BQ Business Growth

How can I grow my business?

business-growth-strategies All business growth strategies teased out

How to grow your business is the most enduring of The 7 Big Questions. All of us business owners have felt frustrated at some stage in our journey to building a Beautiful Business The business feels stuck at one level and we are not sure how to get it to the next level.

Would you like to download my 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Everybody’s favorite business guru, Seth Godin said it really well some years ago. Seth wrote in his blog:

“To build and grow a great business you really only have to do two things:

  1. Build a great product or deliver a great service
  2. Make sure lots of people know about it.”

(I’ve also written about Seth Godin’s two rules here)

And that is how simple it really is to build a Beautiful Business that Stands the Test of Time. No argument. But those two simple statements cover so many different aspects of business growth:

Skip ahead to the following sections:

seth godin business growth strategy In other words: Easier said then done… Thanks Seth.

But I believe we can keep things much simpler than they may seem at first glance.

Below you’ll find a brief summary of each of these aspects of business growth. Besides the summary, there are a bunch of links to further reading, watching or listening on each aspect.

If you come across some great resources on each of these aspects, I’d love you to share them with me and I’ll add them to the page.

Cheers,

Roland Hanekroot (more about my business – life coaching programs here)

So many misunderstandings and myths about business growth:

I have written about the general topic of business growth in many different places. I think there are a number of misunderstandings about business growth that are not helping us, as business owners, to feel better about ourselves. The first article is about that (and you can also read about the misunderstandings about growth in my book: The Ten Truths for Making Business Fun):

Grow your business with vision and purpose:

I believe that to grow a Beautiful Business that Stands the Test of Time you must be able to answer the question: Why does your business exist and why would anybody care? Most business owners can’t answer that question succinctly and powerfully. That’s bad, because if you don’t know why your business exists, your customers certainly won’t be able to tell, and then all it comes down to is price. Competing on price is a dog’s game, unless you’re Aldi, where price is your Purpose. The second reason you need to be able to answer the question clearly is that if you can’t, you will never master the greatest skill of effective business owners, namely the ability to say “NO”.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about Purpose here:

Grow your business by setting goals

We’ve all heard that to grow your business you must start with Goal setting. But effective Goal setting is more complicated than you might think. Most Goals we set for ourselves and for our businesses are at best ineffective and at worst actually hinder our progress. Goals are often arbitrary, unrealistic, and unrelated to what really matters in our lives. A Goal to make $2 million revenue is an arbitrary and meaningless number, why $2 million? why not $1,956,384.13, or $2,163,927.46 for example? And so what when you reach the goal? Will you be better off somehow? What if you fall short? By $100, or by $1,000, or by $100,000? Does that mean you are a failure? Goal setting really makes a difference, as long as you understand that Goals are like a compass, they provide a direction on your journey, they are not the destination.

More about goal setting here:

Grow your business with marketing

Marketing is about creating opportunities to sell your stuff. As such, I fervently believe that:

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing

And it is. To grow your business you have to look at every aspect of your business. Marketing is about advertising campaigns, and social media and designing your logo and your website, but it’s also about how you answer the telephone, about your pricing policies, about ensuring that your customers are happy with what you sell them. It’s about how you dress and about how you present your quotes and about your Public Relations strategies and about your warranty return policies. One of the greatest marketing strategies is a relentless focus on quality in everything the business does, in order to “Create Raving Fans”, because if your customers are all Raving Fans, they will actually do your marketing for you.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about marketing here:

Grow your business with online marketing

business-growth-strategies I don’t mean to imply that online marketing is somehow something different from all other forms of marketing, it isn’t. But it is useful to pay special attention to online engagement and marketing to build and grow your business, because it has become such an important aspect of any marketing strategy. Whether your business is a cafe or a building company or a law practice, or it imports widgets or makes whatsits, you can not ignore a bunch of different forms of online marketing. Email marketing, content marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Engagement, Social Media Marketing, online PR, online reputation management (The ubiquitous star ratings), video marketing. The list is near endless and constantly changing.

You could easily argue (and I have in one of the articles I refer to below), that the principles of marketing haven’t changed, we’ve just got a bunch of new tools to do it with. And at one level that’s true, people still want to get to know, like and trust you before they will do business with you. But on another level things have changed drastically. Ten years ago, you’d give someone a business card with your web address on it and they would immediately want to know if you also had a bricks and mortar store. These days they want to know you’ve got a high functioning web presence and that you’ve got a presence on Facebook and on Google local and ideally a bunch of 5 start ratings on Yelp and Trip Adviser. Whether or not you have a bricks and mortar presence, simply doesn’t matter anymore. Online engagement in all forms must be part of your marketing strategies or you will not be taken seriously.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about online marketing here:

Grow your business with sales

Nothing Happens Until We Sell Something

That’s a quote I saw hanging on the wall at a big office once, many years ago. And it’s true. No business growth, no business, without sales. No matter how great your product is, how beautiful your logo is, how smart your website is, or how wonderful your employee conditions are, if you’re not selling, the business will cease to exist.

Simple.

Sales is often seen as a subset of marketing, but I’m giving it it’s own section here, because I think of marketing as getting the customers to your door and sales as actually getting them to hand over money. Lead generation v lead conversion. Sales is about skill and it’s about mindset and systems and above all, it’s about making it easy for people. And this last word is the key to the whole shebang. It’s always about people. The old saying is:

People do business with people they know like and trust

You must always remember it’s about people first and foremost and in small business especially it’s about people in both directions: People do business with people. Your whole approach to sales, especially in small business, all aspects of it must be built on a people to people philosophy.

