the mistakes that were made. Assess what you would have done differently. Determine how you will utilize these hard-learned lessons to better yourself and your future entrepreneurial endeavors. Failure is inevitable, but a true entrepreneur will prevail over adversity.

Successful Business Networking Tips

Everyone knows that the benefits of networking are great, but most people don’t know how to take full advantage of it.
Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.
Want to make your business networking more effective?
Here are ten tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
  2. Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings so that you will pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.
  3. Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.
  4. Hold volunteer positions in organizations. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.
  5. Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
  6. Become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.
  7. Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing. In order to get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily articulate to others.
  8. Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, “How may I help you?” and no immediate answer comes to mind.
  9. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.
  10. Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.

How do You Create a New Business Reality?

The one constant in business is change. We are all are living in a major transitional time and we know that carving a new path is difficult. As business leaders, we plan to take action and get results. However, we do not always get the results that we desire and at times we do not know how to shift the actions to get different results.

As the owner of your company, you might ask yourself, how do I shift my mind set to create a business that is growing, making a profit and allows me time to enjoy my family and friends?

Here are some tips that can help you answer that question.

  1. Write down what is working or not working in your business, relationships, well being and spirituality.
  2. Evaluate or perhaps recreate a new vision for yourself and your company.
  3. Take a hard look at your Financials, Budgets, Plans and be honest with yourself where you stand.
  4. Create crucial action steps in each key area of your business (and/or life) that you have never taken.
  5. Implement new plan and keep your commitments.
  6. Hire a business coach that has the experience, tools and support to help you win your game.
  7. Read a book that can help you in the areas of your business that is not working.
  8. Attend business workshops that will help you elevate your performance.
  9. Surround yourself with a team that has strengths that you do not have.
  10. Exercise, meditate and or/pray.

Tying together the 4 “F”s in Business

Everyday business owners are faced with a myriad of choices. Some seem easy and others, not so easy.  As a Business Coach, I’ve been writing about Feelings vs. Facts and Fear vs. Faith in the daily life of a business owner and their teams and how important the choice is to make over and over.   

Until the business has a meeting rhythm where the team  is confronting the realities of the business through Critical Drivers (leading indicators of performance) and Key Performance Indicators (lagging indicators of performance) they will be running the business based on feelings.  Ok and even effective from time to time however it’s not reproducible or sustainable.

The old classic still applies if you can see it, you can move it and manage it.  This is difficult enough to implement with rigor and consistency.  It took us a year to really get the weekly and daily huddles into existence with consistency and we’re still refining our process.  A couple of weeks ago we added in a review of our daily and weekly promises, we report percentage of completion and what was missing from the promises we didn’t achieve.  This public accountability is causing a surge in performance from everyone on the team. 

Let me speak to the Fear vs. Faith component of the 4 F’s in business.   Most of the small business owners I know are afraid.  Of many things, and having gone through the last couple of years there seems to be a certain level of fear in the air that’s kind of catching.  Operating from Faith is a conscious choice and it’s a moment by moment choice. Sometimes it seems like a bad idea altogether.  However when people chose to operate from  Faith they may have moments of fear and yet there is a certain peace in having congruence with a chosen operating state that elevates they’re level of performance and gets them and their team back on track quickly.  My wish for you is that you have the clarity  and peace of running your business from facts and faith.

The 4 F’s in Business (They’re NOT What You Think) – Part 2

If distinguishing between feelings and facts brings clarity and direction to your business decisions, then choosing whether your operating state as the owner will be fear or faith becomes the energy that fuels your business engine.  Maintaining a positive mindset may be the biggest challenge you face in your business.

Both fear and faith have enormous energy associated with them.  Think of it as a spectrum.  A healthy fear expressed as a mild anxiety can actually compel you to check something out, be alert, dig deeper and uncover issues as well as opportunities and so on.  At the far end of the spectrum fear at its worst can be crippling or even paralyzing to you and thus your business.  Fear of this nature saps the energy in the business depleting the energy needed to drive the business forward.

No matter what problem you are facing today there is always a solution, because ultimately the only thing you have to deal with is your own thoughts. There may be all sorts of external factors involved however as long as you think the solution is in something out there or someone else’s hands the situation is hopeless.

