Sign Up   •   Sign In


Global Business Development Services

Delivering Business Solutions
  for Your Sustainable Future

Empowering You
  through Applied Technology and Training

RSS News Feed

Growthink blogs

Thursday, March 22, 2018 8:14 am

The Improvement Matrix

I hate to admit it, but I'm a bit of a dork.

You see, I did really well in school, so I guess I could have been considered a dork back then. But I was also a really good athlete, so that made me "cooler" and so I never got a dork label.

But I did something many years ago that clearly classifies me as a dork. What did I do? I had one of my articles published in Quirk's Market Research Review. Quirk's is a trade journal for market research professionals that mostly talks about new market research techniques and ways to tabulate data. Pretty exciting stuff, I know :-)

I think many of the other authors at Quirk's are like the guys from Revenge of the Nerds, complete with pocket protectors. But, when I submitted my article, I didn't care, because I had something important to share.

What I shared with Quirk's readers (this was way back in 1994 so they don't even have an archive of the article on their website), was what I call "The Improvement Matrix." I originally created these matrices for bigger businesses who paid big bucks for them.

But over the years, I realized they could be created much less expensively, and have HUGE value to entrepreneurs like you.

So what is the "The Improvement Matrix?"

It's simply a way of looking at your products and services and figuring out what you should improve and in what order.

Let me walk you through it. As an example, let's assume that I'm Sal. Sal's my landscaper. He frustrates me to no end since he's such a bad marketer [in fact he makes me think about getting into the landscaping business since I know I'd clean up....but I'll stop digressing].

OK. The first step is to identify what it is that your customers find most important.

So, as a landscaping customer, Sal should survey me and his other customers on the 8-12 attributes of his business that I find most important.

Maybe Sal would have chosen these attributes to survey:

1. Quality of lawn mowing
2. Quality of plant trimming
3. Offers to do additional work (e.g., clean leaves from gutters)
4. Price
5. Value (fairness of price based on quality of service)
6. Ease of billing
7. Ease of communications with company
8. Professionalism of workers

For each attribute, he should ask customers, "How important are these attributes to you in your landscaping company?"

He could have used a 4 point scale as follows:

1 - Not important
2 - Somewhat Important
3 - Very Important
4 - Extremely important

The results may have looked as follows:

As you can see, Sal's customers considered "quality of lawn mowing" and "ease of billing" to be the most important attributes. Conversely, the least important attributes were "professionalism of workers" and "offers to do additional work."

The next question on Sal's survey should have been: "How do you rate my performance on these attributes?"

He could have used a 4 point scale again as follows:

1 - Poor
2 - Fair
3 - Very Good
4 - Excellent

Importantly, Sal should judge responses to this performance question against how important the attributes are. The results may have looked as follows:

As you can see from the chart, on attributes like "value," Sal's performance is in line with importance. But, on the key attribute of "ease of billing," Sal is vastly underperforming. And, on the non- or less-important attribute of "professionalism of workers" (maybe Sal has his workers dress in formal uniforms), he is over-performing.

So, what should Sal do? Well he should clearly focus on improving his "ease of billing" since this will improve customer satisfaction. Also, if he is investing too much money and time in "professionalism of workers," he should consider re-allocating those resources to improving "ease of billing."

As you can see, the beauty of the chart, based on simply 2 sets of questions asked to customers, is that it identifies the most important areas of your product or service to fix to better satisfy customers and gain competitive advantage.

Now, a final way to look at the performance chart is as a matrix, which I call the "Improvement Matrix."  You can see the matrix below.

The Improvement Matrix is simply a different way of looking at importance vs. performance data. It plots the data and classifies each attribute into 4 quadrants:

1. Underperforming (but OK): you are underperforming in this area, but customers don't care much about it, so that's ok.

2. Overperforming: you are doing well in this area; but customers don't value it. Keep doing what you're doing, or consider allocating resources away from this area into a more important area.

3. Keep it up: these are areas that your customers care about and that you are doing well in. Keep it up.

4. Improvement Quadrant: this quadrant is the key. It shows those areas that customers find important, but for which your performance is not up to speed. You MUST get better in these areas ASAP.

As you can see, the Improvement Matrix will alert you to the key areas of your product and service that you must improve. All it requires is a simple customer survey and plotting of the data. And the results can revolutionize your business. So do it!

Suggested Resource: Would you like to know more ways to improve your business; and turn it into one worth $10 million or more? Then check out Growthink's 8 Figure Formula below.