More about sales here:

Grow your business with planning

A business without a Plan achieves everything in it

business growth, planning, strategy

Nothing in other words. Your business growth depends on planning. No human endeavour ever amounted to anything without a plan. Yet planning is guessing. It can never be anything more than guessing, because we can not know the future. So if planning is guessing, why does it matter so much and how can we do it so it works?  There are two important answers to those questions:

1) You must understand that there are two entirely different types of business plans: Internal Plans, and External Plans. External plans are designed to impress others about your business and form part of the documentation to obtain a loan or other form of funding or make a proposal to a third party of some sort.

Internal Plans are documents designed to help the business focus. They are combined with meaningful goals (see above) and they help people in their day to day decision making processes. Internal and external plans have different functions and are presented quite differently as well.

2) Planning is a verb. It’s not static, it’s an activity that never stops. As soon as one plan is created, we start again. John Lennon said: Life’s what happens when we’re making other plans. Planning is like that, we make a bunch of assumptions and plan our actions accordingly. Then we go ahead and check reality as it unfolds and make changes to our plans to suit the new realities, every day, every week, every month and every year. Business Plans that work, that make a difference, are living documents.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about planning here:

Grow your business with customer service

Customer service is also a subset of marketing of course, if done well it leads to more business from those customers, and as I said above, everything is marketing and marketing is everything, but it’s worth mentioning separately, because of the concept of Raving Fans.  Ken Blanchard wrote a little book that said it best in the title: Create Raving Fans and have your customers do your marketing for you. It’s a great little book and there’s a link below to get yourself a copy of it.

The principle of Ken Blanchard’s book is that your business should always be working to do one better for your customers than they expect. If you do so, your customers will become your advocates (Raving Fans) and advocates will go out of their way to help your business grow. They will talk to their friends about you, they will drag their colleagues to your door. They will defend your business against the competition and best of all, they won’t quibble about price. If your business focuses on turning it’s customers into Raving Fans, you will be able to slash your marketing budget in half, over time, for a better result.

More about customers here:

Grow your business with systems and quality improvement

My clients often ask me to help them grow their business, and I often tell them to stop worrying about that. Getting more customers is actually the easy part. The hard part of business is:

  • To deliver what you say you will
  • By the time you say you will
  • For the price you say you will
  • At the quality you say you will…
  • With a smile

making monye from death and hamburgers business-growth-strategies If you can do that all the time, the customers will come flocking to your door and you won’t have to spend much money on marketing (for one thing because you’ll be creating Raving Fans, see the previous topic). And right now, you may well be doing all those things, with a smile, but the trick is to be able to keep doing that as the business starts to grow.

I can’t tell you how many businesses I have seen struggle and fail in my years in business who couldn’t maintain their product or service quality and dependability and price, at scale. Once the business starts to grow and you, yourself, are no longer in charge of every step in the process, things start going wrong. Quality becomes inconsistent, delivery times become unreliable, prices go up or profitability suffers and your smile starts to disappear. Once the rot sets in like that, your reputation starts to suffer and customers start to look elsewhere.

There are only two answers to this dilemma: Either, don’t grow, stay small, learn to say NO and say it all the time… Or systematise. Developing systems for all aspects of the operation is the only answer. Systems for how the phone is answered, systems for estimating, systems for quality checking, systems for calendar management, systems for inventory management, systems for callbacks and warranty repairs. Systems for marketing, systems for hiring and firing etc etc. Above all, systems allow you to create Continuous Improvement Loops into your organisation. And continuous improvement is the Holy Grail of business. It’s what made companies like Toyota great.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about systems and quality here:

Grow your business with inventory management

Inventory management is a big specialised topic, and it’s really a subset of the systems section above. There are whole management libraries written about the various philosophical approaches to managing stock when building and growing a Great business that Stands the Test of Time. My earliest lessons of inventory management came from the owner of a big hardware store I dealt with a lot in my days as a builder, Colin. One of the reasons I bought so much of my material from Colin was that he always had everything in stock. Colin clearly knew what it took to create business growth, because his business was booming.

I asked Colin once if keeping such high stock levels of everything a builder such as myself might need from time to time was economical for him. I imagined that it was a very expensive way to run a business, having all that money tied up in timber and hardware and bits and bobs. His answer was:

If I don’t stock it I can’t sell it.

I have often thought about that statement in the years since, now that most operations run on the principle of “just in time”. Supermarkets have made an art form of stocking just enough and not a jar more than required, to minimise shelf apace and inventory cost.

I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that Colin got all my business for 20 years and most Sydney builders had an account with him, because everything we needed was always ready to be picked up.

More about inventory management here:

Grow your business with hiring, firing and engaging people

staff engagement business-growth-strategies Michael Gerber in his famous book “The E-Myth” wrote that it’s impossible to manage people and hence great businesses focus on systems, and manage those instead. And that’s certainly what grew McDonalds into the enormous business it is today, no argument. And as I’ve written elsewhere before, if you set out to make as much money as possible from selling restaurant food, it is undeniably the case that the McDonald’s model is the one to emulate. But, I can’t tell you how happy I am that not everyone in the restaurant industry wants to build McDonalds, because the world (and my palate) would be the poorer. The same philosophy can be applied to any industry.

