Looking Life In the Eye

death life

death life

What I learned from my mother in the last weeks of her life.

My mother died in July last year. I spent the last few weeks of her life with her every day. She knew she was about to die and what’s more she was looking forward to the journey. A couple of months off her 90th birthday, she’d had enough of the medical efforts that were needed to keep her alive and she believed that there was a new adventure waiting for her. As she said a few times to me: “I have packed my backpack, it’s sitting near the front door, all that remains is for me to take off this coat I’m still wearing and then I’m off”.

The last weeks of our lives together were incredible. Many people have come up to me since her death and wished me strength and love in these tough times and offered me their shoulders to cry on. And it’s lovely that people have, but I wish I could explain to them how I don’t feel the need for sympathy. I actually feel relieved, content, satisfied and lucky, grateful even.

Feeling emotional

It’s not that I didn’t love my mother, and that I’m glad she’s gone, far from it, we were very close. No doubt I’ll miss her in the coming years, probably for the rest of my life. I feel emotional from time to time, I feel sad sometimes, and confused maybe, unsure what’s going on, all of that, but none of the emotions I feel are negative.

Nor were the last stages of my mother’s life easy, not at all. There was pain and suffering and in the end my mother died from suffocation. I can assure you there’s nothing fun in that.

But it was all good and it still is.

Death’s cliches

It’s a cliché and it nevertheless bears repeating: We are all going to die.

None of us can avoid it.

And that fact is neither good nor bad, it simply is.

Yet we spend so much of our lives pretending that this fact relates to other people, not us.

We avoid thinking about death and dying and we don’t plan for it and we don’t talk about it and we don’t let the fact of our death and the process of our dying interfere with the pursuits of our lives and our bucket list.

Let’s Organise a Death Shower

death life And then when it does happen to us, we act as if we never saw it coming. We spend 9 months or more preparing for the arrival of a baby, from organizing support during and after the birth, to organizing our work life, to getting the baby’s room ready. How about holding a “Death Shower” to balance out the saccharine sweetness of the “Baby Shower”?

I am in awe of how my mother prepared and planned for her death. Not just in the last few weeks, but over the past 30 years. She looked the facts of life right in the eye and didn’t shy away from them. Her greatest fear was that she’d end up in a hospital bed in a nursing home. And she realised that to avoid the nursing home, she’d need to organise her life differently.

Getting involved in the community

She set about doing exactly that. She sold the house she’d lived in since 1957 and found a house that she’d be able to manage when becoming increasingly decrepit. She also got involved in local neighborhood services and volunteered in the community. Part of her motivation for doing so was to be well connected when the time came for her to need that community herself.

She did these things and various others and she was very clear and open about them. For her it was all part of the process.

And the thing is, she succeeded. She died in July in her own cozy home, looking at her beloved garden, cared for by her local community and with the people that mattered most to her around her.

And she was content, and she felt good and so did we all.

Pain and suffering is part of the process.

It was a truly special experience for me. I actually have a lump in my throat as I write this, not because of any negative sense of sadness, rather because of the beauty of it.

We are all going to die, and pain and suffering will probably be part of the process. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The GP who looked after my mother said at some point in one of our conversations: “You know I often think that we get too fixated about wanting to avoid suffering at the end of life. There is a lot of pain and suffering in child birth and maybe at the other end, it is also rightly part of the process”.

I’m not sure of course, one death hardly makes me an expert. What I do know is that the process of growing old and dying fully scares the Living Daylights out of me, but I am nevertheless going to face the facts of life and think, plan and talk about my death.

Just like my mother did.

#Death #Dying #LifeAndDeath

I’ve zest for life and a passion for all things business. I’ve spent many years consulting, designing and building solutions for small businesses. For more of my thoughts and musings on life and business, subscribe to my blog below:


How do you Sell to a Generation That Hates Ads

millenials smart phones

Guest post by Philip Piletic. more about Philip at the end of this article

millenials customers marketing

5 tips for marketing your business to Millennial customers

If your company isn’t succeeding with the Millennial Generation despite your best marketing efforts, you might be doing it wrong. These tips will assist you in turning things around.