The Secret Formula to
Building a $10 Million Company

If you want to build a $10 million+ company, you must focus on building Value. And to build Value, you need to follow a specific formula.

In this video, I layout the precise formula for you.

As you watch the video, you'll see the important schematic below:

Don't be overwhelmed by its complexity, by the time you see it, it'll make perfect sense. And you'll be able to follow it to dramatically grow your business.

Click here to watch the video now


read more

Full Article

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 12:43 pm

Great executives and great entrepreneurs make great choices.

About everything.

The names of their businesses - think Google, Facebook, Nike et al.

The right products and services to build and sell - think the iPhone, Spotify or a really great pair of shoes.

The prices and terms at which to sell them - think Netflix, gym memberships and your mobile data plan.

The right win-win economic structures for employees and partners - think Goldman Sachs with its "golden handcuffs" compensation system, Uber and Lyft with their driver programs, and AirBnB with its rental hosts.

Which values are most important and appropriate for their company - think Patagonia with its environmental ethos. Or Oracle and Salesforce with their aggressive salesmanship.

The best way to respond to competitive pressures - think "Pizza Wars" between Domino's, Pizza Hut and Little Caesars.

And when not to respond - think premium brands like Rolex and American Express.

Now, because every businessperson is first a human being, decisions like these are made via a combination of data analysis, collaborative discussion...

...reflection, fear, greed and gut.

With the hope that from this motley mix will pop out decisions that are strategically sound, tactically possible, inspirational, and sustainable.

Sadly and of course, it doesn't always work out this way.

The world of business is crowded every day with
horrible decision making.

Decisions made completely on whim and gut, without any data collection or quantitative analysis whatsoever.

"About faces" on decisions that don't yield immediate results, new marketing and sales campaigns especially.

Perhaps worst of all decisions not made because of binary thinking, that debilitating fallacy that we are faced with only one right choice. 

And that the heavens and the earth will fall upon us if we choose wrong. 

But of course no matter the business decision - hiring, firing, marketing and sales, new products, raising capital, growing via acquisition, even flat out selling a business or shutting it down... 

...there is almost always more than one valid, workable, and perfectly fine choice. 

Choices are often also reversible and adjustable too - usually at far less cost than might be surmised.

And finally, there is more "zen" to business decisions than might immediately meet the eye.

They are often just as Sheryl Crow so memorably sang - not about having what you want but wanting what you've got.

Make the decisions. And don't second guess them, at least not for a little while.

And be pleasantly surprised to see how much faster, and easier, things progress in your business right away.

How Good are Your Business Decisions?  

Are you able to decide upon and commit quickly to important courses of business action? 

With your marketing? With your culture? With your strategy? With your profits? With your balance sheet? 

Well if so, kudos to you and keep on keeping on! 

But if you are just a bit unsure as to the best tactics to take in one or several of these areas, then you probably need a jolt of ideas, energy, and inspiration. 

Click here and complete this short questionnaire as to a few questions regarding your business' current status, and key goals and initiatives now.  

And we'll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

read more

Full Article

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 8:45 am

Add Value to your Business

If you're like me and passionately roll up your sleeves and get to work on something great for several years or more (your business), you owe it to yourself to have a final result for your efforts that is truly a masterpiece.

I'm talking about your business, once it's complete...Done...Ready to sell for as much as you can reasonably expect, often for several times its yearly earnings.

If and when it does come time to sell, you want to be selling from a position of strength-to sell it when it is at its most valuable point and not when you're burned out, in ill health, or in some other situation where you are rushed or won't make nearly as much from the sale.

Like any great work, you have to start with the end in mind, and to that end I'll be writing this to clarify just what a "sellable" business looks like.  This will give you an ideal to work towards and guide your plans and work.

Below are several things to be aware of in increasing the value of your business to yourself and potential acquirers.

Positioned in its clearly-defined niche

Your business must be the best it can be at what it does, without trying to be everything to everyone. A business that knows its customer segments, their needs and language, and how to solicit a response from them is a lot more valuable than one that is a mixture of everything, or an unknown in its market.

Coach your team to run the business without you

Could other people ever run your business without you? They'll have to, if you're selling! So why not make this your goal from Day One?

Make an organizational chart of how your business will look when it's time to sell it. List all the various workers in marketing, operations, and those they report to.  It's okay if it's just you or a handful of people currently filling all those roles. Doing this will help you organize who is going to do what in your business before you hire a new person.