If you’d like to build and grow a unique business, a business with an individual character, you’re going to have to manage people. You’re going to have to get good at putting the right people on the bus, sitting in the right seats, facing in the right direction and also know which people to get off the bus. If you don’t learn how to find and keep the right people and get them to do great work, your business will always struggle.

That means developing hiring policies, being prepared to hire people who might be better than you are at certain things, learning how to do great interviews, implementing induction and development training programs. It means learning how to coach your people, encourage them and hold them accountable. And it means learning about effective delegating. It means doing the HR admin and compliance effectively, writing job descriptions and doing performance reviews. It means learning what it takes to be a leader and it means being prepared to take the tough decisions when required, and take them quickly and respectfully.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about people here:

Grow your business with innovation

To build and grow a Great business that Stands the Test of Time, you can’t afford to be left behind. The pace of change and innovation is relentless and what was ok even a few years ago is no longer ok now. Not long ago it was still fine for a cafe to have a sign saying “cash only”, but in 2018, you’ll lose a lot of business if you don’t accept cards in payment. Even in a business as simple as mine, people expect me to be able to accept online bookings. Cloud computing combined with smart phone technology and advanced GPS systems mean that customers now expect to be informed that their plumber is on its way and can be expected to pull up in front of their house in 13 minutes.

You don’t need to be Uber or AirBandB to implement new technology and come up with new ways of doing business. I just bought a house in a different state of Australia. The real estate agent gave me a private showing of the house via Skype. I engaged the conveyancer, the building inspector and a surveyor all without setting a foot in the house or the state.

A client of mine with a creative marketing agency has a team of designers and copywriters and marketing assistants all over the world and she rarely even meets her clients face to face. Another client with a small supermarket chain has technology in his stores that allow him to see what’s going on in any part of any store and to get live access to each of the store’s Point of Sale systems. He’s also just implement a bunch of tablet screens in his stores allowing people to find dinner recipes incorporating the fresh vegetables he has on special.

And all this stuff is only the beginning. It won’t be long before artificial intelligence is integrated in doctor’s surgeries and lawyer’s offices, and copywriting agencies. If you think that technology and innovation isn’t going to have a massive impact on the way you do business and how to create business growth, you are kidding yourself.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

More about innovation here:

 

First Things First: What is the Purpose of your business?

big question purpose of business

The Big Question of Small Business

Purpose and the accidental small business owner

big question purpose of business

I’m often asked what the secret of small business is. I was recently asked this question by a new internet support service for micro and home based businesses called Brazzlebox . I told them there’s only one thing to get right and that is be able to answer the Big Question of Small Business, What’s the Purpose of your business?

It’s actually a really interesting question, and one that few business owners stop to think about before they get their business underway. I’ve also written about the Big Question here on Medium.com and in other pages on my website here as well as in this podcast for example. To be honest, I think that most business are started more or less by accident.

Of course there are startup entrepreneurs who plan the development of the next widget, they take a shared office space in some kind of incubator and plan to sell their widget to Facebook for 25 trazillion dollars one day, but I believe that those business owners are in a tiny minority.

The small business owners I meet everywhere (and the ones I support) start their business when an ever increasing level of frustration with their  job or career to date simply overflows the bucket and they decide to take control of their life in their own hand.

And when that moment arrives they run around doing the practical logistical things; bank accounts, business names, email addresses, business cards… the basics, but the really important questions are not usually addressed until much later, sometimes never.

Strategic Direction

The really important questions that we should all attempt to answer right from the word go are the questions about the strategic direction of the business, the Goals (short, medium and long term) and the biggest question of all:

Why does your business exists; What’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care?

Purpose of small business Big Question Mission business card exchangeWhenever I am at a networking function talking to business owners I always ask them what is special, or different about their business, why I would want to do business with them and how I could refer business to them. It’s actually surprising how difficult most business owners find it to a give a clear answer to those questions. Mostly people try and tell me that they have a Great product (Our widget comes in 23 different colours) and they give Great customer service (We re smaller than the competition so we care more about our customers) and their prices are Great too (we’re really efficient and run a tight ship and we have few overheads and we’re committed to “adding value”).

These days I have hardened up a bit so I don’t feel the pain so much anymore and mostly I remain polite and nod with interest and make engaged noises, but deep down I think to myself: “Oh Please… not another one!”

D’OH

Of course you have a great product with a great price and great customer service, “D’OH” as Homer Simpson would say… I don’t think I’ve ever talked to a business owner who told me their product was average, their prices were average and they kind of looked after their customers in an average manner either. The competition has those three covered as well as you do (otherwise they wouldn’t be your competition in the first place) and your potential customers assume you will deliver them those three as a minimum, otherwise they wouldn’t be talking to you.

You have to find what sets you apart, what makes you different, because if you don’t, your customers only have one way to decide who they’ll use and that is by comparing your price and competing on price is a dog’s game, it might work for Walmart and Ikea but few others.

So… Why does your business exist, what’s it on this earth for, and why would anybody care about that?

  • I have a client who is an architect, he defined the purpose of his business as “Architecture that Inspires”
  • I have a client who owns a gym and he defined the purpose of his business as: “To build the finest resistance training community in the world”
  • I have a client who has a video production business and the Purpose of his business is: “It’s a joy to work with us”

Being remembered

When I meet someone at a networking function and I ask them what’s special about their business and they give me a powerful short statement like that, I sit up and take note and I’ll remember them and I will be able to introduce them to potential clients.