“You’re doing it wrong” is an overused meme we’d all like to go away, but we use it here for two reasons. First, the expression shows that everything has a shelf life. What was once catchy is now annoying. And secondly, the phrase might really apply to marketing to Millennials in a literal way. Outreach that once caught the attention of teens and 20-somethings simply isn’t turning heads today and, in fact, is considered an annoyance by people in that age range.

Ads have little impact on this generation because people in it resist being sold something. Ads are ignored, at best, or they annoy, causing resistance to the product or brand being pushed. LinkedIn Content Marketing Manager Alex Rynne says, “Millennials are even more resistant than Gen-Xers to hard-sell pitches…[which they view as] too authoritative and too one-sided.”

When buying, most in the millennial generation want to be the initiator; they want to come to you, and they consider traditional methods to be aggressive. In addition, millennials know the seller is biased. Instead, they want to independently research the products and services you’re selling. This often takes the form of getting input from their friends and reading reviews online at independent sellers. With the wariness of the people you’re trying to reach in mind, what are the best practices for marketing to the millennial generation?

The tips

Here is an overview of ways proving effective with this generation. You’ll want to dig deeper into each one and customise it to your brand and products.

  1. A Broad Brush Won’t Work

No generation has been completely uniform in its demographics, attitudes and preferences. However, as Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal says, “Millennials are the most diverse generation to have ever existed…Marketers must think in terms of segments rather than demographics.”

  1. Start a Series of Relationships with Customers

The diversity of the millennials means you’ll need to learn the defining characteristics of the segments you want to reach and develop an ongoing dialogue with each. What you learn from the conversations will inform how you tailor a unique approach to each segment. Ray Wood of LockedOn calls this strategy the R.E.D. approach:

  • Build a Relationship with your current and future customers
  • Engage them by demonstrating what benefits they’ll gain from buying from you
  • Set your products and brand apart from the crowd by being clear about what makes you Different and, of course, a preferred option to the competition.

This takes time and a good listening ear, just as any relationship does. Use the feedback you receive to tailor your branding and product offerings to better meet the needs of the segments you want buying from you.

  1. Be Available 24/7

For most of the 20th Century, consumers understood that to get customer service or support, they needed to call “during regular business hours.” There was no other choice. For this digital generation, regular business hours never end, so you’ve got to provide support for them when they want it. If 24/7 life support is beyond your current ability, make sure your e-support is comprehensive, provide a contact form, create explanatory videos, and develop a section of user-asked and answered questions about your products. These are fantastic ways to cover all aspects of the R.E.D. approach.

  1. Encourage Peer to Peer Marketing

This one is quick – cultivate a presence on the large social media platforms your potential customers use, and give millennials an opportunity to pass along positive information about your brand and products including likes, reviews and deals you’re offering. Most segments within the millennial generation are quite social, and when your customers are the ones doing R.E.D. marketing for you, the R.O.I. will be outstanding.

  1. Be Optimised for Mobile

Accessing the Internet via a mobile device will soon surpass desktop access. That’s reason enough to get this done today, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

It’s a Learning Curve

If you’re a millennial, the curve might not be as steep as for those of other generations. But, you might fall prey to thinking your entire generation is like you. Remember, it is a segmented generation, so whether you’re part of it or not, there is learning to be done. Invest in knowing who you are trying to reach before developing effective marketing strategies, and your time will be put to profitable use.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

philip piletic Philip Piletic – My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business and marketing. I’m a freelancer, writer and traveler who loves to share his experience with others by contributing to online communities and helping others achieve success. You can reach me on LinkedIn.

 

A small business mentor will change your world

business mentoring

small business mentoring

Secrets of a great mentoring relationship

Many moons ago I started my working life as a cadet journalist. One of the senior editors on the newspaper became my mentor for the next 3 years. It was one of the most important relationships of my life.  Under his wings, I became a good young journalist and a (more or less) well-adjusted human being.

I have mentored many people in various forms myself since those days and I’m convinced that most entrepreneurs who’ve built great small businesses have done with the support of one or more mentors.

Being in a mentoring relationship with someone whether as mentor or mentee (strange word, I know) can be incredibly rewarding for both parties. It certainly has been that for me as much as for the people I’ve mentored.