All of your actions are correlated to the way you see the situation your in.  This idea cannot be over stated.  This is also where the operating state of faith can make the biggest difference.  Faith you ask?  Faith in what?  Faith in yourself, faith in your team, faith in your product or service, faith in you clients, faith in a higher power, I could go on and on. Faith breeds belief, belief breeds success and success breeds more success.  This kind of energy is exponential resulting in a thriving business.

If you find that you’re experience is more fearful than faithful it’s time to evaluate your predominate thoughts and put in a practice or structure to support you in what your committed to.

Perhaps Einstein said it best “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly universe or a hostile universe.”

Feelings and fear or facts and faith, the choice is yours and it’s up to you.

The 4 F’s in Business (They’re NOT What You Think) a two part series

Facts VS Feelings

At the onset of coaching one day I asked a client, “How are you? What’s been happening in the business recently?”  He sounded concerned and replied that things have been pretty slow.  My first question back to him was, “Is that a feeling or a fact?”  Once again, he told me that it has been very quite.  “So it’s a feeling,” I responded, which did not sit well with him. “What do you mean?” he asked. “Well, have you looked at the numbers?” “No” he replied.  “Ok, great, so go look at your numbers and call me back…let’s deal with the facts.” Within 10 minutes he called back and sounded like a totally different person.

My first question to him was, “What did you find out when you looked at the numbers?”  “We’re actually having a good month!,” he said quite surprised. Isn’t that interesting?  The feelings didn’t match the facts at all.  This is what I call blindly steering the business by feelings vs. guiding the business with facts.

People get habituated to a particular feeling they associate with things going well or not.  “Going well” for this client meant being busy, phones ringing off the hook, and lots of interruptions.  Once we dug a bit deeper, he realized that he associated being successful with being busy.  Our coaching sessions had led him to put in many systems to manage processes and train the team to handle aspects of customer care so he was freed up to work on other aspects of developing the business.  This type of order led him to  “feel” like things were off.

Ask yourself, how can you make sure you’re guiding your business with facts vs. steering your business blindly with feelings?  I suggest that you have daily huddles covering the critical drivers in your business, weekly reviews of the numbers that include both business processes and financial reports.  Get grounded in the facts then guide your business powerfully!

Delegating is key…

“Is this the best use of my time right now”?  When I work with my clients who are busy business owners, it is imperative for them to evaluate their time/self management.   I ask them to stop to assess, review and examine how their time is being spent, what projects and tasks they are involved in, their skill set and most of all delegating what can be delegated.

Think about it, the business owner’s time is valuable, and most importantly, are usually the main profit drivers of their business.  So ask yourself if you put a dollar amount on what your time is worth based on your projected income goals, how much of your day are you spending on distractions?   What are your tasks or distractions costing you?

If you say you would like $1,000,000 income in revenues for this year and there are 1,980 working hours in a year based on a 40 hr work week and a two-week holiday, then your hour is worth $500.

My advice – Think twice before you consider doing the things that are not the best use of your time and concentrate on tasks that directly drive those profits!

 

Without a Vision, You Are Lost…

Have you ever tried to take a trip without knowing where you were going?  It usually isn’t very productive…

When we have a clear focus on where we want to go, getting there is much easier.  The vision for your business, or your life, is extremely important for giving you direction to get you where you want to go.

At ActionCOACH, we have a vision of “World Abundance through Business Re-Education” which may sound really big to you, but it is what drives our team.  You see when you have a clear vision that enrolls and inspires you, it will also enroll and inspire others.  Not necessarily everyone, but people who are like-minded to you will be drawn to your vision.  This helps you attract people to your team that are more interested in helping to fulfill your vision, than in collecting a paycheck.  It also helps you attract customers that are aligned with who you are and what you are out to create in the world.

Your Mission is a description of how your business, or your vehicle, is going to help you achieve the Vision.  It’s like the roadmap to your vision!  Crafting a Mission is quite easy once you have your Vision. Simply describe your business and how it helps fulfill on the Vision.

One final note on Vision: If you do a search for Fortune 500 Vision and Mission statements, or if you have heard of this before, you will find that mostly they talk about the Vision and Mission reversed from how I am talking about it.  How you prefer to think about it is up to you. For me, it never made sense to talk about my Vision being closer than my Mission, so I prefer to look at it