Also when your business rests on such a strong statement, it suddenly makes everything so much easier:

  • It’s suddenly easy to make decisions about which jobs to bid for and which opportunities to say No to
  • It’s suddenly clear which employees to hire
  • It’s suddenly clear what prices you should be charging
  • etc etc

Finding the Purpose of your business and being able to express it with complete clarity is absolutely the biggest step you can take to building a sustainable, fun and rewarding business.

Masterminds

masterminds As it happens I have run many webinars on this exact topic. Here is a link to a recording of a recent Small Business Masterminds on Purpose

So I hear you ask: “Ok smartie pants, what’s the Purpose of your own business then?”, and I am so glad you asked, because this is what I get out of bed for every morning:

To help family business owners feel great about themselves and about their business by making Business Fun again

How do you like them apples?… Does that work for you?

I thought so….

Check out the Masterminds webinar and I’ll help you take the first steps to discovering your own Purpose (with a capital “P)… You’ll never look back… I promise you.

Further reading

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

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

Here are some other insights on the Big Question of Business and the Purpose of Business:

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Ten Priorities for Change: Foundations for building a Great Business and Life

foundation change business life

Foundations build a great business

How to make your business take off

This is the first is a series of 12 posts on Change (with a capital “C”) and laying the foundations for building a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time. The following 11 weeks will see one post each week. Please also read last week’s post about Entrepreneurial Types, here.

As a Business-Life Coach (Principles of Business – Life coaching), I believe that your business is built on you. You, personally, are the foundation your business is built on, and if you want to build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time, you better make sure the foundation is as solid as you can make it. Hence, I believe that effective business coaching and development programs should focus as much on Change of the person of the business owner, as they are on Change in the mechanics of the business. (Read about my explanation of the different forms of coaching, guidance and business support here). As a Business-Life Coach, therefore, I want to help you turn yourself in the very strongest foundation for your business you can be. To do so, we must Change, with a capital “C”, ourselves. See also articles about personal and business Change in the Guardian here, in Success Magazine here, on Medium.com here , and in LinkedIn Pulse here.

The  very strongest foundation for a great business

To become the very strongest foundation for your business, I believe you must learn to focus on 10 Priorities. They are:

  1. Yourself
  2. Doing Nothing
  3. Having Fun
  4. Saying NO
  5. Guessing
  6. Asking for Help
  7. Managing Money
  8. Managing People
  9. Managing Product
  10. Managing Publicity

Over the next 10 posts I’m going to explain each of the priorities in more detail. The 10 posts are quite short (about 200 to 250 words each) and practical. I hope you’ll take the simple messages of each one to heart and experiment with them in your own life as a business owner. You can do a simple search and read all of the Priority posts at once, by clicking on the category: “Ten Priorities” in the category box in the right hand column.

The life of the harried business owner

First, let me sketch a picture of the life of a typical small business owner for you (BTW, I’d love to hear if you recognise yourself in any part of the picture):

You’re the first one in the door in the morning and the last one out at night. You run around from crisis to crisis, extinguishing brush fires all day long. You feel guilty that you don’t do the stuff you know you ought to do to develop the business. Your staff don’t seem able to tie their own shoe laces without your supervision. Customers expect you, not your staff, to be the one who personally does all their work for them, yourself. You actually made more money before you started employing all those people anyway. And finally, you have to do your admin and catch up on your email after the kids have gone to bed.

Sucked into a sea of mud

Recognise any of that picture at all? Even if you only recognise 25% of that picture, you’re most likely on first name terms with overwhelm. Overwhelm is no fun anyway, but worse is that human brains in overwhelm are ineffective, they focus on the wrong things and make the wrong decisions and that leads to more stress and overwhelm and the whole thing becomes a vicious cycle. Overwhelm affects your health and well-being and that of your families and besides, your business gets sucked into a sea of mud as well.

That’s the general state of things for many small business owners in my experience and some of the reasons many small businesses never develop to their potential.

The power of saying No

Hence I’ve written The 10 Priorities. Accompanying the 10 Priorities are also a series of videos as as seen on Kochie’s Business Builders on national TV, Channel 7 in Australia, the first video can be seen here and others will follow as they are broadcast. I have also created a survey tool to help you find your own Entrepreneurial Type, you can complete the survey here and you will receive a report with your Type and an explanation of the Types and your strengths and challenges as an Eentrepreneur, by email in 24 to 48 hrs emailed to you.

If you make it your absolute commitment to focus on The 10 Priorities in the coming year, you will create a foundation on which you truly can build a Great Business that Stands the Test of Time, and your life will never be the same either… 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

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

More about Personal Development and Leadership here

Next week, Priority #1: You

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

No business without sales

car sales man

car sales man

Forget all the sexy stuff… Focus on the three S-es first

I love walking into an office supply store and getting the sexiest looking pens or clips or gadgets for my business desk. I get excited over developing more smart and beautiful stuff for my website. I can obsesses over a new design for my business cards or my logo. Many of my clients are that way inclined too. All of that stuff can be highly satisfying and give us a feeling of satisfaction… Build it and they will come… We think.

But it doesn’t actually do much for your business, does it? Ultimately the only thing that gets your business to develop is sales. The three S’s: Sales, sales and sales. If there’s no sales, there’s no business.

I thought of this maxim recently when working with my client Mark in 2009.

Mark is the owner of a small consultancy working with charities to improve their fundraising. One of Mark’s goals at the time was to double the size of his business by the end of 2011. So we developed a business plan and a marketing plan, and he got going.