Keeping it in the family

I have for example mentored my daughter-in-law for the past two years through the start of her landscaping and design business (Excelsa Landscapes). I know she has gained a lot in the process, but I have as well. I feel engaged, valued and acknowledged when working with her. I’m really proud to see how she and her business have developed over the past two years. Being in some small way part of her journey these past two years gives me as much enjoyment as anything else I do in my business.

I know my daughter-in-law has grown immeasurably as a business owner in those two years. Partly as a result of our mentoring relationship, she has become a true business owner, a person who takes control of her life and accepts responsibility for delivering on her client’s needs as well as the wellbeing of her employees and contractors. She stands in the centre of her world and doesn’t hide behind others. We’ve both grown and in the process we’ve also gotten to know and appreciate each other.

What more could any of us want in life?

Different forms of mentoring

There are many different forms of mentoring:

It can take whatever form suits you and your mentor.

A client of mine has four mentors. I am one of those four, he has another person such as me in New Zealand, his accountant is one of his mentors and finally there is a retired millionaire (billionaire even) who made his fortune in a similar industry to himself. They meet for lunch once or twice a year.

Some mentoring relationships are paid, some are voluntary and some have a payment in kind arrangement.

In other words, you can fashion the relationship to suit yourself and that brings me to the final point.

Taking control

You, the mentee, have to take control of the relationship. You have to decide what it is you want to get from working with your mentor and you have to ensure you get it. Do not make the mistake of instigating the relationship and then sitting back with folded arms wondering what happens next. Always enter every conversation with your mentor, able to clearly articulate what you want to walk away with from the session and what input you want from your mentor.

If you don’t yet have a mentor, as a small business owner or you’re not getting what you need out of a current mentoring relationship, it’s time to go looking for a new mentor.

Your world will change.

I promise you…

More about the various forms of business support, guidance and advice that are available to small business owners here

#SmallBusinessMentor #SmallBusinessDevelopment#FunInBusiness #Mentoring 

FREE Business Mentoring

If you would like to explore the possibility of a mentoring relationship, feel free to book in a FREE half hour discovery session below.

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Future Proofing Your Business With Profit

business profit invest

business profit invest

What to do and what not to do with the profits in your business

Profit is good. Profit is fun. Profit makes us smile.

Business coaches like me will tell you that a business must make profit or it’s a hobby instead of a business.

Just to be crystal clear about what profit is:

  • Don’t confuse profit with the owner’s wages. Profit is the money left over after all wages and other costs have been paid, including the wage of the owner.
  • Don’t confuse profit with what’s in the bank. That’s cash. Cash has very little direct relationship with profit (More about cash here).
  • Don’t confuse profit with the Purpose of your business. Profit is what you need to fulfil the purpose of your business instead (More about purpose here).

The reasons a business must make profit are these:

  • Profit provides the means to invest in the development and growth of the business and keep the business safe.
  • Profit is the most direct and simple measurement of the effectiveness of the business model.
  • Profit provides the means for the business to pay its investors (often the owners) a return on their investment.

So let’s just agree that profit is a good thing and I’ll proceed on the assumption that you have a business, not a hobby. What do you do with the profit?

It’s no use in someone else’s bank account

The first thing you have to do with it, is to collect it. Profit is no good to you if it’s not in your bank account, but in the those of your clients. This may seem an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many small business owners I work with make profit, and yet can’t pay their bills.

And once it’s in your bank account, what then? After all, as I cautioned before, you’re already being paid a regular wage, enough to pay your bills and appropriate for someone with your role, so you don’t specifically need it yourself (unless you really need a bigger toy of some sort).

Assuming you’ve realised that bigger toys don’t make you happier and given your nice car is already leased through the business anyway, what do you do with your growing bank balance?

Investing in the future

Invest in the business future, that’s what. Investing in the business means the business increases in value and makes the business future proof.

Let’s say you’ve made $100k net profit before tax last year. The tax department is going to want a piece of it, let’s say 30%, and that leaves $70K to do with as you see fit. In all likelihood, if you are the sole owner of the business, it makes a lot of sense to pay yourself a piece of that, either direct or into your superfund. Let’s say you decide to give yourself a $20K dividend and that leaves you with $50K to invest.

