Who Needs a Business Advisor?
The simple answer to the seemingly complex question of “Who needs a business advisor?” is everyone responsible for operating a business. That’s right, the Fortune 50 CEO to the one- person show needs an advisor.
The CEO of a public company has mentors as well as a board of directors to turn to. They often don’t have a choice of who their advisors are, but small business owners do. Unfortunately, with this choice of advisors comes another choice that is often made instead. That choice is to not get any help at all.
Not getting any help at all is very often the cause of the business failure statistics we hear so much about. The small business owner will often claim that they don’t have the time or money for an advisor. Think about that comment. How can you not have the money to get help from someone that can potentially save or make you more money since you obviously are not getting it done on your own? Or how about that time you are lacking? Maybe if that owner sat down for an hour with an advisor, they would be able to see why they don’t have time and do something about it with the help of someone who has already been in those shoes.
A coach or advisor gives to small business owners something most of them don’t have; a sounding board and a board of directors to turn to for advice. These are two great resources to use when trying to avoid trial and error decisions and processes.
I’m not knocking trial and error as the way to learn things. I’ve personally used that method and did well in many cases. But that is a case-by-case basis, not for on-going daily concerns. Don’t forget that this method is also very costly and time consuming. Why not ask someone who has probably already faced the problem?
What many business owners do not realize is that they rarely go through any trials and tribulations that someone else has never dealt with. Not to mention that about 70-75% of their business is the same as every other business including HR, finances, sales, marketing, and funding. The other 25-30% is industry specific.
Small to mid-sized business owners take away much more from an advisor than big businesses. This, if for no other reason, is the case because the smaller companies have owners that wear a lot of hats. Many of those hats take time away from the things the owner actually needs to make a priority to see their company succeed. Things they should be doing that they don’t have time to get to or things they are taking care of that they have no experience in doing. These situations take away from them doing what they do best. That’s a problem.
The question now is how to find an advisor. There are many types of business advisors out there. Some are purely coaches and others are true developers and implementers that will roll up their sleeves with you when asked to. It’s up to you to pick the type of person you want or need. Here are a few things to think about:
- Do they click with your personality? There are many good advisors out there but if they don’t click with you as a business friend, don’t bother with them because you will end up fighting them even when you agree on the advice.
- Have they owned a small business before? Gray hair does not equal business ownership knowledge. I promise you that the ex-CEO or Senior manager from a huge company knows very little about successfully operating a small business. These are two significantly different worlds.
- Don’t worry if a potential advisor doesn’t know your specific industry. Remember that a lot of your troubles have nothing to do with your industry. It would help though if the advisor had contacts/resources for you in your industry for when specific problems are addressed.
Once you made the very intelligent decision of getting help in making your business a success, keep a few things in mind. You should really commit to working with your advisor for a good 6 months. Nothing gets fixed overnight. Also, since you are paying for it, please do yourself a favor and be open to suggestions, bring important things to your advisor for help in deciding and make the use of your time with the advisor a priority. Don’t forget that an advisor or coach should never decide for you. It’s your company, they are there to make suggestions and guide you.
Working with an advisor can be a very enlightening experience. You will start to see the forest from the trees and not feel like you are the only person on the planet going through tough times as a business owner.
All business owners eventually need help. The successful ones put aside their pride and desire to be at the center of all aspects of the company and get the help. Do yourself and your company a favor and be one of the truly successful business owners. Get an advisor and get all you can out of them. If your advisor loves what he/she does for a living as such as you love what you do, you can’t go wrong.
Mind Your Own Business!
The concept of minding your own business means that while you are grinding away at your day job you need to be investing in your future and minding your own business. Pretty soon you’ll be able to walk away from that day job and mind your own business full time.
The best way to do this is through the acquisition of real estate.
Let’s take a quick look at where you are losing all your money-taxes. Taxes have been around since 1913 in the U.S. (earlier in England). While the original intention was to only tax the wealthiest of the population, obviously that’s trickled down to the masses, including those in poverty.
Now, keep in mind the more money you make the more taxes you pay. The wealthy know a way of getting around this-form a corporation. Corporations offer tax benefits and protect you from lawsuits. To learn more about this talk with one of our business coaches or your attorney.
We’ve all heard the golden rule of: Pay Yourself First.
But many of us don’t do it. Until you learn and put this rule into effect, you won’t have any chance of getting out of the rat race. What this rule does is force you to come up with more income to pay your expenses.
There are some key areas of finance you should learn about, taking classes is one of the best ways to do this. Here are the basics you should learn:
It pays to know how to read financial statements. When acquiring businesses or assets you need to quickly see the financial standing of the company you are acquiring.
Many grown adults do not know how to balance a balance sheet. In the long term, this knowledge will pay off for you and your business.
This skill will sharpen with experience. Talk to investors and observe how they play the game.
Know the laws of Supply and Demand. No business owner can do without understanding these basic principles of the market. Bill Gates saw what people needed. Open your eyes to opportunities. Look at what sells and who buys.
Do everything you can to grow your business within legal boundaries. Know your corporate, state, and accounting laws.