Mark started blogging and sending out a beautiful newsletter. He redesigned his website and became active on LinkedIn. He joined the Australian Institute of Management and attended all their functions and networking events. He engaged an SEO consultant to improve his Google ranking and installed CRM software. In short, he did everything the modern “attraction marketing gurus” tell us to do, and he did it efficiently and consistently.

All the KPI’s are moving up

Mark’s Google ranking did go up and Mark’s database doubled and tripled in size and Mark went from 375 LinkedIn connections to over a 1000 in a year, and he got great feedback and comments on his blogs and articles and posts and newsletters and whitepapers. Exciting stuff.

Mark and I did a lot of back slapping and congratulating each other. Every KPI we measured was moving up steeply. All of them that is to say, except one… his revenue. Sales stuck more or less where they’d been for the past three years.

We’re all getting frustrated

By the end of 2009, Mark was getting frustrated, and he was ready to throw in the towel. I was pretty confused myself by this stage. Everything I knew told me that the marketing work that Mark was carrying out week in, week out, should have led to a steady increase of business by now… but something was missing.

I remember one day, asking Mark about the feedback he was getting from his potential clients. What were they telling him, how were they responding to his proposals and his quotes? Mark looked at me with a confused look in his eyes and said, “I don’t know”.

I asked, “But you must get some sense of their reaction when you talk to them, right?” Mark replied, “Well, I don’t really get to talk to them much unless they call me”. And I was silent for a while.

Picking up the phone

It turned out that Mark had a block of picking up the phone and talking to prospects unless they initiated the phone call themselves. He never just picked up the phone and called a prospect and said: “Hi I’m Mark, I saw your comments on my articles, and I wondered if you’d like to have a coffee and discuss how I can help you improve your fundraising targets in 2010”.

Nothing happens until we sell something. 

Once we identified Mark’s problem, we set about fixing it. I got Mark to identify one person every week, who had commented or engaged with one of his articles and to call that person. Because he only had to concentrate on one person and he and I customised a strategy for every one of those people, Mark was able to overcome his block.

He ended up having a coffee with a new prospect nearly every week, and Mark’s business started growing again.

No matter how amazing your website, your collateral, your service or your product, at some stage you must go out and talk to the customer, make them an offer and ask for the sale. Sales simply do not happen by themselves… I promise you.

You can watch one of my recorded Small Business Masterminds Webinars called “Making Sales Fun” HERE. and don’t forget to download the other sales resources on the same page anytime.

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

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Family business: Husband and Wife as business partners

Family business husband and wife business partners

Family business husband and wife business partners

How do you ‘leave work at work’ when you sleep with your business partner?

Creating work-life-balance is the holy grail for all of us small business owners, but for husband and wife family business partners, being 100% ‘not-at-work’ can feel like an unattainable dream.

Husband and wife business partnerships can be really satisfying, they can be great vehicles for making money while allowing a couple to grow and develop together. But family businesses come with a unique set of challenges. (More about husband and wife family businesses here on Medium.com)

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Clients of mine, let’s call them Bill and Lauren, have built a construction company together that turns over about $10M per year. Bill completed a carpentry apprenticeship straight out of high school and went back to school in his late twenties to get a building diploma, before starting his building company and Lauren is a qualified accountant. Bill and Lauren got married 10 years ago and Lauren joined the business to take control of the finances, the admin and HR systems. Now, they’re both getting to their forties, they have two young children, a dog and a rabbit.

Bill and Lauren have an office away from home, but neither of them have been very successful at closing the office door behind them at the end of the day. Lauren generally goes home around 3.30 and organises things at home and Bill makes it home around 5.30 most days. The conversations around the dinner table are all about the various crises and challenges of the day at work and planning and worrying about the ones they see in the immediate future.

After dinner laptops

After dinner, both of them tend to sit on their laptops, to complete the stuff they’ve fallen behind on during the day. Bill to finish quotes and Lauren to manage the rosters and budgets.

In the morning, Bill has to be at the office or on site at 7.00 am every day (the building industry starts early), so he generally leaves home around 6 am and Lauren organises the kids before heading for the office around 8.00 am.

On the weekends, there are the usual commitments around the children’s activities and shopping, but most minutes that aren’t taken up by ferrying the kids from soccer to birthday parties or standing in line at the Woolworth’s checkout are occupied with work. Bill and Lauren’s conversations, their time and their brainspace is rarely completely free of some preoccupation with work.

Bill and Lauren never used to mind working hard and doing long hours, they’ve both always felt they’re building something valuable and important for their family, but over the past couple of years they’ve started to become worried that the best parts of family life are passing them by, that by the time they’ve finished building that valuable and important thing for their family, they will have missed out on what actually matters.

I often work with family business owners and this experience of not being able to ‘leave work at work’ is a never ending refrain.

Two sides to the coin

To be fair, there are two sides to this coin. Knowing that your husband or wife really gets what goes on for you in your role as a business owner can be a great feeling and help you deal with your challenges and stresses more effectively. Some of my other clients can only dream of really being able to share their work challenges with their partners regularly. The most often repeated complaint I hear from single business owners is that they feel alone and overwhelmed.

But that doesn’t make Bill and Lauren’s challenges any less important.

In the past Bill and Lauren have tried to set rules around bringing work home. But usually one or the other will have a crisis within a week of setting the rule, and before you know it it’s back to the old patterns again.