What happens next is of course entirely dependent on your circumstances. Maybe your business plan calls for opening a second store or office elsewhere. You may need to sign a lease for the new office and pay a rental bond. You also may need to invest in a new website or a marketing campaign to get the new store moving, or maybe you will be traveling a lot for the new store in the coming year. What you don’t want to do is cannibalise the finances of the current business, so you set half of the profits aside to finance the expansion. This is a great way to invest your profits.

Keeping the doors open for 6 months

profit invest business Another great way to invest your profits is to open a separate savings or investment account to build up a cash buffer in your business. I’ve often helped my clients build up cash reserves in a separate account equal to 6 months of their overheads, so that if the market takes a turn or there is a gap between contracts, you don’t have to “buy” contracts just to keep the doors open (“buying contracts” is always a bad idea).

So here’s what you gotto do:

  • Pay yourself a wage or equivalent.
  • Make profit.
  • Collect the profit.
  • Pay yourself a dividend.
  • Open a separate savings account.
  • Transfer as much money as you can into the savings account, every month ideally, and build up real value in the business to give yourself options down the track.

You’ll be glad you did… I promise you

Read all about Money, Profit, cash flow and keeping your fingers on the pulse here

For more information about to how to step out of overwhelm, get unstuck and start having Fun in Business again, click here

#businessProfit #businessowners #FunInBusiness #Businesinvest #FutureProof

 

Looking for more tips to grow your business and profits?
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Profit Invest Business

Baby pink living rooms and decisions about fatherhood

Decision Making

decision making

Some choices are just impossible to make

I’m in Holland, as I write this, living in the house I inherited from my mother in 2016.

2016 was a year of decisions. Decisions about the care of my mother in her final months, decisions about the funeral and about what to do with the house, about my work and about my life. 2017 is off to a decisive start as well.  Now that I’ve decided to keep house for the foreseeable future, I’m making decisions every day about getting the place ready so I can rent it out when I’m not using it myself.

I had to make a big decision this weekend about the colour of the walls. I’m not great with colour myself, so I called for help from three people whose skill in matters of colour is vastly superior to mine. All three of them are artists and all three advised me to pick three totally different colours. The suggestions went from white to pink to green. After some deliberating, I made a decision and I’ll let you know how it (I chose a colour called Stylish Pink, It was Valentine’s Day after all).

Schrödinger’s cat dilemma

Decision Making But it’s a tricky thing this decision making. I am normally considered the decisive sort. I don’t think I am ever accused of dilly dallying when a decision is to be made. But there’s a lot of decisions we have to make in life for which there is no “right” or “wrong”. Some of those fall in the category of decisions I wrote about in my Linkedin Pulse article here. These are the kind of decisions that are all about being in alignment with your personal values, or even your personal preference. The last is best illustrated when I go out for dinner with my wife in a restaurant. There’s usually 5 options on the menu I would equally like to order, but any decision of course, leads to missing out on the other 4 options. It’s a bit like the famous “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment, the instant I make a selection from the menu, all other options collapse (I often attempt to convince my wife to order one of the remaining 4 options to lessen the anxiety).

Everyone has a different opinion

But other questions that can leave us struggling, are those we feel entirely unqualified to decide upon. The paint colour of my mother’s (and now my) living room is one such example. All three suggestions by my three artistic friends seem perfectly fine to me, because I don’t really understand colour (although the aforementioned Stylish Pink, that the painter is currently applying is looking rather intense).

So how can we make a choice, when we feel unqualified?

One of the strongest memories I have of being confronted with an impossible decision came about 35 years ago, when we found that my then girlfriend was pregnant with our first child. I was 22 at the time, we were travelling the world, living in the Caribbean and liberally partaking of a well known grassy herb with a distinctive smell. As you might imagine, having babies, getting married, finding a regular job and settling down were not high on my agenda. Yet a decision had to be made. My girlfriend made it clear that we each had to make our own decisions about this situation, and she made hers quickly. She left me alone to work through the process on my own for a week.