Then, over time, you can find other people to fill those positions one by one until you're out of the picture.

Build relationships with customers

Goodwill, such as your reputation and brand in the minds of your current and prospective customers, is considered an asset on your company's balance sheet. You build this over time by treating people right and maintaining good relationships.

If you intend to sell your business someday, or if you just want to have the option, this is something you have to make a priority throughout the business's life. You can't just start doing it well suddenly in the final year. Relationships and recognition take time.

Make sure you're stable

Make sure you're not overly dependent on any one customer, vendor, employee, or anything else. Diversify your strengths. If you have any "whale" customers that make up a large portion of your business, try to get at least 80% of your business from other people.

The new owner does not want to take the reins and have revenues drop in half in the event your biggest customer leaves.

Maximize your revenues

This one's self-evident, but deserves to be repeated. In my last essay, I shared 4 proven ways to increase your revenues-getting more customers, increasing your average order size, get customers to buy more frequently, and finding new ways to monetize your customers and visitors.

A company with higher revenues and which shows growing revenues will be more valuable and attractive to buyers.

Hold expenses accountable

You boost your net profit (and therefore the value) by reducing your expenses. However, no one ever shrank themselves into wealth. You're not going to grow your business by keeping expenses lower-but the numbers will increase as it grows.

Your goal is to keep the percentages the same, such as keeping advertising at 20% of your revenues whether earnings are $100,000 or $1,000,000 per year. 

Basically, you'll want to make sure that budgets are made and followed, to keep spending within projected limits and to avoid costs creeping up that don't generate more revenue in return.

Keep great records for the next owner

Keep excellent records of everything for the new owner-your files, databases, customer communications, marketing materials, financial records, employee agreements-everything.

Committing to do this now will make your life so much easier between now and the time you sell. Keep good records for your own efficiency, protection, and to make your business look a lot more attractive to buyers than one where all the records are filed away in the old owner's head.

Develop a plan for when it's "done" and ready to sell

I don't want you to have plans on top of plans, but each of these will take certain actions to make them happen.  So here's what to do:  Add these end results into your existing business plan, and use your best judgment when choosing how to make each of them happen in your company.

When it's all said and done, the next few years are going to go by whether you maximize your business's value or not. At the end of, say, 5 years, would you rather have a stable, attractive, polished business ready to sell for top dollar, or be left taking what you can get for what you have?

If it seems like a lot, remember you have until the time you sell to take care of these things. You don't have to do it all now! Just add these elements I described to your vision of what you want your company to be, and keep your eye on it until the big day finally comes.


The Secret Formula to
Building a $10 Million Company

If you want to build a $10 million+ company, you must focus on building Value. And to build Value, you need to follow a specific formula.

In this video, I layout the precise formula for you.

As you watch the video, you'll see the important schematic below:

Don't be overwhelmed by its complexity, by the time you see it, it'll make perfect sense. And you'll be able to follow it to dramatically grow your business.

Click here to watch the video now


read more

Full Article

Friday, March 16, 2018 3:43 pm

In many franchise businesses you can see the same hamburger or service turn out the same carefully-designed way, regardless of location or the employees doing the work.

The reason why these often big businesses are able to perform an operation consistently and at a massive scale is because they use and follow systems and work processes. This means that they do the right things, in the right way.

Why Small Companies Can't Handle Growth

Unfortunately, most small businesses and entrepreneurs do the opposite. That is, they fail to create systems and business processes that coordinate routine work in a standardized way. Their style of small business management pretty much boils down to just asking their employees to come on time, and then to watch them and hope their products and services are promoted and fulfilled correctly.

Well, what does "correctly" even mean?

This is a mistake that happens all the time; most entrepreneurs think they don't need to set systems and work processes, or that it has to be done all at once in some monumental undertaking to make an employee handbook as thick as McDonald's.

Because the average small business operates with less than a few dozen employees, their managers generally believe (incorrectly) that since the business only has few people, creating and applying business systems would be a waste of time and money.

It's like saying that you don't need a system to organize your CD collection because you only have a few CDs at present. This might work in the beginning, but the problem comes when it's time for the business to grow. Then you may have 10 times the work going on, and things get chaotic. Quality goes down, morale goes's a confusing mess!

Same goes for when your business has to change employees (even satisfied employees change jobs, move, or otherwise stop working for you). With no systems in place, the new employee will have a tough time doing the task correctly because "correctly" has not been defined for them or demonstrated.