A new approach

We took a different tack 6 months ago. I’ve told them that it is unrealistic to imagine they’ll ever be able to close the door to the office behind them completely. What’s more, that’s not even desirable. It’s actually not so bad spending a bit of time after the kids have gone to bed catching up on some work, or preparing for the next day and it can be quite pleasant discussing the strategy for the week ahead with each other, on the couch on Sunday evening with a glass of wine in hand. This is the other side of the coin I mentioned above, it’s one of the things that can make family businesses special and effective, as much as they can be stress inducing. It’s all in the balance.

This is what we did 6 months ago and with few exceptions Bill and Lauren have been able to stick to the system.

  1. All Sunday until after dinner is a work free zone. Family breakfasts, outings, picnics, watching movies, playing games, walking the dog, catching up with family and friends. Sunday during the day is sacrosanct.
  2. On Sunday evening, the two of them plan their week from a work, family and personal perspective together. The only rule is that one of the evenings of the week is to be work free and just about the two of them. They can go out or stay in, but one evening per week is just for them, no kids no work no nothing else.
  3. Weekday dinners are family time, the 4 of them eat together at the dinner table, no TV and no work talk, until dinner is over and cleaned up

Permission to fail

The keys to the success of this system are its flexibility, the Sunday evening planning time, and the allowance in the system for failure. By acknowledging that in their life, every week is going to be different, by taking 15 minutes to plan each week, and finally by allowing that sometimes plans go awry and that when they do it’s not the end of the world, it just means you need to make a new plan again; Bill and Lauren’s life has transformed.

Being in business together is Fun again.

As I mentioned above I work with Husband a Wife business owners a lot, because I lived the husband and wife business partner experience myself. I have written about my own experience here. I only ever work with people I enjoy working with, but helping turn a family business around give me the greatest buzz of all. Have a look at my web page about Family business here and download the 10 point check list about marrying your business partner. If you are in a family business you might also want to have a look at Family Business Australia here. The website has some great resources for couples who are in business together. I have also created my own family business resources page here.

Please also feel free to check out some of my testimonials from husband and wife family business owners here. You may also find my article about laying the foundations of a great business interesting here

I also really like this infographic on the Business Families Foundation website here

AYF Family Business; When husband and wife partner up in small business

The highs and lows of husband and wife business teams

Complete the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey and start a life changing conversation with your spouse now.

Husband wife family business partners couples spouse

Do you and business partner wake up in the same bed every day?

family business australia I specialise in working with husband and wife family business partners to help them discover and build their own Beautiful Business and Life and then build it. Typically, businesses such as these are built on the profession of one of the couple. Husband and wife family businesses like these make up the majority of small business partnerships in Australia. Often (but not always of course) it is the husband’s trade or profession that lies at the foundation of the business, and he runs the operations of the business (the work of the business), while the wife runs the marketing, finances, the HR issues, and the admin.

“Roland helped us get clear on our roles and responsibilities in the business and find a realistic balance between work and home life again… Business is Fun again”

Mark and Linda

A husband and wife family business partnership such as this can be highly satisfactory and profitable and what’s more, it can allow the couple to grow and develop together. But there are also a bunch of unique challenges to developing a small family business and having it become a Beautiful Business that Stands the Test of Time. More about the unique mental health and personal wellbeing challenges of running a family business on this page.  If you’re ready start to discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life, click here now to book in a Discovery Session with me as part of my Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Complete the Bey and Jay Family Business Survey

Husband wife family business partners couples spouse Take the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey, to find out how you rate against the world’s most famous married business partners. Complete the questionnaire here. It will take you no more than a few minutes to complete and you will receive a 2 page report with your score, showing where you sit on the Bey and Jay Family Business Scale. Ideally you and your spouse should both complete the survey independently and then compare results.

(See also my page about the unique challenges in family business here)

We love being life- as well as business partners, we’ve learned to communicate at a completely different level with each other and we both love standing in the centre of our lives having this great sense of control.

Anh and James

Here is a cool info graphic about how to make a success of being in business with your spouse on the Business Families Foundation website

What you can expect when working with me:

This is how I’ll help you build a Beautiful Family Business that supports your family rather than fights with it:

  • Develop absolute clarity about your roles and responsibilities in the business, allowing both of you to relax knowing that the important stuff is handled every day and every week.
  • Implement better bookkeeping, workflow management and project management systems. Your fingers on the pulse of all the key indicators of the health of your business, as opposed to keeping your fingers crossed.
  • Develop absolute clarity abut the Purpose of your business; the reason your business exists and why anybody else would care about that. Know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
  • Build relationships with the right people. Referral marketing is the most powerful way to build your business.
  • Develop marketing strategies that mean you get to build your business with the right type of clients. Clients walk in the door, wanting to do business with you.
  • Develop and implement Quality Improvement systems that allow you let your staff get on with things confident the work will be consistent. Make your business run like a Swiss clock.
  • Develop and implement better hiring systems so you can be sure you get the right people on the bus
  • Create a balance between work and home that is practical and flexible; Learn how to ‘leave work at work’ when it needs to be left there.

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

“One of the reasons we decided to go out on our own was to increase not just flexibility but we wanted freedom of choice … to be the masters of our destiny and that is definitely one of the benefits of running a husband and wife business.”