Sheer brain-crunching agony

I remember, as if it happened yesterday, the sheer brain-crunching agony of trying to come to the right decision. I simply didn’t have a frame of reference or a set of principles to apply to the process. Noone could help me make the decision. The decision was entirely mine and mine alone and there was no right or wrong. How do you weigh up the pros and cons of an enormous life choice like that? Being religious would have helped, but I’ve never been that way inclined, so it was down to my own brain. Even now, 35 years later, I am no closer to understanding what led me to decide to become a father. But I did and my daughter was born 5 or 6 months later and she was lovely and I’ve been a reasonably good father and it was good and I’ve never had any cause for regret.

There have been many such decision points in my businesses and my life since, although none quite so agonisingly difficult as that one. I think what I’ve learned is that there are moments in life where you simply have to make a decision and all that matters is that you make one, any one, and then you get to live with the consequences.

Taking the other fork in the road

I’ve looked back a lot over the first 5 (nearly 6) decades of my life and checked in to see if I regret any of the decisions or choices I’ve made. I do regret various inappropriate emotional outbursts at different times in my life (as recent as yesterday as a matter of fact), but no matter how deep I dig,  I can’t find any moments in my life where looking back now, I say: “I wish I’d taken the other fork in the road”.

I hate the “No Regrets” Facebook meme, because it seems to hint that we must never heed the consequences of our actions and besides, it’s trite. But I firmly believe that all of us make the best decisions we can, given everything we know and understand at the time. The big decisions in life are impossibly difficult to make (such as the menu choice in the restaurant) and it’s important to get as much information as possible and to act responsibly. But when two choices are equally valid, we can do nothing much else than go with our instinct or alternatively randomly pick one (as in Oliver Burkeman’s article on random decision making here).

We couldn’t know then what we know now

And if later on it turns out that that decision you made, has caused a bunch of undesirable outcomes, there is no point in thinking: “Knowing what I know now, or if I had my time over again, I wish I’d made a different choice then”. You didn’t know then what you know now and nor could you. If you were to have your time over again I expect you would make exactly the same decision again.

The only thing that matters, 35 years later is that I continue to live with the consequences, and you’ll be glad to hear, that I do so happily, even more so now that I have two insanely cute grandchildren. (Oh and the living room looks like a baby’s room now so we’ll change the colour tomorrow).

#DecisionMaking #DifficultChoices #RandomDecisions

 

MAKING A BIG BUSINESS DECISION AND YOU’RE NOT SURE WHAT IS RIGHT?

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Marketing Plan Business Love

Marketing Plan Business Love

You only need one marketing plan: Raving Fans

Your business needs a marketing strategy and a marketing plan to implement the strategy. But that’s you might call: “stating the bleedin obvious”, you knew that already but the problem is that you just don’t know where to start.

So let me help you.

First: Let me give you your marketing strategy:

Customers

Second: Here’s your marketing plan:

Get them to love you.

Done, there’s your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

In small business especially there is no more effective marketing strategy than getting your customers to love you, truly love you. Famous business guru Ken Blanchard, author of the “One Minute Manager” books coined the term: Raving Fans. If you make the focus of your business to turn your customers, all of them into Raving Fans, you’ll never have to do any other marketing, because they’ll do it for you, and better yet, they’ll do it for free.

One of my favourite customers, let’s call him Eric has always done exactly that. Ever since I’ve known him and worked with him, he’s asked himself at every turn: “What else would my customers love”. Eric has stores, 8 of them by now, and these days, whenever he opens a new store, the neighbourhood comes and brings him flowers. That’s how happy people are to have one of his stores nearby. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. Two  months prior to the opening of his latest new store in a suburb of Sydney, whenever Eric was in the store supervising the fitout, people would wave him over, excitedly asking.

All Eric has to do as far as marketing is concerned is hang a sign on the door announcing the imminent opening and hundreds of people will turn up on the first day.

You may say: My customers are very happy too, but they don’t come busting down my door.

The big disconnect

I read a really interesting statistic the other day:

80% of business owners believe they offer superior customer service, and 8% of customers believe the same thing.

There’s an enormous disconnect between how good we think we are and how good our customers think we are.

Eric, actually offers superior service while his competition merely think they do. Eric’s customers are Raving Fans in the true sense of the word, while most of his competitors merely have satisfied customers. Satisfied customers are simply not the kind of people who do your marketing for you. They’re merely satisfied… until something else, cheaper, more convenient or simply different comes along. Raving Fans on the other hand will go out of their way to do business with you, they look forward to buying from you, they drag their friends and family to your door, defend your honour against the competition and proclaim at dinner parties how wonderful you are.