The Process Determines the Results

Another reason why small businesses often lack proper processes is because their management only cares about results, rather than the processes that created them. They don't care how their employees get the job done, as long as the finished burger meets the standards.

Of course we should all be results-oriented. But sometimes having your team do something a specific way will lead to better results, higher quality, faster work, less waste, etc. In these cases, you definitely want to spell out the process for them.

When buying hamburgers from a franchise, for example, people expect it to be perfect or to at least be identical to the previous ones that the burger joint sold. If you didn't have a system or a process for making burgers (how long to freeze, how long to cook, what the toppings are and in what order to stack them, etc.) then keeping the quality up to your standards would be tough. One employee would do it one way; another employee would do it another. You would not get consistent results.

How a Systems-Run Business Looks

We've covered the disadvantages of not having small business management systems and processes, but now let's delve into what may actually happen when you do have them.

When talking about the advantages, we just have to reverse the scenarios we talked about earlier.

Imagine a business with only a handful of employees. But also imagine them following a system and doing what they were supposed to do, and doing it the right way. Costs would go down. Product and service quality would go up. Profits would soar. And your business would be simple to run. As a result, you would spend your time growing vs. simply operating your business. And tons of other businesses would want to purchase yours for a big premium.

Now imagine one employee quitting for whatever reason. The new employee wouldn't have a problem taking the old employee's place; because there would be a process to follow that everyone knows. It would have become the way you do it here.

Now that you know that systems and business processes are important, how do actually create them?

Make A Few Simple Systems Of Your Own

To create systems, it is best that you start looking at the business processes that take place in your business. Make a quick list of everything your business does, from accounting to sales.

Once you have a list, take one at a time (in order of impact to your business; the most potential impact first) and start writing down a simple checklist of actions that make it happen. Start with the beginning of the process (e.g., customer places order), then imagine the ideal outcome (customer receives perfect result), and then write down each step that should occur in between. Then write in who is responsible to do what, and estimate the costs of each step in hours and dollars. You should then have in one hand a brief write-up of how to perform the system and what it will take to do so.

Once you've designed your system, test it out once or twice before officially implementing it. Make sure your systems and processes do what they are supposed to do and nothing short of that. Perform the work yourself or watch someone closely, and pay attention to every step.

Whether it's from not knowing about systems or not making the time for it, most small business managers do not make and improve their business processes over time. But that's manager's main job -- to keep the right people running the right systems, so the company's desired results can be achieved.

If the system doesn't work...change it. If an employee will not or cannot work the system...change employees. Because once you systematize your business, it will run smoothly and it will run itself. You can then focus your efforts on growing the business, and reap the rewards of a fully systematized company.

If you want to learn more about systematizing your business, read below.


The Secret Formula to
Building a $10 Million Company

If you want to build a $10 million+ company, you must focus on building Value. And to build Value, you need to follow a specific formula.

In this video, I layout the precise formula for you.

As you watch the video, you'll see the important schematic below:

Don't be overwhelmed by its complexity, by the time you see it, it'll make perfect sense. And you'll be able to follow it to dramatically grow your business.

Click here to watch the video now


read more

Full Article

Thursday, March 15, 2018 7:16 am

The Luckiest People On Earth

This two-and-a-half-minute video has had nearly 8 million views on YouTube so far.

My sister had to stop watching it half way; it made her anxious.

I looked at it VERY differently -- from the perspective of an entrepreneur.

Here it is:

As an entrepreneur, watching this video made me think of the great quote from Samuel Goldwyn: "The harder I work, the luckier I get."

You see, that's what frustrates me about the video. I'm not a big fan of luck that's not predicated by hard work.

Because it sends the wrong message. It sends the message that you can attain success via luck. Which is sometimes, but rarely, true.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to create your own luck like Goldwyn did (Goldwyn was born in Warsaw, Poland without a penny to his name). 

You need to work hard and try lots of things. Importantly, you must realize that MOST of the things you try will fail. But with persistence, success will come. Funny enough, a lot of people consider this "luck." 

Was Edison "lucky" when he created the light bulb? Sure he was. In each of his experiments, I'm sure he hoped that he would get "lucky" and invent one which worked. If his first try would have worked, it clearly would have been at least a little lucky. But what about his second, his tenth, or his hundredth tries? Clearly, when he experimented over 1,000 times, it was hard work and not luck that prevailed.

I think that a simple timeline is one of an entrepreneur's greatest tools, and one that helps ensure that you will get "lucky" from good planning and hard work.