Kylie and Jake

Complete the Bey and Jay Family Business Survey

Don’t forget, take the Beyoncé and Jay-Z Family Business Survey, to find out how you rate against the world’s most famous married business partners. Complete the questionnaire here and you’ll receive a 2 page report usually in hours.. It will take you no more than a few minutes to complete. Ideally you and your spouse should both complete the survey independently and then compare results.

It’s fun thing to do and it will lead to some great conversations between the two of you… I promise you

Just Five Steps to Discovery

If you recognise some of the challenges of being in business with your spouse, above and you’d like to explore how I can help you overcome some of those everyday struggles and start to make the most of the exciting opportunities as a couple in business, click here to book in a free Discovery session as part of my Five Steps to Discovery Process.

Read here about Five Steps to Discovery Process, to help you discover and build your own Beautiful Business and Life.

Further reading and resources

Click here to download my Free Guide to finding the perfect coach or mentor for you.

Getting clear about the perfect clients for your business

perfect client target niche marketing

How to avoid the Spray-and-Pray approach to your marketing strategy

I had a interesting experience at a networking and business building event a few days ago. We met over breakfast and there were various activities designed to get to know each other and to support each other in the development of our businesses.

One of the exercises we did was a group hot seat, where one of our fellow business owners presented himself and his business to the group and asked for help with his greatest challenges.

The business owner in question, let’s call him Adam, told us about all the amazing projects he’s been involved in and how smart the solutions were that he implemented for his clients.

But Adam also shared that he sometimes found it difficult to find new clients.

So we asked him who his ideal clients are, how we would recognise them if we tripped over them and how we could introduce him to them effectively.

Designing solutions for the challenges

In response, Adam, told us he’s worked with government departments, global machinery manufacturers as well as dog kennels and everything in between. He told us how he sits down with business owners and gets to really understand their businesses and challenges, designs solutions to resolve those challenges and implements the solutions for them.

All very well of course, but it didn’t help us much in our quest to support Adam. Most service based businesses do exactly that, they find out about the challenges a client has and then they offer a solution. But we never really got any further with Adam. Every time we asked him to get more specific he gave us more details of the wide range and varied types of clients he’d worked with. Although Adam left us impressed with his experience, his knowledge, and his expertise, at the end of the 15 minute hotseat, the group was no closer to understanding how we could help him find more new clients.

How can we help you?

In the end we left Adam to ponder the following question:

“Let’s say someone wanted to help you, really help you, and they were prepared to set an hour aside today, to do exactly that. Further more, let’s say that person had database of 6000 direct connections in LinkedIn. All business owners, largely in Australia and most of them in Sydney. Amongst such a database, it seems likely for there to be 5 or 10 people who are actual prospects for Adam.

Obviously, it’s not possible for such a person, to send a direct email to all 6000 people in a kind of “spray and pray” marketing outreach. So the question we left Adam to ponder was: How can such a person go about identifying those 5 to 10 perfect introductions for you from amongst the database of 6000?

Because you see, Adam really struggled to answer that question. Adam couldn’t tell us how to filter out 5 or 10 people in such a database of LinkedIn connections.

And I think most of us have that challenge. We don’t actually know how to identify our prospects.

Who are my prospects?

I find it difficult in my own business as well sometimes. I’ve thought about it a lot and often, and the best I can do is this:

  • I’m looking to connect with business owners
  • In Sydney
  • That are in design (Architecture, Interior design, Graphic design) technical services (IT, Communications, Software and Web development) or trades (Building trades, Motor trades, Hospitality trades)
  • With between 3 and 20 employees
  • And that have operated the business for 2+ years

Confronted with the same question we left Adam to ponder, using the above criteria I could narrow the search down a little and have a slightly more focused list, but there’s probably still a lot more than a 100 people in that database of 6000 that meet all the criteria.

A direct introduction strategy is very powerful but it can only work with a very limited number of people.

Who cares?

So why does it matter?

Well, I do want to help Adam, he’s a good guy and very good at what he does, and as it happens I do have a database of 6000 direct connections, but I simply don’t know how to help him.

And what’s more, because Adam isn’t clear on who his clients are, he can’t craft a clear marketing message himself either and he can’t focus his own messages on the right people.

If Adam isn’t clear, his prospects won’t be either.

Most of us face that dilemma.

For me, it’s clear that small building and trades contractors, builders, electricians, plumbers, painters, carpenters, architects and engineers are absolutely the people I should to be talking to. Those kinds of people are right in my sweet spot. So if you know any of those, I’d love you to make an introduction, and I’ll send them my weekly tips.

But how would you answer the question we asked Adam to ponder?

Would you like to download my free 12 Question Cheat-sheet to help you find your next Coach? Click here.

Let me help you

I suggest you get a pencil and paper and write down the answer.

And when you find the answer, I make you this proposal:

Send me your criteria. The definition of your perfect clients, and I will spend some time searching in my database for one or two great introductions for you.

Getting totally clear about who your perfect clients are will totally change your marketing approach… 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

Cold calling is not dead, it just smells funny

cold calling

How to pick up the phone and make it work for you

Cold calling is definitely on the nose these days. Most business development gurus will tell you that in 2017 we shouldn’t practice the art of the cold call, ever again. We must focus on attraction marketing and adding value and building relationships instead.

And that’s all very well and there’s nothing wrong with the idea that we should offer solutions and take the trouble to get to know our customers and they us, all well and good. But cold calling as a practice is far from dead. It still remains a highly effective method of developing your business.

Just the other day, I did some cold calling myself, with a great result. I connected with two prospects, made each of them an offer and one of whom took up my offer.