The simplest measurement

There is a really simple system for discovering how happy your customers really are with your business. It’s called the Net Promoter question and it goes like this:

On a scale from 0 to 10 how likely is it that you’ll refer your friends and family to us?

If your customers answer anything less than 9 on that scale, they’re not Raving Fans and if they answer less than 7, they’re not even satisfied customers. (read more about the Net Promoter System here)

How would most of your customers answers the NPS question? Are your customers merely satisfied, or are they Raving Fans… Are they really?

I suggest you go and find out… it’s the most important marketing work you’ll ever do… I promise you.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

#CustomerSatisfaction #HappyCustomers #RavingFans #CustomersDoYourMarketing #MarketingPlans #MarketingStrategy

 

Looking for more tips to grow your business and customer base?
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Marketing Plan Business Love

Business Partnerships Are Disasters Waiting To Happen

partnership in business

What to do when it’s lonely at the top

partnership business

The 4 things to consider before you team up with someone else

Business partnerships are a disaster.

If you’re considering partnering up with someone:

STOP RIGHT NOW
DON’T DO IT
RUN FOR THE HILLS

I hope I’ve got your attention. I’m serious; before you jump to the conclusion that you should invite someone into your business as a partner, or offer a partnership to an employee, there’s a bunch of questions and alternatives to consider.

I know I know, you’ve probably come across examples of partnerships that work. Most law and accountancy practices operate as partnerships after all, and they can’t all be wrong. True enough I suppose, and some might say that my opening paragraphs are a bit extreme.

But consider this: Business partnerships are by definition intense affairs, you spend more time with each other than you do with your spouses, they can last for the whole of your working life, all the while having to work together towards a common set of objectives and you don’t actually love each other like you do your spouses.

People change

In my experience, ultimately many business partnerships fail because people change. When you get into the partnership you may well be at a similar stage in life and for a while it all goes smoothly, but over time, lives change, priorities change. There is no guarantee that 5 or 10 years down the track you still want to pull in the same direction. You might have young kids and your business partner has decided not have kids. Your children need a lot more of your attention than your partner’s; Your spouse has decided to stay at home with the family, but your partner’s spouse is going back to a full time career. These changes in life’s circumstances can have an enormous impact on the functioning of the partnership.

A client of mine, Chris, was a fifty percent partner in a 3 year old business based in Sydney, when he and his wife had a baby. 2 years later, Chris’s wife decided to pick up her university career again. The perfect job was offered to her at a university in Singapore, and Chris and his wife decided she needed to accept the offer and move the family to Singapore.

The decision caused a rift in Chris’ partnership. Now, a year later, Chris and his business partner only speak through their respective lawyers, the break-up of the partnership has cost buckets of money, the business has suffered and Chris wishes he’d never got into a partnership to begin with.

Many business partnerships are ill-fated from the start:

  • They’re started for the wrong reasons.
  • Alternative options aren’t considered enough.
  • The likelihood of changing circumstances of the partners is not acknowledged from the start.
  • There are no clear agreements about how to go about dissolving the partnership.

Each of these 4 issues are worthy of an article in their own right, and I might very well decide to write those articles, but let me try and sum up the essence of each of the 4 points:

1) Partnerships start for the wrong reasons:

Many small business owners feel alone and overwhelmed, everything is down to them and no one else “Gets It”. Often they fantasise, that having a partner will address the loneliness.

WRONG

There are many wrong reasons to start a partnership, but this is the big one in my experience. The only reason to consider a business partnership is to bring certain skills and experience into the business, that you yourself lack and can’t obtain through other means.

2) Alternative options not considered:

Many business owners have one or more favourite employees who they are afraid will walk out one day, leaving the business high and dry. The temptation is to offer such employees a partnership. I also often see that people offer partnerships to others in the same industry, because it might lead to less competition and cost improvements because of economies of scale.

WRONG

There are many other ways to skin such cats. Offering employees increased engagement in the business through a system of structured bonuses and involvement at the strategy level of the business (see Open Book Management) for example. Joint Ventures are another effective way to join forces, for a specific purpose and a defined period of time.