This timeline should start with where your business is right now. And it should end with where you want your business to be in 5 years. In creating your timeline, you should provide much more detail for the next 12 months, as you have more control over this time period. What do you hope to accomplish? What dates should you set to accomplish each goal? And so on.

By going through this exercise, you start to realize the numerous steps you'll need to take to achieve your goals. You'll start to better understand the things that might go wrong, or that might be more challenging than you initially thought. And you will have a roadmap to follow. But importantly, remember that many of your attempts will fail or take longer than planned. So build this into your timeline.

And when time passes and you attain your goals at the end of the timeline, many people will call you lucky. But you and I will know that luck had nothing to do with it!

(To improve your "luck" dramatically, have a written plan. See our featured resource below to easily make this a reality for you.)


Do You Have A "Killer" Plan?

This simple tool gets your whole team pulling in the same direction, so you overcome your biggest business challenges.

The best part? You can get it done in 1 day.

Click here to create a "killer" plan today.


read more

Full Article

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 11:18 am

An underrated joy of being in business is the daily opportunity it offers to strive for and experience breakthroughs in "that best version of ourselves."

To some this may sound like pop psychology babble, but when you dig into it just a bit you will find within a HUGE KEY to attaining competitive advantage in any business.

It all starts with just going to work every day, and doing so with enthusiasm, optimism, pride, and a striving toward excellence.

I have been blessed in my business life with very hard-working partners, employees, clients, vendors and suppliers.

And the beautiful sum of all of their hard work has made my life easier, richer, more interesting, and team accomplishment filled.

You see, sometimes in our business bubble it is easy to forget that less than 25% of the total U.S. population works in the private sector.

While of course there is nothing wrong with other forms of work - in the public and non-profit arenas, or in being retired - there is just something fundamentally different, hard, and admirable of those "fellow business travelers" that battle everyday to pay the rent, meet payroll, and grow and prosper for-profit entities for the love of money and accomplishment.

Which fundamentally in modern business involves a tough and bare-knuckled ongoing struggle and fight for competitive advantage and victory.

The great Michael Jordan expressed this best when he talked about the differing intensity and drive needed to win a regular season game, versus a playoff game, versus a "close-out" game, versus a championship.

In all cases, a proper, focused direction of talent and the will to win are needed, but at each "higher" step on the victory pyramid the intense degree of these combined factors goes up and up and up.

Competition in business is similar. Starting a business is a challenge, similar in sports to say "making the team."

Getting to cash flow break even, a seemingly minimal level of performance but one that a very small percentage of businesses ever reach, could be considered like qualifying for the playoffs.

But just like all of those athletes that get to play in, but eventually lose the bigger and more important games, just breaking even in business is very unsatisfying.

No, those next levels of competitive business striving - toward double digit and beyond revenue growth, real and tangible profit, meaningful asset aggregation, and toward brands, cultures, and reputations that stand the test of time...

... well to attain and achieve any or all of these require us to prevail over and beat the untold multitudes of competitors striving for exactly the same thing, many of whom have over us significant advantages of resources, talent, and cost structures.

Sometimes, the realization of the enormity of this challenge - often set off by a business setback like a lost sale, or a lawsuit, or an online flaming, can rise in us feelings of discouragement, futility, and even anger at how the cards seem stacked against us.

But it is in these darker moments when we discover things about ourselves that perhaps we never knew.

The depth of our courage and perseverance.

And of our burning desire to compete and win.

And what exactly is that best version of ourselves.

As professionals. As businesspeople. As human beings.

Striving for and attaining competitive advantage and victory requires and demands nothing less.

And truly, who would want it any other way?

Does Your Business Have REAL Competitive Advantage?  

Are you beating the competition in all aspects of your business? 

With your marketing? With your culture? With your strategy? With your profits? With your balance sheet? 

Well if so, kudos to you and keep on keeping on! 

But if you are just losing in one or several of these areas, then you probably need a jolt of ideas, energy, and inspiration.

Click here and complete this short questionnaire as to a few questions regarding your business' current status, and key goals and initiatives now.  

And we'll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

read more

Full Article

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 9:50 am

Entrepreneurs Don't Plan To Fail They Fail To Plan

I periodically read research reports about business failures. I always find them interesting, although often they are depressing.

Such as what I recently read. Which was research from Bradley University in Peoria, IL.  This research found that 70% to 80% of new businesses fail within their first year.

And while this was frustrating enough to read, the research further stated that half of those companies which do survive the first year will fail within the next four years.