Not bad for half an hour’s work spent identifying two prospects and another 15 minutes writing two short emails.

And it’s certainly not the first time I’ve used this process.

The reach of LinkedIn

In this case I used LinkedIn to start the process. LinkedIn allows us to search for a narrow category of people in our direct or indirect connections and then allows us to send those people a personal email.

By being strategic about the people I approach and the emails I write them, I often have great success opening a business opportunity. My LinkedIn connections will usually read the email I have sent them and more often than not respond in a positive manner.

There’s one crucial bit of information I haven’t told you yet though.

What I’ve neglected to tell you so far is that these “cold calls”, these approaches I make are not actually positioned for myself. The cold calls I make, are on behalf of friends of mine.

Helping a friend

This is how it happened two weeks ago: Kim is a friend of mine and we are both members of a group of business owners who meet every week for the purpose of referring business to each other. We have made a commitment to helping each other and so I sat down with Kim the other day and I asked how I could best help her grow her business.

Kim runs a bookkeeping business and she told me she wants to be introduced to CEO’s of not-for-profit organisations that are based around membership, with a head office in Sydney.

I went to my LinkedIn database and found 5 people who looked like they just might be the kind of people Kim wanted to talk to. She confirmed that two of them, John and Michael were indeed perfect. I then wrote a succinct personal email to John and Michael and asked if I could connect them with my good friend Kim. I explained Kim’s reasons for wanting to be introduced and assured them I believed Kim to be a perfect fit.

Immediate response

Both John and Michael responded to the emails within a few hours. John declined the introduction but thanked me for the email and confirmed that he felt completely comfortable with being approached like this on LinkedIn and Michael said yes, here is my number and direct email, and happy to have a coffee with Kim.

Kim has since had a meeting with Michael, submitted a proposal for ongoing bookkeeping work for Michael’s organisation and everyone is happy.

Cold calling isn’t dead… far from it. Don’t believe everything you’re told. Instead, figure out how you can use cold calling in conjunction with new marketing strategies. Michael needed a good bookkeeper, Kim needed a good client. I wanted to help Kim and Kim’s going to help me next.

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

Driving your business forward by getting under the bonnet

under the bonnet KPI

Guest post by James Bright, details below.

bright and co get under the bonnet kpi

How KPIs and Happy Meals fit together

Business Drivers or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are critical information to running successful businesses.  They are used by all levels of management in large business to monitor and identify trends in the business and make ongoing adjustments. But understanding KPIs and using them to manage your business is just as important in small business as it is in large organisations.

Typically, KPIs consist of both financial and non-financial numbers.

The key to establishing them in any business however, lies in intimately understanding the business and narrowing down to the critical indicators of the health of your business. The indicators that really tell you what’s going on and how the business is tracking against its strategies.

A course I did recently outlined McDonalds Australia’s business drivers and what their CFO tracked to get an overview of the business.  The KPI “dashboard” contained approximately 25 business drivers such as:

  • Gross Margin
  • Staff Turnover %
  • Total Sales per Store
  • Customer Satisfaction

One number to rule them all

All pretty dry and unexceptional numbers, but one stood out. Amongst the list of classical accountancy numbers was a single, surprising and simple KPI that summarised the overall health of the business.

So what was this magical KPI?

The number of Happy Meals sold that week….

When you consider this, it makes perfect sense. If Happy Meals are selling well it means many other things must also be true:

  • Advertising is obviously working as the kids are pestering their parents to go to McDonalds.
  • If Happy Meals are being sold you can bet that other products were sold on that same order as the parents or older children ordered something as well.  This means higher top line sales, and higher $ value per total order.  All impacting positively on Gross Margins.
  • Customer satisfaction is obviously positive as what kid doesn’t love a Happy Meal, and what parent doesn’t enjoy 15 minutes of peace and quiet?

It was an interesting lesson, most specifically because many small and medium businesses use financial data such as gross sales or profit to review performance and look for trends.  Perhaps there are non-financial KPI’s that you can use to get a deeper insight in your business. Maybe you can identify your own “Happy Meal” KPI.

Get under the bonnet

The biggest opportunity in the development of your small business is to work out what the critical KPIs for your business are. Finding your KPI’s starts by conducting an objective review of your business from the outside looking in.  It forces you to really get under the bonnet.

Ask yourself questions, such as:

  • Why do my customers buy my product or service?
  • Do they generally come back?
  • Do they recommend me or my product to their own networks?
  • What is my sales pipeline and how does it connect to my delivery and ongoing service or support pipeline?
  • If I am making products what are the elements in this process that set me apart from the competition?
  • Are my employees satisfied and is that being conveyed to my customers?

Ultimately conducting this analysis of your business would yield a few critical business drivers that are aligned with your strategy.  These can be used to establish the same insights as the largest businesses that will allow you to monitor and review the trends and make the necessary adjustments to ensure your ongoing success.

What’s also important to consider is your ability to obtain and synthesise data from your systems, ultimately turning it into information for decision-making.

Do you know what your business critical KPI’s are and are you tracking them in a consistent manner in order to gain the right insight into your business?

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

bright and co KPI Guest post

This article was written by James Bright of Brightandco Pty Ltd Virtual CFOs and Accountants in Sydney.

James and his partner Alex are accountants and financial management experts and are passionate about helping small business owners take control of their business, by getting under the bonnet.

www.brightandco.com.au

Virtual CFOs and Accountants