Partnerships should only be considered as a last option and then, ideally in a separate vehicle (e.g. your business and the other party form a separate partnership company, turning your main business into the mothership that has interests in one or more satellite businesses)

3) Consideration of changing circumstances down the track:

Many partnerships start between two people who want the same things out of life and business. There is a connection and shared dreams and goals and life stages. When the question of longevity comes up, both partners commit to open and honest communication and shake hands trusting each other to be able to deal with whatever hurdles might appear down the track.

WRONG

As they say the only certainties in life are Death and Taxes, but I’d like to add Change to the list. There will be Change in your life as well as in your partner’s. You can count on it. At this moment you may have the same dreams and goals, but down the track that’s much more likely to change than remain the same.

If at all possible, negotiate your partnership agreements in 5 year blocks: “You and I are about to enter into a partnership for 5 years. At the end of these 5 years we will dissolve the partnership and divide the business exactly and definitively. Once the split is completed, we may decide to commence another 5 year partnership and negotiate from scratch, if we both want to”.

4) No clear agreements about how to dissolve the partnership:

Many partnerships are started without a formal partnership agreement and those that do have an agreement have ill-defined and unrealistic clauses about how (and when) to break the partnership up (also see the previous point above). The belief is that because you are both people of good will, and commit to open and honest communication at all times that you’ll work it out when push comes to shove.

WRONG

As long as the partnership operates as intended and the partners are working together happily, they will generally not need a partnership agreement to operate the business happily. But at the point of dissolution, the agreement becomes the roadmap for the partners. The agreement needs to be absolute and watertight, no confusions. It needs to spell out in plain English what the steps are that are to be taken when, for whatever reason, either or both of the partners wants out. It must be clearly stated that the partner who decides he or she wants out does not owe the remaining partner(s) an explanation or justification of any kind. All that is required is that one or both of the partners says: “I am stepping out”.

The document must detail each of the steps that are to be taken at that point, by whom and by which time frames, including the steps that come into play if one of the partners does not meet his or her obligations as laid out in the roadmap.

THAT’S IT

If you must have a partnership, take the time to consider all 5 of these points seriously, very seriously.

It’s time well spent… I promise you.

#businesspassion #businessowners #FunInBusiness #BusinessPartnerships #JointVentures #OpenBookManagement

 

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The 5 Things You Must Do At Every Networking Event

Networking business

Lessons from Master Networkers

networking business

How networking can work for you and be fun as well

I’ve written before about how networking doesn’t work… And I remain convinced that much networking is wasted time.

But developing our businesses still means continuously meeting new people, new suppliers, new referral sources, new clients. Obviously, networking is still one of the most effective ways to do so.

But there’s networking and there’s networking.

On the one hand is attending some kind of dedicated networking event, standing around making small talk with strangers in the vain hope they’ll buy something from you. And on the other hand is networking with strategy and focus. It took me some years to work out the difference, but once I did, networking actually started to work.

There are a bunch of lessons I learned over the years from master networkers about how to turn networking into an efficient form of business development, these are my favorites:

1)  Own the room:

The first lesson about networking, I actually learned from an acting and singing teacher, who I took some lessons from in 2005. Marriette Rups-Donnelly owns Powerhouse Presentations and one of the things she taught me is to own the room. Owning the room starts by getting there early. Being one of the first at the event allows you to greet people as they walk in, help them over their nerves and introduce them around to others. It is great strategy for them and it’s great for you as well. Being early means you are less likely to have to rudely cut in to small groups of people talking.

Successful networking starts even earlier though. Before you get to the event, owning the room means preparing your mindset before you even walk in the door. I remember Marriette teaching me to imagine I wore a big cape. She got me to visualise wearing a big swishing suave shiny red cape and to imagine sweeping into a room with it, taking up a lot more space than my physical body.

Imagining myself as a dashing Imperial Russian prince from the 1870s, making an entrance with my cape, was not something that came naturally. But around about the same time I was also studying NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). NLP talks a lot about taking control of your mental state (see Anthony Robbins and other NLP practitioners). With the help of NLP and Marriette I did start to get more comfortable with walking in and owning the room and I am here to tell you those two “tricks” combined, started having an enormous impact on my networking exploits.