Now, let's turn to the cause of this failure. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the number one cause of this failure is lack of business planning.

What this essentially means is this: entrepreneurs and business owners don't plan to fail; rather, they fail to plan (which causes them to fail).

In my view, there are two types of business plans. The first is the business plan you must create when you start your company. The purpose of this plan is to ensure you have fully thought through your venture.

Among other things, this plan includes significant market research. It assesses your market size to ensure the opportunity is big enough. It analyzes customer segments to confirm that customer needs match your company's proposed product and/or service offerings. And it analyzes the competition to determine how your company will position itself and how you will most effectively compete.

From a strategic standpoint, the business plan must document your marketing plan (how you will secure customers), your human resources plan (who you will hire) and your operations plan (what key milestones you will accomplish and when).

When you're done, your business plan will confirm your market opportunity and give you a roadmap to follow. It will also be required should you wish to gain funding from investors and lenders.

Now, once your business is up-and-running, you still need a business plan in order to succeed. I refer to this type of business plan as a "strategic plan." I term it as such because this type of plan requires much less research (since you already know who your customers are, the market fundamentals, and lots of information about your competitors). Rather, the focus of this plan is strategy.

Specifically, this plan needs to identify precisely:

1. Where you want your company to be in five years

2. What you need to accomplish within the next year to progress you to that point, and

3. What your strategy is to complete your key milestones in the next 12 months

In determining the optimal strategies, you need to consider your company's strengths, and opportunities that can best leverage them. If you don't take time to do this, you become too tactical. That is, you continue to use the same tactics that have gotten you to the point you are at. And oftentimes, the strategy and tactics that got you where you are today are NOT the strategy and tactics that will get you to the next level.

So, spend time figuring out the best strategies to follow. The good news is that you've already proven you can execute on strategies (which is what got you to where you are now).

After you figure out the big picture opportunities to go after (which often fall into the categories of further penetrating your existing market, going after a new market, or creating new products/services for existing and/or new markets), you need to revisit the three core strategies you developed in your initial business plan.

To start, you need to modify your marketing plan. Importantly, your marketing plan should always be adding new marketing channels (e.g., direct mail, print, radio, search engine optimization, etc.) as the more channels you have, the more customers you will get and the less risk you have of one channel losing effectiveness (think about businesses who used to get all their customers from the yellow pages).

Next, consider your human resources strategy. What new people will you need to hire to accomplish your key goals in the coming years? And finally, you need to develop your operations strategy. Figure out what key tasks and milestones you need to accomplish over the next year and break them down into smaller projects that you and your team must accomplish. And then create a master schedule showing who, how and when these projects will be completed (I like using a Gantt chart to do this).

To achieve maximum success in your business, create a business plan when you start your company, and annually create a strategic plan to grow your company.

The planning process will force you to focus on accomplishing the right things in your business. Since even if you execute flawlessly, if you are executing on the wrong strategies and opportunities, success will elude you.


Do You Have A "Killer" Plan?

This simple tool gets your whole team pulling in the same direction, so you overcome your biggest business challenges.

The best part? You can get it done in 1 day.

Click here to create a "killer" plan today.


read more

Full Article

Friday, March 9, 2018 9:10 am

7 Ways to Terrorize Your Competition

One of my favorite movie lines, which I think about often, comes from the 1993 movie Rudy. In his pre-game inspirational talk in the film, Notre Dame football coach Dan Devine says, "No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around."

Yet, this happens all the time in our businesses.

We let competitors push us around. We let them steal our customers. We let them push our prices and margins down. And we let them dictate how we run our businesses.
So how do we stop this? How do we dictate how competitors need to act? And to go even further, how can we terrorize our competition so they don't even want to compete with us?

Here are 7 of my favorite ways:

1. Know More Than Them

By investing in the latest education, you will always have an edge on your competitors (assuming they don't also do this). Learning the best new techniques in sales, marketing, operations, finance, HR, etc. will allow you to outperform your competition on multiple fronts.

2. Create a Vision and Stick to It

Spend the time to create a solid vision of the company you want to create. For example, my vision at Growthink is to become the number one place where entrepreneurs go for assistance starting and growing their companies.

When you have a solid vision, you will not make knee-jerk reactions to your competitors' actions. Rather they will react to you. Also, while competitors' actions may cause you to shift your strategies, if you have a set vision, you will spend less time strategizing and more time executing.