Once you know these areas of finances you can make them work for you. The rich practically invent money. You have to know where to find a great deal. Let’s continue with real estate. Look for houses in trouble or find the court in your area that handles foreclosed, police impound or other real estate situations. You can either renovate and sell or rent for residual income.
So, essentially there are two main types of investors:
- Those who buy pre-packaged investments
- Those who create their own investments
You know which are the most successful. In order to be one of those people you need to know what to look for and how to respond.
- Find a good deal other people have missed.
- Raise the capital needed for the transaction.
- Put together a high-performing team to execute the plan.
There is risk involved in every acquisition. The goal is not to avoid the risk, but to respond to the risk with confidence and a steady hand. If you need help identifying potential money-makers, where to get the capital you need and how to put together a smart team, try our FREE test drive to gain access to our resources and tools.
Get Out of the Rat Race
We’ve all worked jobs we hated. We were underpaid, underappreciated and bored out of our minds. We either quit these jobs or were fired for poor performance because we just gave up. Instead of taking that approach you need to consider every job an opportunity to learn something new that you can apply down the line to find success.
When you give people the tools they need to come up with unordinary solutions, you are enhancing their lives for the long run. You need to take this approach. What if one of your terrible jobs had been one with no pay at all and you needed to come up with some ingenious ways of making money? I bet you could have found a diamond in that rough. This idea can also be used in your own company.
I don’t recommend going into the next meeting declaring that no one will receive pay anymore, but you can tell them that their potential raises, bonuses and other perks are now dependent on their creativity in ways to enhance business.
Let’s talk about a great concept called financial literacy. This certainly isn’t something they taught you in school but is still essential to know. So, what is financial literacy?
The old school way teaches people to be good employees and not employers. This mindset will never make you wealthy. You need to focus on becoming a good employer. You also need to learn how to not only attain wealth but sustain wealth for generations. This is what financial literacy is all about.
So, how do you get out of the rat race and start working toward a wealthier future? You need to understand the difference between an asset and a liability. Take a look at your own life and you’ll probably find the following:
- Real Estate
- Intellectual Property
- Consumer Loans
- Credit Cards
You’ve probably been fooled into thinking things like your house, car and entertainment system are assets. They aren’t! Assets should be continuing to MAKE you money. When you continue to struggle, you are not building wealth. If your primary income is from wages and each time you make more money you pay taxes, you’re not really creating wealth either, are you?
So, if buying a house isn’t an asset (and it’s not because you spend about 30 years of your life paying it off), then what is? Here are some of the best assets to attain and when you can start to actually see wealth being created because of it:
Average time of holding on to an asset before selling it for a higher value:
- Stocks (Startups and small companies are good investments)
- Mutual funds
- Real estate
- Notes (IOUs)
- Royalties on intellectual property
- Valuables that produce income or appreciate
So, here are the steps to getting out of the rat race and onto your journey of creating wealth:
- Understand the difference between an asset and a liability.
- Concentrate your efforts on buying income-earning assets.
- Focus on keeping liabilities and expenses at a minimum.
- Mind your own business.
If you need help getting out of the poor mindset and into the wealthy one, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our experienced business coaches today. We went through the first three and next time
Put it to Work!
In the last post we talked about how to conduct word of mouth research and then put that research to work. Today we’re going to give you some great tried and true ways to use word of mouth when building and executing your campaign.
We’ve done it in a list form, so you can go through and highlight the ones you want to put into action. These are offered by George Silverman which you can find in his amazing book The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing.
Here they are:
- Give them something worth talking about
- Cater to your initial customers shamelessly
- Give them incentives to engage in word of mouth
- Ask them to tell their friends
- The customer is always right
- Always tell the truth
- Surprise the customers by giving them a little more than they expected
- Give them a reason to buy, make them come back and refuse service from anyone else other than you
- Make eye contact, and smile, even through the telephone
- Find ways to make doing business with you a little better: a warmer greeting, a cleaner floor, nicer lighting, a better shopping bag, extra matches, faster service, free delivery, lower prices, more selection.
- Never be annoyed when a customer asks you to change a large bill even if he doesn’t buy anything.
- The customer is your reason for being. Never take her for granted. If you do, she will never come back, and will go straight to your competition.
- Always dust off items, but never let the customer see you doing it.
- Never embarrass a customer, especially by making him feel ignorant.
- Never answer a question coming from a desire to show how smart you are. Answer with a desire to help the customer make the best decision.
- Never shout across the store, “How much are these condoms?” or anything about the personal items a customer is buying.
- When you don’t know, say so. Do whatever you can to find out the answer.
- Every customer is special. Try to remember their names.
- Don’t allow known shoplifters into the store.
- Don’t ever let two sales staff talk when a customer is waiting. The worst thing you can do is count your cash while a customer is waiting.
- If you can suggest something better, they will be grateful. Always respect their choice.
- Never pressure anyone into buying anything.
- Never knowingly give bad advice. Just help people come to the right decision.
- Personally visit the store of the competition or assign people to visit and report back to you.
- Hire a shopping service to prepare periodic reports on how your people are treating your customers.