Next time you go to a networking event… Get there early, take a deep breath before you walk into the room and imagine yourself a latter day Count Vronsky with a big cape sweeping behind you before you walk in, it’s actually a lot of fun, trust me.

2)  A coffee is better than 20 cards

business networking Have you ever been accosted at a networking event by someone who just hands you his card and says: “If you ever need a web developer, call me” and walks off to spray his cards over everyone else at the meeting. It’s annoying right? How much business do you think that leads to for the webdeveloper?

David Jones from David Jones Electricians in Sydney has always understood the wisdom of the old saying: “People do business with people they know like and trust”. In other words, business comes about as a consequence of genuine personal connections. David attends networking and other events and he looks for people he can make a genuine connection with. He’d rather spend the whole evening talking with one person he connects with than hand out 20 cards to anyone. Afterwards, he always invites people he meets like that to something else, another event, a coffee or something he thinks this person might be interested in, not necessarily business related. And David has built one of the biggest and most engaged networks I know.

Giving someone a business card is worse than useless if you annoy them in the process and they throw your card in the bin on the way out.

Next time, when attending an event, set yourself an intention to meet just one person you’d enjoy having a coffee or going for a walk on the beach with, and invite them to do just that.

3)  Action speaks louder than words

business networking Wendy Lloyd Curley is a networking genius. Wendy owns “Wendy the Candle Lady” an incredibly successful business in an MLM system (Multi Level Marketing, also known as Network Marketing) selling candles, fragrances and home decorations. Wendy’s business is all about building relationships, networks and meeting new people. The thing I learnt from Wendy is her statement: If you leave a one-on-one coffee/ networking meeting without at least one committed action, the meeting has been a waste of everyone’s time. Wendy has lots and lots of coffee meetings with people and she always walks away committed to go and actually do one thing for the other person. She also encourages this person to commit to at least one single action on Wendy’s behalf. Actions like: “I am going to write one email tomorrow to this accountant I know and introduce you to him”. Single committed actions such as those are much more likely to have an impact than a generic: “Ok, Great I’ll certainly keep that in mind and be on the lookout for you”.

In your next coffee meeting with someone you meet at a networking event, make sure you find one small simple action that might be useful to the other person and go and do it.

4)  The hostess gets the mostess

Martin Paul owns More Strategic. More Strategic is a management consultancy that focuses on supporting Not for Profits and Charities to improve their fundraising.

Not long ago Martin spoke at a fundraising conference and at the end of his talk he invited all attendants to drinks and nibbles in a private room at the venue that evening to talk in greater depth about the implications of his talk. Some 25 executives from some of the major charities showed up. In the following year, several new contracts flowed from this initiative.

Being the host of an event bestows enormous benefits on you.

What event can you host?

5)  Focus beats Spray and Pray

business networking Geoff Anderson from Sonic Sight produces videos for organisations in Sydney. Some time ago Geoff decided that a great target market for his video production work is the private school system in the big cities of Australia. Investigating marketing options to this market, he found an annual conference in Australia that was well attended by many of the marketing directors in the private school system. Geoff decided to sponsor the conference and offer the conference organiser assistance in video production on the day. Geoff was the only video producer at the conference and connected meaningfully with some 50 of his prime clients. The project cost him some money and time, but it would have taken him years of attending random networking events, fruitlessly knocking on doors and being turned away by gatekeepers to achieve the same result.

The name of the game is focus.

How can you get to talk to a bunch of your clients all in the same room?

There are other tips I can give you to make networking more effective, such as:

  • Always follow up.
  • Dress appropriately and a little different than everyone else.
  • Experiment with different opening lines, and practice them.

But if you take the big 5 above to heart and practice them, networking will start to work for your business… I promise you.

For more resources, and reading on strategies for growing your business follow this link to the first of The 7 Big Questions that all small business owners want answered

#Networking #SmallBusinessNetworking #FunInBusiness #BusinessDevelopment

Join the exclusive Small Business Masterminds Facebook group!

It’s a private group of small business owners that tackles challenges and problems together. Members lean on each other, give advice, network, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. It’s very much peer-to-peer mentoring and if your request to join is lucky enough to get approved, you will most likely see a marked change in yourself and your business!

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