3. Really Listen to Your Customers

One of my favorite quotes is from marketing expert Jay Abraham which goes, "Your customers are geniuses; they know exactly what they want."

By spending more time listening to the needs of your customers, you will create better products and services than your competitors.

4. Focus on Customer Retention

Focus more on retaining your customers than getting new ones. Studies have shown that it costs up to 7 times as much to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer. The profit is in retaining customers and selling them more things (that they need) over time.

Let your competitors fail to make profits, burn out, and go out of business by exclusively focusing on acquiring new customers.

5. Hire Right

As you grow your business, the less "doing" (e.g., building the product or providing the service to the customer) you will do and the more "managing" you will do. So your success will be put into the hands of those you hire. Spend the time to hire right and to train them well. And if you ever have the concern, "what happens if I train them and they leave?" then think the opposite, "What happens if you don't train them and they stay."

6. Create Systems

I heard the following acronym definition of "system" at a conference last week (yes, I am practicing what I preach and constantly invest in my own education).

The definition is:

Energy &

Yes, systems may take time to develop. But once you've developed them, you will save time, energy and money on an ongoing basis.

7. Do Something Your Competition Would Have a Hard Time Duplicating

I know of one business that has an extremely rigorous client development process. Among other things, it consists of 6 months of pre-written emails sent to prospects twice per week, and weekly letters and packages sent to them in the mail. The process works extremely well, and not only would it take competitors 6 months to learn their systems, but creating a similar program would be a significant undertaking.

Other companies create a host of niche products that make it harder for a new competitor to enter their market. For example, if someone wanted to compete against Growthink with a capital raising product, it would be hard for them as we offer a product for raising angel capital, a product for raising venture capital, a product to get loans, a product to get grants, etc.

So, think about how you could create a company that your competitors can't replicate. In doing so, your competitors will be at a huge disadvantage. Also in doing so, you will become a great acquisition candidate for larger companies who realize it's easier to buy what you've developed than try to recreate it themselves.

8. (Bonus) Document Your Strategy in a Written Plan

There is countless research showing that those with written plans achieve significantly more success than those who don't.

See the featured resource below for help in quickly and easily creating a killer plan.


Do You Have A "Killer" Plan?

This simple tool gets your whole team pulling in the same direction, so you overcome your biggest business challenges.

The best part? You can get it done in 1 day.

Click here to create a "killer" plan today.


read more

Full Article

Thursday, March 8, 2018 8:27 am

Boost Accountability & Boost Results

Accountability has been a buzzword in the business world for some time. Unfortunately, most of us have a negative association with the word. We often use it as if it means blame and punishment, as in "Who is accountable for this mistake?" So we unconsciously try to avoid it.

The truth is that accountability is unavoidable. In the workplace, everyone is accountable to someone. As an entrepreneur or business owner, you are accountable to your business' success, and to your customers, investors, and employees.

Now, what if being accountable was empowering for you and your employees? Research indicates that rather than a negative force, holding people accountable for their actions and results has very positive effects on morale and performance.

For your employees, an environment of accountability produces vigilant problem-solving, better decision-making, and greater job satisfaction. With an environment of accountability, employees can develop their skills and be their best. It means a higher likelihood of reaching goals, which we all want.

For yourself, accountability is also key. Most of us worked for someone else in the past to whom we were accountable. But when we struck out on our own, and became the boss, we lost that. While many entrepreneurs and business owners are able to be accountable to themselves, it's often challenging. And for tasks that take a lot of discipline (e.g., calling 25 prospective investors every day), sometimes more accountability is needed to make sure they get done.

Here are some ways to boost accountability in your company:

  • Create accountability standards for yourself. What happens if you don't complete a task? Do you force yourself to stay late to do it? Or are there no immediate consequences? Figure out how to reward yourself for being fully accountable, and likewise give yourself some sort of penalty when you are not.

  • Ambiguity is the enemy of accountability; so your first step as the manager of your employees is to make sure they have very clearly defined roles, job descriptions, and duties.

  • Accountability is an attitude, so look at yourself as the role model. Are you being accountable to your employees, clients, and yourself? You as the leader will want to model this attitude, so focus on being accountable in addition to holding others accountable.

  • Do you have written expectations of your employees? Starting at the time of hire, if possible, create written expectations and standards of performance for each employee. You cannot expect something from someone who has not had the opportunity to buy into the expectation.

  • Do your employees have a working plan - a project timeline, an economic model etc? This will help keep them accountable.