- If you hear of a store where the management is insulting the customers, buy it, then put up the sign “Under New Management” outside. Then sell it later based on the increased sales.
- One expert (in the drugstore’s case, a nurse or physician) who is convinced you are better brings hundreds of customers and their friends through word of mouth.
- Always look for ways to make a stranger a customer.
- People will walk several blocks to save a dollar, or see a smile, or be treated right.
- Always run a sale promotion or an offbeat event. Make them come back to see what you are cooking up next.
- Use the best sign-maker you can find and pay him more than anybody else.
- If someone is mad at you, they will tell everyone who will listen for as long as they are angry, maybe even longer. So correct any dissatisfaction, and ask customers to send their friends.
- Treat your employees and salespeople who sell to you the same way you treat your customers.
- Have a zero error system. There may be terrible consequences for example, if a mistake is made filling a prescription. Have people check each other’s work for safety.
- Occasionally make intentional mistakes to see if people are checking.
- Always measure your performance.
- Always ask a customer to “come back soon”
- If customers say they are moving away, offer to send them their favorite items by mail.
- Tell jokes.
I know this is a lot of information to digest, so I we’re going to wrap up this lesson and leave you with the homework of going through and taking a look at the tips and tricks you like best. Also, look for tips that fit your company, products, services and target customers for the most effectiveness.
If you need help with this process, try our GUIDED TOUR and get all the help you need from our experience business coaches.
Search & Implement
People only remember the extraordinary, strange, wild, surprising, and unusual. You need to make sure your ideas and marketing reflect these reactions. This doesn’t mean you have to have a product or service that is completely out of the norm, in fact, this could easily drive customers away. You need to have a product or service that is high quality and easily marketable, then you need to market it as extraordinary and new.
As you research word of mouth, there are some questions you need to ask along the way:
- What are the users willing to tell the non-users?
- Exactly how do your customers describe your product?
- What are the non-users willing to ask the users?
- What are the things they need to know, but are unwilling to ask?
- What happens when these issues are raised?
- Exactly what do your prospects have to know in order to trigger purchase?
- Exactly how do your customers answer the objections, concerns, and qualms of your prospects?
- How do your customers persuade their friends to use your product?
- How do your customers suggest they initially get to know or try your product?
- What warnings, safeguards, tips, and suggestions do your customers suggest to your prospects?
- Are your sales messages, positioning, and important facts about your product getting through and surviving word of mouth?
- What messages do you need to inject into the marketplace in order to turn the tide in your favor and how will you deliver them?
There are two main reasons why word of mouth research is so important:
- To get the real impression and feedback from customers
- To define word of mouth itself and the concept it creates
There is a simple formula that can help you conduct your word of mouth research. It’s called the “2-2-2” model. What this breaks down to is:
- 2 groups of customers
- 2 focus groups of prospects
- 2 mixed groups (enthusiasts & skeptics)
In these groups you need to ask the following questions:
- What would you tell a friend?
- How would you persuade a skeptic?
- What questions would you anticipate from a skeptic?
- How would you answer their objections?
The best way to conduct these groups is by teleconference. This ensures you’ll get a good variety of demographics for your customers and potential customers. It also allows people to feel safe and more able to express their true feelings. These teleconferences should not be conducted by you, but an independent party to avoid adding pressure to the situation.
We’re going to transition a bit and talk about how to construct a word-of-mouth campaign. First, we’ll talk a look at the essential ingredients you need to put together a campaign. These ingredients are:
- A superior product.
- A way of reaching key influencers in your marketplace.
- A cadre of experts willing to bat for you.
- A large number of enthusiastic consumers.
- A way of reaching the right prospects.
- One or more compelling stories that people will want to tell to illustrate your product’s superiority.
- A way to substantiate, prove, or back up your claims and how the product will work in the real world.
- A way for people to have direct, low-risk experience, a demo, sample, or free trial.
- A way of reducing overall risk, an ironclad guarantee.
Once you have those ingredients ready to use, you should consider the situations in which your company can benefit from a strong word of mouth programs. Some of these situations are:
- When there are credibility problems.
- When there are breakthroughs.
- When there are marginal improvements.
- Where the product has to be tried in large numbers or over time
- Where there is high risk in trying the product.
- With older or mature products that have a new story that people tend to ignore
- With unfair competitive practices such as spreading rumors or telling lies about your product.
- When there are governmental or other restrictions on what you may say or claim directly.
While, most of the word of mouth tactics are positive for your word of mouth program, there are a few products to avoid using in this program. They are:
- Products where a seminar would not provide meaningful added value.
- Products that can’t be tried and where there is no consensus among experts.
- Products that are clearly inferior, without having a compensating superiority for similar products.
- Products that are so personal or emotion that rational discussion is irrelevant to the decision.
- Products where the decision value is so small (low price/low volume) the medium will not be cost-effective.
This wraps up this post on word-of-mouth research and how that research can be used when putting together your word-of-mouth campaign. If you need help with the research and a plan to use the results of that research, try our GUIDED TOUR to get all the help you need with our top-notch resources and tools.