  • Do your employees have training? You cannot hold someone accountable to something they are not been trained to do!

  • Have you created a learning based environment? Is it okay to make a mistake or say, "I don't know?" Creating a safe environment for mistakes encourages accountability. Employees will be less afraid to share mistakes and other negative feedback with you that can be used to correct the root of the problem. The opposite of this would be a culture of "yes men" (which you clearly don't want).

  • Are there real consequences for lack of accountability in your organization? Consequences work best when spelled out before actually needed, in expectations for example.

  • Do your employees have the talent and ability needed for the task? Some people will not have the ability to do the job you are asking them to do regardless of having a well-defined role, a great manager and excellent training. Try to find this out when hiring, but keep an eye on employees throughout their working time with you to confirm it.

Without accountability, no one knows the goal or who is supposed to do what. There's no way of knowing what's going on, so things don't get done (surprise, surprise). Without the right accountability, you will create an environment of low productivity and high turnover.

Conversely, setting up the right accountability structures, as discussed above, will create a culture in which goals are constantly attained. So make a plan today to implement the tips above. After all, if you don't emphasize and demonstrate the important of reaching the goals you set, who will?


My #1 Tip for Super Fast Business Growth

What's my best secret for accelerating your business growth?

It's simple, actually: Get other people to build your business for you.

In other words, Build Your Dream Team <-- Click Here

Most entrepreneurs are making a big mistake: they're trying to do everything themselves.

But that's not a recipe for business success -- it's a recipe for burnout, frustration and failure.

To build a truly successful business, you need a "Dream Team" to help you turn your vision into reality.

And I created this training to show you how to do it right.


read more

Full Article

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 11:34 pm

Growing wider every day is the divide between companies that "get it" when it comes to modern marketing and business promotion...

...and those that don't. 

Luckily, there is a super simple way to upgrade your company's marketing

from old, tired and slow to... 

...futuristic, engaged and hyper-fast.  

To illustrate, garner a peek at the Instagram feeds of Tesla, Playdoh, Airbnb, and Adobe. 

What we find is marketing that is beautiful, creative, dynamic, and relentless.  

And very different from how most of us go about it, sadly not all that differently from how JC Penney and Sears did so more than 100 years ago. 

Statically and unidirectionally. 

It was catalogs back then, and websites and mass emails today. 

Now, these methods still do work, to a degree - as evidenced by the huge sums spent on digital marketing and by the flood of promotional emails we all get.

But, they don't work at all for huge swaths of target customers in almost every business category. 

Because those customers have opted out and sealed themselves off.  

Because the marketing is too much of a deluge and too never-ending.

And because of our smartphones. 

These immensely powerful, intensely addictive little things that are on us and part of us always, at work and at play.  

These little things that train us to expect personalized emotional experiences. 

As in watching, listening, and reading any kind of entertainment, informational, or titillating content that our hearts and minds might need and desire. 

At the exact moment when we need and desire it. 

Then, we bring with us this extremely high communication expectation with us when we shop for things and services.  

That they should be produced and presented just for us.  

And done so in that way as old and basic as Homo Sapiens themselves. 

As a conversation.

Between two people, on balanced and mutually respectful footing.

From this perspective, the platforms on which these conversations take place are of secondary importance.  

For sure, beautiful, visually-based platforms like Instagram are engaging in ways that the written word can never be. 

And are even more so when the conversations there are made so quick and easy by maligned but emotionally resonating tools as are "likes" and emojis.  

But modern marketing conversations of course can and should still take place in the traditional channels  - over the phone, in person, and via email.

They just have to be devoid of the marketing schmaltz and sales trickery. 

Instead, let's meet our customers where and who they are.

As one-of-a-kind individuals with their particular hopes and fears big and small.

Marketing this way asks a lot of us.

We can no longer just "play the part" as engaged and empathetic businessmen and women.

Now we really have to be these things!

So it is harder, but so much more human in so many ways.

Scroll again through Tesla, Playdoh, Airbnb, and Adobe Instagram feeds if you have any doubt. :)

Is Your Marketing Tired? 

Do you "apologize" for your website? 

Are you struggling to exploit all of the new modern marketing and sales channels?  

And as a result, are your sales and profits not anyway near where they should be? 

Need a jolt of ideas, energy, inspiration? 

Have a key business initiative or new product that you want to get moving on this year?

Well, we can help. 

Click here and complete this short questionnaire. 

And we'll reach out with our thoughts to help you.

read more

Full Article